Saturday, June 13, 2009

Politics and God... Our Founding Fathers... and Destruction of the Christian Sub-culture


There has been a lot of discussion (see posts below) on Keith Giles and his home Church philosophy. Giles condemns traditional Christians for letting their religious beliefs direct their political beliefs and seeks to subvert and destroy what he calls the existing Christian sub-culture.

I thank GOD (and Jesus) that our forefathers and founders of this great nation had BOTH a strong belief in God AND a strong sense of the importance of politics.

For if not for our forefathers having faith in God and religion while being highly active in politics at the same time.... the declaration of independence and bill of rights would not exist, none of us would be having this discussion right now and Keith Giles and company would not have the freedom to start home churches or destroy anything as America would not exist.

Sometimes I really wonder if people actually think about the consequences of their actions and play out the reality of their suggestions.

Of course Christians should use their beliefs and faith to direct their political beliefs and actions.
To do otherwise would just be absurd and self defeating.
-red

32 Comments:

Blogger Keith Giles said...

Your article is a beautiful illustration of an America-centric version of Christianity which (sadly) does not appear in the Bible.

In America, we have a serious problem separating good old American Values from the Gospel that Jesus died to proclaim.

If you've ever doubted someone's eternal salvation because they voted Democrat in the last election, then you may have a problem in this area.

Yes Virginia, there WILL be Libertarians and Green Party members in Heaven. You'll probably live next to one, knowing God's sense of humor.

The Kingdom of God and the American Dream are not the same thing, and in fact, they are two opposing viewpoints which are in conflict on many levels.

Believe it or not, Jesus did not come so that you and I could engage in our "Pursuit of Happiness".

The American Dream is founded on the concept of every person's right to the pursuit of happiness. Whatever you can imagine would make you happy you are free to pursue it with all your heart. That's your right.

The Kingdom of God is founded on the concept of laying down your life, your idea of what will make you happy, in favor of receiving what Jesus knows will really make you happy.

Following Jesus involves laying down your life and giving up your rights. It means full and complete submission to God because you recognize that His perfect will for your life is a million times better than anything you could ever dream up, or pursue, on your own.

Jesus didn't ever instruct any of his disciples to fight for their God-given, "Inalienable Rights", and neither did Paul the Apostle. In fact, they both encouraged their disciples to live humble lives, serving others and not demanding more because they deserved more. Paul even specifically told those followers of Christ who were slaves to remain slaves, even if they were being mistreated.

Historically, the early Christians didn't fight for their rights as citizens, they took it on the chin, and in the Lion's den, and in the arena. They literally would rather die than to take another person's life.

Simply put, they followed their Lord and Savior, Jesus in His example of non-violence and submissive service to those who hated them and mistreated them.

Does that sound like the American Dream to you?

11:03 AM  
Blogger Keith Giles said...

Repeat after me: "Politics and Christianity are not the same thing", "The American Dream is not part of the Gospel", "George Washington and Thomas Jefferson did not die for your forgiveness of sins", "Jesus was not a Republican".

Are we trying to make God in our image? Do we want a version of Jesus that fits into our way of life? Or are we willing to conform our life into His image?

It's interesting to me that the scriptures reveal to us a Jesus who was not so preoccupied with Earthly political discussions. "Render unto Caesar what is Caesar and unto God what is God's" was pretty much the only true political statement He ever made, if it can even be called that.

In his time on Earth, Jesus didn't seem so concerned about the politics of the day. Nor did He talk so much about current events, other than to reference the collapse of a tower in a nearby village where a few people had died.

However, Jesus WAS interested in a political system, a new way of life called "The Kingdom of God". In fact, it's pretty much all he ever talked about.

It might shock you to consider that Jesus probably cares less about what Presidential Candidates are saying on their campaign trails than He does about what you and I are doing with our actual lives.

Many of us, if we're honest, know way more about the views and values of our particular political perspective than we do about God's Kingdom. But, Jesus urged us, His followers, to "Seek first the Kingdom of God."

It's not that Jesus wants the Kingdom of God to influence or even to compete with the political systems of our nation, as much as he wants His Kingdom to influence and change you.

Do we share His views of the poor? Are we even aware what His position is on economics, or foreign relations, or peace-making, or consumerism? Are we actively, seriously, continually seeking after the things of The Kingdom of God?

Perhaps we're more comfortable with a blue-eyed, six foot tall, Republican Jesus who conforms to our political and social ways of living. Probably. But, is that really who Jesus is? Or have we now made God in our own image?

Which version of Jesus are you holding on to? Which way of life are you currently pursuing? Is it the life Jesus describes in the sermon on the mount, or is it something pretty close to the life you would have lived had you never heard the Gospel at all?

The polls are open.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

Wow... you are assuming that I believe a lot of stuff that I just don't.

I never implied that politics and religion were the same thing... but I believe that one's politics (and life) should be guided by their religious beliefs and not the other way around.

I never implied nor believe that God and/or Jesus have political affiliations. However people should if they care about the future of mankind.

