Amish girl told killer, “Shoot me first”

posted at 1:18 pm on October 5, 2006 by Allahpundit

If I can devote umpteen posts to John Mark Karr, I can devote one to this. Not quite the same as Fabrizio Quattrochi, but the same courage.

JPod’s got an interesting post at the Corner about the Amish telling their kids to forgive the animal who did it:

I can certainly see the beauty and the moral seriousness that would follow from attempting to hew as closely as possible to Christ’s example of unconditional love and forgiveness. All the same, this story disturbs me deeply — because there can be no question that anger can be as righteous as forgiveness. I’m not sure I would want to be someone who succeeded in rising above hatred of those who murder children. Does this mean that those who harbor hatred of child killers have somehow achieved a higher level of Godliness than those who succeed in banishing such hatred from their hearts? That seems to be a necessary corollary of the idea that it is heroic to “instruct the young not to hate,” and that seems very wrong to me.

I’m with JPod, although I suspect quite a few of our readers — especially the religious ones — won’t be. Serious question: if it’s okay to turn the other cheek when it comes to child killers, why isn’t it okay when it comes to, say, Al Qaeda or Saddam Hussein? That inconsistency among hawkish Christians has always troubled me.

Or is it perfectly consistent, and I’m just missing something?


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Is there such a thing as forgiveness in the Muslim religion? Or maybe we shouldn’t be talking about such things, for fear of retaliation?

It’s called decapitation.

Chooppp! You have been forgiven.

AZPatriot on October 5, 2006 at 3:46 PM

Mich_93,

Romans 13.

jdpaz on October 5, 2006 at 3:51 PM

Consider the different approach taken by the commenters here. AP raises difficult questions about Christian reactions to worldly event vs what the tenents of their faith may call for. The response? aprroximately 100 comments debating theological points with a minimum of fuss and anxiety.

Contrast that with todays Jihad Watch Vent and what happened to Robert Redeker. He brought up similarly tough questions about Muslim theology with much different responses.

EFG on October 5, 2006 at 3:57 PM

Greta point Esthier. When we forgive someone who has wronged us, we are choosing to not allow the hurt to rule us. And by releasing that hurt, we are free from being hurt as we go forward.

Forgiveness is not about the one being forgiven, it is about the one doing the forgiving.

Ennuipundit on October 5, 2006 at 3:57 PM

An interesting side note – interesting to me anyway.

The verse quoted a number of times here, where Jesus says “if you don’t have a sword sell your garment and buy one,” (Luke 22.36), is only recorded in Luke – not in the other Synoptics or in John.

At the same time, Matthew, Mark, and John, but not Luke, record Peter striking one of the guards and cutting off his ear, and Jesus saying “those who live by the sword will die by the sword.”

Matthew also records Jesus saying that he did not come to bring peace but a sword – though this is largely figurative

nailinmyeye on October 5, 2006 at 3:58 PM

Ennuipundit –
out of curiosity, then, do we say that forgivness of humanity does more for God than it does for humans? That’s the logical conclusion, and I would have to disagree with that.

nailinmyeye on October 5, 2006 at 4:01 PM

It certainly is the logical conclusion, but it assumes that God is missing something, which He is not.

But the Bible does say time and again that God want’s to forgive us, which implies that God does have some enjoyment out of the act of forgiveness.

Esthier on October 5, 2006 at 4:08 PM

I emailed Allah a response and he was nice enough to let me register, so here are my thoughts. I apologize if any one has already mentioned these:

In my understand of the New Testament, Jesus command to turn the other cheek is specifically to individuals. Christians are to forgive and practice the principle of loving your enemy.

Governments can deal with evil with “the sword.” They cannot be “Christian” or forgive. Check out Romans 13. Verse 4 says “… But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it [ed. - government] does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.”

Governments are under no command from Jesus to turn the other cheek. They are commanded to protect their citizens and uphold what is good.

I see no contridiction with turning the other cheek, loving and forgiving my enemies and supporting my government in their prosecution of evil, at home and internationally.

wardrobedoor on October 5, 2006 at 4:12 PM

Welcome nailinmyeye,

I don’t think that’s the logical conclusion…our forgiveness doesn’t actually do anything for the other person—unless you’re handing out Presidential pardons. God’s forgiveness otoh, does actually do something for the forgiven one.

I have to agree with Ennuix. When we forgive it does more for us than the object of our forgiveness. Need to be careful with the reductio ad God’s just like us.

jdpaz on October 5, 2006 at 4:12 PM

…Jesus saying that he did not come to bring peace but a sword…

Too bad the same can’t be said for Mohammad.

RightWinged on October 5, 2006 at 4:16 PM

Christian theological concepts can seem very complicated, but I think they generally can be expressed quite simply. In this case, the nub of the issue, in my understanding, is this:

Christians as individuals are called upon to forgive those who do wrong to them; not to harbor hatred.

