What is the meaning of Pacifism/Biblical non-resistance?

In answer to Quora question: "What is the meaning of Pacifism/Biblical non-resistance?"

Thanks for the A2A.

Although John Simpson's answer has unfortunately been a fairly commonly held view among Christians throughout history and into modern times, it isn't a particularly sound or justifiable one in terms of the topic of your question: Biblical non-resistance and pacifism. The view also uses flawed hermeneutics in its exegesis. More on that in a moment. Mainly, the Kingdom of God is a spiritual kingdom, and really isn't concerned with the rulers and kingdoms of this world, but with the love of God, the sacrifice of Christ, and demonstrating lovingkindness towards others. That was the whole point of Christ's message - that is "the gospel." So when he says this (Matt 6:19-21): “Do not accumulate for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. But accumulate for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." He is instructing believers where to focus their minds, hearts and effort. Is war or combat used as a metaphor in the New Testament? Sure, for spiritual battle...but not literal battle. In this light, soldiering is a pretty major departure from the primary focus of loving God and neighbor.

It is also extremely difficult to justify violence of any kind using Jesus as the primary example of conduct for a Christian. There is a pretty decent article on wikipedia about the pacifist tradition in Christianity, and it covers some of this. (see Christian pacifism (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christian_pacifism)). The main sticking point is that Jesus directly contradicts both violence and violent intent repeatedly in the New Testament, and promotes a decidedly accepting, forgiving, patient, compassionate view that trusts God to handle evildoers, confirming Him as the sole arbiter of ultimate justice. And why wouldn't Jesus affirm this, if the Kingdom of God is what matters...rather than earthly kingdoms? I'll list a small portion of the verses that capture this sentiment, but really the entire New Testament is like a poem to pacifism; you really have to dig, distract and distort in order to justify violence with any of its content. Some examples of this pacifist flavor:

**Matthew 5:3-12**
3“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.
5 “Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth.
6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.
7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.
8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.
9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God.
10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them.
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. 12 Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way.

**Matthew 5:38-48**
“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ 39 But I say to you, do not resist the evildoer. But whoever strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other to him as well. 40 And if someone wants to sue you and to take your tunic, give him your coat also. 41 And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not reject the one who wants to borrow from you. 43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor’ and ‘hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemy and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be like your Father in heaven, since he causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Even the tax collectors do the same, don’t they? 47 And if you only greet your brothers, what more do you do? Even the Gentiles do the same, don’t they? 48 So then, be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

**Luke 6:37-38**
“Do not judge, and you will not be judged; do not condemn, and you will not be condemned; forgive, and you will be forgiven. 38 Give, and it will be given to you: A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be poured into your lap. For the measure you use will be the measure you receive.”

**Romans 12:17-21**
"Do not repay anyone evil for evil; consider what is good before all people. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all people. 19 Do not avenge yourselves, dear friends, but give place to God’s wrath, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine,I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 Rather, if your enemy is hungry,feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in doing this you will be heaping burning coals on his head. 21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

**Romans 13:1-7 **
"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except by God’s appointment, and the authorities that exist have been instituted by God.2 So the person who resists such authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will incur judgment 3 (for rulers cause no fear for good conduct but for bad). Do you desire not to fear authority? Do good and you will receive its commendation, 4 for it is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be in fear, for it does not bear the sword in vain. It is God’s servant to administer retribution on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore it is necessary to be in subjection, not only because of the wrath of the authorities but also because of your conscience. 6 For this reason you also pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants devoted to governing. 7 Pay everyone what is owed: taxes to whom taxes are due, revenue to whom revenue is due, respect to whom respect is due, honor to whom honor is due."

**Ephesians 6:10-17**
"Finally, be strengthened in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11 Clothe yourselves with the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world rulers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. 13 For this reason, take up the full armor of God so that you may be able to stand your ground on the evil day, and having done everything, to stand.14 Stand firm therefore, by fastening the belt of truth around your waist, by putting on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 by fitting your feet with the preparation that comes from the good news of peace, 16 and in all of this, by taking up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God."

**James 1:19-20**
"Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters! Let every person be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger. 20 For human anger does not accomplish God’s righteousness."

A smattering of other verses would include Matt 7:12; Matt 10:28; Matt 26:52; 2 Cor 10:4; Rom 8:37; Rev 13:10

Regarding exegesis, trying to infer meaning from Jesus not rebuking the Centurion in Matt 8 is a prime example of self-justifying fabrication. Using the same logic, you could say that because Jesus didn't rebuke the Samaritan woman in John 4, Christians can become polygamists or just move in with lovers and not get married at all. It's a ridiculous approach to interpretation, and John Simpson (undefined) makes similar hermeneutical errors repeatedly in his analysis.

As for the Old Testament, you cannot put new wine into old wineskins (Matt 9:17), and there is actually much scripture there to justify pacifism (see Wiki article above).

Finally, let's remember the ten commandments. Again, the emphasis is on love - loving God and loving your neighbor, and Jesus repeatedly affirms the importance of those first two commandments throughout the New Testament. But further down the list we find "You must not murder," after that "You must not steal. You must not offer false testimony against another. You must not desire another man’s wife, nor should you crave his house, his field, his male and female servants, his ox, his donkey, or anything else he owns.” And what is the basis of nearly all war? It has been about control of resources - land, waterways, trade routes, coveted raw materials, etc. In other words, war is almost always the result of craving our neighbor's house, field and everything else he owns, and murdering them to obtain it.

My 2 cents.


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