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Did Christ ever advocate violence against non-Christians?

 
 
nimh
 
Reply Sun 1 Aug, 2004 09:11 pm
Sofia wrote:
OK nimh--

Maybe you're right. Find me one reference where Christ advocates violence against those of other religions--or ANYBODY for that matter and I'll never bring up this subject again.

Now I'm a total nitwit on the Bible, so I have to pass this one on - and I'd like to, cause I am curious about it.

In this post, she furthermore added that "no Christian, following the teachings and/ or example of Christ can find any support for violence that I have ever seen. Plenty of crap has been perpetrated by people calling themselves Christians--but they find no succor in Christ's teachings. Not so with teachings of Mohammad."

Comments from those here who know so much more than me about the matter?

The post of mine she was referring to said:

Quote:
I know little about the Bible, myself, so I'll have to butt out of that one soon enough - but just here on A2K alone I've seen some literal quotations from the Bible that are everything as hateful and call as clearly for killing unbelievers as you'll find in the Qu'ran. Thats a pissing contest that quickly becomes meaningless, especially as the Qu'ran is as varyingly interpreted and used in the current-day Muslim world as the Bible has been in the Christian world.
 
ebrown p
 
  3  
Reply Sun 1 Aug, 2004 09:41 pm
Jesus himself never advocated violence. His teachings and his behavior were very non-violent. Read the gospel of Matthew 5-7 for his beliefs which include "turning the other cheek" and not resisting evil people evin when they hurt you.

There are people who will bring up a passage which says "I did not come to bring peace, but a sword". This quote in context is clearly not advocating violence. The context (Matthew 10) is when Jesus is sending his proteges out to preach and their words were going to cause conflict. There are no examples of Jesus using violence.

The one recorded example of one of Jesus' followers using violence happened when Peter cuts of the ear of a soldier about to arrest Jesus. Jesus ends up scolding Peter, healing the soldier and submits willingly to his arrest.
------

However saying the Bible doesn't advocate violence is wrong.

The Old Testament (before Jesus) is filled with horrible crimes that God sanctions and even commands.

There is Genocide, including a divine order to kill women and children at Jericho. There is Fratricide where God commands followers of Moses to kill their own families.

There are commands to kill for women who are unable to prove they are a virgin and homosexuals.

-------
Jesus was a unique religious leader because of his message of pacifism. If you limit yourself to the Gospels of the Bible you will get a very non-violent message.

But if you compare the Judeo-Christian heritage that influences our culture to other cultures you will find that parts of the Bible are extremely brutal. The God of the Bible would be considered a war criminal by todays standards.

However, comparing the Bible against other religious texts or traditions seems like a worthless excersize.
ebrown p
 
  1  
Reply Sun 1 Aug, 2004 09:48 pm
I just looked at the thread that you are coming from. I was part of this thread in its beginning and left because it became more and more idiotic.

There are Christian groups that follow the non-violent teachings of Jesus. The Quakers are the most notable of these. Ironically it is these non-violent groups that are also the most tolerant and accepting of other religions, including Islam.

The Christian groups that try so hard to demonize other religions are the ones who themselves justify violence.

Funny how these things are.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 04:53 am
It is important to remember that Jesus of Nazareth was known as the son of a Galilean carpenter and as such was most likely himself an ex-carpenter during that part his life on Earth as recounted in the New Testament. At most, a very select few, all orthodox Jews, knew him to be anything other than a charismatic rabbi (teacher) with a following. Certainly no one then thought of him as the founder of a great new religion that would change the world. It is therefore highly unlikely that there were any reporters or secretaries following him around writing down every word. The closest thing to that would have been Josephus, a Jewish historian, who took some interest in Jesus and wrote about him. There is no evidence that Josephus himself ever became a Christian.

The New Testament passages that 'quote' Jesus were compiled decades after Jesus' was crucified. They are made up of pericopes or short sayings attributed to him and almost certainly recalled by his foloweres who would be those well versed in oral tradition and therefore very good at memorization and recollection.

In the four Gospels, the pericopes are gathered and edited together and placed in various settings for editorial effect. Each of the Gospels was written from a uniquely theological perspective and for that purpose. There was no intent to write a comprehensive history; therefore there are some differences in settings, descriptions, chronology, and often in the wording. The New Testament writers didn't know they were writing scripture or they surely would have been much more meticulous in editing together the documents and would have certainly added much more detail and explanation that would be enormously helpful to us now.