Christians are also called upon to protect and care for the innocent and endangered. This sometimes requires taking action against those who threaten them. A calculation must be made as to when violence is justified in preventing a larger evil. This is the core, I think, of Christian “just war” doctrine. Naturally, people may disagree as to when violence is justified. For me, the actions of the U.S. in Afghanistan and in Iraq and in the general war against jihadism meet that threshold, and always have.

Lastly, we’re all sinners.

RWB on October 5, 2006 at 4:22 PM

Absolutely, nailinmyeye,
God’s grace is unique in this world. While His forgiveness benefits us, in that it spares us from eternal damnation, it benefits him by illustrating His magnificent glory. One element of a Christian’s relationship with God is worship. God wants Christians to worship Him. This is pleasing in God’s eye. So much so, that He tells us, one day “every knee should bow…every tongue confess…” Phillippians 2:10-11.

In forgiving us, because we have not earned it, God shows us how loving He is. And it glorifies Him. That’s what is amazing about God’s forgiveness. Add to it, that it came via the sacrificial death of His Son, Jesus Christ, and I find myself in awe of God’s ability to do anything for me. To save me, to bless me, to help me and to love me, even though I fail every day.

From my understanding, giving God the glory for that awesome forgiveness means more to Him than our rescue from hell means to us. And that humbles me.

Ennuipundit on October 5, 2006 at 4:23 PM

From my understanding, giving God the glory for that awesome forgiveness means more to Him than our rescue from hell means to us. And that humbles me.

Point well taken. It is not that God was lacking, but that God does gain glory in the forgiveness of humans. I see that.

I still have a difficult time with the idea that forgiveness, on a human level, does more for the forgiver, than it does for the forgiven. Particularly, if I forgive someone who is continually doing me wrong…am I not just enabeling that person to continue in poor behavior? Or, must there be consequences for bad behavior?

I have to say that this question stands as one of the most difficult for me in my Christian faith.

nailinmyeye on October 5, 2006 at 4:33 PM

I’m not sure who said it, but I’m with whoever said that Christians are called to forgive, but they’re not called to allow folks to go on sinning egregiously. The “cheek” scripture in question (the version that starts at Matthew 6:38) is actually more about “loving your enemy” and praying for him than about not retaliating.

Do the Christians here love Osama? If not, are they trying to? When you pray at night, are you praying for God to open your heart so that you can love the people in Al Qaeda? I understand trying and failing — that’s where human fallibility comes in — but the point is, I should think, that you have to try. Sincerely, and hard, and every day. Am I wrong?

The “cheek” scripture in question (the version that starts at Matthew 6:38) is actually more about “loving your enemy” and praying for him than about not retaliating. In fact, I’ve read that the Greek verb translated as “strike” in the Scripture is translated as “slaps with the back of the hand,” which was evidently considered more of an insult than a violent attack. So, I think there’s some wiggle room in there.

Well, see, there’s always wiggle room. Religious texts couldn’t exist without wiggle room because eventually they bump up against reality and something’s gotta give: do we take Jesus seriously and turn the other cheek after 9/11? Or do we ignore Jesus and hit back hard?

Answer: we do neither. We find “wiggle room.”

I don’t know. The Amish didn’t need wiggle room to deal with this.

Allahpundit on October 5, 2006 at 4:33 PM

Please forgive me (no pun intended) for not having read all previous 90 posts before deciding to comment. Perhaps everything I have to say has been said and I become redundant.

Allah, to your original question, we must make a separation between a personal or local response to an outrage against us as individuals, and a national response to an outrage against our sovereign country.

Forgiveness is a matter of our heart, and it is more important for us that we exercise it than for the object of our forgiveness.

When you hold a faith that guarantees you eternal Paradise beyond this life, and accept the Bible’s representation of this temporal life as “but a vapor”, you can look down the barrel of a gun and say “shoot me first”. Perhaps your quicker trip to Heaven, and your moral courage will so impact the gunman that he stops his attack, and you save lives. Either way, if you believe that your life is truly in God’s hands, not the attackers, it isn’t such a hard step to make. Extraordinary in our day, sad to say.

While the Amish society expects their own people to forgive the insanity of those senseless murders, they would not have prevented justice from being done in a legal sense had the man not killed himself. God forgave David his sins, but did not withhold the punishment that He had previously declared. It is a Biblical principal that forgiveness and retribution are not mutually exclusive.

On the other hand, when a nation is attacked, we are not speaking of personal or individual response. It is the nation’s responsibility to defend itself, and in today’s conditions of assymetrical violence, if that requires preemptive actions they should be undertaken without hesitation, and without half-measure.

It is not wrong for a family member of a WTC victim to personally forgive the pilot-terrorist who caused their loved-one’s death, but it is also not wrong for a nation’s “peacemakers” to respond with a full measure of righteous fury against those who would hope to repeat such an event.