YOU are talking about politics in the afterlife asking if Jesus is Republican or Democrat (straw man arguement) and I am talking about the reality of politics in the here and now.

Two different worlds my friend.

IF we lived in heaven then your philosophy might fly... probably would ...we don't and we can't pretend earth is heaven however.

The fact is that we live life... and as humans living life on earth we are NOT Gods and we are NOT Jesus... we are sinners each and every one struggling to do what is right in the face of what is wrong.

Life is about choices Keith... I think you would agree with that... choice between good and evil... making decisions, judgements, having faith in those decisions. To make those decisions about laws and government we must have a guideline and God provides us with that.

I don't believe for one second that God wants us to not participate in making our world better and the political system is the mechanism for that. Our religion is the rulebook by which we make political decisions and other decisions.

We must make a choices... politics affects policy and policy affects laws... I don't think for one second that God or Jesus would want us to sit on the sidelines while the forces that oppose God run over them with a steamroller of anti-religious policies.

You can go sit on the side of a mountain and pray till the cows come home... but if YOU are not willing to stand up and fight for your beliefs and for yourself then you are not much good to God are you?

If all you want to do is pray for God to do something while you stay out of the mix... then what does he need us for? He could just run things without us.

11:25 AM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

Christians should be active in politics... no actually Christians had BETTER be involved in politics or they will cease to exist as Democrats continually try to legislate God and religion out of existence.

11:28 AM  
Blogger Dave said...

Red said: “For if not for our forefathers having faith in God and religion while being highly active in politics at the same time.... the declaration of independence and bill of rights would not exist, none of us would be having this discussion right now and Keith Giles and company would not have the freedom to start home churches or destroy anything as America would not exist.”

Yet ironically those two documents were written by deists who also spent much of their lives fighting for church and state separation.

I think Mr. Giles has made some excellent and eloquent points here, but in many ways Red’s as equally as valid. Seeing as I am not a Christian, a lot of this discussion really has nothing to do with me. I think Giles’ point that Christians are too preoccupied with politics is a good one. I think that often they mistake conservative politics for Christian values. They are not one in the same, despite what they tell you on Christian talk radio (and yes I’ve actually listened to it so I know what I’m talking about). BUT Red’s point that people should follow the religious values when making decisions about policy and politics is also an important one. People’s worldviews, morals, and ethics are often shaped by their religion and if we think that people should leave all of that at the door when doing to vote, then we are kidding ourselves.

Giles said: “The Kingdom of God and the American Dream are not the same thing, and in fact, they are two opposing viewpoints which are in conflict on many levels.”

This is an excellent point but Christianity is not the only religion that comes into conflict with the values of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. And to be honest, if I had to pick one or the other, I’m going with the American Dream.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

Dave... small point here... "God" is all over our founding documents and principles of law and providing for equal expression of religion for all religions while making sure the government doesn't establish a state religion is the intent of "separation of state and church".

It is obvious there was no intent to keep religion out of politics or politics out of religion, quite the opposite.


And.. no Keith, I have never questioned someones eternal salvation based on their political affiliation... lol considering their eternal salvation isn't up to me.

And yes... i understand the difference between life in the here and now and the afterlife and what qualifies us to receive that gift of salvation.

Do YOU understand the importance of knowing the difference between not being politically active and having God and Jesus completely removed from public view where home churches in the basement are the only kind allowed?

I wonder.

1:39 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

Having not examined Mr. Giles' writing elsewhere, I do not, of course, know his politics. I don't doubt that he has some; it's one of those situations where even a negative is something of a statement, that is, "I think Christians should stay out of politics" is something a political statement.

Elsewhere, It has been a rare day when I hear someone railing about how we shouldn't confuse Republican political positions with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, or asking if I know Jesus' view on the poor, that it isn't followed closely by very political conceptions about "justice" that--not entirely coincidentally, in my usual experience--are remarkably similar to some other party's political positions.

I haven't got time for a lengthy discourse. I am very tempted to suggest that Lex, Rex would be profitable reading for anyone interested in the subject and leave it at that. But I'll hit, with respect, a few quick points.

Jesus didn't ever instruct any of his disciples to fight for their God-given, "Inalienable Rights", and neither did Paul the Apostle.

Luke 22:36
(36) He said to them, "But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.

That word really is "sword." I have never, not in any of the translations I've read, seen it rendered, "utility knife," "pocketknife," "kitchen knife," or any other such thing. In context, it seems very clear that Jesus is telling the disciples that they might have to defend themselves at some point, and to be prepared to do so. I have seen attempts to spiritualize the verse and make an allegory out of it, but in my opinion they fall flat. I certainly would not blame anyone for taking it at face value.

I would likewise suggest that though there's no "fighting" in a literal sense involved, Paul did in fact give us some excellent examples of standing up for one's inalienable rights, or at least his rights as a Roman citizen.

Acts 16:35-38
(35) But when it was day, the magistrates sent the police, saying, "Let those men go."
(36) And the jailer reported these words to Paul, saying, "The magistrates have sent to let you go. Therefore come out now and go in peace."
(37) But Paul said to them, "They have beaten us publicly, uncondemned, men who are Roman citizens, and have thrown us into prison; and do they now throw us out secretly? No! Let them come themselves and take us out."
(38) The police reported these words to the magistrates, and they were afraid when they heard that they were Roman citizens.

