"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

The Ethical Dilemma and Moral Justification for Treating One's Enemies Differently According to One's Kingdom Purpose

It is an axiom that evil exists in this world. However, we who claim allegiance to Jesus Christ find it disconcerting that evil exists within Christendom too. Our belief system tells us that God "has delivered us from the domain of evil and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son" (Colossians 1:13). We are surprised when we see Christians act in evil ways because the essence of biblical Christianity is our transfer from the domain (reign) of evil to the domain (reign) of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ isn't evil, and one can't truly be in His Kingdom while at the same time delighting in living under the dominion of evil. To put it another way, it's impossible to love Christ and enjoy harming people for personal gain (I John 4:20). Evil doers are enemies to Christ and His people. It matters not that the evil doer proclaims to be a Christian; those who do evil are the enemies of Christ's Kingdom. The subject of this post is the answer to the question, "How should a Christian treat one's enemies?" The answer to this question is not nearly as simple as one might think.

Evil is not a nebulous, unidentifiable thing. Augustine wrote that evil is simply "the absence of good." However,  Scripture clearly distinguishes between passive evil and active evil. For example, ignorance is evil, but ignorance is a passive evil until it becomes the result of sloth and intentional neglect, two active evils. A corporation will fire a worker who is slothful and negligent, but it will train a worker who is simply ignorant. When evil becomes active,  justice must be pursued. Active evil is best described as "the pursuit of personal profit or pleasure by intentionally taking from or harming another human being."  God doesn't punish "evil." He punishes the evil doer. Active evil is committed by persons. Scripture does not separate evil from those who commit it.  Proverbs 7:11-12 declares:
"(11) God is a just judge, and God is angry with the wicked every day.  (12) If he does not turn back, He will sharpen His sword (of justice)."
Note two things about the above verse: (1). It is the person with whom God is angry, and (2). A person's lack of repentance from evil sharpens the sword of God's justice. That means the fall of the wicked is often quick and decisive. Moses said of the wicked one, "his foot shall slide in due time" (Deut. 32:35). When active evil occurs over a long period of time, God is simply sharpening His sword of justice.   When justice occurs in due time, it comes swiftly, like the fall of a person who "slips" off a cliff, or like spider web which suddenly breaks over an open flame, plunging the spider into the fire (Jonathan Edwards).

Jesus the Messiah came to save the evil person from his evil (Matthew 1:21). Jesus is the greatest Interventionist who has ever lived (Matthew 18:11). He takes a selfish and self-absorbed person who is capable of the grossest evil, loves him, pursues him, and then turns him into an unselfish, others-oriented person who possesses and cherishes the values of Christ and His Kingdom. These values include love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. 

Therefore, a professing Christian who takes from or harms another human being is a contradiction to the essence of Christianity and a shock to all who name Christ as their King. Disgust, anger, and moral repulsion are all appropriate feelings toward evil perpetrated against other people, particularly when that evil is committed by one professing faith in Christ. When a person actively, intentionally, and repeatedly takes from and harms other human beings, the sword of justice must be sharpened.

It is self-evident that there are different degrees of active evil. What is not so obvious is that people often do not see evil within themselves. Even the most elegant and fashion forward human being can possess a heart that revels in one's own pleasure at the expense of anothers' pain. When a culture loses disgust over active evil it will eventually collapse under the weight of its own destructiveness. Heather Pringle, in her fascinating book The Master Plan, reveals how Hedwig Potthast, the mistress of Heinrich Himmler, once proudly showed her house furniture to a close friend, pointing out:
"...the chair made from the polished bones of a human pelvic girdle, and another made from human legs and human feet."
Then Miss Potthast -
"...picked up a copy of Mein Kampf, explaining 'clinically and medically' that its cover was made from human skin" (Kindle Edition, pages 4369-4376).
Though the friend of Miss Potthast had known her for years, and though she had been in Miss Potthast's home several times, the friend had never known how evil Miss Potthast really was. It wasn't that evil one day came to Miss Potthast as much as it was that evil resided in Miss Potthast. Yet her friend didn't see it for years. The elegant trappings of the mistress' house covered the sore in her core. Only after exposure of how human beings were being harmed for the advancement of Miss Potthast's personal comfort did Miss Potthast's friend leave the house retching over the evil within.

