Tag Archives: Violence

“Kill them all, and let God sort them out” – Why Evangelicals’ Reaction to 9/11 Went so Wrong

20 years ago, Al Qaida killed 3,000 civilians through terror and fire. That was a horrifying, indefensible act of violence.

In response, the USA started two wars that have killed 70,000 civilians in Afghanistan and 200,000 (!) in Iraq. Thousands of them were children.

That was also a horrifying, indefensible act of violence.

Shane Claiborne is an activist and theologian who had wise things to say concerning the violent aftermath of 9/11. From his book The Irresistible Revolution (2nd edition, pp. 185-187):

When Kingdoms Collide

Shortly after September 11th, I traveled to speak to a large congregation in the Midwest. (And no, it wasn’t Willow Creek.) Before I got up to preach, a military color guard presented the US flagat the altar. The choir filed in one-by-one, dressed in red white, and blue, with the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” playing in the background. I knew I was in big trouble. The congregation pledged allegiance to the flag, and I wished it were all a dream. It wasn’t. I got up to speak, thankful I was standing behind a large podium lest anyone try to pelt me with a pew Bible. I went forward to preach the truth in love with my knees knocking and managed to make it out okay with a bunch of hugs and a few feisty letters.

This is a dramatic (though painfully true) illustration of the messy collision of Christianity and patriotism that has rippled across our land. I thought this was an exceptional and dramatic example, but l’ve had same zingers since this. I spoke at a military academy where they had a full-on procession of military vehicles and weaponry. They fired cannons and saluted the flag, and then I got up to speak. I felt compelled to speak on the fruit of the Spirit (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faithfulness, and self-control), the things Scripture says God is like and we should hope to be more like.

I talked about how the fruit of the Spirit take training and discipline and are not always cultivated by the culture around us. Afterward, one young soldier came up to me, nearly in tears, and told me that as he heard the list of the fruit of the Spirit, it became clear to him that these were not the things he was being trained to become. We prayed together, and I think of him often. I know that young man is not alone.

I saw a banner hanging next to city hall in downtown Philadelphia that read, “Kill them all, and let God sort them out.” A bumper sticker read, “God will judge evildoers, We just have to get them to him.” I saw a T-shirt on a sold’ that said, “US Air Force … we don’t die; we just go to hell to regroup.” Others were less dramatic-red, white, and blue billboards saying, “God bless our troops.” “God bless America” became a marketing strategy. One store hung an ad in their window that said, “God bless America–$1 burgers.”

Patriotism was everywhere, including in our altars and church buildings. In the aftermath of September 11th, most Christian bookstores had a section with books on the event, calendars, devotionals, buttons, all decorated in the colors of America, draped in stars and stripes, and sprinkled with golden eagles.

This burst of nationalism reveals the deep longing we all have for community, a natural thirst for intimacy that liberals and progressive Christians would have done much better to acknowledge. September 11th shattered the self-sufficient, autonomous individual, and we saw a country of broken fragile people who longed for community–for people to cry with, be angry with, to suffer with. People did not want to be alone in their sorrow, rage, and fear.

But what happened after September 11th broke my heart. Conservative Christians rallied around the drums of war. Liberal Christians took to the streets … Many Christians missed the opportunity to validate both the horror of September 11th and outrage at war as a response to September 11th.

In the aftermath of September 11th, many congregations missed the chance to bear witness of God’s concern for the victims of the attack and God’s concern for the victims of the imminent war. Many of us hunkered down into familiar camps rather than finding a more creative way of standing with all who suffer. Many of the antiwar activists would do well to visit the memorial in NYC. And many of the war hawks would do well to visit the Ameriyah shelter in West Baghdad. Every life lost is reason for grief and outrage.

The cross was smothered by the flag and trampled under the feet of angry protesters. The church community was lost, so the many hungry seekers found community in the civic religion of American patriotism. People were hurting and crying out for healing, for salvation in the best sense of the word, as in the salve with which you dress a wound.

A people longing for a savior placed their faith in the fragile hands of human logic and military strength, which have always let us down. They have always fallen short of the glory of God.

Shane Claiborne is a Red Letter Christian and a founding partner of The Simple Way community, a radical faith community that lives among and serves the homeless in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia. He is the co-author, with Chris Haw, of Jesus for President. His newest book is Executing Grace: Why It is Time to Put the Death Penalty to Death.

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Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!

Will Jesus Wage a Literal War According to Revelation?

