Mark Driscoll recently argued that “the Prince of Peace is not a pacifist” and that “those who want to portray Jesus as a pansy or a pacifist are prone to be very selective in the parts of the Bible they driscollquote.” Driscoll argues his case ironically—some would say comically—by selecting portions from the Bible, including the “bloody Old Testament” (my apologies on behalf of Mark to our British readers), Romans 13, and the book of Revelation (or more specifically, a Hal Lindsay-like interpretation of Revelation that interprets the apocalyptic imagery in hyper-literal terms).

I found Mark’s article entertaining, sort of like watching six-year old boys play baseball. I laughed, I cried, and I rubbed my eyes wondering how a responsible Bible teacher could make such embarrassing interpretive moves. Like watching a mini-slugger whack the tee 10 times before he smacks the ball and when he finally hits it, it dribbles down the first-base line into foul territory.

Mark rightly distinguishes between “killing” and “murder” in the Old Testament, but then he heroically leaps over biblical books in a single bound. After summarizing the “bloody Old Testament” as supporting “lawful taking of life, such as self-defense, capital punishment, and just war,” Mark jumps past the Sermon on the Mount, the life of Christ, Jesus’s prohibitions against violence in the gospels, and Paul’s commands against violence in Romans 12, finally landing on Romans 13 for a quick touch and go before he flies over the rest of Paul’s letters, Hebrews, and 1 Peter, ultimately arriving to the book of Revelation.

I actually really like Mark Driscoll. He’s a former ball player, and so am I. He loves red meat, craft beer, and has no time for diaper wearing pansies behind the pulpit. Mark is a manly man, and since I was recently labeled a “manly pacifist,” I think we have a lot in common. Mark says it like it is. So do I. So let me say it like it is: Mark’s assumption that pacifists are pansies is historically naïve, theologically horrendous, and shows that Mark’s been more influenced by the worldview of those who put Jesus on the cross rather than the One who hung on it. Everything Mark says about violence is eerily close to what Rome said about it 2,000 years ago. Contrary to Rome, Jesus taught that suffering leads to glory, cross-shaped weakness radiates divine power, and loving your enemies showcases the character of the Father (Matthew 5:44-48).

Mark’s selection of passages that talk about violence has been violently ripped from the cruciform flow of the New Testament itself.

I’ve already addressed Romans 13 in another post, and I have four chapters on the Old Testament in my book Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence. I also have a whole chapter in Fight that documents 300 years of Christian pansies, who refused to use violence against their enemies. But what about Revelation 19? Doesn’t this chapter depict a tatted up, commando Jesus hacking his enemies to pieces with a sword?

Yes, Jesus returns as Judge in Revelation 19, and we see Him “clothed in a robe dipped in blood” (19:13). But his clothes are bloodied before He wages war against the enemy. Why? Because it’s His Own blood. The robe dipped in His own blood (crucifixion) gives Jesus the authority to conquer, to boldly announce His victory over His foes. Jesus doesn’t need to hack His way through enemy DeJesuslines like a crazed warrior. He doesn’t need to do anything but declare with cosmic, cruciform authority that He has already won.

And yes, Jesus has a sword. But contrary to Driscoll, the sword comes “from his mouth,” not His hand (19:15, 21), which in Revelation always refers to a word of judgment, not a literal sword. Jesus doesn’t run a carnival. He doesn’t pull rabbits from His hat or swords from His throat. The sword is symbolic and refers to Jesus’s “death-dealing pronouncement which goes forth like a sharp blade from the lips of Christ” as one non-pacifist commentator puts it.

The Lamb—the crucified not crucifying Lamb—has conquered!

But it’s Driscoll’s rhetoric that is more entertaining than his exegesis. He still, after all these years, considers Christian pacifists—including Martin Luther King, Charles Spurgeon, Leo Tolstoy, Dwight Moody, and most of the pre-Constantine leaders of the church—to be pansies. Those who pick up their crosses and follow Jesus’s nonviolent journey to the cross are pansies. Those who take Jesus’s counterintuitive, life-giving words seriously, to turn the other cheek and love their enemies, are pansies. But for Driscoll, not only are these Christian heroes pansies, but all who teach that Jesus was a pacifist will be slaughtered by Mark’s (De)Jesus when He returns—Uncrossed:

Some of those whose blood will flow as high as the bit in a horse’s mouth for 184 miles will be those who did not repent of their sin but did wrongly teach that Jesus was a pacifist.

Wow. Yes, that’s an exact quote. I have so many words swirling in my head, but if I said them here I’d have to repent later.

Look, I’m all for being manly (if you’re a man). But let’s not be pansies by letting our gun toting, rib eating, Harley riding culture tells us what it means to be a man. I own guns. I love ribs. I ride a Harley. But I don’t let these cultural artifacts dictate my theology. The New Testament is clear: Real men love their enemies, never return evil for evil, and never resist evil by using violence. Real men suffer. Real men pray for those who persecute them. Real men submit to the sword, but they don’t bear it. So go ahead and eat raw meat, vote Republican, shoot your guns (just not at people). But let’s invite the word of Christ to reconfigure and confront our cultural view of manhood.