Though the story of Miss Potthast and her friend is true, I would like to use it as an allegory for my evangelical friends who are bothered by evil within religious organizations. For much of the twentieth century, Christians worshipped together in systems of organizational structure that seemed to run efficiently. We worshipped God, served others, and trusted our religious leaders, never asking questions about the church's polished furniture. Since the rise of the Internet, God's people have found their voice, and things church leaders once proudly displayed for the praise of others (massive buildings, growing budgets, pastor book deals, and celebrity mega-ministries) are now being revealed by many as objects of personal, celebrity kingdoms built on the exploitation and harm of God's people. We Christians have been shocked at the evil we see in Christendom today.

How do we who love Christ respond to evil in this world? Even more, what is the appropriate
response to evil within religious institutions and faith organizations? 

Two very dear friends of mine lead a ministry called Wartburg Watch. Dee and Deb are  MBA's who have given of their time and energy, not to mention their incredible writing skills, to provide a safe reading environment for wounded Christians to heal. They have come under a great deal of abuse and name calling by leaders in religious movements because of their efforts to defend those Christians who've been wounded by religious leaders. These two women are unafraid to confront evil, and they have personally helped hundreds of people who have been harmed by abusive religious leaders who perpetrate evil for personal gain. In an enlightening and interesting discussion on one of their recent blogs, I engaged with some of my wounded brothers and sisters in Christ, encouraging all of us to continue to confront evil, but to avoid evil ourselves. I wrote:
I think we who’ve been muzzled and have found our voice, we who've been mistreated and now find ourselves on the right side of justice, we who can breathe out the collective expression ‘at last,' should do everything in our power to ensure we do not become joyful and celebratory in finding fault in the body of Christ. Rather, we ought to be saddened with the displays of grotesque and twisted contortions by our evangelical leaders, and we should remain resolute in confronting evil while not celebrating its presence or the downfall of our evangelical leaders.
One of the commentators at Wartburg, Patrice, responded to my comments with questions of her own. She wrote:
"I’d like to hear how else we might righteously respond to exposures of long-hidden evil, especially in light of the Psalms, where (God’s people) openly delighted in the enemies’ losses.  What does it mean to give the evil-doer the respect of his humanity while also rejoicing when he falls by exposure of his actions? How does that parcel out on comment threads?  And I would enjoy a discussion about how and where we (Christians) are to apply the different approaches to our enemies: “turn your cheek” and “forgive seventy times seven” versus “leaving family,” “dividing the truth,” “knocking over money-changer’s tables,” etc…”
The following is for Patrice and all other Christians with similar questions.

Government Rules Regarding the Treatment of Evil Doers

Jesus Christ distinguished between two kinds of kingdoms.

(1). There are kingdoms "of this world" (i.e. 'governments').
(2). There is the Kingdom of Christ which is "not of this world."

Jesus said to Pilate, "My kingdom is not of this world" (John 18:37 ). The phrase "not of this world" is often misunderstood. Some Christians wrongly think it means Christ's kingdom does not pertain to anything I do in this world. Not so. The Kingdom of Christ affects every area of  my life and pertains to everything in my life! What Jesus is saying is His kingdom is not patterned after the kingdoms around us. So, again, there are two kinds (or categories) of kingdoms: the kingdoms of this world and the Kingdom of Christ.

The first category, kingdoms of this world, includes every earthly reign of human government throughout the history of nations. From the ancient Assyrians to the modern Chinese, from ancient Greece to today's Turkey, from Hannibal's Carthage to Eisenhower's America, the governments of this world are designed to protect those who do good and punish those who do evil.

