On Attitudes About War: Are Christians Following Mohammed or Jesus? The Quran or God’s New Covenant?

I recently read through the Quran to understand my Muslim freinds a bit better and, perhaps, to find a few interesting historical notes about Islam, but instead an unwelcome realization about fellow Christians started to dawn on me.

One doesn’t go long till we realize (unsurprisingly) that Mohammed’s view of war, fighting and killing enemies is the polar opposite of what we see Jesus teaching His followers & practicing.

But what was jarring to observe as I progressed is that many Christians who justify war seem be using the Quran’s justifications for war and violence, almost verbatim. Which leads to a disturbing conclusion: If Christians justify killing using arguments so closely aligned with the Quran, & in contradiction to the teaching of Jesus, are they following Jesus or Mohammed when it comes to attitudes about war?

Let’s take a look.

The Quran’s View of War

Using the Jewish Behavior in the Old Testament as Justification to Require Fighting

2:246. Have you not considered the notables of the Children of Israel after Moses? When they said to a prophet of theirs, “Appoint a king for us, and we will fight in the cause of God.” He said, “Is it possible that, if fighting was ordained for you, you would not fight?” They said, ‘ ‘Why would we not fight in the cause of God, when we were driven out of our homes, along with our children?” But when fighting was ordained for them, they turned away, except for a few of them. But God is aware of the wrongdoers. (Location 587)

Eye for Eye & Life for Life is God’s Rule

5:45 And We wrote for them in it: a life for a life, and eye for an eye, a nose for a nose, and ear for an ear, a tooth for a tooth, and an equal wound for a wound; but whoever forgoes it in charity, it will serve as atonement for him. Those who do not rule according to what God revealed are the evildoers. (Location 1542)

5:33 The punishment for those who fight God and His Messenger, and strive to spread corruption on earth, is that they be killed, or crucified, or have their hand and feet cut off on opposite sides, or be banished from the land. That is to disgrace them in this life;… (Location 1515)

16:126 If you were to retaliate, retaliate to the same degree as the injury done to you. But if you resort to patience-it is better for the patient. 127 So be patient. Your patience is solely from God. (Location 3909)

War is Ordained for God’s People & War is Sometimes Good for You

2:216 Fighting is ordained for you, even though you dislike it. But it may be that you dislike something while it is good for you, and it may be that you like something while it is bad for you. God knows, and you do not know. (Location 517)

2:190 And fight in the cause of God those who fight you… 191 And kill them wherever you overtake them…If they fight you, then kill them. Such is the retribution of the disbelievers. 194 …Whoever commits aggression against you, retaliate against him in the same measure…” (Location 471)

Fighting & Killing to Free the Oppressed is Justified

4:74 Let those who sell the life of this world for the Hereafter fight in the cause of God. Moreover fight in the cause of God, and then is killed, or achieves victory, We will grant him a great compensation. 75. And why would you not fight in the cause of God, and the helpless men, and women, and children, cry out, “Our Lord, deliver us from this town whose people are oppressive, and appoint for us from Your Presence a Protector, and appoint for us from Your Presence a Victor. ” (Location 1224)

It is Imperative to Build Up a Powerful Military

8:60 And prepare against them all the power you can muster, and all the cavalry you can mobilize, to terrify thereby God’s enemies and your enemies, and other besides them whom you do not know, but God knows them. Whatever you spend in God’s way will be repaid you in full, and you will not be wronged. (Location 2502)

It is a Responsibility to Fight & Kill to Avoid Persecution

2:217 They ask you about fighting during the Holy Month. Say, “Fighting during it is deplorable; but to bar others from God’s path, and to disbelieve in Him, and to prevent access to the Holy Mosque, and to expel its people from it, are more deplorable with God. And persecution is more serious than killing. They will not cease to fight you until they turn you back from your religion, if they can. Whoever among you turns back from his religion, and dies a disbeliever-those are they whose works will come to nothing, in this life, and in the Hereafter. Those are the inmates of the Fire, abiding in it forever. (Location 517)

8:39 Fight them until there is no more persecution, and religion becomes exclusively for God. (2464)

Killing in the name of Justice is Justified

17:22 And do not kill the soul which God has made sacred, except in the course of justice. If someone is killed unjustly, We have given his next of kin certain authority. But he should not be excessive in killing, for he will be supported. (Location 3967)

Jesus & New Covenant View of War

What About Using Jewish Behavior in the Old Testament as Justification to Require Fighting?