Jesus was unique and intriguing because he explained God in such different terms than the demanding and wrathful Yahweh of the Old Testament. And no, there are no words attributed to Jesus or any of the writers who got New Testament bylines that advocate taking up arms and killing non believers or people of other religions BECAUSE they are non believers or believers or people of other religions. Those concepts were inventions from much later post-Biblical times and were motivated far more by politics and desire for power than by any religious convictions.

Religion I think was used as a justification for, but was never the driving force behind, the less exemplary periods of Church history such as the crusades and the Inquisition. Throughout medieval times and well into the Reformation, the popes and/or monarchs of old ruled by controlling orthodoxy and retained their own power by enforcing the orthodoxy de jour frequently by extreme measures.

The New Testament does contain passages such as "there will always be wars and rumors of wars" and numerous admonitions to not tolerate evil. While I think Jesus would have deplored war and would never have advocated aggression of any kind for personal gain, I think by the few words of His that we have and by his own example, He did not condone evil; i.e. man's inhumanity to man. The closest thing we have to righteous war in the New Testament is the image of the Archangel Michael leading the forces of God against Satan's army at Armageddon.

We have too few of Jesus actual words and teaching, however, to either support or denounce military action to stop man's inhumanity to man. Jesus was pretty big on using common sense however.
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 05:32 am
Ebrown, thank you very much for your info (Fox, you too of course, but I havent read your post yet!)

From what I gather from Ebrown's post, there is a distinction between what Jesus himself specifically said, and other things included in the Bible, including examples of what God is said to have proclaimed?

In my original post, of course, I merely referred to the Bible and it including "calls for killing unbelievers" - admitting that all I went on were some quotes I'd come across some time and vaguely remembered. Sofia narrowed down the question to Jesus Christ, specifically, never having advocated violence against those of other religions. So I guess if you look at it that way, we were both right. Just a question of choosing the definition.

I'm interested in the Bible, period I mean its use in this context anyway. I understand from your post, ebrown, that there are many parts of the Bible where violence and violent punishment are advocated. But is there specifically also a call for violence / punishment / fighting against non-believers or those of other religions? Have Church leaders (at the time of the Crusades or the Inquisition or whenever) referred to the Bible as justification for their violence, and if so, which specific texts did or could they reference? Or did they (and other, later Christians who engaged in violence or violent warfare) argue their justification only in indirect ways, not being able to find specific Bible texts to draw on?
0 Replies
 
ebrown p
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 08:59 am
Sure there was a huge difference. Compare these two passages.

Jesus (Matthew 5) wrote:

"You have heard that it was said, 'Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.' But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

"You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[8] and hate your enemy.' But I tell you: Love your enemies[9] and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.


Compare that with this from Exodus 32
Quote:

Moses saw that the people were running wild and that Aaron had let them get out of control and so become a laughingstock to their enemies. So he stood at the entrance to the camp and said, "Whoever is for the LORD , come to me." And all the Levites rallied to him.

Then he said to them, "This is what the LORD , the God of Israel, says: 'Each man strap a sword to his side. Go back and forth through the camp from one end to the other, each killing his brother and friend and neighbor.' "

The Levites did as Moses commanded, and that day about three thousand of the people died. Then Moses said, "You have been set apart to the LORD today, for you were against your own sons and brothers, and he has blessed you this day."


Most American Christians try to explain away the explicitly non-violent doctrine of Christ. They seem to be much more comfortable with the Old Testament version of things with its strict laws and righteous violence. It should not be surprising that it is the "Ten Commandments" and not the "Beatitudes" that fundamentalists are trying to put in public courtrooms.

Somehow the words of Jesus, "blessed are the merciful" and "blessed are the peacemakers" don't sit well with the modern American version of "Christianity".
au1929
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 09:56 am
I did not take the time to read the other responses. However, I must ask what other religions? What Christians? I should remind you that Jesus was a Jew and that Christianity did not exist. As a matter of fact the Christianity did not exist as a religion until well after the death of Jesus. So how could he have advocated violence against non-Christians.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 12:41 pm
Nimh was pretty explicit that his question referred to the followers of Jesus, not Jesus himself. However, one cannot have a comprehensive discussion of Christian practices without knowing what the original teachings were.