64 COMMENTS

  1. Preston, I don’t think Mark was saying that all pacifists will be slaughtered. He was just saying that some pacifists haven’t repented of their sin in general, and so it will be ironic when they are slaughtered. That is, those pacifists who have repented of their sin (and I don’t) think Mark meant “sin” here to refer to pacifism) won’t be slaughtered, but all who haven’t repented of their sin, including some pacifists, will be.

    • I sure hope you’re right, Tommy. If you are, then I would only plea for more syntactical clarity. If your “reading of Mark” is correct, though, then why single out pacifists? Obviously, if anyone doesn’t repent from their sin, they’ll be judged. The reference to “and teach that Jesus was a pacifist” rhetorically contributes to the meaning of the prior clause.

      • Yeah that was my thought as well. I do hope he was originally meaning everyone, but the fact that he singled out pacifists makes it very clear that he wasn’t meaning just anyone. I think it was be rather evasive to try and pretend that was the case.

        At very best it was (as andrew mook says) reckless. At worst it’s wrong.

  2. It seems to me you didn’t quite hear the point o his sermon. He’s not saying he was pro violence. All of Those things you said in your last paragraph seems to me are things he agrees with. He was just painting a Bigger picture on the difference between killing and murder. To be honest I find it sad that that’s all you hear out of that message. In fact I got to talk to one of my clients about abortion and what the bibles says bc I was just really convicted by that sermon on how we don’t hold life as precious anymore

    • Drw,

      If Mark Discroll ever signs off on what I say in that last paragraph–that real men “never resist evil by using violence” and “submit to the sword, but they don’t bear it” then I will eagerly delete my blog.

  3. There is much merit to what you say here, Preston, and Christ’s modeled life and teaching to us is essentially as you say. I must take exception, however, in a comment upon this section of your post:

    >>>>The New Testament is clear: Real men love their enemies, never return evil for evil, and never resist evil by using violence. Real men suffer. Real men pray for those who persecute them. Real men submit to the sword, but they don’t bear it.<<< Peace

  4. Okay I don’t normally respond to stuff like this but in this situation I kind of feel that I have to.

    Before I begin I don’t know believe in the American Second amendment and at no point in the sermon or any of his sermons does he talk about going off and firing guns. Seattle is a state that constantly votes democratic. So the redneck republican image really does not fit his church. Also having listened to the sermon as no point do I hear him call a pacifist a pansy. Having also read the article he does use that word once. In the context of his ministry and his total body of work this should be understood him referring to people as am image painted of Jesus in the 70’s where it was the weak attempt by the church to paint him as a hippie. He specifically says as a pansy or a pacifist. The two terms are not mutually exclusive.

    I do have some questions:

    My first question is have you listened to the sermon his article is about? Because his whole article is based off about 2 minutes at the beginning of the sermon and maybe a paragraph of the article.

    Is it wrong for a police office to return fire?

    Is it wrong for a solider fighting in a just war (i.e stopping a genocide) to fire on enemies?

    Is it wrong for a man coming into his house and seeing another man trying to harm his wife and kids to stop this man and inadvertently or deliberately killing this man wrong?

    My contention from this point on is to prove that none of the members of the trinity would be classified as a pacifist.

    To begin with God the father. Does God sin? Is he capable of sinning? Will he ever sin? The answer to all of these is no. If was to order someone to kill another and that was a sin then God would be just as guilty of sin as the person who committed the killing. We can clearly see in Leviticus that the punishment for certain sins as ascribed by god that the penitently is death. There are many of them and his people were to carry them out in those days. Driscoll does address in his sermon the reason why this is institutionalized by God is so the people of God do not start exacting revenge for what ever crimes they feel deserve it. This directly relates to the scriptures of “do not repay evil with evil”. In 1 Samuel 15 God orders Saul to kill all the Amakelites. Moses is ordered to kill residence of Canaan in Exodus 32. Then there is also the times that God has wiped out armies, people, cities, nations and the great flood.

    We can clearly see that the Holy Spirit is not a pacifist through Sampson and David. There are many examples of Sampson having the power to kill through gaining power by the spirit. An example is shown in Judges 15“14 As he approached Lehi, the Philistines came toward him shouting. The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him. The ropes on his arms became like charred flax, and the bindings dropped from his hands. 15 Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men”. Through dozens of Psalms the Spirit strengthens and encourages David as he wages war.
    Finding a fresh jawbone of a donkey, he grabbed it and struck down a thousand men”. Through dozens of Psalms the Spirit strengthens and encourages David as he wages war.

    Now in regards to Jesus. Let us begin with remembering that Christ is both the God of the Old and the New Testament. Second we can also look to examples in the New Testament. In Hebrews 12 Paul makes reference Moses and David being hero’s of the faith. I have just made reference to both of them killing. If God really had a problem with them and that he would not have held them as the examples that they are on in this context. In 2 Timothy 2 Paul makes reference to being good soldiers. In that time in history soldiers killed. That’s what they did. If there was something completely fundamentally wrong with them Paul would not make reference to them.