Mt 5:43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

What About an Eye for Eye & Life for Life?

Mt 5:38 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth:
39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

Are Christians  Sometimes Commanded to War & Fight in Jesus’ New Covenant?

Never. Jas 4:1 ¶ From whence come wars and fighting’s among you? come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?

Should Christians Encourage Government Leaders to Build Up a Powerful Military? Or do so themselves?

No, there is no Biblical suggestion to do this, in either the NT or OT. In fact, even the Old Testament warns God’s people against doing this and instead encourages to trust in God.

Is it a Responsibility to Fight & Kill to Avoid Persecution?

Mt 5:10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. 12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

1Pe 2:21 For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: 22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: 23 Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously…

In Conclusion

If Christians justify war and killing using arguments so closely aligned with the Quran, & in contradiction to the teaching of Jesus, are they following Jesus or Mohammed? Are our views about how we should treat our enemies closer to ISIS than Jesus?

All quotes are from “Quran in English: Modern English Translation Clear and Easy to Understand

Why Doesn’t Jesus Just Answer “Plainly”?

There are various times throughout the Gospels when I wonder why Jesus doesn’t just answer plainly. If someone asks a questions, just answer without riddles! Just this morning we had a Sunday school lesson about the story where John asked Jesus if he was the Messiah. Instead of answering Jesus says: take note what I am doing. (Notably missing from the listing of things from Luke 4:18 that Jesus was doing was freeing captives in prison!)

Perhaps Jesus was using the below rabbinical device noted below in the Talmud?

Once the same (Atoninus Caesar of Rome) said to Rabbi: The officers of Rome irritate me. (What shall I do?) Rabbi asked him to walk with him in the garden, and began to tear out the large radishes of the beds, planting smaller ones instead, by which Antoninus understood that he intimates the necessity of removing the old officers little by little and not all at once, so as to prevent a rebellion. But why did not Rabbi answer him in words? He was afraid that the officers of Rome would get wind of it and would harm him. –Talmud, location 66499

But why did not Jesus answer him directly in words? Was He concerned that the officers of Rome would get wind of it and would harm him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Was Jesus Quoting “Ignorant” & “Communistic” Rhetoric When He Says: “Mine is Thine & Thine Are Mine”?

In John 17:10 Jesus seems to be directly quoting the Jewish oral tradition when he says, “And all mine are thine, and thine are mine…”. The direct quotation from the Babylonian Talmud:

“…Mine shall be thine, and thine shall be mine…” –Babylonian Talmud, Location 36396 [1]

What is interesting is that the Talmud gives more context to the meaning of “mine are thine & thine are mine”. It appears to be in the context of describing the different views of property, which today could easily enough be put into economic categories of: Capitalism, Communism, Generous Charity & Thief.

Here is the quote with more context:

“Four kinds of views are held by men concerning property. He who says: “What belongs to me shall continue to be mine, and thou shalt keep thine own,” holds the common view. Some consider this the view of the men of Sodom. 1 “Mine shall be thine, and thine shall be mine,” thus say the ignorant. “Mine shall be thine, and thou shalt also keep thine own,” thus says the magnanimous. “Thine shall be mine, and mine shall continue to be mine,” are the words of the godless.” -Babylonian Talmud, Location 36396 [1]

Summarized:

  • Mine is mine & thine is thine: The Commonly Held Position (Men of Sodom position!)
  • Mine is thine & thine is mine: Ignorant Position
  • Mine is thine & thine is thine: Magnanimous Position
  • Thine is mine & mine is mine: Godless Position

Interestingly, according to the Talmudic view, Jesus held the “ignorant” position! (a judgement I can see many staunch capitalists making without knowing the context!) To be clear, the Talmud makes no mention of Jesus. Likely it was the other way round: Jesus was quoting oral tradition and must have known the context.

One difference between John 17:10 and Talmud is the one is talking about “property” and the other, ostensibly, people.

Was Jesus trying to convey something profoundly counter intuitive? (to the Jews [& Americans], foolishness?) Perhaps that when we are “One” enough, there is not a distinct line between who is who’s? Interestingly the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary takes exactly this economic message from the verse, without mentioning the Talmud context:

Absolute COMMUNITY OF PROPERTY between the Father and the Son is here expressed as nakedly as words can do it.” -JFB commentary [2]

And the result of this is glorification.