As a previous poster commented, Jesus upheld the law in a spiritual sense regarding guilt at the same time that he admonished us to forgive. There is no contradiction here. The law is a schoolmaster teaching us that we are all sinful, and therefore have no leg to stand on when attempting to condemn another for their faults. When you consider taking a sinful action, you are already guilty. Surely you hope for forgiveness for that, so how can you simultaneously withhold forgiveness from another for a sin? That should always be in God’s hand.

Ephesians 2:10 says “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

We are expected to good what is right. In case anyone thinks that their faith relieves them of that responsibility, consider that the quoted verse immediately follows the verses most often quoted as indemnifying Christians against payment for sin…

Eph 2:8-9 “For by grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God; Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

Works of righteousness save no one in God’s eyes. Some cherry-pick that concept and say that there is no point in trying to do good, and they err in thinking so. Christians have no right not to forgive, when all is said and done, because so much has been forgiven us by Him who died for us.

Freelancer on October 5, 2006 at 4:38 PM

I don’t want to sit here and Catholic bash, but most Catholics I’ve known (and the northeast is full of ‘em) are just as secular as everyone else, except they go have a snack once a week and tell a man in a box some stuff they did wrong, and they’ve got a permission slip for another week. Non-catholic Christianity has us confess directly to God.

Well, no offense, but I think the Catholic approach is vastly superior there. Having to confess to another human being makes things very immediate and real; God might not judge you, but the priest will. He can’t help it; he’s only human. So if you have something awful or embarrassing to admit to, you have to go through the ordeal of revealing it. Then you can be forgiven.

I think the point you’re missing AP is that there is law enforcement and government that exist outside of religion, and they have always had a role, and dealing justice is part of it. We support justice, but that doesn’t have anything to do with not forgiving.

But as I said earlier, (a) Jesus didn’t say “hit back but then forgive,” he said “turn the other cheek”. Forgiveness is part of it but there’s at least a suggestion that we shouldn’t retaliate either. And (b) in the international context, there is no civil authority to appeal to. You either act on your own behalf or you don’t. Or, I guess, you could appeal to the UN.

Is that the answer here? Leave it to the UN to punish the guilty while we turn the other cheek?

I haven’t even invoked the Golden Rule in this discussion, mind you. That adds a whole other pacifist gloss to the “turn the other cheek” business.

Allahpundit on October 5, 2006 at 4:43 PM

Do the Christians here love Osama? If not, are they trying to? When you pray at night, are you praying for God to open your heart so that you can love the people in Al Qaeda? I understand trying and failing — that’s where human fallibility comes in — but the point is, I should think, that you have to try. Sincerely, and hard, and every day. Am I wrong?

No, yes, yes, no. Praying for your enemies is impossible in the human experience, but with God, all things are possible.

Valiant on October 5, 2006 at 4:45 PM

There isn’t a Christian out there who doesn’t partake in the ‘wiggling’, Allah, Amish included.

SisterToldjah on October 5, 2006 at 4:46 PM

I have to say that this question stands as one of the most difficult for me in my Christian faith.

You and me both, nailinmyeye. And it is easy to see forgiveness as enabling. We need to combine our forgiving spirit with the recognition that we are one of God’s children. As Christians that means that while we turn the other cheek we also enforce accountability for those seeking forgiveness. If they do not change from their ways, then you turn them over to God for Him to deal with.

Do the Christians here love Osama? If not, are they trying to? When you pray at night, are you praying for God to open your heart so that you can love the people in Al Qaeda? I understand trying and failing — that’s where human fallibility comes in — but the point is, I should think, that you have to try. Sincerely, and hard, and every day. Am I wrong?

Allah, no I don’t love Osama. And I haven’t been trying to. And that is an absolute failing on my part. I can give you an example. My father was not a good man. My mother has been talking about him a lot lately. And I realized one day that if I asked myself, do I want my father in heaven with me, I couldn’t answer yes to that. It’s along the same thing. God reveals our failings to us in a way that we can address them, pray for deliverance and strength and help to make the change. That’s all we can do is work as Paul writes to us to be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And honestly, this conversation has given me much to dwell on, and a lot of planks to remove from my eyes.

Ennuipundit on October 5, 2006 at 4:53 PM

Allah, you were posting at the same time I was, it seems.

You ask the right questions, and I appreciate that deeply. Sincerity is a pure thing.

It isn’t a matter of wiggle room. Sadly, too many Christians have an ignorantly developed faith (no faith is perfect, and I do not exclude nor excuse myself when I am also guilty of this) and cannot argue for the differences in heart behavior and situational response to offenses.