    The author of the article also references Revelation 19. Now if you interoperate the passage as a figurative sword or a literal sword it does not really change how the verse ends. I completely agree with him Jesus is not hacking them to pieces. But the Chapter ends with verse 20 and 21 saying “But the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who had performed the signs on its behalf. With these signs he had deluded those who had received the mark of the beast and worshiped its image. The two of them were thrown alive into the fiery lake of burning sulfur. 21 The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh”.The rest were killed with the sword coming out of the mouth of the rider on the horse, and all the birds gorged themselves on their flesh”. Christ is killing all of his enemies in that passage.

    Do I think people should enjoy killing. No, by no means. It is suppose to be a horrible feeling. We are discussed by the sight of blood for a reason. People are image bearers of God. It’s a solution when all other options are gone. And even in the context of Revelation 19 I really do not think he enjoys what he has to do, because of verses like 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance”. But through the examples I have listed out you can clearly see how the Trinity not only requires us to kill in some situations but enables us. Again this is not the preference; but in very rare situations it is necessary. Driscoll as talks about in his sermon how might does not make right, on how the more you read your bible the more likely you are to be pro life and how up the sanctity of life.

    If you want to be a pacifist, good. The world is too violent and we need more peaceful solutions. But at the same time most people do not become soldiers and police officers so they can go kill people. But for you to be able to be peaceful in a fallen world God has created a system that uses us to protect you through at times violence. One should temper their responses before they respond the way this author has.

    Also if you were not taking this one sermon out of the context of his overall ministry you would here him talk about how manly people that are martyred for their faith are.

    Where my biggest problem is that people post and out of context written argument trashing a man of God. I do agree he has been extreme on his ultimate fighter Jesus image that he portrayed in 2005-2010. And my response to that is tone it down a bit. So some of his theology is a little off. But through his ministry thousands of people have come to faith. No ones theology is perfect. Let’s look at some of the hero’s of the bible and Christian’s since Christ. David was an adulterer and a murderer. Solomon was messed up, sinned in almost every way imaginable. Peter was a fool more often than not. John Calvin had Servetus killed. Luther was a sloth, angry and intemperate man that did have some really messed on theology on grace. Augustine killed heretics. One of the Westly brothers was such a horrible father that his family had no desire to ever see him again. Need I continue.

    If you are against him because you do not like his preaching style, okay. Do not listen to him. Find other sermons to listen to. You are not going to like everyone’s sermons and preaching style. Piper is awesome but he puts me to sleep so I do not listen to him. I do not listen to McCarther because I feel like he’s always yelling at me and I do not think his view on the spiritual gifts is biblical. It’s okay to say you are not a fan. But why do we as Christians not come up along with people like Driscoll and acknowledge “Yeah I don’t agree with you but I don’t need to turn what you said in a joke”, “Yeah I don’t agree with what you are saying, but people are coming to faith through your ministry so I’ll not complain about a couple of theological difference”.

  5. The danger is, as someone once said: “We become the god we worship”. When faith leaders advocate for a strong-armed Jesus who will crush all his enemies like some tin-pot, Third-world dictator, Is it any wonder that so many Christians are some of the loudest cheerleaders for violent intervention wherever there is conflict?

  6. Maybe I’m missing the whole point, and please forgive me if so. So as a Christian, you do not think we should use a gun or weapon if intruded upon and true life threatened? (such as in a house break in?) I’ve been practicing shooting for protection (female here), so just wondered. Thanks.

    • Hey Jamie, really good question! In light of Whitney’s comment above I really hesitate saying this, but…I do answer this in my book. I would only say that, as a Bible believing Christian, I would need to have a solid biblical case for shooting someone in self-defense. And I’ve yet to see such an argument.

  7. I feel so saddened by reading this blog, I’ve followed this blog, I’ve appreciated your breakdowns of complex text, but this blog hurts my heart, The condescending tone in your response to Driscoll is beneath you & childish. If you feel that Driscoll is preaching false doctrine, then why not address it biblically, he’s a brother in Christ, a leader to many in the flock, have you lost sight of who our real enemy is? It appears that your blog post is more to push your book more than rebuke a brother.

  8. Seems to me that a lot of people were looking for God to send a violent warrior
    king instead of someone like Jesus when he first appeared on the scene, and they missed out on what God was actually doing in the flesh in the world. Let’s try not to repeat that mistake again now or when he comes back.

  9. I love this! “Mark’s assumption that pacifists are pansies is historically naïve, theologically horrendous, and shows that Mark’s been more influenced by the worldview of those who put Jesus on the cross rather than the One who hung on it.” Amazing haha…..Although Maybe Driscoll is onto something, as Crossan points out as the NT is progressively written it gets a lil Romanized!

