The New Testament and Violence: Pt 2 (Paul & State Violence)

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Last time, I began discussing violence in the New Testament. In particular, I am initially focusing on human violence done in the name of God (I’ll get to the question of God’s violence later, I promise). It’s critical to begin here if we want to read the Bible morally. A person saying that a hurricane or cancer was caused by God is one thing, but a person killing others for God is quite another. So we need to begin by focusing on what we do in the name of God, justice, and the good—especially when those “good” actions cause profound hurt to others.

The focus of violence in the Bible is often placed on the Old Testament, which is certainly understandable since this is where we find things like divine commands to commit genocide. Even those who defend the violence there commonly make the claim that these were commands specifically for the Israelites at the time and that for Christians today this would be completely out of the question. The New Testament clearly teaches us not to retaliate violently, but to “leave room for God’s wrath” so the problem of people killing in the name of God is really just an academic question, a thing of the past, perhaps part of another “dispensation” and Christians today don’t kill in God’s name. So we're good, right?
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The New Testament and Violence: Part 1

Saturday, September 06, 2014

On this blog we’ve been spending a lot of time wrestling with violence in the Old Testament. Beginning with this post, I'd like to turn our attention to the issue of violence and the New Testament.

There are two key issues here: human violence, and the violence of God. Both are important issues, but the obvious place to begin is with ourselves and what we do. So in this post I'll address the issue of human violence in the New Testament, and I save the issue of God's violence for a future post.

Now, while the Old Testament clearly does command human violence in the name of God, most people (including the vast majority of New Testament scholars) recognize that the central teaching of Jesus and the New Testament is enemy love, which entails a rejection of violence as a means of bringing about God's will.
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What is the Greatest Sin?

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Let’s talk about sin. This gets at one of the most basic questions we can ask: What is wrong with humanity, and how can we fix it? What leads to all the hurt in our world? What is the root cause of our problems?

One popular way to define sin is separation from God. This brings out an important aspect of sin that is often overlooked: We can be separated from God, life, and love in two ways. One is by our doing hurtful things, and the other is by hurtful things done to us. In short, we all do hurtful things, and we all have been hurt. A full understanding of sin needs to take both of these into account.
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Ferguson and America’s love affair with violence

Saturday, August 23, 2014

In Ferguson, an unarmed black teenager was killed by police. In reaction, thousands took to the streets in protest. However, rather than attempting to listen, the heavily militarized police immediately made a show of force with armored vehicles, assault rifles, riot gear, and tear gas. People Tweeted photos and videos more reminiscent of scenes from Baghdad or Fallujah than of a little Midwestern suburb in America.

Is this Ferguson or Fallujah?

Tear gas and rubber bullets were fired into the crowd of peaceful protestors. Multiple reporters were assaulted and arrested.
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