Paul demanded the officials in the wrong be held publicly accountable for their violation of his rights. So it seems to me, anyway.

Acts 25:10-11
(10) But Paul said, "I am standing before Caesar's tribunal, where I ought to be tried. To the Jews I have done no wrong, as you yourself know very well.
(11) If then I am a wrongdoer and have committed anything for which I deserve to die, I do not seek to escape death. But if there is nothing to their charges against me, no one can give me up to them. I appeal to Caesar."

If Paul is not demanding his rights under Roman law here, I am very much mistaken.

3:41 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

This part II; Blogger made me split my comment up into two parts for some reason!

Simply put, they followed their Lord and Savior, Jesus in His example of non-violence and submissive service to those who hated them and mistreated them.

I'm afraid that that's not all of the example He set.

John 2:15
(15) And making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables.

That doesn't seem all that non-violent and submissive to me.

And, too, one has to deal with the fact that we're not, as members of any political party, dealing solely with the rights of Christians. We are dealing with unalienable rights, given by God to all men, and which therefore cannot be legitimately denied by any man or to any man, Christian or otherwise. The state has a responsibility to execute justice, that is, to protect those unalienable rights:

Romans 13:3-6
(3) For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval,
(4) for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer.
(5) Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God's wrath but also for the sake of conscience.
(6) For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing.

This was the ESV; many translations render it, more or less, "...he is God's minister for justice." In any event, it is clear that the state has a God-ordained role. To be specific, the state is to "...bear the sword..." and be "...an avenger who carries out God's wrath on the wrongdoer." This would be the God-ordained role of the state whether there were any Christians in it or not. The state's duty is to administer justice on the wrongdoer. To have nothing to do with politics is, in my opinion, to abdicate the decisions as to what constitutes "wrongdoing" to non-believers, rendering justice in our society, in practical terms, an entirely non-Christian concept.

To my mind, this passage, among others, also strongly implies the concept found in the Declaration:

"That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government..."

That is, if the state isn't performing its God-ordained role, it is legitimate for the people to do what is necessary to change the situation. There is an abundance of material dealing with this concept in Lex, Rex, but for now, interested parties may enjoy this brief introduction to Christianity and the Social Contract Theory.

No disrespect is intended here. I merely note that Scripture, in more than a few places, imputes or implies certain rights to man; that it says outright that the state's role is to administer justice; and that there are, in fact, examples of Jesus and the disciples engaging in violence, or being told to prepare for self-defense (which, of course, strongly implies a legitimate right on the part of the Christian to defense of life, liberty, and property, at least under some circumstances), or insisting on their legitimate rights under the law.

Take it as you will.

3:45 PM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

Most excellent Man of the West, I must say you contributed greatly to this discussion and I thank you for taking the time.
-red

6:52 PM  
Blogger Dave said...

Red said: "Dave... small point here... "God" is all over our founding documents and principles of law and providing for equal expression of religion for all religions while making sure the government doesn't establish a state religion is the intent of "separation of state and church"."

But God isn’t mentioned anywhere in the Constitution, much to the chagrin of the conservatives of the day.

10:43 AM  
Blogger Keith Giles said...

You might also read the entire New Testament and see that Jesus commanded us to turn the other cheek and to love those who hate us and to bless those who curse us, etc.

But, I can see your mind is already made up.

Peace,
kg

11:44 AM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

Yeah... so that makes us both right in different situations.... But, I can see your mind is already made up.

War,(lol)
rs

2:20 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

You might also read the entire New Testament...

I detect a distinct diss... :)

Perhaps even a hint of snottiness, but I won't hold it against you. FWIW, while I would never claim to be an expert, and certainly read neither Greek nor Hebrew, I have read through the whole of the Scriptures many times, in several different translations, so, yes, I am familiar with the verses to which you refer. It is just that the way you are using them here makes me think of Inigo Montoya's line in The Princess Bride: You keep using that word (Or in your case, those verses). I do not think it means what you think it means.

Mr. Giles, I have no more idea of what you think than I've read in these comments. In some respects, I understand what you are driving at. I've written myself that if Christians fail in what they are supposed to be about, political activity is then all but pointless. The Founding Fathers explicitly depended on a largely Christian population for their ideas to work, and said on more than one occasion that the whole thing would fail in the absence of a largely Christian population. I therefore concluded long ago that political activism takes a distinct back seat to apologetics, evangelism, and discipleship. Had you said no more than that, we would have been on the same page. But you went considerably beyond that, and stated things that certainly bear further examination. It seems to me that you say things without giving them their proper context. For example, you state: Paul even specifically told those followers of Christ who were slaves to remain slaves, even if they were being mistreated., but you do not cite 1 Corinthians 7:21
(21) Were you a slave when called? Do not be concerned about it. (But if you can gain your freedom, avail yourself of the opportunity.)
which sheds rather a different light on the subject, does it not?