  10. I’d be interested in what you, Preston, think Jesus meant by “turn the other cheek.” Oh, and think Mark D. is a very poor theologian (based on the idea that we are all theologians – it is just a matter if we are good ones or not)

  11. Thanks for being honest, Whitney. I really appreciate it. And if my tone has robbed Jesus of his glory in any way, then I will seriously consider changing my language. Perhaps other readers could way in, because I’ve been told by others that my tone was “too gracious” and that my blog avoided the “snarky rhetoric” that other blogs have made. Now, of course, how one feels about the tone of one’s writing is a subjective matter.

    But in all honesty, Whitney, I was deeply offended at Mark’s words. Offended not for myself, but for the millions of believers who have stood in the flames of persecution refusing to use violence against their enemies because they believed that violence has no place in the Christian fath; offended on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of Christian African-Americans who fight nonviolently for their rights during the civil rights movement; offended for the many thousands of believers who nonviolently resisted the Nazis in Le Chambon and elsewhere, rescuing Jews from the gas chambers and refusing to use violence to do so out of allegiance to their Lord; offended on behalf of the thousands of Christians who were pacifists (most of which were) during the first 300 brutal years of Christianity; offended that the glory of Christ was robbed in Mark’s message, I believe, since it was Jesus (not some long hair, peace loving hippie) who nonviolently endured being struck in the head, spit in the face, and nailed to the tree, giving us a pattern for how believers are to treat and love their enemies–to call all of these heroes pansies…yes, there may have been a bit of an edge to my blog, but it was a blunted edge compared to my first 3 drafts.

    Also, as you may gather from my writing style in my blogs and books, I do like to integrate humor and creativity in my writing. I really don’t like (I sort of despise) stoic, boring, information-only sort of writing. But maybe I went too far, Whitney. I will genuinely seek counsel concerning your rebuke.

    As far as arguing biblically for my view against Mark’s, I feel that I have already done that in my book and in several other blogs, so I didn’t want to just repeat my argument here.

    And–honest question–does the blog feel like I’m just trying to promote my book? Oh man, I seriously hope that doesn’t come across. I hate self-promotion. I will unapologetically promote the message contained in my book, because I believe it’s Jesus’s word to His church. And unfortunately, to inform people about this message you have to inform people about the book, where the message is contained. But I never, ever, ever want to self-promote for self-promotion’s sake. Honestly. Seriously. Shoot me now if I do. (Or…no, don’t do that.)

    Thanks Whitney for your candid and honest comment.

    • Just to weigh in on the whole tone, specifically the book promoting side of it. I saw nothing of the kind in the article. I had to actually do a search through the text to find where you mentioned your other article and book. So I would have to say that no, it certainly does not come off as “pushing your book” that you mention once, as more of a “For more information, here are a couple sources” that you have a book that deals with it, and I have no idea how someone could see that in this post.

    • my 2 cents, and I am no fan of Mark Driscoll… like at all, but the second paragraph did feel kinda condescending. It was the one thing that made me hesitate to ‘share’ on fb (though I did end up sharing). The line between condescension/snark and humor is tough, esp when addressing someone like Driscoll.

      And no it did not just feel like you were promoting your book.

  12. Joe, really good questions! Thanks so much for weighing in. You’ve obviously thought hard about this issue.

    Rather than responding to all of your solid questions, I can point you to my book where I thoroughly address them all.

    Thanks again for dropping in, Joe. Please come back!

  13. 1. I, for one, don’t mind you mentioning or plugging your book. I didn’t know about it and it’s now in my Amazon shopping cart.

    2. I just bought 2 weapons for self defense and struggle with the Christian morality of using one. I attend a Church where the Elders and minister all have personal protection pieces. I’ve noted to some members that if they spent more time stumping for Jesus than they do the current Republican up for office, that we may have a better world in which to live – or at least multiply the number in the world we will one day live.

    3. I understand worrying about how you use humor and integrate it into your blog/writings. As a Christian Comedian it is a constant struggle of walking the line of humor and realizing that other’s lines fall light years away from yours. (I also know you better have 3 points – not 2, not 4… 3!)

  14. sharonthiel –

    Regarding the section you take issue with: what if you replaced “Real men” with “Jesus”? Jesus loved his enemies, didn’t return evil for evil, suffered, prayed for his persecutors, etc. If we are basing our definition of a real man on Jesus, then you might be questioning Jesus’ reasoning and honor as a man.

    I agree that men are to protect their families, just as Christ protected his (spiritual) family. But the means by which he protected them was not meeting violence with violence, but absorbing that violence in himself. He doesn’t shoot the guy with the knife in order to protect his beloved–he steps in front of it.

  15. This article has caused me a lot of grief as someone who delights in the gospel which both you and Driscoll preach. I have a lot of respect for both of you as teachers, and only in light of that respect do I make my concerns known.