If a man is in my home intending harm to my family, the concept of forgiveness does not require that I lay my children, wife and myself on the floor and wait for the shots to be fired. Pacifism and Christianity have nothing in common. I will fight for everything I am worth to prevent harm to come to my loved ones or myself.

When the matter at hand is settled, I am expected by my faith to consider the soul of the attacker, that his guilt condemns him, but no more or less than guilt in my life would condemn me if it weren’t for Christ’s sacrifice and forgiveness putting mercy in the place of justice.

It is right and proper to pray that Osama recognize his guilt and turn his life and soul over to the one God who can save him. It is equally right and proper to pray for the soul of Michael Moore, Howard Dean, Kos, Fidel Castro, Bill Clinton, etc. God is no respecter of persons.

As to our nation’s response to 9/11, this should not be confused with Jesus’ telling a person to turn the other cheek. A government does not bear the sword in vain. It must protect its citizens against invasion and attack. Beware of the leaven of the purveyors of moral equivalency, they have infiltrated so much of our thought that concepts which should not even be questioned nowadays are.

Freelancer on October 5, 2006 at 4:54 PM

AP, you and MK call it “wiggle room”. The proper term is hermenuetics: the art and science of bible interpretation. The first lesson is that you can’t pull half a sentence out of the Bible and wave it around saying “oh, yeah? oh, yeah?!?

jdpaz on October 5, 2006 at 4:55 PM

Do the Christians here love Osama? If not, are they trying to? When you pray at night, are you praying for God to open your heart so that you can love the people in Al Qaeda?

I can say with honesty that I love humanity. I love humanity as God’s creation, and as God’s image, distorted though it may be. I pray for the restoration of humanity, for the consumation of the new creation. And that includes Osama, because it includes everyone.

But this is different from simplistically forgiving Osama, or, redeeming Osama, or, making excuses for Osama, or ignoring justice for Osama.

If I pray for Osama – or for anybody for that matter – it is for their redemption in Christ. But this does not mean that justice for crime is ignored in the human economy of things.

nailinmyeye on October 5, 2006 at 5:11 PM

Speaking for most of the Christians I know (and I know a lot) it’s NOT ok to turn the other cheek to child killers.

You can argue semantics and theology all day long, but at the end of the day when it comes down to it … most Christians who are “hawkish” support the death penalty or at the very least life in prisonment for child killers, and have little to no sympathy for them.

Just go to any local conservative church and just ask around.

One Angry Christian on October 5, 2006 at 5:24 PM

Personally, I pray each night that when I wake up in the morning the news is reporting that OBL is dead and his body has been scraped up and deposited in a plastic bag that is in the hands of the US military.

It’s time for OBL to kiss this life goodbye, go see if he can find Allah and collect on those promises.

Then take a long, longggg timeout to reflect on his human experience and account for the misery he brought to the World.

I’d hate to be him in his next life, it ain’t gonna be pretty.

Texas Gal on October 5, 2006 at 5:27 PM

AP, you and MK call it “wiggle room”. The proper term is hermenuetics: the art and science of bible interpretation. The first lesson is that you can’t pull half a sentence out of the Bible and wave it around saying “oh, yeah? oh, yeah?!?“

And yet plenty of commenters do that with the Koran regularly.

I don’t know. I get this image of people on 9/11 leafing through their Bibles in a frenzy, searching desperately for nuances, ambiguities, contradictions, and “wiggle room” that can be employed in the service of bombing the shit out of Afghanistan. “Come on, Jesus! SAY SOMETHING ABOUT REVENGE!”

Doesn’t sound like the Amish did that, though. Why not?

Allahpundit on October 5, 2006 at 5:36 PM

The Amish are not in the same Christian tradition as Roman Catholics and mainline Protestants. The degree to which they take Biblical things with an unusual literal absolutism is illustrated by the lifestyle they lead — not that I’m an expert on Amish beliefs.

When Allah asks if Christians here pray for the capacity to love Osama, it gets to the very heart of the issue, for sure. I think that as someone who tries to be Christian that I should be praying for that capacity, and that I should be praying for Osama to turn away from evil, work for good, and even find Jesus (now that would be fun!). To the extent I don’t do that, I’m sinning, and there’s no bones to be made about that. On the other hand, while Osama and his colleagues continue their violence, there is no sin in both wanting them to be stopped and in taking action to stop them.

RWB on October 5, 2006 at 5:48 PM

AP, I guess what I was trying to say is that for myself and speaking only for myself-while I would like to be able to reconcile your statement of

But then how do you deal with the fact that your religion says you’re supposed to?

I don’t think I can. I know that is what I am supposed to do but for myself, I don’t believe I could do it or else it would take years. I know this is a bit off the track but I remember reading when David Bloom passed away his parrish Priest said that he was not afraid to go and if he didn’t come back, he was ready at least spiritually to die. I wish that I could be like that but I cannot. I try to take comfort in the late Holy Father’s mantra of “Be Not Afraid”, but I am afraid. I don’t know if that answers your question but that’s just who I am.