Some Christian groups put no importance on Old Testament teachings other than as instructive of custom and history; others put virtually equal importance on New and Old Testament; and a few seem to put more importance on O.T. teachings than on new. So much of what we know of early Christian belief and practices are difficult to find or missing from the Bible. What we have of the Bible was written for its immediate congregation and therefore did not always bother to state the obvious to the immediate congregation. Now two thousand years later, it is no longer obvious and in many case it is necessary to go back and read the text through the eyes of those who wrote it in order to understand its original intent.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 12:49 pm
Inasmuch as there were, before the Nicean Council, at least thirteen, and possibly more, "gospels" in circulation, and as we have no reliable information that any of those who wrote the "gospels" of the contemporary creed were contemporaries of Yeshua the Rabbi, from whom the modern "Jesus" was created as from whole cloth--any discussion of what "Christ" (from the Greek word for savior) advocated is pure speculation, and a hoarily ancient form of wool gathering.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 01:08 pm
Still if you go back to the ancient Jewish and Roman manuscripts as well as the oldest available Christian manuscripts, the writings of those late first and second century theologians who were eye witnesses to accounts or personally knew people who were eye witnesses to accounts even though their writings didn't make it into the book, and mix in some knowledge of the history and culture of the time, we can come up with a pretty good idea of the original intent I think.

We are much less likely to misinterpret the intent of a person writing 50 to 100 years ago than we are to miscontrue the intent in hand written notes of 1000 or 2000 or more years ago.
0 Replies
 
au1929
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 02:24 pm
Eye witnesses? How reliable are eye witnesses. Speak to ten eye witnesses and you will get ten different versions of the same incident, and that is when it just happened. Imagine what you get many years later.
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fortune
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 02:30 pm
Time to rehearse their story?
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ebrown p
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 02:59 pm
Geesh you all!

The Gospels are part of a religious text, not a newspaper.

What we got is the gospels (all 13 of them, 4 of which are accepted as canon) and some scattered additional non-scriptural sources. If you want a precise historical reckoning, you are out of luck.

But it doesn't matter.

The Jesus of the four canonical gospels is a remarkable figure of strength and faith. He preaches goodness and forgiveness and non-violence and love and ends up making the supreme sacrafice.

Did this really happen in a scientific, historical way? Probably not. Is there a basis in a historical figure? Quite possibly.

These gospels are certainly products of early Christians and there are other historical sources that give us some additional supporting information on the start of Christianity.

The story is remarkable and as fine a basis as any for a religious doctrine and a moral code.
0 Replies
 
Letty
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 02:59 pm
No, Jesus did not advocate violence, but he certainly did get upset with those using the church for the sole purpose of making money. As I recall, He took a whip to them. To me, the metaphor here is that those who use religion as a means of "cashing in", should rouse some ire in all of us.
0 Replies
 
Craven de Kere
 
  2  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 03:13 pm
It's not true that "there are no examples of Jesus using violence".

For an example note that he took a whip to a temple full of people and went on a rampage. But ebrown is right in that the overall thrust of his teachings were very non-violent and remarkably so for the times.

The example ebrown gave has one of the clearest indictments against violence when he said "all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword".

Matthew 26:50-54

Quote:
50 And Jesus said unto him, Friend, wherefore art thou come? Then came they, and laid hands on Jesus and took him.
51 And, behold, one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear.
52 Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.
53 Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?
54 But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled, that thus it must be?


That he then mentions the ability to invoke violence is telling, as a lot of the violence Christ referred to was "spiritual" violence.

This line of thinking was most clearly articulated by Paul:

Ephesians 6:11-12

    "[b]we wrestle not against flesh and blood[/b], but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places"


But in overall context Christ was very non-violent and there are numerous instances of him being non-violent to a fault, he was the Suffering Servant from Isaiah 52-53. Even when violence was used against him.

The example of the ear was when he was being taken away to be killed, and Peter was defending him.

Here's another example of a baffling calm when violence was used against him:

John 18:22-23

Quote:
22 And when he had thus spoken, one of the officers which stood by struck Jesus with the palm of his hand, saying, Answerest thou the high priest so?
23 Jesus answered him, If I have spoken evil, bear witness of the evil: but if well, why smitest thou me?


Christ advocating violence is something I do not recall, it would have been dangerous for the times.

Predicting violence upon non-believers is something Christ did do. It was usually part of a "distant big stick" approach and not anything immediate.
The "the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force" (verse 12) speech from Matthew 11.

Quote:
20 Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:
21 Woe unto thee, Chorazin! woe unto thee, Bethsaida! for if the mighty works, which were done in you, had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes.
22 But I say unto you, It shall be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon at the day of judgment, than for you.
23 And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.
24 But I say unto you, That it shall be more tolerable for the land of Sodom in the day of judgment, than for thee.


If you note what the Biblical god did to Sodom you will know that Jesus is predicting some heavy-duty destruction and violence.

The new testament is pretty big on predicting it in the future, if not advocating it. Another distinction is that it will be from god, and not an exhortation for men.