[1] Babylonian Talmud, Tract Aboth, Mishnah O: Location 36396 Click Here
[2] Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary on John 17 Click Here

Romans 13 & Proverbs: Wisdom Says No to Violent Revolution & The KING Says Yes Only to Love

Does Paul derive the critical passage in Romans 13 on how Christian’s should relate to “the king” from the very pragmatic, earthy & Jewish book of Proverbs? Below is a demonstration that Romans 13:1-7 seems to essentially be the Apostle Paul using Proverbs as pragmatic & pithy advice to early Christians to discourage violent revolution, against withholding the hated tribute & against unwisely & unnecessarily invoking the inevitable violence of the king. But more importantly it is a positive call, along with the entire text of Romans 12 and 13, to use Love (not violent revolution!) as the force to overcomes evil in the world.

Here is a comparison that might indicate Paul is stitching together Proverbs to create the text of the first part of Romans 13.

Romans 13:1 – Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Proverbs 24:21 – Fear the king. Proverbs 8:15-16 – By God kings reign. By God all princes & judges on earth rule. Proverbs 21:1a – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD…
Romans 13:2 – Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. Proverbs 24:21 -…meddle not with them that are given to change [NIV=rebellion]: Proverbs 24:22/NLT – for disaster will hit them suddenly. Who knows what punishment will come from the LORD and the king? Proverbs 20:2b – whoso provoketh him [the king] to anger sinneth against his own soul.
Romans 13:3 – For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: Proverbs 14:35 – The king’s favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.
Romans 13:4 – For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. Proverbs 8:15 – By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. Proverbs 14:35a – The king’s favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame. Proverbs 20:2 – The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul. Proverbs 16:14a – The wrath of a king is as messengers of death…
Romans 13:5 – Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. Proverbs 14:35 – The king’s… wrath is against him that causeth shame. Ecclesiastes 8:2/NIV – Obey the king’s command, I say, because you took an oath before God.
Romans 13:6 – For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. Proverbs 3:27a – Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due… Proverbs 21:1a – The king’s heart is in the hand of the LORD…
Romans 13:7 –  Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour. Proverbs 3:27 – Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, When it is in your power to do it. (Commentary: and the king is due fear!) Proverbs 24:21 -…fear thou the LORD and the king:

If Proverbs guides us in what Romans 13:1-7 is saying, it certainly communicates a Christian condemnation of the kind of violent revolution that is at the core of the founding of many nations, including the United States. If Romans 13:1-7 says anything, it condemns “Christian’s” founding a nation using violent revolution.

An implicit condemnation in Romans 13 comes from the fact that the characteristics of “the king” are characteristics Christians should expressly not have! “The king” as a “violent lion” is contrasted with the very different standard that Paul is explicitly calling the Romans to, and God is calling all men to, that of Love , which was taught & modeled by the King of Kings (the Lion of Judah! the one “Lion & Lamb” referred to in the Bible). The King of Kings first call to humans is to “Owe no many anything but Love”.

Kingdoms which use violence, even in the name of a more perfect order, are doomed to be kingdoms that pass away. Outside Christ and His Kingdom, outside of the “very good” Creation, God has given power to a “rev limiter”, a stop gap on evil run out of control, and that is the human self destruction of violence against violence. As Jesus says it: “They that take the sword shall perish by it.” and John confirms that the holy are patient because “They that kill with the sword will be killed by it” (Re 13:10) This world is by necessity one which will “perish” and “pass away” because destruction is in it’s DNA.

Daniel says “[God’s kingdom] will crush all those kingdoms and bring them to an end” (Daniel 2:44/NIV). How? Paul himself notes one way just a few chapters later in Romans “The God of Peace will soon crush Satan under your feet.” (Romans 16:20) What can Love of Jesus in the hearts of humans do other than be the “destruction of destruction”?

This post triggered by another post: Is Romans 12 & 13 a Medley of Proverbs?

Is Romans 12 and 13 A Medley of Proverbs?

At our congregation we are working through Proverbs in our midweek prayer meetings. I’ve been aware for some time that the the famous “If your enemy in hungry, feed him” in the middle of Romans 12 is a direct quote from Proverbs 25:21. But I started to notice more and more passages that seem to be evocative of Romans 12 & 13 (or vice versa).

Did Paul take the very this-worldly Proverbs and arranged them into a punchy medley about the radical love of Jesus and Christians being a living sacrifice? It almost seems like he might!

Below I list Proverbs match to Romans 12/13. I asterisk those passages that don’t seem to have a close Proverbs passage. But, if I missed one, please let me know. Brackets enclose my commentary. Enjoy.