    I think that what you have done is stretch the logical constraints of Driscoll’s words to arrive at the worst conclusion possible. In reading you speak of “Mark’s assumption that pacifists are pansies,” one wonders who is doing the assuming. There is nothing in Driscoll’s article that says that pacifists are pansies. I do not know where you got this idea, perhaps at the bit about those “who want to portray Jesus as a pansy or a pacifist.” But the relationship between the words “pansy” and “pacifist” in the sentence just cited (as in the other two mentions of the word “pansy” in Driscoll’s article) is disjunctive; there is no equation of “pansy” with “pacifist”. For me to ask whether you are a Christian or a bicyclist is not to say that all Christians are bicyclists. Similarly, for Driscoll to say that Jesus was not a pacifist or a pansy is not to say that pacifists are pansies!

    Furthermore, with respect to Driscoll’s statement that:

    “Some of those whose blood will flow as high as the bit in a horse’s mouth for 184 miles will be those who did not repent of their sin but did wrongly teach that Jesus was a pacifist.”

    You take these words to mean what they do not mean, resulting in an exegesis brittle from distortion, namely that “all who teach that Jesus was a pacifist will be slaughtered.”

    But Driscoll has said nothing implying or even insinuating that *all* of those who teach pacifism will be slaughtered; only that, of those who are slaughtered, *some* will have taught pacifism. And unless you believe that all of those who teach pacifism will go to heaven, you are obliged to admit that some of them will be slaughtered. In this respect, I do not know where you disagree with Driscoll.

    Why did Driscoll choose to single out pacifists as among those who would be slaughtered? I think the reason was that their teaching is ironic in light of their fate, whereas a garden-variety unrepentant sinner would not necessarily have spent his or her life denying the militancy of God. But that’s just a speculative guess.

    There is another statement in your article that I found deeply troubling:

    “Mark’s assumption that pacifists are pansies is historically naïve, theologically horrendous, and shows that Mark’s been more influenced by the worldview of those who put Jesus on the cross rather than the One who hung on it.”

    I just don’t understand how you can say this of a fellow Christian. He has been more influenced by the likes of Claudius, Nero, and Vespasian then by Christ? I hope that there is a shade of difference between the ideology of Bible-believing Christians who see violence as permissible in some instances, and the ideology of a gladiatorial regime that revels in the spilling of blood.

    Having said all of this, I want to make clear that I think you are an able teacher of the Bible, a thoughtful theologian, and someone who shares the same gospel that I do with equal passion and reverence for God.

  16. Thanks Preston… love you’re passion and share your non-violent cruciform theology. haven’t read your book yet, but i hope to. So, please take me as an extreme exception, but one sentence actually hurt and felt rather violent. You write about ‘diaper wearing pansies in the pulpit”. I am 37 year old teaching pastor of a mid-sized church that doesn’t shy away from tackling the tough stuff. I will preach where the person of Christ and the passages of scripture lead (or i think are leading). I have also suffered extreme bowel disease and have on occasion had to stand self-cousciously in front of the church proclaiming the gospel in adult diapers (under my True Religion jeans so no one knows).

    I know you didn’t mean for it to come out like that, and i’m sure there aren’t too many like me… but if Galatians 3 means anything, maybe there’s neither pansie or non-pansie in Christ. And I know Mark won’t get that, but i hope you do!

    Bless you

  17. From another whole perspective…what’s wrong with “pansies”? They are colorful, radiant flowers that bloom in the spring and remind me of the risen Jesus and the wonder of the Creator! Creating all people and all nature.
    I know, naïve, unsophisticated and not at all scholarly.
    . But not beside the point at all.

  18. to say that non-violence means non-action is a false dichotomy. Practicing non-violence does not mean allowing wives, children etc. to be harmed because one does NOTHING. It means that one will not kill in that process. there are MANY MANY things that can be done between “nothing” and “taking another’s life”. Pacifism is that spectrum. It stops before taking another life. It trusts that God has a plan even in extreme hardship, and is not willing to usurp control of the situation for self preservation. Daniel willingly went to the Lions den, trusting God when the situation was hopeless and meant certain death, as I would assert many of the “wives and children” hypotheticals seem. How often to we thwart Gods plan and ability to work and show his glory by taking impossible situations into our own hands?

  19. Preston, I agree with all that you say, but I am not sure I would’ve said it that way. Hundreds of internet comment sections have devolved into debates on Ephesians 4:29, so I don’t want to go there, but I am not sure this was as grace-lavished as it could have been. God bless you brother and I appreciate our brotherhood in the kingdom.

  20. I agree Matt. Unfortunately it seems to me that a lot of wild assumptions were made about the content of Mark’s article, which I found to be much less condescending and sarcastic than Preston’s response.
    Although you advocate pacifism Preston, ironically your tone in this blog unfortunately leans towards the other side.
    Perhaps it would have been better to share a beer and rare steak with Mark and have an honest Q&A with him in order to clarify some of his statements prior to posting this blog. In your own words “you were deeply offended” and this offense permeates throughout the post…

  21. I am thankful for this post, but need clarity on one statement you mentioned. You said, “never resist evil by using violence”. Never? What implications does that have for military and obvious forces of evil like Hussain and Bin Laden? I am in process on what I feel is right as a believer, and this is the only area of uncertainty that I found in reading your blog. What do you think?

