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Friday, August 14, 2015

Do Jesus' words apply merely to private retribution and not to state-sponsored actions?


What if Jesus meant what He said?

Now let us set aside our denominational/national/traditional way of interpretation for a while and ponder the following verse of Jesus with a child-like simplicity and fresh spirit.

"But I say unto you, love your enemies." Matt 5:44

Today I'd like to share with you an excerpt from the pamphlet entitled "How many men are necessary to change a crime into a virtue?" by Adin Ballou.



How many does it take to annul the commandments of God, and render that lawful, which HE has forbidden? How many does it take to metamorphose wickedness into righteousness?
One man must not kill. If he does it is murder. Two, ten, one hundred men, acting on their own responsibility, must not kill. If they do, it is still murder.
 
But a state or nation may kill as many as they please, and it is no murder. It is just, necessary, commendable and right. Only get people enough to agree to it, and the butchery of myriads of human beings is perfectly innocent. But how many does it take? This is the question. Just so with theft, robbery, burglary, and all other crimes. Man-stealing is a great crime in one man, or a very few men only.
 
But a whole nation can commit it, and the act becomes not only innocent, but highly honorable. So a whole nation can rob on the largest scale, and perpetrate burglary on an entire city by martial power, without crime. They can do all these things with impunity, and call on the ministers of religion to say prayers for them.
Verily there is magic in numbers! The sovereign multitude can out-legislate the Almighty, at least in their own conceit. But how many does it take?
 
--quotes ended--
 
Unlike the ways of the earthly nations, I believe that―in Jesus' Kingdom, the end does not justify the means.
 
In Jesus' eyes, our means are as important as our ends themselves.
 
Our means must also reflect the Lamb of God, our suffering Savior who literally loved His enemies and prayed for those who cursed Him and killed Him.
 

 O Jesus! help us to live up to Your words and
to be faithful to You until the end. Amen.


13 comments:

  1. It says in Matthew 24:7 "Nation will go to war against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world." So when army of one nation goes against the other country it's nation against nation. Bible also says that our citizenship is in heaven. So when one nation goes against another we are not in war with the other nation.
    Bible also speaks about how God will judge the nations for their deeds.
    I don't fully understand that concept.

    God bless you,
    Irina

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  2. Irina, thank you so much for tackling this difficult issue with me. I do appreciate your friendship.

    Some brethren think that if we pay back evil for evil as "individuals" it is wrong, but if we do it under "state" authority, it does not violate Jesus' teaching.

    Regarding this question, I found an excellent excerpt and I'd like to share with you

    Here it goes;
    "If the state orders me to worship idols, would that make it right? In other words, is it wrong for me to worship idols as an "individual", but perfectly right to worship idols if I do it under the authority of the "state"?

    Is it wrong for me to practice divination as an individual, but acceptable if I do it under state authority? Is it wrong for me to commit adultery as an individual, but not a sin if the state orders me to do so? Is divorce wrong for me as an individual, but perfectly legitimate if the state authorizes me to divorce my spouse?

    Or suppose a Christian lives in a country where the government orders women to obtain abortions for the good of the country. Perhaps the country is overcrowded, and the government thinks the most feasible way to end the overcrowding is by reducing the birth rate.

    Does that make it lawful for a Christian woman to kill her baby through an abortion? If not, why is it different when the same government orders its citizens to kill others in a war?

    When Jesus gave His commandments on nonresistance and loving our enemies, did He make any distinction between private actions and state-sponsored actions? Not at all. In fact, His teaching was supplanting an Old Testament law that itself pertained to state actions, not private ones....(continued)"

    from The Kingdom That Turned the World Upside Down, p.79

    Irina, I am so glad that our King is the Prince of Peace! And as He said, His Kingdom is not of this world.

    Once again, thank you for your comment. with love, Kinuko

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  3. When Typhoon Yolanda brought big disaster to Leyte Philippines in 2013,many people lost their house. Food and water were supplied to survivors by goverment,TV station crew took the sight by camera.Many solidiers with rifle were watching around to prevent looting.