According to Romans 13, every human being has an allegiance to one of these governments. Each person is born "under' the dominion of an earthly kingdom and "subject to it" (Romans 13:1). Regardless of the form  (i.e. democracy, monarchy, republic, dictatorship, etc...), each government is called in Scripture "a minister of God." The appropriate ministry of government, however, is a ministry of justice, not mercy.
"If you do what is evil, be afraid; for government does not bear the sword (of justice) for nothing; it (government) is a minister of God, an avenger who brings punishment on the one who practices evil" (Romans 13:5).
Governments ought to punish those who practice evil for the good of others. Though justice does harm to evil-doers (imprisonment, isolation, death), all equitable punishment dispensed by the world's kingdoms occurs for the righteous purpose of preventing evil-doers from perpetrating future harm against others.

 When the Scripture says God "takes no pleasure in the death (punishment) of the wicked" (Ezekiel 18:32) it affirms that God takes no joy, no glee, no pleasure in the act of punishment. God makes no celebration, possesses no happiness, and experiences no delight in the equitable punishment of any evil doer. This principle is one of the reasons I wrote that Americans should not celebrate the death of Osama Ben Laden. Seek him out. Bring him to justice. Kill him, but be sad over the need to have to take the life of a human being because of the presence of evil in that life. Judgment is a grim necessity, not a celebratory party.

 
A righteous government is one that displays this character attribute of solemnity during judgment. When a government partakes in a harmful action of punishing evil doers through bombing, war, espionage, and the like, one of the most accurate measures of whether or not the actions of that government are righteous is the solemnity and seriousness during the killing of others. When terrorists celebrate the death of another human being, it is the tell-tale sign that God is not on their side. When Nazi's joked and made fun of the Jews they sent to the gas chambers, it was a sign of resident evil and that the innocent were being murdered.

God never takes pleasure in the punishment of the wicked and neither do civilized people whose character reflects the good character of God. When a nation must partake in the righteous act of inflicting harm on evil doers in order to prevent future harm by those same evil doers against other human beings, there should be sadness. This is the concept of just war. This solemn sadness should particularly prevail within the hearts of evangelical Christians when we see justice applied in the bringing down of non-profits and ministries led by those who have covered-up acts of evil over long periods of time.  No celebration. No joy. Only sadness. Approval of the act of of justice, yes; but dancing in the streets, no.

Scripture reveals the authority to punish evil doers is in the hands of God alone. " Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, "VENGEANCE IS MINE, I WILL REPAY," says the Lord" (Romans 12:19). However, God delegates authority to earthly kingdoms to impart judicial punishment for evil done, calling this governmental practice of punishing evil doers "the sword of justice" (Romans 13:5). Augustine points out that when a Christian acts as an agent of an earthly kingdom (ie. a soldier, a judge, or a peace officer), he may put to death an evil doer and not violate God's command "thou shalt not murder." Augustine writes in City of God:
"They who have waged war ... (who) have represented in their persons the public justice or the wisdom of government, and in this capacity have put to death wicked men; such persons have by no means violated the commandment, 'Thou shalt not kill.'"
When in the course of human history, an earthly kingdom or government begins to practice evil by infringing on the basic liberties of the governed, then it is incumbent and obligatory on the people to overthrow their earthly kingdom for the sake of the protection of human life and individual liberty. Our own Declaration of Independence puts it this way:
"Whenever any form of government becomes destructive to these ends (of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness), it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute new government.... Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes,,, But when a long train of abuses and usurpations... reduces (the people) under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security."
It is therefore entirely within the mandates of biblical Christianity to work as an agent for one's government and be an instrument of justice, punishing the evil doer through war or other retributive acts of justice. Further, it is entirely within the rights, and possibly even falls under one's moral obligation as a Christian, to participate in the overthrow of a despotic government that intentional harms its citizens, as Dietrich Bohnoeffer sought to do in Germany in 1945, and American pastors sought to do in colonial America during the Revolutionary War.

Christians may fight just wars in this world as agents of government because Christians are to be subject to the human kingdom under which they live. This world's kingdoms exist as "ministers of God" to secure individual liberties and protect human life. Evil doers who steal liberties from people and take human life are to be punished for the good of this world as a whole. But again, when Christians act as agents of justice under the dominion of human kingdoms, there ought never be any celebration over the presence of evil or the necessary destruction of evil doers' lives or property. It is a solemn thing to punish those who commit evil.