Catie96706 on October 5, 2006 at 5:48 PM

Paul said something about revenge – in what looks to me like a somewhat convoluted statement:

Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’ says the Lord. On the contrary: If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing this you will heap burning coals upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12.17-21

It is noteworthy that Paul says that “as far as it is depends on you,” which communicates not provoking a fight. If someone comes into my house to kill my family, he has brought the fight to me, and it is not possible for me to not fight back. This is not revenge, however, this is protection.

This still does not rule out government retaliation for acts of war against it, as, the very next thing Paul writes (Roamns 13) deals with the role of government in administering justice.

As a Christian, after 9/11, I was more concerned with the question of “Why?”, than I was with the question of “Can we bomb the shit out of Afghanistan?”

nailinmyeye on October 5, 2006 at 5:57 PM

The Bible is unequivocal: it’s the government’s job to execute judgement on evildoers (although, not really revenge, per se). The rules for individual Christians are somewhat different. It’s been pointed out here a bunch that the “turn the other cheek” doesn’t apply across the board to every situation: it applies to those who would insult you. Stomping all over those that would attack us has comfortable scriptural support. There is no dilemma here.

I’m not all that familiar with Amish beliefs, but I assume if a grown man had been closeby he’d have done his best to save those girls. What revenge could the Amish exact upon that guy, really? Go spit on his carcase? Seems like all the justice was already taken care of. The only thing left is to forgive and show love to his widow.

And, yeah, people quoting the Koran need to watch out for the whole context thing, too.

It’s important to remember, too, that the truth or falsity of any religion doesn’t hinge upon the behavior of its adherends. Whether all Christians act nobly or smarmily does not affect whether Christianity is true or not.

jdpaz on October 5, 2006 at 6:00 PM

I think that as someone who tries to be Christian that I should be praying for that capacity, and that I should be praying for Osama to turn away from evil, work for good, and even find Jesus (now that would be fun!). To the extent I don’t do that, I’m sinning, and there’s no bones to be made about that.

Okay, but if you know it’s a sin not to, then why don’t you start doing it? We’re seeing a lot of this “I know I should pray for Osama, but…” stuff here.

Yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard to forgive. But aren’t Christians obliged to try? To strive for that?

I don’t get a real strong sense of striving towards forgiveness from Christian hawks. I do get a strong sense of “we should be killing lots more of them!”

Allahpundit on October 5, 2006 at 6:05 PM

Doesn’t sound like the Amish did that, though. Why not?

If you are refering to the article you linked in your post, I think you are refering to the forgiveness and lack of hard feelings on the part of the Amish. But was that directed towards the killer, or his family? I think from reading it that it meant they had no hard feelings for the killers family. If it meant that they were refering to the killer, well, after he is dead, forgiveness can come. But even the Amish men, pacifistic as they are, probably wouldn’t have just meekly submitted if they could have wrestled this guy down.

But really, AP, what are you striving for here? Your arguementative skills are good, but what are the driving at? Should all Christians completely forgive Osama, and completely turn the other cheek, offering no physical opposition to terrorism? What would that lead to?

Or should Christians completely turn their backs on their faith, adbandon the concept of mercy and forgivness, and embrace the concept of Jihad, with none of the moderating qualities of redemption or other Christian concepts?

You’ve made good points about how Christians have not lived up 100% to their ideals. Which are difficult to live up to. Some have achknowledged that. So where do we go from here?

EFG on October 5, 2006 at 6:32 PM

AP, I guess again that is what we should strive to do is to be able to forgive. Let me give you this example. My half-brother was killed in Viet Nam when I was 5. I remember reading during the 1992 election season where Bill Clinton had written as a young man that he “loathed the military”. I can forgive the statement (perhaps he has matured and no longer does loathe the military) but I cannot forget.

Catie96706 on October 5, 2006 at 6:35 PM

Okay, but if you know it’s a sin not to, then why don’t you start doing it? We’re seeing a lot of this “I know I should pray for Osama, but…” stuff here.

(Emphasis added)

Start? What makes you think some people haven’t already started to try? Personal heart to hearts with God generally aren’t public affairs.

Yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard to forgive. But aren’t Christians obliged to try? To strive for that?

What makes you think they’re not?

I don’t get a real strong sense of striving towards forgiveness from Christian hawks. I do get a strong sense of “we should be killing lots more of them!”

Of course you won’t get a sense of it, for the same reason you don’t see a lot of Christians openly expressing forgiveness towards the person who planned to murder one of their loved ones or those who actually did.

It sounds like you’re thinking non-Amish Christians should be perfect, Allah, and they’re not. They’re human beings. There’s only one perfect being, and it’s not anyone you or I can acutally see. The rest of us strive to live in His image, but sometimes fall short, and not just in the area of being able to forgive our enemies. But as others have stated in this thread, that we are supposed to forgive does not equate to letting killers get away with murder.