    I watched it on TV news,thought 'It may be evitable to let solidiers to stay there to protect weak people's right. If I were strong man with starving family,I might think of looting from others.'. I highly respect absolute pacifism of anabaptist,of many christians,but I had thought that armies and arms are nessecery evils especially in that kind of case to keep order. I know it's kind of peace by threatening.

    Recently I had little question about it. Maybe I am thinking about justice and peace only on earthy point of view?

    To keep order,prevent terrorist's or other contry's attack..there are many reasons that let us feel armies and arms are nessecery for Nation. I do'nt believe human goodness so much.If we do not have armes,we will kill each other with other tools in war,I think.(like massacre in Rwanda.)

    What we should do for true peace only God can give us? Fighting against our sin,our sinner's nature only asking for ourselves. I do not reach clear conclusion on this issue.But our citizenship is in Heaven,as Irina said.I think to obey God in more important than patoriotism.

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  4. Thank you so much for your sincere comment. (By the way, is that you Sanae??)

    Yes, I agree with you that armies are necessary evil. At the same time, I believe that Jesus' followers cannot join armies, because it clearly contradicts His words.
    But choosing this way often brings presecution, sufferings and even death.

    Regarding this, I've read one moving book (testimonies).

    Kathleen Nenadov, "Choosing to Suffer Affliction The Untold Story of Nazarene Persecution in Yugoslavia"

    This volume traces the history of the Nazarene church in Yugolslavia after World War II, with an emphasis on the persecution faced by the Nazarene brethren due to their nonresistance stand.

    (*You can download this e-book here; At this moment, it is free of charge!)
    http://www.lulu.com/shop/kathleen-nenadov/choosing-to-suffer-affliction/ebook/product-17548096.html

    They suffered severe tortures, years of imprisonment and forced labours, because of their refusal to take arms. I could not read these accounts without tears. I admire their steadfast faith and love to Christ.

    Our citizenship is in Heaven. Yes, amen!

    Once again, thank you so much for your comment. Kinuko

    p.s. I also watched one fascinating video called,
    Debate on "It's Just War -- Should Christians Fight?"
    http://www.followers-of-the-way.org/justwar2014.shtml

    *These debate were not held between (so called) Conservative Right VS Liberal Left. No, both sides are conservative in terms of Christian theology. Both are Bible-believing Christians. If you are interested in these topics, you can watch it, too!

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  5. Yes,I am Sanae. Sorry,I noticed that I mistook on writing one sentence and some spelling after publishing. I wanted to say 'It maybe not evitable to let solidiers to stay..'. My English ability is so limited to write about profound issue.This issue is also very challenging for me. Thank you for sincere answer and introducing these documents.
    Sanae

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  6. Dear Sanae,
    Thank you for your additional comments. I cannot thank enough, Sanae, for your sisterhood and your commitment.

    Yes, these issues have been in my thought, too. After much struggling, I came to the conclusion that I cannot be part of "God and Nation" Bible-believing Christians' circle which justifies human killings in the name of Just War. Neither can I be part of so called, "Peace Activist" type of left-wing Christians' circle.

    I also noticed that in the West, most of the latter circle are not Bible-believing Christians.Many of them do not believe the inspiration of the Bible.

    Here, I noticed, there is a difference between US evangelicals and Japan evangelicals. In Japan, both circles tend to reject the idea of Just War in general.

    Why? I don't know exactly. But I can assume that Japanese Christians have learned the impossibilities of the co-existence of true Christianity and nationalism/patriotism from the last tragic war. What do you think?

    In Christ,
    Kinuko

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  7. There are also few christians who pursues co-existance of christianity and patriotism in Japan.They are often criticized.Because patriotism often regard other countries as enemies,and this kind of attitude is against the Words 'Love your enemy.'.

    Left wing,peace activist type christians in Japan are well-known.But I think that they also have problem.They often severely accuse political leader,do not respect him.

    What we should as christian is to pray for him. I think that if one hope to make political action,he/she should do it outside the churches as individual. I know that many Japanese non christian people criticize christians for political activity in churches.