Christ's Kingdom Rules for the Treatment of  One's Enemies

When God condescended to earth as Man, born in Bethlehem, He inaugurated His Kingdom, a different kind of kingdom than the world's dominions of rule. Jesus said, "for this reason (to be King) I was born" (John 18:37). Jesus went from city to city proclaiming "Repent for the Kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 4:17). The word "kingdom" in English is a compound word - King and Dominion - Kingdom.

A great deal of utter confusion takes place when Christians misunderstand the nature of the Kingdom of Christ. Preachers try to make you think their ministries are His Kingdom. Nothing could be further from the truth. Televangelists seek to convince you that if you give to their non-profit you are "giving to the Kingdom of God." Not true. You are giving to a non-profit. One would hope that every church and every ministry is working to advance the Kingdom of God, but ministries, church corporations and non-profits are NOT the Kingdom of God. The worst mistake we make as New Covenant Christians is misidentifying the domain of Jesus Christ. He was born in Bethlehem to be King. Where is His domain?

Jesus told his disciples in Luke 17:21 that "the Kingdom of God is within you." There is coming a day when the Kingdom of God will be around you (heaven on earth), but until then, during the time "His enemies are (being) made His footstool," the Kingdom of God is within you.

Remember, the Kingdom of God is of a different character than the kingdoms of this world.  There are so many ways that Christ's Kingdom is different from the kingdoms of this world, but the main point Christ is making to His disciples is this: What is inside of you (i.e. "the Kingdom of God") is of a different character than the kingdoms around you ("the governments of this world").

When it comes to how an evil doer personally treats me, there are specific ways that "Christ in me" tells me to my enemy (i.e. the "evil doer" who perpetrates evil against me) as compared to how the kingdoms of this world SHOULD treat an evil doer. Listen to these Kingdom instructions:

"Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matthew 5:39).
"Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God" (Romans 12:19).
"Do not rejoice when your enemy falls, and let not your heart be glad when he stumbles" (Proverbs 21:19).
"But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you" (Luke 6:27). 
"Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times " (Matthew 18:21-22).

It is incumbent upon all of us who name Christ as Lord to realize that the greatest moral authority and effectual means to prevent evil from being perpetrated on others is the ability to overlook the evil done that is done to me. Or, let me put it this way, when the pain in my life is healed by the Balm of Gilead, then I can easily confront evil in this world for the sake of others, and not my own gain.

When the act of confronting evil is borne out of a desire for personal gain (healing), then the confrontation itself is in danger of becoming actively evil by seeking to take from or harm another human being for one's personal profit and pleasure. When I write about or confront evil out of my pain, I often do things that are unwise. I find myself in danger of developing a spirit or temperament similar to the self-righteous spirit of my abuser. Such struggles within often lead to celebrations when other people find themselves in loss or pain. This is a very subtle problem, but it is a very prevalent one, even within Christianity. Often, the abused becomes like his or her abuser. This ought not be in the Kingdom of Christ.

Here are some reflections on how Christians should respond to our enemies, including our own religious leaders, when they perpetrate evil against others:

(1). If an evil action is perpetrated against me personally I will display the fruit of the Spirit and never take personal vengeance on the evil doer, but will love him, confront him and hold him accountable for his sake and the sake of others who may be similarly abused as I. If a crime has been committed I will report for the good of society as a whole, while acknowledging the reign of Christ in my life and being willing forgive he who has wounded me.

(2). If an evil action is perpetrated against a person I know or love, I will do everything in my power to expose and to correct the wrong because of my obligation to love and serve others in their time of need. If a crime is committed, I will report it. If a person is bullied or silenced and otherwise has liberties stolen, I will defend the person encroached upon. I will protect and defend the vulnerable and defenseless, but I will always encourage my brothers and sisters in Christ who've been wronged to look to Christ for their healing and work toward justice for the sake of others.

(3). All the time I am confronting evil, I will never take a disposition of delight and glee in the downfall of evil doers. In fact, I will take no pleasure in the punishment of the wicked, just as my God does not, but I will be steadfast in my confrontation of evil in a desire to quench it for the good of others.