SisterToldjah on October 5, 2006 at 6:38 PM

We should pray for Osama and everyone to see the error of their ways and become Christians. We should forgive those that offend us. If we’re not it is a shame and a poor testimony to those who’re watching, like Allahpundit. Fortunately my standing as a Christian doesn’t depend upon how good I am at it. It’s a gift to me, bestowed by God in His Mercy. I try to be a good one out of appreciation.

As far as “killing lots more of them” goes: it’s proper to support our government (Romans 13) as it does its dirty work of protecting its citizens. If we take glee in Muslims dying and going to hell then shame on us.

Anyway I hope we’re answering your original question. There’s a category issue involved. Although, given the chance, he’d’ve been perfectly within biblical boudaries to kill the guy, the Amish man forgave a dead perpetrator. We support our govt’s actions to protect its citizens from an ongoing threat until all the terrorists are dead or otherwise decommissioned. If we are unforgiving (as far as we personally have been affected by terrorists) or hateful, that’s our bad and need to get right.

Just a point about Jpod’s post: We’re supposed to love the sinner and hate the sin because “there but for the grace of God go I”.

jdpaz on October 5, 2006 at 6:52 PM

is it me or has this conversation been going in circles for hours? Almost everyone is saying the same thing to Allah, but he’s replying with something to which everyone replies similarly again, and back around and around…

RightWinged on October 5, 2006 at 6:56 PM

is it me

It isn’t you.

nailinmyeye on October 5, 2006 at 7:04 PM

I don’t think he’s really reading our responses—just seeing how long he can string us along.

jdpaz on October 5, 2006 at 7:05 PM

Yeah RW, it is getting kinda long. I guess what I would like to read is what AP thinks should be done. He’s made some good observations as to what he sees a flaws in some peoples arguements, and he has asked some really good questions that have generated a lot of debate and thought.

But we haven’t really heard any sort of solid position from AP as to what he thinks is the right position. I mean, I know he isn’t saying we should all approach the GWOT like the Amish would approach it, ie, as passivists. Yet on the other hand I know he doesn’t stand for the NUKE MECCA!!! type response either. So it would be interesting to hear what his position on this theological issue is.

EFG on October 5, 2006 at 7:08 PM

Almost everyone is saying the same thing to Allah, but he’s replying with something to which everyone replies similarly again, and back around and around…

Like Jake said to Joey in Raging Bull: You give me answers. You just don’t give me the right answers.

If anyone’s bored with this thread, please, by all means, discontinue reading. We’ve got a fresh new Rosie O’Donnell sex video up for your amusement.

It sounds like you’re thinking non-Amish Christians should be perfect, Allah, and they’re not. They’re human beings.

I’m not suggesting the Amish are perfect. I’m suggesting that they’re taking the Christian emphasis on forgiveness more seriously than hawkish Christians do. You ask what makes me think they’re not striving to forgive Osama and Zarqawi and the rest of them; well, just look at the rhetoric. Look at the celebrations we had on this very site when Zarqawi got blasted to pieces. Is that a Christian ethic?

If you’re personally striving to forgive the jihadis, fair enough. I’m sure some Christians are. But plenty seem not to be. I don’t care one way or another, but I’m just curious how they reconcile that fact with what their religion teaches.

But we haven’t really heard any sort of solid position from AP as to what he thinks is the right position. I mean, I know he isn’t saying we should all approach the GWOT like the Amish would approach it, ie, as passivists.

I’m not asking you for a strategy on how to win the war, EFG, just for an explanation re: how you approach it. I don’t forgive Osama at all; nor do I strive to; nor will I ever. But then, I’m not a Christian. Nothing would please me more than to see him dragged to the top of a tall building, set on fire, and then have to make the same tough decision those people splattered on the pavement in the Trade Center plaza had to make.

Not a very Christian thing of me to say. Oh well.

Allahpundit on October 5, 2006 at 7:54 PM

Jdpaz and nailinmyeye have it right with their posts.

We need to pray that Osama and the like repent and believe in Christ. However, we are not to forgive them. God by no means pardons the guilty.

We are to pray for our government to mete out justice. This involves killing terrorists. If called to, we (Christians) are to serve in the military.

PRCalDude on October 5, 2006 at 8:13 PM

Like Jake said to Joey in Raging Bull: You give me answers. You just don’t give me the right answers.

“Right” answers? I thought the purpose of this was to have a discussion so you could perhaps find the answers you seek, AP. Saying we’re not providing the “right” answers suggests that you’ve had an answer in your mind from the get go and have waited for someone to come around to confirm it.