You say:...the early Christians...literally would rather die than to take another person's life.but this does not seem to take into account of Cornelius the centurion in Acts 10. It does seem to me that the centurion is a Christian at the end of the story--but there is no hint that he gave up his position or profession, which, like it or not, entailed at least the potential of killing people from time to time.

And, too, there are extrabiblical accounts of Christians in the Roman army that have to be dealt with. One of the most famous deals with some few dozen that chose to freeze to death rather than deny Christ.

It seems to me that a proper understanding of what is going on has to be able to account both for the whip of cords and for the admonition to turn the other cheek, so to speak; if your understanding of the one necessitates ignoring the other, I would only suggest that there may be more to the subject than you seem to think, and that your thinking now might possibly be as one-sided as you think others' is.

9:11 AM  
Blogger Keith Giles said...

A study of the New Testament and church history reveals that the earliest christians did not engage in violence. This isn't even disputable. Unless you can find some evidence that I am unaware of, at least.

The example of Jesus turning over the tables is a one-off example where he is opposing the "Christian subculture" of his day (see previous discussions).

Jesus clearly commands us to love our enemies. This isn't debatable is it? How do you love your enemies and still shoot them?

To be fair, I am just as critical of those in the Christian Left (such as Jim Wallis and others) who use politics to attempt to create a christian reality via legislation. I do not believe in any political solutions to mankind's problems. I believe in the Gospel and the Gospel alone.

If others seek to fight wars, or engage in politics, so be it. But as a follower of Jesus, it is my conviction to love my enemies, serve others and seek first the Kingdom of God.

We, obviously, disagree on these issues. I am simply trying to state my position truthfully since previous articles here have put words in my mouth I have not said and presented beliefs which I do not agree with as if they were my own.

If anything, I am a Texas-raised Republican Southern Baptist preacher who has given up on the Right Wing agenda I once held so dearly. I do not now cling to the Left, or to any political party for guidance or wisdom.

As best I can, I am trying to follow Christ with my actual life and this is hard enough.

-kg

9:30 PM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

Since this was directed at me, let's address it again... (in two parts).
Part-1


KG- "I am simply trying to state my position truthfully since previous articles here have put words in my mouth I have not said and presented beliefs which I do not agree with as if they were my own."

Here are the quotes I used from your blogs.

1- "What is Subversive? It’s a systematic overthrow of one system or power by those working from within."- Keith Giles

2-"I've come to the conclusion that the Christian Subculture is evil. I want to destroy it. I want to choke the life out of it and watch it die. I want to strip the skin from its bones, shake the life out of it and break it into tiny pieces." -Keith Giles

So, I think you can understand how one might conclude your self described mission is to destroy traditional Christianity subculture from within (by isolating yourself from it)... and starting your own subculture.

Okay I said you promote tolerating abortion and gay marriage instead of opposing them. You do it by not opposing them Keith.

I searched all of your blogs and was unable to find any evidence that you oppose either abortion or gay marriage but did find evidence of you saying...
"while I agree that abortion ends a life I can honestly say that, since 1973 (the year of the Roe vs Wade decision) we have had no significant judicial or congressional legislation enacted to overturn this landmark case. Even with our great Republican presidents at the helm such as Reagan, Bush Sr., and George W. Bush --most of them serving two terms -- we have had no change.
Why do we still believe that if we continue voting and lobbying and endorsing and fighting that we will change this law?"

So you say it ends a life but don't condemn ending that life or even say it's wrong... and then go on to tell us that we shouldn't use the legal system or courts to oppose it because it hasn't been done yet... so why bother.

And finally gay marriage...
Again I could find no evidence that you support traditional marriage, but in the post where you mention gay marriage and abortion you say
"...do not involve yourself in those partisan arguments and do not place your hope in the writing of another man-made law."- Keith Giles

Cont'd in part 2...

10:38 AM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

PART 2-
Now... I searched your blog for the word "Obama" and surprise up pops one of his complete speeches where he rips the Christian right.... and Republicans up one side and down the other while being a "Christian"... but for some reason when searching the word "Bush", no George Bush speeches come up even though he did a number of speeches on his faith as a Christian...

I also find posts where you agree with Jim Wallis but only one where you minimally criticize him... for being so political that God's liberal message to care for the poor might get dismissed.

Is that your idea of being "fair"?

KG- "This is why I disagree with Jim Wallis when he takes his message of social justice and alligns himself with the Democratic Party (all the while claiming that "The Right doesn't get it and the Left gets it wrong"). Because when Jim Wallis makes the issue a political issue, and not a moral, ethical, or Christian issue, he gives people permission to dismiss him as a Liberal and therefore, dismiss the overtly Biblical Mandate from God Almighty to care for the poor.

To be clear, I love Jim Wallis. I've interviewed him twice and I love what he has to say to the Church about their Biblical mandate to care for the poor. When he's on that soapbox I'm cheering all the way. It's when he turns political that I leave the scene.

At the same time, I disagree with people like James Dobson and Pat Robertson (and all the rest) who try to make the Republican Party equal to the Kingdom of God. Their message seems to be that, to be a good Christian is to be a good Republican. I disagree. Very much."