    • Jared, good questions. I’ve addressed all of these in my book. The problem is that it’s tough to give a quick answer without first articulating a biblical theology of violence and how Christians are to confront evil.

      So, the larger question is: Does the NT ever suggest that violence is the means by which Christians should confront evil? And the answer I’ve found is “no.”

    • First of all, I would suggest that you make it a point to keep things in a realistic perspective, i.e., stop believing the lies of evil people. Just because the other side is evil does not mean that our side is not. Our side should be the side of Christ, not the side of the politicians of the United States.

      For example: you pick out Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden, the two people whom our nation used to lie us into killing hundreds of thousands of people. Can you really justify this reign of death on OUR part in response to what has been alleged by these men? The worst case scenario is that Osama bin Laden planned the 9/11 attacks that killed 3,000 people. Is it really a rational, Christ-like response to go on a completely disproportionate rampage of indiscriminate slaughter? Saddam Hussein did nothing to harm YOU or US as Americans. He harmed people in his country who openly attacked his authority. His wars were arguably at our behest and little different than the wars we start, but they were not even used as our justification for invasion. Our justification was an alleged program of weapons of mass destruction that did not exist along with the absurd claim that he was going to use them against us. Only the most ignorantly paranoid of people could believe this clear false witness. His evil is irrefutable, but in the bigger picture, the Iraqi people lived more freely than the people in virtually every other Middle Eastern country. Why single him out? Both Saudi Arabia and Israel are guilty of worse crimes against innocent people than Saddam Hussein (and please don’t offer the stereotypically comic-book representation of the apostate Israel or anti-semitism that is typical from American Christians. Abhorring militant zionism is not anti-semitism). Our response to Hussein’s political repression was to kill far more people, far less indiscriminately than Saddam Hussein ever did. Our response was clearly worse than the alleged offenses. And we blatantly lied to justify it. There is absolutely nothing we’ve done here that can be justified biblically.

      Osama bin Laden. Again: stop believing what you prefer to believe. What did the people of Afghanistan do to justify our starting a war against them? If you say their government protected bin Laden, that is a lie. They offered to turn him over following standard international protocol: we were to provide the evidence against him. And we didn’t because we COULDN’T. The FBI did not hold bin Laden responsible for 9/11 because there was ZERO evidence that he had anything to do with it. The evidence that Dick Cheney promised us never materialized. Bin Laden denied it, contrary to the phony video that we saw that suddenly disappeared. But in the end, the fact remains that even if bin Laden WAS responsible for 9/11, our response should have been to get HIM, not slaughter scores of thousands of innocent people.

      *IF* indeed, New Testament scripture supports the eye for an eye sort of actions supported here, there are two problems: we’ve gone way beyond even the Old Testament proscription of “eye for an eye”. And we’re responding to offenses that were not even committed against us, but were alleged to MAYBE happen in the future, again, based on lies.

      As Christians, we’re expected to be honest. These wars were clear cases of bearing false witness in order to justify murder of unquestionably innocent people. Even Joseph Stalin admitted that this was wrong in his quote about murder and statistics.

    • Hi Preston. I appreciate what you are trying to hear and largely support it. I also take Trev’s point as a challenge to me too. Thank you responding graciously.

      Would you mind if I added that even if the phrase ‘diaper wearing pansies in the pulpit’ was just understood metaphorically I would still have concerns about it.

      Mark Driscoll draws his own conclusions at what it means to be a real man and you rightly offer correction to him. Do you not feel, however, that by using the phrase you too are making the suggestion that some preachers are acting like ‘pansies’ by another set of standards.

      I applaud your critique of Mark’s mistakes in using the bible to support his overculturalised view of manhood. I am just concerned that you may have let slip your own version of this by using the phrase

      Would love to know your thoughts. Al

  22. Okay, regarding the tone and language of this blog. Most people I’ve talked to said it was spot on. Some have said that I was too gracious and that I avoided snarky rhetoric, while others have said that it was condescending, arrogant, childish, or something of the sort.

    How the tone of one’s writing or speaking comes off is, of course, subjective to the hearer/reader. So I’m not surprised that my blog has elicited a vast array of responses. However, I wanted everyone to know that I have asked the elders at my church to read the blog and assess the tone, and if they say that I need to repent from anything I have said or the way I’ve said it, then I will gladly do so in a forthcoming blog. My desire is never to be condescending, arrogant, or childish.

    I want to thank everyone for being honest with how they felt about the blog–the tone, the argument, and even my interpretation of Mark’s sermon/blog. My main desire is to be Christlike, not to be right.