By Greg Boyd, originally published on his blog ReKnew.

In an interview several years ago for Relevant Magazine, Mark Driscoll (well known pastor of Mars Hill in Seattle) said,

“In Revelation, Jesus is a pride-fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is the guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.” (You can find the original interview here).

I frankly have trouble understanding how a follower of Jesus could find himself unable to worship a guy he could “beat up” when he already crucified him. I also fail to see what is so worshipful about someone carrying a sword with “a commitment make someone bleed.”  But this aside, I’m not at all surprised Driscoll believes the book of Revelation portrays Jesus as a “pride fighter.”  This violent picture of Jesus, rooted in a literalistic interpretation of Revelation, is very common among conservative Christians, made especially popular by the remarkably violent Left Behind series.

The most unfortunate aspect of this misreading, as Driscoll’s comment graphically reveals, is that the “pride fighter” portrait of Jesus easily subverts the Jesus of the Gospels who out of love chooses to die for enemies rather than use his power against them and who commands his followers to do the same (see e.g. Mt 5:43-45Lk 6:27-36). In fact, if you read these passages carefully you’ll notice that Jesus makes loving enemies and refusing all violence the prerequisite  for being considered a child of God! Loving enemies like Jesus commands (and like the rest of the NT teaches, e.g. Rom. 12: 1417-211 Pet 2:21-23) requires that we crucify our fallen impulse to resort to violence, while the model of Jesus as a “pride fighter” with a “commitment to make someone bleed” allows us to indulge it. If we can dismiss the peace-loving Jesus as a “hippie, diaper, halo Christ,” then we’re free to wish and even inflict vengeance on our enemies all we like — and feel righteous about it!

Continue reading Will Jesus Wage a Literal War According to Revelation?

Stop Treating the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Like a Sports Event

Once again, the Holy Land has been struck by war.

I feel compelled to write something that I wish nobody should have to write, something that should be obvious to everyone but which for some ill-conceived reason can be controversial to state in certain contexts:

War is awful.

Hamas firing on and killing the Israeli civilian population is awful.

The counterattacks by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) killing Palestinian civilians are awful.

War has no winners, there is no one to “cheer” on as if it were a sports event, there is no victory in war that does not come at the price of hating, tormenting and killing your fellow human beings.

Take a look at these pictures.

The upper image shows an apartment in Israel that was hit by one of Hamas’ rockets a few weeks ago. Five-year-old Ido Avigal, pictured to the right, lived in that apartment. He died immediately.

The picture below shows a girl being rescued by medical personnel after an Israeli attack in Gaza. The attack destroyed nine buildings and killed 43 people, including eight children.

In total, 68 children have been killed in the Holy Land these last couple of weeks. 66 of them were Palestinian.

All of this is awful. It’s sickening.

Continue reading Stop Treating the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict Like a Sports Event

“Prophet” Jeremiah Johnson Apologized for Falsely Predicting that Trump Would Win… Then He Received Death Threats from Christian Trump Supporters

Evangelist Jeremiah Johnson is one of the disturbingly large group of pastors and evangelists who prophesied that Trump would win the 2020 presidential election. Johnson claimed that he had seen baby boomers helping Trump reach the “finish line” of the presidency in a prophetic dream.

After Trump lost the election, Johnson quickly jumped on the conspiracy theorist bandwaggon claiming that the election was “stolen” from Trump. In fact, he put his prophetic integrity on the line, along with all other “prophetic voices” who had claimed that Trump would be reelected:

Yeah, back in November Johnson argued that the only alternative to the #stopthesteal conspiracy theory was that numerous prophets were possessed by demons… something he clearly didn’t believe.

But after the 1/6 terror attack against the Capitol and the certification of Biden’s win by Congress, something happened with Johnson.

He actually repented.

Continue reading “Prophet” Jeremiah Johnson Apologized for Falsely Predicting that Trump Would Win… Then He Received Death Threats from Christian Trump Supporters

This is the Full Fruit of Trumpism

by Alexander Venter.

What we witnessed and are witnessing in the US on Capitol Hill…

…captured in these images of the confederacy flag in the house and the fascist aryan fist raised in the chairperson’s, Vice President Mike Pence, seat of government (the equivalent of displaying the old Apartheid flag and raising the Hitler salute of Eugene Terblanche in our South African parliament)…

…is the full fruit of Trumpism, the full fruit of the root of bad character, mixed in with the ideology of ‘Christian’ nationalism, white supremacy.