Romans 12:9 Pr 8:7 For my mouth shall speak truth; and wickedness is an abomination to my lips. Pr 8:13 The fear of the LORD is to hate evil… {But maybe Paul was thinking of Amos?} Am 5:15 Hate the evil, and love the good…

Romans 12:10 *

Romans 12:11 Pr 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand {serve?} before kings {King of Kings? Clever Paul!}…

Romans 12:12 Pr 10:28 The hope of the righteous shall be gladness…

Romans 12:13 Pr 31:20 She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy.

Romans 12:14 Pr 24:29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me…

*15 Ecc 3:4 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; or…Pr 24:17 Rejoice not when thine enemy falleth, and let not thine heart be glad when he stumbleth;

Romans 12:16 Pr 16:19 ¶ Better it is to be of an humble spirit with the lowly… Pr 3:7 ¶ Be not wise in thine own eyes…

Romans 12:17 Pr 24:29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me; Pr 20:22 ¶ Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee…

Romans 12:18 Pr 3:30 Strive not with a man without cause…

Romans 12:19 Pr 24:29 Say not, I will do so to him as he hath done to me: I will render to the man according to his work; Pr 20:22 ¶ Say not thou, I will recompense evil; but wait on the LORD, and he shall save thee.

Romans 12:20  Pr 25:21 ¶ If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: Pr 25:22 For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the LORD shall reward thee.

*21 Pr 16:32 ¶ He that is slow to anger is better than the mighty; Pr 19:11 ¶ The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression

Romans 13:1 Pr 8:15 By me kings reign, and princes decree justice. Pr 8:16 By me princes rule, and nobles, even all the judges of the earth.

Romans 13:2 Pr 20:2 ¶ The fear of a king is as the roaring of a lion: whoso provoketh him to anger sinneth against his own soul.; Pr 16:14 ¶ The wrath of a king is as messengers of death: but a wise man will pacify it.

Romans 13:3 Pr 24:21 ¶ My son, fear thou the LORD and the king: and meddle not with them that are given to change: Pr 24:22 For their calamity shall rise suddenly; and who knoweth the ruin of them both? Pr 14:35 ¶ The king’s favour is toward a wise servant: but his wrath is against him that causeth shame.

*4

*5

*6

Romans 13:7 Pr 3:27 ¶ Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it.

*8

According to Fundamentalists: Will the World Be Destroyed at Jesus’ Return?

I’ve been reading the The Fundamentals, the essays that form the backbone of the fundamentalist movement, (incidentally at the same time as I read the Complete Writings of Menno Simons for some interesting contrast) and was surprised to read the answer to question: Will the World Be Destroyed at Jesus’ Return? The short answer: No. A bit longer reason why not? Because the millennial reign requires an earth. Read the quotes below from essay 85 on “The Return of Christ” by Charles R. Erdman, D. D. (Princeton Theological Seminary): He first outlines the problem:

The great objection to the Pre-Millennial position is the apparent prediction of 2 Peter 3, that at the coming of Christ, in “the day of the Lord,” the earth will be destroyed; there could then be no place for a millennium. 18212

Notice that pre-millennial Erdman notes that “the earth shall be burned with fervent heat” is not literal:

The predictions of fiery judgments and consequent “new heavens and new earth” must be read in connection with Isaiah 65 and 66, from which Peter is quoting. It will then be seen that these expressions are in-so-far figurative that the earth still continues with its life, its nations, its progress, after these judgments are over. Terrific convulsions, and governmental, social and cosmic changes, only introduce a new and better age. 18218

Other passages indicate the world is still here, the Nile is flowing, etc.

So, too, “the day of the Lord” is a familiar phrase, and as we read Zechariah 14 we see that while, in that day, the Lord comes amidst appalling portents, His coming and the day itself are followed by a scene of great blessedness on this same earth; the Nile is still flowing in its course and the nations are going up to Jerusalem to worship. (Note also that in 2Pe 3:10 the most ancient manuscripts do not read “burned up” but “discovered.”) 18221

And this one is quoteable:

According to our Lord Himself His return is to bring “the regeneration,” not the destruction of the world (Mat 19:28; Luk 22:28-30). 18231

According to Peter, “seasons of refreshing” and “the restitution of all things,” not annihilation of the globe, will come with the return of Christ (Act 3:19-21). 18233

Even so Come, Lord Jesus!