(4). I will always keep in mind that the government under which I am subject is of a different nature than the eternal Kingdom of Christ to which I belong. I will never confuse the two. I will never act as if my state, my nation, or my church is the Kingdom of Christ or vice-versa.

(5). To the extent that I allow my heart to take delight in personal vengeance I have lost my vision regarding the value of belonging to the Kingdom of Christ and waiting for the Day of Vengeance when He shall properly, accurately, and wisely make all things right.

I am not sure that this long and arduous post makes much sense to anyone else besides me, but after writing it, I am even more resolved to love my enemies personally. I will choose to overlook sins against me, but I will never turn a blind eye toward evil committed against others. In my help of those who have been wounded by acts of evil,  I will remind the wounded that only the reign of Jesus Christ in their lives will bring true healing to them. To any extent they seek personal vengeance on those who have wronged them, they have misplaced their trust. My Kingdom purpose is to expose truth and confront evil for the sake of good in this world, but I will give love and grace to those who have wronged me as a demonstration to the evil doer of the deep and profound truth that it was my evil that wounded Christ, and yet God forgave me. It is the love of God that led me to repentance of my evil.

In summary: I must strive as a Christian to be an agent of justice for the good of others in this world temporarily, but when it comes to wrongs against me personally, I will always and only seek to be an agent of grace for my King eternally.

My God grant me the grace to love people the way He loves me.

26 comments:

Bob Cleveland said...

I'm reminded of Bill Murray, son of Madalyn Murray O'Hair. He was the target of much hate, inasmuch as he was the plaintiff in the suit against the school system (Brown vs Curlett) that ultimately led to the Supreme Court decision banning school-led prayer.

Now, he is in the ministry. In God's service.

When we lavish hatred on someone, what we're really doing is revealing our estimation of God's abilities. But Jesus knew all about what God could do, and HE told us to love and pray for most everybody. Apparently, some people believe they know better than Jesus.....

Dee Parsons said...

Thank you Wade for saying this.

"My God grant me the grace to love people the way He loves me."

Richard Wurmbrand said “A flower, if you bruise it under your feet, rewards you by giving you its perfume."

I need to grow in this area.

Wade Burleson said...

Dee,

Beautiful quote.

I do not know if you need to grow in this or not, but I know I do. I look back to 2005 and 2006 and at some of my writings during that time that were the result of my experiences as a trustee for the IMB. I definitely was too self-absorbed, to selfish, and too motivated to see people who sought to hurt me pay for their evil. I'm learning but have a long, long way to go.

Thanks for your ministry! You are the best!

Wade Burleson said...

Not familiar with Bill's story, but a good example of the principle.

Bob Cleveland said...

Bill, son of the famous atheist, was the named plaintiff in the suit against the school system (which named either the principal or superintendent). The end result, after it was consolidated with another suit, was that the Supreme Court threw prayer out of Public schools. Bill was the plaintiff since he was the student in the school at the time.

We all know what happened to Madalyn Murray O'Hair.

Bill was later saved, I believe while his mother was still alive, and was called into the ministry.

It was an illustration in modern terms of the old song "When Others See a Shepherd Boy, God May See a King".

I also believe your father is familiar with this .. I think I recall him saying at one of the meetings in Arlington, that Bill was called into the ministry while in your dad's church.

Christiane said...

Look at others for what can found of 'goodness'.
Regarding others with a great generosity of heart was modeled by Our Lord Himself, when He was among us.
Remember, He desires from us a kindness towards one another.

Looking at others in a different light can do a lot of good.
Just look at how we perceive a person who is different from us and who we think is unloving and unlovable:
can we find in them something we did not see at first,
something of ‘goodness’ to celebrate for their sake (and for ours)?

