Welcome to Brian's Bits, where Brian gets to share at length about various topics stirring inside of him.
11 August 2014
The articles I write on this Web site — as well as on Your Islamic Future — are born of much reading and research, pondering and prayer. In the course of some recent reading and research, I came upon a very interesting and relevant Web site called NonResistance.org. Here is the mission statement from the home page:
In addition to the writings of various authors from over many hundreds of years which are freely made available on the Web site, the Webmaster, Tom Lock, has himself written a handful of articles. One that I took a look at is Why NonResistance.org? — How I Got From There To Here. Of course, you'll want to read the whole thing, but for now I want to highlight a part of it which I found fascinating and exhilarating:
When Christians seek to justify their violent actions, they pervert the gospel and vainly attempt to recast Jesus in their own image.
When Christians put patriotism above the gospel, it is heresy and idolatry.
In order to promote nonresistance, we are collecting and posting literature that teaches this essential, misunderstood, and ignored element of the gospel.
During the presidential election campaign of 2004... several church members and I attended one of many conferences held by a large national Christian men's organization. The conference leaders highly praised the [U.S.] troops and expressed their wholehearted support for the [Iraq] war, and a (supposedly) Christian comedian ridiculed the French for refusing to sanction or support the war. The only thing that kept me from trying to shout down the speaker was the realization that, in a large stadium filled with thousands of people, I could not hope to be successful.Wow! Mr. Lock's bold, prophetic actions in front of the congregation that day literally takes my breath away! I wish I had been there to see him ripping the pages out of the Bible like that! I would have stood and clapped and cheered the powerful point he was making!
In church the next day, when we were invited to tell the congregation about the conference, I got up and went to the microphone. I read Matthew 5:38-48: "You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth,' but I say to you, do not resist an evil person... You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy,' but I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you..." I read it, tore the page out of my Bible, wadded it up, and threw it on the floor.
I read Luke 6:27-36: "But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you..." I read it, tore the page out of my Bible, wadded it up, and threw it on the floor.
I read Romans 12:14-21: "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse... Never pay back evil for evil to anyone... Never take your own revenge... Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good." I read it, tore the page out of my Bible, wadded it up, and threw it on the floor.
I read 1st Peter 3:8-9: "To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead..." I read it, tore the page out of my Bible, wadded it up, and threw it on the floor. And then I continued, telling them how ashamed I was of the American church and for abandoning the Gospel of Peace.
To say that the incident in church got me into a whole lot of trouble would be an understatement. I apologized the next week for scaring the children, but I am still ashamed that the American church — and that congregation — have abused the scriptures in a way that is far worse than me. They may as well tear those pages out and throw them away, for all the care, attention, and obedience they pay to them — which was, after all, my whole point.
At any rate, that was pretty much the end of that church for me, and the end of me for them. I was permitted to conduct two or three poorly attended Sunday school classes on nonresistance after that but was not permitted to preach a sermon, even though no one was able to show my views to be Biblically incorrect. (The church had previously been relatively open to non-clergy delivering sermons.) It is remarkable and sad how quickly and completely 20 years of fellowship evaporated when I took a stand for peace.
I'm thinking that perhaps NonResistance.org is somewhat misnamed, because, as you can see from his story, Mr. Lock DID resist and confront evil, but he did it in a nonviolent way. Well, I guess it WAS violent for that Bible, and there was definitely a MORAL violence and outrage being expressed, but it wasn't physical violence against another human. It would not be hard for me to imagine Yeshua (Jesus) doing the same thing.
In the midst of recounting his story, Mr. Lock shares a profound and piercing quote from the English Quaker writer Jonathan Dymond (1796-1828):
What is the fact? Muslims and Pagans [have seen our scriptures and] do not believe that our religion allows war. They reproach us with the inconsistency. Our wars are, with them, a scandal and a taunt. "You preach to us," say they, "of Christianity, and would convert us to your creed. First convert yourselves; show us that you yourselves believe in it." No, the Jews at our own doors tell us that our wars are evidence that the Prince of Peace has not come. They bring [up] the violence of Christians to prove that Christ was a deceiver.You can read the entire essay by Dymond — An Enquiry into the Accordancy of War with the Principles of Christianity — on the NonResistance.org Web site.
Thus do we cause evil to be spoken of the way of truth. Thus are we, who should be the helpers of the world, its stumbling-blocks and its shame. We, who should be lights to those who sit in darkness, cause them to love that darkness still. Well may the Christian be ashamed for these things. Well may he be ashamed for the reputation of his religion. And he may be ashamed too, for the honored defender of the Christian faith who stands up, the advocate of blood, who invents subtle sophisms and searches over the fields of speculation to find an argument to convince us that we may murder one another! This is the "wisdom of the world" — that wisdom which is emphatically called FOOLISHNESS.
Well, what more can I add to what Mr. Lock and Mr. Dymond have already said? How could I say it, or demonstrate it, any better? I can't, and so I'll bring this article to a close.
This article is 19th a series of articles on this Web site related to Exploring New Testament Realities which also includes (scroll to see the entire list):
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