Quote from Trump’s speech before the attack, reported by the Washington Post.

Trump himself called for this “stop the steal” “wild protest” on Capitol Hill, publicly in-spirit-ing his followers on The Hill (with words of fraudulent lies of massive election rigging) to do what they did: invade the house and stop the ratification process of the election result.

Continue reading This is the Full Fruit of Trumpism

Ethiopia’s Pentecostal Prime Minister is going to war: millions of children suffer as a result

We were very glad to see last year that an African Pentecostal for the second time in a row was being awarded with the Nobel Peace Prize. Abiy Ahmed was motivated by his vivid, charismatic faith as he promoted peace talks and reconciliation in a nation filled with ethnic and religious conflict.

Like Denis Mukwege, I was hoping that Ahmed would show the world that the Pentecostal faith is more in line with peace and justice than war and egoism.

It is with a heavy heart that I now see that Ahmed is bringing his country into a civil war, with disastrous humanitarian consequences. The Guardian reports:

Violence in northern Ethiopia will probably drive 200,000 people into neighbouring Sudan over the coming months, UN agencies have warned, where food, shelter and medicine are urgently needed.

[…]

Fighting in the Tigray region has also left more than 2 million children in urgent need of assistance, with thousands more at risk in Sudanese refugee camps, Unicef said.

The agency is particularly worried over the possible spread of disease among the refugees, nearly half of whom are children.

Continue reading Ethiopia’s Pentecostal Prime Minister is going to war: millions of children suffer as a result

The Problem with Mixing Church and Government

by Greg Boyd.

Some people insist that the only reason that neither Jesus nor anyone else in the first several centuries of the church tried to dominate the political system of their day was because they were a small minority of people living in a nondemocratic and hostile environment. By contrast, the argument goes, American Christians are a sizable group living in a rather friendly, democratic land, and we are able to at least improve, if not someday dominate, our government and culture.

And since to whom much is given much is required (Lk 12:48), do we not have a spiritual and moral obligation to use this opportunity to the full advantage of the kingdom of God?

In this light, the argument concludes, to shirk the opportunity to rule because we are afraid of compromising our kingdom calling is irresponsible, pharisaical, and cowardly. The argument seems to make so much sense.

Continue reading The Problem with Mixing Church and Government

Three Biblical Methods for Handling Conflict

We are called by Jesus to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9), resolving conflicts as we go forth to spread the Gospel about his love. Peace is always dependent on at least two parties, which is why we might experience conflict even when our intention is peace.

This is why Paul writes “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Rom 12:18). We try our best on our part, and pray that the other respond constructively.

What does this look like in practice? God seems to be very concerned with us asking that question, since the Bible provides us with several practical tools for conflict resolution and peacemaking.

1. Breaking the cycle of hostility

The first tool is given to us by Paul right after he says that we should seek to live at peace with everyone. He continues: Continue reading Three Biblical Methods for Handling Conflict

Why Did Jesus Tell His Disciples to Buy Swords?

Why did Jesus command his disciples to buy swords in Luke 22:38?

Now, however,” He told them, “the one with a purse should take it, and likewise a bag; and the one without a sword should sell his cloak and buy one. For I tell you that this Scripture must be fulfilled in Me: ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.’ For what is written about Me is reaching its fulfillment.”

So they said, “Look, Lord, here are two swords.”

“That is enough,” He answered. (Lk 22:36-38)

A lot of people assume that it was in order to defend themselves, and use this as an argument for warfare and liberal gun laws. But if it’s one thing we can be sure of, it is that Jesus definitely didn’t intend the swords to be used for self-defense.

Continue reading Why Did Jesus Tell His Disciples to Buy Swords?

A Response to Recent U.S. Killings in Iraq

by Bob Ekblad, originally published on his blog.

I am deeply troubled and grieved by Donald Trump’s order to kill by drone strike Iran’s second most powerful leader, Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, together with the Iraqi Shia leader Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis.

The Trump Administration’s killing of these two men on January 3, regardless of their offenses, is evil, going against God’s command: “thou shall not kill” and Jesus’ command: “love your enemies.” It also threatens to plunge the United States and the Middle East into a major war leading to far more death and destruction.

As we hear critiques and defenses, and brace ourselves for retaliatory violence and retributive counter measures, let us consider Jesus’ seeing Jerusalem and weeping over it, and practice something like this ourselves, remembering his highly relevant words:

“If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes.”

Continue reading A Response to Recent U.S. Killings in Iraq