So you mildly disagree with Wallis who you describe as "liberal" then rip Republicans and "Dobson, Robertson (and all the rest)"... is that your idea of "fair"?

KG- "I disagree with the idea that all good Christians are Republicans. Many Christians in America will be shocked to discover so many Democrats (and even, "gasp", Green Party Members) living next door to their mansions in Heaven. Heck, we'll even see Socialists and Communists there too! Oh my..."- KG

Dude, I don't know of a single person that has EVER said anything to this effect... not one Republican not one Christian has EVER said or thought that "all good Christians are Republicans"...except leftwing liberal Democrats who run around claiming this is how the right believes, so why is it that YOU are repeating this Democrat talking point?

So... not only are you a subversive trying to destroy traditional Christianity... but also a subversive to the Republican party as well, claiming to be Republican while subverting the effort.

Nice.

I tell ya' Keith... the more I learn about you the more concerned I get.

You are a subversive little devil aren't you?
-red

10:40 AM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

I'm not mad at you, Mr. Giles. I simply do not agree with some of what you've expressed here. I would agree that political activism by Christians is largely pointless if they are not making their main business--the winning and discipleship of souls--their main business. I simply think that some of your other conclusions could use more reflection.

A study of the New Testament and church history reveals that the earliest christians did not engage in violence. This isn't even disputable.

With respect, sir, your track record over the last few comments does not inspire confidence. So far things that you have asserted as positive fact appear to be highly disputable. :)

Keith, it didn't even take ten seconds of googling to find multiple accounts of the forty martyrs of Sebaste, Roman soldiers all. You might object, I suppose, to the documentation, but there seems to be little doubt that the story goes back at least to Basil. That is, even if the story is untrue, it tells us pretty clearly that there were Christians in the Legions, and that this by no means came as a shock to Basil's contemporaries. Perhaps you can think of a way for a person to serve in the Roman Legions without committing an occasional act of violence; my imagination is not, I confess, quite so luxuriously enabled. Likewise, to my mind, the aforementioned account of Cornelius, unless you can demonstrate that he left the legions, ought to be enough to make you re-think your position. If he kept his job--well, it is part of the job of a soldier to mete out violence from time to time. The same could be said of the soldiers that John the Baptist baptized. He didn't tell them to give up soldiering, did he? Unless you have some reason for believing that they did so after the resurrection, or that they didn't go on to believe on Christ, I think we have allow that there were Christian soldiers in the very earliest days of the church. It is a little much for me to believe that they did not, when called upon, do what soldiers do.

It reminds me of something someone else once asked: if I claimed to be showing you an ancient manuscript, how many times would the word "radio" have to appear in it before you insisted I rethink my position?

How many instances do you have to see of soldiers in the church before you rethink the position that the early Christians did not engage in violence? How many times does Jesus have to say, "Go out and buy a sword" before you consider the possibility that He might have intended for you to be able to defend yourself? At least under some circumstances? Or defend others? You would allow that, at least, wouldn't you? That a Christian might engage in violence to defend the life of an innocent?

Never happen? Keith, I interrupted a rape years ago. Ripped the guy off the girl and dragged him onto his feet--where I should have clocked him immediately. But he slipped away from me and boy! Could he ever run...

Are you telling me that I would have been out of line, had I been better prepared, to slam him into the ground and hold him 'til the police arrived? That is the force of the words "did not engage in violence," isn't it?

Love the rapist, to be sure. What about loving the rape victim? What about loving future rape victims?

8:12 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

This is Part II. I've never had to deal with this before. When did Blogger start limiting comment length?

The example of Jesus turning over the tables is a one-off example where he is opposing the "Christian subculture" of his day...

By the force of this reasoning, Mr. Giles, you've just given yourself permission to--at least once, I guess--violently overturn someone's table! At least if you're opposing the "Christian subculture," which, I gather, you are.

Should I watch out for you, Keith?

Or perhaps you meant that because Jesus only did something once, we shouldn't take it seriously? Shouldn't look for, or at, what it implies?

How do you love your enemies and still shoot them?

That's an easy one: the same way they shot Old Yeller, of course. :) But I have a question for you: How do you love the rape victim and let them be raped?

As best I can, I am trying to follow Christ with my actual life and this is hard enough.

Understood. No hard feelings.

8:13 PM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

MotW, you can take as many posts as you need. Thank you for taking the time.
Keith you are always welcome to come here and straighten me out.
-red

9:30 PM  
Blogger Keith Giles said...

Man of the West: Your link to the martyrdom of the Roman soldiers is AFTER Constantine. My point is that for the first 300 years of Christianity the early christians did not engage in violence.

Constantine changed the defintion of "Christian" from being someone who followed Jesus to someone who agreed with a set of doctrines. Within just one generation we see Christians (for the first time ever) engage in violence. Before that? Peaceful nonviolence.

I can give you quotes from first, second and third century church fathers who flat out state that one cannot be a follower of Jesus and a soldier.