No, Sister, I’m not suggesting they’re perfect. I’m suggesting that they’re taking the Christian emphasis on forgiveness more seriously than hawkish Christians do. You ask what makes me think they’re not striving to forgive Osama and Zarqawi and the rest of them; well, just look at the rhetoric. Look at the celebrations we had on this very site when Zarqawi got blasted to pieces. Is that a Christian ethic?

It’s no more a Christian ethic than overeating (gluttony) or worshiping false gods (idolatry), for example, but yet Christians do it and most of the time (if they’re true Christians) they regret it sooner or later and ask for forgiveness. I know earlier you tried to downplay the “I’m human” angle, but that’s really a key factor here: humans are not perfect, and are destined to sin. We commit the sin of overreating, idolatry, of struggling to (and in some cases) not forgiving others. But as I stated earlier, though we strive to live in His image, we often fail. But that doesn’t stop us from trying, doesn’t prevent us from asking for forgiveness from God and asking him to help us be better Christians.

If you’re personally striving to forgive the jihadis, fair enough. I’m sure some Christians are. But plenty seem not to be. I don’t care one way or another, but I’m just curious how they reconcile that fact with what their religion teaches.

Don’t know how you can say you don’t care, since for most of this thread you’ve strongly implied that most non-Amish Christians who support the war against AQ are hypocritical on the issue of forgiveness, AP. I think you care more than perhaps you realize. As for ‘reconciliation’ I think I answered that in my prior paragraph.

SisterToldjah on October 5, 2006 at 8:18 PM

And yet plenty of commenters do that with the Koran regularly.

I don’t know. I get this image of people on 9/11 leafing through their Bibles in a frenzy, searching desperately for nuances, ambiguities, contradictions, and “wiggle room” that can be employed in the service of bombing the shit out of Afghanistan. “Come on, Jesus! SAY SOMETHING ABOUT REVENGE!”

Doesn’t sound like the Amish did that, though. Why not?

Responding to a national attack is NOT revenge. Once again, I implore you, beware of the moral equivalency slippery slope. That a sovereign nation has the duty, not merely the right, to respond to a deadly attack on its soil MUST not be compared with you or I turning the other cheek when personally harmed.

AP, snapshot answers to your blunt and valid questions about human behavior…

Yeah, it’s hard. It’s hard to forgive. But aren’t Christians obliged to try? To strive for that?

Yes, unequivocally. Several folks have already said so. But guess what. In God’s eyes, the trying, in spite of failing, is a good step because we are pointing in the proper direction, toward Him.

Okay, but if you know it’s a sin not to, then why don’t you start doing it? We’re seeing a lot of this “I know I should pray for Osama, but…” stuff here.

Because we aren’t the same society today that we were in Noah Webster’s day. Because our schools, our parents, our peers haven’t taught us the absolute moral foundations that they once did, and since the 1920′s our ethics have been eroded so badly that it seems to take a great amount of personal courage just to SAY, “I should be doing x, I know, but…”

The purveyors of filth and moral relativism love the Bible verse which says, “Judge not lest ye be judged”. But let me illustrate the real reason for this verse with a fictional anecdote.

Grandma is driving down the highway and her car quits running. She just barely gets it over to a narrow shoulder, where the passenger door is almost touching the guardrail. And she is scared to death to try and get out on the driver’s side.

A man who has lived a mean, cruel, unkind life from day one is coming up the road, sees the car pulled over with lights flashing and a lace hankie frantically waving out of the driver’s window. A normal behavior for this man would be to brush as close as he dares at high speed, honking as he flies by. In a fit of conscience he avoids any mean behavior and simply drives on by.

Another man is coming up to the same place on the road. A normal response for him would be to pull over and do anything he can to help out. He is the kind of man who occasionally gives possessions to those with greater need, or some cash for a meal, etc. He also chooses to continue on passed the stopped car.

If you were an unseen observer you might say that those two men reacted identically to the situation, and from God’s perspective you would be wrong. The first man may have done the most courageous thing in his life by not taking an opportunity to cause additional pain to someone in distress, which was his norm. The second man may have done the most inconsiderate thing in his life by ignoring a need he had no reason to, and a lifetime of experience doing otherwise. So beware that you don’t judge with limited information.

All that is to say this. When a plane is flown as a live missile into a building, I can judge that as evil every single time, and while I may find myself asking God for the ability to forgive the perpetrators, I will not turn my cheek, nor my back, on the evil that made it possible. Jesus confronted evil every time he encountered it. There is no contradiction in those actions.

Freelancer on October 5, 2006 at 8:24 PM

Don’t know how you can say you don’t care, since for most of this thread you’ve strongly implied that most non-Amish Christians who support the war against AQ are hypocritical on the issue of forgiveness, AP.

I think they’re only hypocritical if they’re not genuinely trying to forgive their enemies. I said earlier that I understand they’re only human and can fail in that endeavor. It seems to me, though, that they’d have to at least make that endeavor in good faith.