From the Judaic tradition, comes this:
‘You have to judge every person generously.
Even if you have reason to think that person is completely wicked, it’s your job to look hard and seek out some bit of goodness, someplace in that person where he is not evil.
When you find that bit of goodness,
and judge that person that way,
you really may (help to) raise him/her up to goodness.
Treating people this way (may) allow them to be restored,
to come to teshuvah (to turn towards the Lord).’
(Reb Nachman of Bratzlav)


We ask 'did Our Lord see something in people that no one else saw?
Was He kind to them?'
Time and time again, the sacred Scriptures tell us of this.
We need to understand this as the better way, I think, for our sake and for the ‘others’, so that we can live in imitation of Him.

Christiane said...

For DEE,

Your quote of Richard Wurmbrand reminds me of a similar one, this:

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it."
(Mark Twain)

likely, both quotes were inspired by the classic beauty of William Shakespeare's oration on the quality of mercy:


"The quality of mercy is not strained; It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest; It blesseth him that gives and him that takes: 'T is mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes The throned monarch better than his crown: His sceptre shows the force of temporal power, The attribute to awe and majesty, Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings; But mercy is above this sceptred sway; It is enthronèd in the hearts of kings, It is an attribute to God himself; And earthly power doth then show likest God's When mercy seasons justice."

And Shakespeare's oration no doubt drew from the wisdom of sacred Scripture.

Rex Ray said...

Should truth be revealed fifty years later of two murdered men? God said, “Your brother’s blood cries out to me from the ground!” (Genesis 4:10)

Should shame continue to stain relatives of Oswald when he was eating lunch at the time of the killing? Does President Kennedy’s blood cry for truth?

I believe to refuse to heed James T. Tague’s book published in October 2013, is like the stoning of Stephen: “They put their hands over their ears…” (Acts 7:57)

Dallas Police tapes documented a bullet caused injury to Tague. Since only three shots were heard these three injured men made it necessary for the first bullet to become the ‘magic bullet’ that caused seven wounds.

This first bullet sounded like a firecracker because it was a dud. The autopsy revealed this bullet went in his back only one and a half inches which caused Kennedy to say: “My God, I’m hit” and he raised his hands.

Bar McClellan’s book of 2003, proved the unidentified finger prints in the ‘Sniper’s Nest’ belonged to a known murderer. BTW, the bullets that killed officer Tippet could NOT be fired from Oswald’s gun.

David Brainerd said...

"When terrorists celebrate the death of another human being, it is the tell-tale sign that God is not on their side."

So then is the song of Moses a tell-tale sign that God was not on Moses' side?

"The horse and the rider he has thrown into the sea" -- what? Moses is singing about his enemies being killed? Miriam is leading the women in dancing over Pharaoh's death and the drowning of his army?

Well then, according to Wade Burleton, God must not have been on their side despite the Scriptures plainly saying he was.

------------------------------

See the whole business about not rejoicing over the fall of our enemies only means our personal enemies when those enemies are not also God’s enemies. But if they are God’s enemies first and foremost, then we are required to rejoice over their death. That is what the Jews made Purim into a holiday. And that is why Moses and Miriam dance and sing over Phraoh’s death. Amen.

Wade Burleson said...

Patrice,

I am not sure what happened to your comment, but please feel free to come back and comment as often as you like.

I vaguely remember you asking about "loving my enemy as myself." I agree with you. However, that is a practice of the Kingdom of Christ and cannot be the practice of the kingdoms of this world. So, if one's allegiance and job is under the ministry of justice (the kingdoms of this world), one does not treat the enemy "as I would treat myself."

Wade Burleson said...

David Brainerd,

"See the whole business about not rejoicing over the fall of our enemies only means our personal enemies when those enemies are not also God’s enemies."

David, may I ask you a question? If God takes no pleasure (neither celebrates or rejoices, for that is the result of pleasure) in the death of the wicked (HIS ENEMIES), then why would we?

Israel as a nation did a number of things that other NATIONS and GOVERENMENTS (kingdoms of this world) do when enemies are defeated and pulled-down - WE CELEBRATE.

I am making the point that in view of your allegiance to the ETERNAL KINGDOM one does not celebrate the fall of the wicked. In view of your allegiance to a temporal kingdom of this world, one will often celebrate the downfall of one's enemies (Israel and Egypt, USA and Germany in WWII, etc...)