    Both of cathoric and protestant have same problem. I have seen political pamphlets about anti-nuclear power generation,protecting the constitution,foreigner's political paticipation,etc in other churches.
    Is it God who command them to act for these issue in church?

    As you point out,Japanese christians including these two groups generally reject Just war.One reason is that we do not have idea of political paticipation to do God's will on the earth.And other reason is that not only christians,most of Japanese do not want to paticipate war in any case again.
    I think that we Japanese have serious aversion to war since WW2.

    In USA,the idea..political paticipation to do God's will (true or not) is common. Only praying,not paticipating political action maybe regarded as passive,irresponsible attitude.For example Rev.Martin Ruther King is highly respected for civil right movement there.

    We need to ask God what we should as an individual first,I think.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Sanae,
      Thank you! Your insights always help me to see the issue deeply, Sanae!

      <There are also few christians who pursues co-existance of christianity and patriotism in Japan.They are often criticized.Because patriotism often regard other countries as enemies,and this kind of attitude is against the Words 'Love your enemy.'.

      Yes, I remember one (Christian?) group founded by Mr. T. Mr. T was a student of Uchimura Kanzo (mukyokai) originally, but as years pass, this group has developed its idea of ultra-patriotism to the extent that now, (I imagine that), if Uchimura Kanzo had re-appeared on this earth and did the same incident regarding the salutation toward Emperor (Fukei jiken), he must have been harshly criticized or oppressed by this very group! Oh, what an irony!

      <Left wing,peace activist type christians in Japan are well-known.But I think that they also have problem.They often severely accuse political leader,do not respect him.What we should as christian is to pray for him. I think that if one hope to make political action,he/she should do it outside the churches as individual. I know that many Japanese non christian people criticize christians for political activity in churches.

      Yes, I agree with you. Church is a House of prayer and not a political organization.

      <As you point out,Japanese christians including these two groups generally reject Just war.One reason is that we do not have idea of political paticipation to do God's will on the earth.And other reason is that not only christians,most of Japanese do not want to paticipate war in any case again.I think that we Japanese have serious aversion to war since WW2.

      Regarding this, I want you to pray for my father. One of the reasons why my father does not want to come to Christ is that he thinks Christians have been killing other human beings in the name of God until today. In other words, Evangelical Christians' Just War theory is the big stumbling block for my father to come to Christ.

      Once again, thank you for your comment. from Kinuko

      Delete
  8. Dear Kinuko,as for my father, there seems to be a same problem.
    Once my father told me about conflict between Indonesia and East Timor for independence,saying 'Why it happened?Killing each other.'
    You know that most of all population of East Timor is cathoric christians.

    I heard that at one concentration camp of Nazi,there was a signboard written 'In the name of Jesus Christ' .Because of this,many Jewish people stumbled.

    While the Iraq war,many people accused christians for Mr.President Bush's decision.(especially in non christian contries including Japan.)
    'How come he can decide to kill so many people and at the same time be a christian?'

    I agree with you that Just war theory let many non-christian people stumble.They often have impression that christian is using Jesus' name to justify something.

    As Mother Teresa MC said,biggest stumbling block preventing many people to come to Christ is christians. We have to pray for our family and should not to be block for them.Thank you so much.

    Sanae

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  9. Dear Sanae,

    Good morning. Your sincere comment reminded me, once again, of the terrible things we Japanese Christians had done "in the name of Jesus" during the World War II. Today, I'd like to place the article which I had published last year here. Lord, please forgive us and help us to walk in Your ways! Amen.

    ------------------------------------------------
    (Part 1)
    There is a Japanese proverb which says kusai mono ni futa wo suru (=put a lid on the smelly things). It might be our fleshly nature to avert our eyes from our past sins and avoid dealing with them. We can observe this tendency both in our own lives and in our collective history.

    Our Japanese church history has its own glorious points and shameful points just like the other church histories. Today, I’d like to share with you, especially with my dear Korean and Chinese friends, about the shameful and smelly parts of our history which we normally want to avoid talking about.

    When Japanese imperial government started to control Christian churches in 1930s, sadly most of the leaders of the mainstream denominations accepted its demands under pressures and came under the national shintoism.