    Also, for the sake of time, I probably won’t respond to questions or comments that I have already addressed in my book. I would encourage any interested reader to read my book and you’ll find a detailed response to almost every question regarding Christians, violence, and the Bible therein. And no, I’m not trying to generate sales for my book, since my book is available for free here:

    http://bookshout.com/co/fight?code=fight-ps

    Enjoy!

  23. Good question, Sharon! And I would agree the replies below. The question is not whether or not Christians should defend or protect, but the means by which we should protect. Put simply: Does the NT ever suggest that Christians should use violence to defend the innocent or confront evil?

    I have not found a convincing biblical answer that says “yes.”

    • Thank you for your response, Preston. I would say that the means chosen (were one given time, or course) to defend those in one’s care should start with everything BUT violence, and would hope any civilized (not just Christian) person would agree. However, I would point out that the one violent act exhibited by the Lord Jesus was in defense of a corrupt and unrighteous action taking place in the Temple space. He accompanies this physical act of stopping this activity by referring to God having stated His house should be “a house of prayer”. In the New Covenant, the body of the Believer in Jesus Christ is referred to as the Temple of God (God’s house). If Jesus resorted to violence to protect the material building of God’s house, it makes sense to me that He would affirm such a response in a Christian to defend human beings, even most especially if they are your family and thus of your household of Faith!

      Just as Lance Gabriel Hancock implies above, I have had people say that the righteous response to defending someone from physical harm is to stand in their place and take the hit oneself. This is of course the ideal, and sounds very noble unless you consider the more common circumstance that if you are out of the picture, the ones you are laying down your life for will now be totally at the mercy of the one inflicting harm! With all due respect, we are not God, therefore we do not have the supernatural ability to send the Holy Spirit in our place to stand beside our loved ones as Jesus did after laying down His life for us and returning to Heaven.

      One of the main themes expressed in Scripture, both Old and New Testaments, is reverence for life, and a respectful approach to all that concerns breath and the letting of blood. As we are indeed made in the image of God, it holds true to believe that just as He defended and protected His own Chosen people, He has created in man the very call within our dna to defend and protect our own, as well.

        • Patrick, if you are defining violence as “trying to destroy someone”, we have a very different list of definitions for violence! There are many levels of “violent” response!

          I am not speaking “in general” in my comments on this subject. I speaking purely about an “in the moment” response of a man to a literal, actually happening attempt on his family’s life….the rape or kidnap of his wife, sister, daughter or son….or maybe even any other defenseless person in his immediate reach of instantaneous response. That is my distilling down of the issue to the bottom line question of “Is a man called by God to defend the safety of his family, even if a physical deterrent needs to be used, or is he not?” Not reaching for philosophical debates, just reality check. > Peace.

          • My argument is that Jesus never once committed a violent act. Even if you want to squeeze my definition of “trying to destroy someone” in, you’d at least have to agree that there must be some intent to harm. Flipping tables and driving people from a square isn’t intending to harm anymore than a shepherd herding his sheep is.

  24. I am curious if your church shares your belief that killing an individual who would murder others is the wrong thing to do. Do you have military personnel or peace officers at your church? If you had the opportunity to kill a man with his finger on a dirty bomb in a shopping center, do you think that is immoral to do so? Do you think it is immoral for a cop to shoot the mass murderer? I think God will judge those who don’t protect the innocent. I also believe that our Father will look at the heart.

  25. If Jesus were a pacifist he would certainly have been more explicit about it. He speaks against revenge, but that’s hardly the same as opposing all violence all the time.

    Luke 3:14 –
    Then some soldiers asked him, “And what should we do?” He replied, “Don’t extort money and don’t accuse people falsely — be content with your pay.”

    That’s it? If he were a pacifist why didn’t Jesus tell them to quit their jobs? Don’t pacifists believe serving as a soldier is inherently immoral? It’s not as if Jesus was afraid to speak out against something when he thought it was wrong.

  26. I mean, if you’re gonna quote Luke 6- don’t ignore the bits around it, they’re pretty relevant, and very clear…

    27 “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who [o]mistreat you. 29 Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your [p]coat, do not withhold your [q]shirt from him either. 30 Give to everyone who asks of you, and whoever takes away what is yours, do not demand it back. 31 [r]Treat others the same way you want [s]them to treat you. 32 If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. 33 If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. 34 If you lend to those from whom you expect to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners in order to receive back the same amount. 35 But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, [t]expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. 36 [u]Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

    And as for evildoers… Jesus was pretty clear in Matthew 5….

    38“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 an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.
    40“If anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, let him have your coat also.
    41“Whoever forces you to go one mile, go with him two.
    42“Give to him who asks of you, and do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you.

    43“You have heard that it was said, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR and hate your enemy.’
    44“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,
    45so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His 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? Do not even the tax collectors do the same?
    47“If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?
    48“Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

    • So Jen, a guy tries to grab your wallet as you are getting into your car at the grocery store. You really think that Jesus wants you to hand him your purse and car keys too?

      Jesus says, “Do not resist and evil person,” So if a man wishes to literally violate you with force (rape), do you think that Jesus doesn’t want to to fight back? You think that Jesus who has all wisdom would want you to offer him the other cheek?