For example:
"Celsus exhorts us to help the Emperor and be his fellow soldiers. To this we reply, “You cannot demand military service of Christians any more than you can of priests.” We do not go forth as soldiers with the Emperor even if he demands this." - Origen

"I do not wish to be a ruler. I do not strive for wealth. I refuse offices connected with military command. I despise death.” -Tatian

“We ourselves were well conversant with war, murder and everything evil, but all of us throughout the whole wide earth have traded in our weapons of war. We have exchanged our swords for plowshares, our spears for farm tools…now we cultivate the fear of God, justice, kindness, faith, and the expectation of the future given us through the crucified one…the more we are persecuted and martyred, the more do others in ever increasing numbers become believers." - Justin, martyred in 165 AD

5:51 PM  
Blogger Keith Giles said...

More early (pre-Constantine) Church fathers who opposed violence:

"Anyone taking or already baptized who wants to become a soldier shall be sent away, for he has despised God.”-Hippolytus, 218 AD

The fact of the matter is that the major reason the early Christians were persecuted was because they refused to bow the knee to the Empire--and this included military service. Their loyalty was to Christ alone and I argue that ours should be the same.

Peace,
Keith

5:54 PM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

Keith... we all oppose violence. However some of us recognize the need to defend ourselves against violence... it's called self preservation and God built it into every living creature.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

Your link to the martyrdom of the Roman soldiers is AFTER Constantine.

You amaze me. From this, you infer that they must all have been false believers? Or ignorant of the preceding three hundred years? That Basil was, apparently, by your analysis, too stupid or ignorant to realize that their actions were utterly inconsistent with three hundred years of history? I like that: Basil apparently had no idea that there weren't supposed to be Christian soldiers and shouldn't have held them up as examples.

Mercy. You are determined. Or possibly desperate. I'm not sure which. :) Personally, my inference was that Basil, being a little bit closer to that history than you and I, might have a better take on it.

I can't help but note a few things, Keith:

1) This must really be bugging you, to come back more than two weeks later.

2) At this point,you appear to have completely given up on making your case from Scripture, and are instead attempting to exegete man's opinion and church tradition. I don't blame you, in a way. Having earlier asserted that

A study of the New Testament...reveals that the earliest christians did not engage in violence. This isn't even disputable.

and then being left--as far as I can tell, anyway--utterly without response to my points about Cornelius, John the Baptist's soldiers, and Jesus' sword (not to mention the most incredible response to the table-overturning that I've ever read, basically, "Oh, that doesn't count!") I'm not surprised that you look to the other leg of your thesis, church history. You are really left with very little choice. And I'll admit that I haven't combed the web for accounts of pre-Constantine Christians in the Legions, or engaging in self-defense. Frankly, I thought the fairly obvious existence of Christians in the Legions in Scripture would be enough.

You have utterly failed to demonstrate your case from Scripture, Keith. You've totally ignored the accounts of Cornelius and John the Baptist, and Jesus' own admonition to buy a sword in favor of trying to make your case from extrabiblical sources.
Might as well go ahead and swim the Tiber; that sort of thing is their specialty, isn't it? :)

3) You haven't bothered to answer any of my other questions, from which I can only infer that you have no answer--or, possibly, that you would have let the rape continue. At least until the police got there. Might we assume that you would at least engage in such roughness as to keep the guy from escaping until the police got there? Do you have any love for the victims at all? If so, how do you demonstrate it without putting forth your hand to stop the perpetrator?

Their loyalty was to Christ alone and I argue that ours should be the same.

I'm not at all sure that you can make the case that anyone here has argued otherwise.

7:22 AM  
Blogger Keith Giles said...

Let me respond to your comment about Jesus asking his disciples to buy a sword. This is in reference (and he quotes it in the same sentence) to a prophecy in Isaiah that Jesus would be "numbered among the transgressors".

Why did Jesus want them to have a sword? To fulfill this prophecy.

We have to balance this one verse with alllll the other verses where Jesus says:
"Love your Enemies"

"Turn the other cheek"

"...those that live by the sword will die by the sword"

"...my kingdom is not of this world. It it were my disciples would fight."

What does Jesus say to Peter when he takes one of those 2 swords and cuts off the solidiers ear? Does he praise him for this? No, he does not. He rebukes him saying:
“Put your sword back in its place… for all who take the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will provide me with more than twelve legions of angels?”- Matthew 26:52-53:

Peter's actions could certainly be considered a just use of defensive violence. Jesus, an innocent man, was about to be given into the hands of an angry mob. Using one of the swords Jesus told him to buy, Peter attempted to rescue his friend. Jesus, however, rebuked Peter and rebuked this use of defensive violence. Later at his trial before Pilate, Jesus made a comment which explained his condemnation of Peter’s actions:

"My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then my servants would fight..." John 18:36:

So, no, this is not an easy topic my friend. But the New Testament does give us plenty of direction on this issue.

Why did I go to history (as you accuse me of doing out of a desperate attempt to find ammunition for my argument)? Because YOU referenced something from history first. This warranted a response from history.