2 Thessalonians 1:7-9

Quote:
7 And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels,
8 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ:
9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;


But the overall thrust is simply not violent, his prevailing theme was love and non violence. Despite the occasional fear tactics (big eventual stick) his prevailing theme was against fear as well.

John 14:27
Quote:
27 Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.


Now the Bible itself has other places that are violent, but is you restrict it to Christ's words and the words of his followers the message is largely non-violent to a degree that should make Sofia ridicule them as soft pansies who wouldn't have reacted to 9-11. ;-)

Other references (some are very explicit and relevant about violence and non-believers):

Luke 6:31-32, Romans 13:10, Luke 10:3, 2 Corinthians 5:11, 1 Peter 2:19-24, Romans 13:1-4......
0 Replies
 
nimh
 
  1  
Reply Mon 2 Aug, 2004 04:31 pm
Wow - lots and lots of answers, thank you all very much. Lots to read up. I've been updating my election graphs right now, but will return to read all this. Interesting.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Aug, 2004 05:13 am
Foxfyre wrote:
Still if you go back to the ancient Jewish and Roman manuscripts as well as the oldest available Christian manuscripts, the writings of those late first and second century theologians who were eye witnesses to accounts or personally knew people who were eye witnesses to accounts even though their writings didn't make it into the book, and mix in some knowledge of the history and culture of the time, we can come up with a pretty good idea of the original intent I think.

We are much less likely to misinterpret the intent of a person writing 50 to 100 years ago than we are to miscontrue the intent in hand written notes of 1000 or 2000 or more years ago.


It simply is not true that there is any Roman source for an "eye-witness" account of the purported Jesus. There is a single passage in Tacitus, which has since been shown to have been willfully altered by monastic scribes, which christians have claimed acknowledges the existence of a "Christ," a savior. Roman records which have never passed through christian hands are entirely mute on the subject.

If you're going to make it up as you go along, Fox, you need to find a forum where people are sufficiently ignorant to take you at your word.
0 Replies
 
Foxfyre
 
  2  
Reply Tue 3 Aug, 2004 07:47 am
There are numerous writings by late first century and second century theologians who were living in the Roman Empire at the time they were written. In fact these writings form the initial foundation for what would become the Roman Catholic Church. It is these to which I refer, not to Roman history perse.

We do have quite a good store of knowledge as to what the people and culture of the various parts of the Empire were like in the first and second centuries (and later of course) and these do provide important insights into references and/or intent in the early Christian writings even when they are completely unrelated.

For example, a writer today assumes that everybody in the world knows what a light bulb is and is highly unlikely to describe or explain it when mentioning it in a manuscript. A historian 2000 from years from now runs across a reference to a 'light bulb'. Because alternate light sources had been used for 1800 years, he asks 'what in the hell is a light bulb?'. Then digging around in other unrelated ancient writings such as an encyclopedia, he eventually figures out what the reference meant.

In my opinion, Bible study and study of other ancient Christian writings has to be approached like that. What was perfectly obvious and needed no explanation to the writers then may need some work on our part to fully understand what they were saying.
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Aug, 2004 09:13 am
Late first century theologians and second century theologians would not be eye-witnesses to the life of Yeshuah the Rabbi. Your simple assertion that this is true does not make it true. You haven't named names. I referred specifically to Tacitus and to Roman historians, because theologians are in the business of pedalling their particular favorite flavor of superstition, and are not to be relied upon for historically reliable information. For centuries, Nottker the Stammerer was considered in Europe to be the best source on the life of Charlemagne, because he had written within a century of that man's death. This depsite the flying bishops and other religious absurdities in his work. It took people who could separate themselves from religious prejudice to stand up to the prevailing opinion and state clearly that what Nottker had written was nonsense.

You'll find the same thing with texts which were alleged to have been written in the first and second century which deal with religion and history. Quite apart from not being certain who may or may not have edited such texts and especially after the Nicean Council and the extreme schism between the Orthodox and the Arian christians, these texts are notoriously unreliable in the eyes of historians. Christians continue to tout unreliable documents because said documents coincide with what they would like to believe, as opposed to what is historically reliable.

Got any names you'd care to throw out here, Fox?
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Setanta
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 Aug, 2004 09:16 am
By the way, we have little or no idea of what the majority of people were like in the Roman Empire in the first and second centuries of the current era. What we have is inferential or conjectural. Tacitus and Seutonius and other historians of the period were not interested in the lives of the plebeians--they reported on the events in the lives of the powerful. Religious writings are suspect because the author either wishes to praise those of whom he approves, or to vilify those whom he considers pagans--little of truth enters into such panegyrics or polemics.
0 Replies
 
 

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