      And again, Jesus has direct contact with a soldier and doesn’t say ‘quit your loser job and go get a job that doesn’t use force.’

      If we take “turn the other cheek” in every situation, the world would be run by tyrants. Should South Korea turn the other cheek and not defend themselves against the murderous thugs that run North Korea? Should a police officer “turn the other cheek” while “using force” to arrest someone?

      I think Jesus wants us to use compassion in our personal lives and have standards for the society in general. I think Jesus wants us to have wisdom. The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord.

      I am sure you would agree that a parent raising a child doesn’t “turn the other cheek” an unruly 12 year old that slugs his or her parent. Just stop and think. A parent has God given authority to stop that kid in his tracks. The parent doesn’t offer the other cheek, right? (BTW- I am not suggesting slugging back is the solution for the parent.) I am only pointing out that this blanket “turn the other cheek” in every situation shows a real lack of wisdom.

      • Eva, who has time to read add another book to their reading list, but I think you’d really benefit from reading Preston’s book on nonviolence if you ever get a chance. Preston really does deal thoughtfully with each of the questions you raised her. They are certainly important questions to wrestle with, and they deserve much bigger answers than a few situational dilemmas can provide. I know several people who read Preston’s book and weren’t convinced by everything, but are still very glad they read it because it helped them think through the issues. Again, who has time for the books they know they’ll love, let alone the books they’re confident they’ll disagree with? I’m just a Preston Sprinkle fan and think you’d benefit from walking through those issues with him (I know I did).

      • Ava, I agree with Mark- Preston’s book handles each situation you bring up much more completely and thoughtfully than we can in an blog post comment section.

        But the short answer is yes, I do think if someone is trying to steal my wallet, I give him my purse too- that’s a pretty clear parallel to what Jesus is saying with the whole cloak/shirt thing, and there’s nothing in this passage to indicate that these are metaphorical suggestions. Jesus’s way is totally counter intuitive.

        Do I think I can defend myself? Maybe. if I can do it in a way that doesn’t violate the other person, and is still showing love to my enemy, then yes.

        In the case of the soldier- 2 things- 1. the passage doesn’t make clear whether he’s talking to “followers” (meaning, is that soldier a believer? to me it makes a difference- those who aren’t, are not bound by Christ’s way) and Prestons book really does address this- can Christians be in military service and law enforcement?

        Also, there is a difference between turning the other cheek when you are being violated, and holding those whom you are in authority over (as a parent, police officer) accountable. These two things can work together, and do, and allow believers to follow ALL of Christ’s commands (he wouldn’t command something opposite to other commands, only fulfilling other commands)- although Preston’s book does address law enforcement, and if/how Christians can be a part of it.

        Ultimately, I believe it’s a human solution that the only way to stop violence is with violence. I think we prove over and over that this way just perpetuates more and longer violence, and doesn’t “solve” any problems. Jesus came to bring a different way- not just to this but to everything.

  27. Wow Jerome. I so agree. It was hurled ad hominem. Why was it there? What does it have to do with Mr. Driscoll or pacifism?

    Democrats are not pacifist. There was no need to throw that one in. Mr. Sprinkle is using it as a way of name calling. My conclusion is that cool bible students need to know that voting Republican is bad. Wow.

    • Eva, if Preston’s republican comment was ad hominem, it was against himself. He said, “So go ahead and eat raw meat, vote Republican, shoot your guns (just not at people). But let’s invite the word of Christ to reconfigure and confront our cultural view of manhood.” In the sentences prior he had said that he himself likes rare steak and shooting guns. (Are those ad hominem attacks? If not, why would voting Republican be?) He’s said elsewhere that he votes Republic (at least much of the time). He’s not calling names, he’s identifying some elements that our culture tends to associate with being a man, and explaining that Jesus should define manliness, not these cultural things. If anything I’d say your “conclusion” (that Preston is trying to look cool to his students by convincing them all to vote Democrat) is the real ad hominem attack because it groundlessly attributes a character flaw to Preston.

  28. For what it is worth, “diaper wearing” is most likely a direct allusion to Mark’s own comments about Jesus, not about pastors. (I assume Preston was using “Driscolleze” in his critique.) In 2007, Relevant Magazine, Pastor Mark said,

    “Some emergent types [want] to recast Jesus as a limp-wrist hippie in a dress with a lot of product in His hair, who drank decaf and made pithy Zen statements about life while shopping for the perfect pair of shoes. In Revelation, Jesus is a prize fighter with a tattoo down His leg, a sword in His hand and the commitment to make someone bleed. That is a guy I can worship. I cannot worship the hippie, diaper, halo Christ because I cannot worship a guy I can beat up.”

    This comment is a slam against the image of Jesus on the cross as traditionally represented– with a drape of fabric over his genitals. It has nothing to do with an actual diaper or incontinence, rather Driscoll’s discomfort with the image of the crucified Christ.