The entire point of my post is different treatment and different responses to one's enemy according to the different kingdom one is giving allegiance.

Old Testament Israel was a NATION, and not "all of Israel was Israel" (God's people, belonging to the eternal Covenant).

Anonymous said...

Probably the most important point, at least to me, of this post is not let ourselves become like our enemies.

Bullies taunt, bullies name call, bullies react with glee when someone is hurt or falls.

We should never be afraid to call them out. Ever. I hold tremendous respect for Pastor Wade and Dee and Deb for doing this.

But I appreciate this post as strong caution: in taking on bullies, we must NEVER take on bullying. That is, when we call people out for name calling, taunting, or hurting people we should do it in a manner that reflects well on Christ.

If WE begin to name call, to taunt, to ridicule then we have ceased calling out the bullies.

We have become bullies ourselves.

Fine line to walk, requiring much discernment.

Linda

Wade Burleson said...

Linda,

No better summary of the caution could be given than what you have written.

Thanks.

Aussie John said...

Wade,

I'm always saddened to read people who don't have the privilege of living in the knowledge and grace of the New Covenant.

Rex Ray said...

Conquer, but don't triumph. Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Debbie Kaufman said...

Linda: You said it well. It's an area I have had to work through in myself.

Anonymous said...

What about open air preaching nonstop? Billy Graham open air preached out on streets. There time coming where spiritual famine coming and Many people will feel separated from God but it demon make them feel that way. Many people will want commit suicide I've gotten this word confirmed twice by people who heard from Lord. Do not ever commit suicide. Specialists be released in 2014 I heard January by Lords power. Not man. But many will not listen to Him. Get back up and obey wat he asks of you. Nonstop. Holy Spirit is unstoppable love. Love can never be stopped up. This is an important key. Do people ever do Welsh revival pts You must confess any and all known sin, and put any wrong done to man right again.

Second, you must put away any doubtful habit.

Third, you must obey the Spirit promptly instantly without fear wherever and whenever. Type on youtube and watch open air preaching see way it like

Finally, you must confess your faith publicly.’
Anyone who commit suicide will go to he'll....so warn folks preach nonstop this is key

Anonymous said...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfbuhuiACxw. Open air preach in mall.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zZm6xLI8F34 they actually open air preach at some point.
If you go on youtube I've seen people heard open air preach in mall, airport, burger joints, bars, psychic places. These are days coming. Are you ready for persecution

Anonymous said...

Go on youtube and just watch all open air preaching. Must obey like apostles obey God above man

Janet said...

Thanks for addressing this issue in such detail. I have been tormented not so much by an injustice but by my response to it. This is good counsel to consider. Thanks.

Matthew Halsted said...

Hi Wade, love your stuff, as always. I have been thinking a TON on this subject, and honestly, I'm not sure where exactly I land. I did have a question about your own conclusion, specifically how you say: "...I am even more resolved to love my enemies personally. I will choose to overlook sins against me, but I will never turn a blind eye toward evil committed against others."

Here is an honest question, since I am trying to learn more myself: I completely agree with your above quote. But how far do you take this, and why? For instance, if someone's right to be a Christian and to worship as a Christian is being violated, even to the point of death, would you feel it ethical and consistent with Christ's teachings for another Christian to step in and stop by force (even deadly force) to aid the suffering Christian? (I think I know your answer, but...) Say someone is being flogged, or about to be hanged, for simply being a Christian, is it part of our duty to step in and stop it, even if that meant violence on our part?

Again, I'm not trying to raise questions for debate's sake, I'm simply trying to learn! I have no idea what to think on some of these things. My own opinion is that I don't think it's as easy as it first seems for a Christian who is part of "the heavenly kingdom" to wholly separate themselves to do the work of an "earthly kingdom." In other words, I don't think we can relegate the Sermon on the Mount to our mere personal lives. I'm not one who thinks the Kingdom of God is a heavenly, Platonic "thing" in the sky, but like you, am convinced the Kingdom should be "felt" here on earth, as it is in heaven.