Also: The reason my comments are far apart has more to do with the fact that I don't read this blog or check updates regularly. Sorry. I'll try to keep up.

Peace,
kg

12:12 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

Mercy, Keith.

You know, you can solve this problem

in the future by clicking on the "e-mail me further comments" button in the future. You didn't think I was combing over old blogposts every ten minutes, did you? :)

Again, Keith, I am not mad at you. Bearing that in mind, let me note, as regards your remarkable understanding of Luke 22, that I have to give you credit for originality. I have been preparing a blogpost on this subject when I get the time, and you are the first person I've run across to treat the passage thusly. Every other person who has tried to deny that the instruction to buy a sword implies a right to self-defense has tried to demonstrate that the sword is somehow symbolic of something else. So you at least have the advantage of having, shall we say, something of a unique point of view!

At any rate, here is the text of Isaiah 53. Here is the text of Luke 22.

And your contention is that the disciples were told to buy swords in the one in order to fulfill the other? I do not think this can be sustained. To note the obvious, there is no mention of swords--nor of purses or sandals, for that matter, and they must be considered together, I think--in Isaiah 53. Nor is there any reason that I can see why the disciples' possession of swords is necessary to Jesus' being numbered among the transgressors. If it were--well, that is, are you telling me that had the disciples not had the swords on them, Jesus would not have been numbered among the transgressors? That scarcely seems tenable. Actually, the idea seems more laughable than tenable. Your suggestion that the swords were necessary to fulfill prophecy solves a "problem" that simply is not there.

Were the purses and sandals necessary to the fulfillment of Isaiah 53, too? By your exegesis, I see no reason why they wouldn't be. If they were not, He would necessarily have had some other reason for bringing them up at the same time, and there appears to be no different reason given.

Let me see if I can suggest a take on this that you may not have considered. Jesus asks the disciples if, on their former trip without all these essentials, whether they lacked anything. The answer is "no." But now, He explains, they will need all these things. Why? What has changed? They will need these thigns because (for)

...I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in me: 'And he was numbered with the transgressors.' For what is written about me has its fulfillment."

In other words, the prophecy is about to be fulfilled. It cannot be stopped. Jesus is not going to be with them in quite the same way that He was before. The reference to Isaiah is not there because buying a sword fulfills it, anymore than would the carrying of purses or the wearing of sandals. It is there as an explanation as to why they would need these things--purses, sandals, swords.

Why did Jesus say "That's enough" when the disciples brought out their swords? Because they had totally misunderstood Him. They leaped right over the purses and sandals, so to speak, and upon hearing "swords," concluded that Jesus was about to lead them on a campaign to throw out the Romans and usher in the Kingdom! Peter was thinking the same thing, I think, right up until Jesus mended the servant's ear.

6:00 AM  
Blogger Keith Giles said...

I have to ask you: Do you really imagine a New Testament Church where followers of Jesus were members of the military, or engaged in acts of violence, or defended themselves against the violent persecutions laid against them?

Do you?

If so, you really need to begin to study the history of the Christian church because that is absolutely not what she was like in the first 200 years of her history.

It really doesn't matter to me whether or not you and I agree on the prophetic fulfillment of this passage in question. What does matter is whether or not you have a clear understanding of church history and how it fits with the clear teaching of Jesus, the Apostles and the early church fathers.

Peace,
Keith

1:42 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

Do you really imagine a New Testament Church where followers of Jesus were members of the military...

Absolutely. As noted repeatedly before, I really don't see how you escape putting Cornelius into precisely this category.

...or engaged in acts of violence...

Again, absolutely. Part of their duties, nor do I see from Scripture that violence is prohibited to the Christian under all circumstances.

...defended themselves against the violent persecutions laid against them?

Possibly, under some circumstances. Don't have any records handy, obviously.

If so, you really need to begin to study the history of the Christian church because that is absolutely not what she was like in the first 200 years of her history.

Back to exegeting church history, are we? Keith, I don't give two hoots, really, for it when it comes to demonstrating the truth or falsity of doctrine. We don't even get out of the New Testament, let alone all the way up to 200 AD, without finding the New Testament church engaged in gross error, on the testimony of Paul, John, and Jesus Himself. Why on earth you would treat their opinions as authoritative in any way is beyond me, save in the respect that I alluded to before: you sound like you are ready to swim the Tiber.

What does matter is whether or not you have a clear understanding of church history and how it fits with the clear teaching of Jesus, the Apostles and the early church fathers.

That's what it really comes down to for you, isn't it? If you cannot make your case from Scripture (and in my opinion you haven't even come close), what settles the issue is church history and the fathers. Still haven't answered the question of just how authoritative you find them, though, have you? I mean, there is still the question of whether or not you find Origen's practice of self-castration authoritative for your own faith and practice. If not, I would suggest that you are being less than consistent. I mean, either they are authoritative for faith and practice or they are not! Make up your mind! :)

Still unanswered: Would you have stopped the rape? One of my old bosses once stopped a man in the middle of publicly beating a woman unrecognizable; would you have stopped that? What does Christian love look like to a woman under the weight of a rapist, Keith? To a woman getting her face smashed in? What about Cornelius? What about the soldiers that John baptized?