    In 1942, Pastor Mitsuru Tomita (1883-1961), the then representative of the unified Japanese church (nikki), went to Ise shrine and worshipped ama-terasu god, entreating this shinto god to “bless” Japanese church.

    It was bad enough but the saddest part is that those apostate pastors eventually became the tools of Satan and persecutors of the real saints. In 1938, Tomita was dispatched to Korea by the imperial government and he tried to persuade the Korean pastors to worship Shinto god.

    Tomita told them that as long as they worshiped Shinto god, Japanese government would grant them religious freedom. “Moreover,” he added. “to worship at shrine is not a religious act but just a ceremony. I dare say that your stubbornness amounts to a desecration of the mercy of our Emperor!”

    Upon this, Chu Ki-chol, a Korean presbyterian pastor replied to him. “Pastor Tomita, you have rich theological knowledge. But you don’t know the Bible. By worshiping at shrine, you are breaking the first commandment of Moses (=You shall have no other gods before Me. Ex.20:3). Then how come you say that it is not sin?”

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    1. (Part 2)
      As a result of his uncompromising faith, Chu Ki-chol had to suffer cruel tortures and died as a martyr in prison in 1944. Many other pastors suffered the same tragic fate.

      Then what happened to pastor Tomita after the war? Was he ashamed of his actions? Did he repent?How did his denomination nikki deal with this issue?---as far as I searched, there was no sign of repentance from him. He remained as the leader of the churches until his death in 1961. It was not till 1967 that nikki denomination drafted “the confession of the responsibility of nikki at the time of world war II” and acknowledged the sins which Japanese Christians committed during the war.

      When I ponder all of these things, my heart breaks with remorse. I am so sorry for what had happened and what we had done to our brothers and sisters in Korea and other Asian countries.

      And I personally think it is a vital issue which we Japanese Christians have to face with complete humility and true repentance, because I have heard from our East Asian friends that they are still struggling how to overcome these terrible past issues.

      Jesus said;

      "Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go your way. First reconcile to your brother, and then come and offer your gift. Matthew 5:23,24."

      Offering our gifts and worshiping God are very important acts in our Christian life but Jesus urged us to reconcile to our brother who had something against us at first.

      Dear my Korean and Chinese friends, thank you for visiting my blog and reading this essay.

      Maybe your grandparents had to suffer severely because of us. Maybe you have difficulty in forgiving us. Or maybe you even hate us. I can understand. And I feel so sorry for all of these. Please forgive us. There are also many Japanese Christians who are repentant and sincerely asking your forgiveness. Our sole desire is to be your good neighbors and to do goodness whenever God gives us opportunity.

      May our Lord Jesus Christ, who is a Prince of Peace, dwell among us and heal the wounds of our dear friends. Amen.

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  10. Not only Korean christians,there were some Japanese christians(of Holiness church) denied to worship Shinto god.They were also killed in prison.
    In Japan the way of thinking that to worship at shrine is not religious act but cultural one is still common. Compromise in faith maybe easy to occur in our society even now,the old days also.

    I had opportunities to talk with some Asian christians who live in Japan several times.One lady told me that her granma said to her before she marry Japanese,'Do you really know what Japanese did to our country?'. She answered 'Yes', to hear her answer,her granma did not say anymore about it. I guess that her granma had painful memories.
    I remembered this story to read your article again.
    Sanae

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  11. Dear Sanae, thank you for pointing out the Japanese Christians at Holiness church during WW II. I'd like to do some research about this historical fact in the near future. Thank you so much.

    p.s. By the way, by God's grace, I could translate and publish two headcovering articles in Japanese.

    1) "Godly Reverence in Worship with Head Coverings" https://gregjgordon.wordpress.com/2015/08/16/godly-reverence-in-worship-with-head-coverings/
    2) "The Pain and the Priviledge" http://www.headcoveringmovement.com/articles/head-coverings-the-pain-and-the-privilege

    I hope these two articles will be read by those who are seeking the truth regarding 1 Corinthians 11.

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