Part of me thinks that a way of doing that very thing is to bring a Kingdom ethic of non-violence to the world, doing warfare opposite the world, in a more cross-centered way. This would entail taking the Sermon on the Mount as being normative for all people and institutions (controversial, I know). This seems untenable, I admit. It seems counter everything that makes sense. But the cross is foolish to some, right? (Okay, I know that I'm taking that out of context a bit, since Paul was speaking about the cross in a redemptive sense, but I would reply: Yes, but the cross should impact EVERY area of life, relational ethics not being excluded [see Phil. 2:5-11])

Further, it seems that Jesus doesn't exempt anyone from going around his commands in Matt. 5-7, since He is Lord of all; thus, His commands apply across the board. I feel, think even, that Jesus' commands to "love your enemies" must be seen as applying across the board to all people everywhere, otherwise one would have to admit that there is a part of life (gov't life, for instance) that Jesus is not Lord over. That may be a stretch, but I think the burden of proof is on those who think that the Sermon on the Mount does not apply to some areas of life, because Jesus doesn't seem to grant exception clauses.

Again, not an argument per se against you; I'm mostly thinking out loud, wrestling with myself. I've been doing that for about one year now, because... intuitively, I'm like you: I can't stand silently by when evil is rampant. It seems that--again intuitively--Hitler needed to be stopped, with force even. I'm with ya. Just not sure how to get there!

Thanks again for your post/ministry!

Blessings from,

Matthew Halsted, a very inconsistent pacifist :-)
(FBC McLoud)

Matthew Halsted said...

One more quick thing:

It seems, if I read you right, that you think Christians can participate in violence in a "just war" situation since they are doing so as part of their earthly kingdom duties, but they cannot celebrate in their bringing about the death of the wicked. The can't celebrate, you argue, because we are members of heavenly Kingdom, whose King does not celebrate the wicked's death.

I totally see what you are saying (if I am reading you right, that is). But here's the question: You seem to say on the one hand that, we can participate in violence because we are doing so as citizens of an earthly kingdom and that this is legitimate because it has little to do with the heavenly kingdom. But then, in the same breath, you import a kingdom-of-heaven ethic that says we are not allow to celebrate our doing violence, since that is contrary to God's heart.

But how can you keep the different kingdom's ethic on the one hand, and then on the other, import it when it comes to our attitude? If you are going to do that, why not simply import the entire kingdom ethic of non-violence to the kingdom of the world?

(Again, please don't hear me as picking a fight. I'm actually VERY sympathetic to the above, since that's the only way that would account for my intuitive inclinations mentioned in my last comment. But, I'm not sure that you and I would be consistent in doing this "picking and choosing" of what ethic to "bring down from heaven" when we want to. It seems that when we do this, then we would have to commit ourselves to some weird dualistic view of Kingdom theology, that Heaven's will really does NOT have its full impact on the earth as we believe.)

Am I even making sense here? Ha!

Wade Burleson said...

Matthew,

You make perfect sense. I can tell you have deeply thought through this issue.

You have read me right. You have also properly put your finger on the difficulty. Violence to protect the peace and liberty of those in an earthly kingdom; sadness that death is needed to stop the spread of evil.

How do we justify both as a Christian? It seems our reaction would be consistent with God when He puts to eternal death (the second death) the wicked and the Scripture says, "God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked."

The biggest problem I have is understanding what is - and what isn't - a just war.

Only those with all the information can make the wisest decision, and it is not easy to make those wise decisions when it comes to earthly kingdoms, but I will not forfeit the belief that there is such a thing as a just war, even though I acknowledge it is not always easy to determine true justice in this life.

World War II comes to mind as a just war.

Matthew Halsted said...

I am just now seeing this (totally forgot about this post). But yeah, I feel ya, the dilemmas are tough to deal with. I like what you said about "Just War": Just because we can't always understand what a just war is, doesn't mean there isn't one. And too, I like your example of God justly punishing someone, though being sad at the same time. Good stuff. Not sure I still have it figured out. But as always, I have learned something from your stuff. Iron sharpens iron. Thanks, man.

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Jill
www.imarksweb.org

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