7:44 AM  
Blogger Keith Giles said...

Would I stop a rape? Or a beating? Of course I would. Are you now basing your arguments on my behavior? Why does the actual practice of the original church not matter to you?

And I haven't made my case from the New Testament? Where else would I get the idea that Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, forgive those who mistreat us, etc.?

Have I not quoted Jesus to you on this subject exhaustively?

The behavior of the first and second century (qualifers) church is relevant because it shows us how the early christians consistently continued to carry out what was already commanded by Jesus (new testament) and practiced by the Apostles (new testament).

My point in looking at early church history (up to the 2nd century) is to demonstrate that these practices of non-violence continued after Jesus and the Apostolic age.

My point is that non-violence flowed from the commands of Jesus and it was carried forward by the Apostles and it was then (for over 200 years) continually practiced by the early church as a point of obedience.

Non-violence wasn't an error that showed up after the new testament was written. It was a continual practice of the early church and it was one of the characteristics of a church formed on the teachings and example of Jesus - a non-violent, prince of peace who commanded his disciples to live counter to their culture and embody a radical love for enemies and endure persecution.

You don't see any of that?

Wow.

Not sure how much more productive this conversation can possibly be. (And I'm sure you're feeling the same).

As far as Cornelius goes I'm not sure you've really made a "point" here. If so it's one from silence. Cornelius was one of the first Gentiles to come to faith in Christ. His conversion is significant because of this alone. Did he continue to serve the Roman Empire and engage in war? We don't know, do we? Maybe he did, and if so does the New Testament endorse this behavior at any time? No, it doesn't. Not for a follower of Jesus. Did Cornelius resign his commission in the Roman Army and face matyrdom? We do not know. Although we do know that many other Roman soldiers who came to Christ did so.

The bottom line, I believe is that Jesus is consistent in his calling for his followers to let love be their defining characteristic. Jesus is our blueprint for life in the Kingdom of God. Did the early christians follow this? Yes. Stephen is stoned to death for his faith in Christ and he forgives his killers as Jesus did. We know that hundreds of followers of Jesus also went to their deaths for their faith and they did not raise a hand in self-defense. They either ran away or the submitted to torture, crucifixion and death. Why? Because of the example of Jesus and out of obedience to His command to love our enemies and endure hardship and persecution.

Jesus set us an example and he expects us to follow it.

You find one verse where Jesus asks them to buy a sword and they have 2. Jesus say's "this is enough" although 2 swords for 12 men isn't much of a defense is it? Is self-defense the point here? Or is it something else? I believe it may be self-defense, but it is certainly not about going to war or become a person of violence.

Jesus was the one who told us, "Those who live by the sword will die by the sword."

Peace,
Keith

12:48 PM  
Blogger Otter said...

hmmm...email further comments. i have never seen that button. maybe i will see it this time.

5:44 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

Would I stop a rape? Or a beating? Of course I would.

By giving them a stern talking-to, apparently.:)

And I haven't made my case from the New Testament? Where else would I get the idea that Jesus commanded us to love our enemies, bless those who curse us, forgive those who mistreat us, etc.?


What I think you have failed to demonstrate, Keith, is that any of these are inconsistent with force, at least under some circumstances. Like I said, or tried to, Christian love looks a little bit different depending on where you're seeing it from. Did Christ command us to love our enemies? Obviously. Does that extend to allowing our enemies to violently assault our friends, or, under some circumstances, even ourselves? I think not--I think Christian love requires that we defend the defenseless, at least under some circumstances, and again, at least under some circumstances, ourselves. In other words, I think, yes, you have quoted Jesus extensively, yet failed to understand the subject! You see "love" too simplisticly. You still refer to Jesus as "non-violent" prince of peace, despite His rather literally having upset some people's applecarts with a whip. To my mind, it's as though you have blinders on.

To quote you, "Wow. You don't see any of that?"

However, I am very pleased to see this:

I believe it may be self-defense...

in spite of what follows. I am not at all certain, Keith, that you would have been prepared to make that concession at the beginning of our discussion. If I'm wrong, I apologize. But it looks now to me that you at least recognize that it is not necessarily true that Christians must never engage in self-defense, and that is about as much "fruit" as I could hope for from this discussion.

Don't feel like the time's been wasted; I will be adding some thoughts from this discussion to a blogpost that I have in process. :)

Peace to you, too. Like I said, I'm not mad at you. :) I just think you're wrong.

6:37 PM  
Blogger Man of the West said...

Otter, I almost always "preview" my comments before publishing them. Typically, I see the box I mentioned after hitting "preview" and before hitting "publish."

It's not like I hang around old blogposts waiting for someone to comment on them; were it not for that button, I would have had no idea that Mr. Giles had renewed this discussion after a prolonged absence.

9:32 AM  
Blogger Red S Tater said...

yeah, same here MOW, that's the only way I know about additional comments to older posts.

I think otter is wanting to be notified of a new comment on a particular post at blogs other than otter limits... yes?

12:18 PM  

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