You said (or implied) that you do. Fair enough. Answer honestly: do you think most hawkish Christians also do so?

Allahpundit on October 5, 2006 at 8:27 PM

AP,

I know that question is aimed at SisterToldjah, and it remains a very valid question to any person of faith.

Here’s a question for you, and trust me that I do not mean it in a flippant manner. What will her answer mean to you?

I would certainly not fly from the label “Hawkish Christian”, presuming that you mean it in contrast to a pacifistic Christian, so it applies to me as well.

My answer is, when it crosses my mind to do so, yes. I pray for the souls of even those who mean me harm, because it is not presented in the Bible as an elective behavior, rather a duty.

Would I be in anguish over the news that OBL has assumed room temperature without reconciling himself to God as the Bible says to? No. Each person chooses, God does not compel faith. Once a person dies, that choice is sealed eternally, and my emotional response to it has no more value.

Would I prefer that he had an epiphany and repented of his current life, crucifying the fleshly man’s appetites and turning to life in the spirit as a servant of Christ? Of course. We can play hypotheticals all day long, but we can both be fairly certain that such an event is extremely unlikely. Yes, with God all things are possible. Therefore, pray.

Just one more lash on the other dead horse. Trying is what God expects. Failing is inevitable due to our human flesh, but He respects the attempt above the results, as it demonstrates that our desire is to serve Him. Abraham did not have to slay Isaac for God to know his heart, that he planned to obey. Abraham knew that Isaac would live on in the resurrection of the redeemed, so he trusted God and was willing to obey. That is our command. Jesus said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”

Freelancer on October 5, 2006 at 8:46 PM

I don’t forgive Osama at all; nor do I strive to; nor will I ever. But then, I’m not a Christian. Nothing would please me more than to see him dragged to the top of a tall building, set on fire, and then have to make the same tough decision those people splattered on the pavement in the Trade Center plaza had to make.government is not called upon to act as a Christian individual

Bang goes the dynamite.

If that’s all you want, AP, I can give you a Christian answer: No, as a Christian, I am called upon *not* to wish that he will suffer outrageously–that’s vengeance. I am NOT called upon to hope that he is not brought to justice, even if that includes his death. Forgiveness != lack of justice. The objective of the government is and should be simply to make sure that he can’t do it again. They might have no way to ensure that other than his death. The government is not called upon to “turn the other cheek.” I’m not descending into the murkiness of that passage; I’ll circumvent it by saying that governments are not Christian individuals. Your French/American thing was off the mark. We don’t go to France’s aid so that they are free to turn the other cheek and because we’re the policemen; we send *our government* to France’s aid because *governments* have an obligation to those governed to protect them, so ours makes a choice to help France protect its people. Just like adults are charged to protect the children in their care.

And that’s the problem with this conversation and why I haven’t rung in before now: you’re conflating too many different issues. You went from the Amish appeal for their dead offender to be forgiven to the actions of various governments to the reaction of the individual Christian to Osama bin Laden. And you’re sounding like the major reason you’re not a Christian is because it’s too hard and impractical to do it right. I don’t mean to be presumptuous; I don’t know you and I’m sure you’ve got plenty o’ reasons, but it sounds like that’s one of them. And it is a very valid concern. You’re reminding me of a character on a Christian TV show awhile back: “I’m a sinner. Always have been. But I ain’t no hypocrite. Never lied to the Lord.” (Paraphrased from a faulty memory.)

Anyway. Stop conflating forgiveness with a lack of justice, the Christian individual with a government’s responsibilities, and maybe we’ll get somewhere.

Anwyn on October 5, 2006 at 8:48 PM

Ugh, somehow got some of my comment in with the blockquote above, sorry. Should’ve ended at “had to make.”

Anwyn on October 5, 2006 at 8:50 PM

We’re not commanded to forgive our enemies. We’re commanded to “Love (our) enemies, and pray for those who persecute (us).” There can be no forgiveness without the propitiation for sins. Osama bin Laden came to us begging forgiveness, then perhaps we would be obligated. God does not pardon the guilty, neither should Christians. You can still love your enemies and not forgive them if they’ve wronged you. You would best love them by showing them the error of their ways, and then preaching the Gospel. Law then Gospel.

PRCalDude on October 5, 2006 at 8:55 PM

I think they’re only hypocritical if they’re not genuinely trying to forgive their enemies. I said earlier that I understand they’re only human and can fail in that endeavor. It seems to me, though, that they’d have to at least make that endeavor in good faith.

Indeed they would. And once more, you really don’t know whether or not they are making the effort to do so in good faith unless you’re a part of their conversations with God. But you’re not, I’m not, no one is – but them.

You said (or implied) that you do. Fair enough.

To clarify: I’m making a good faith effort to forgive our enemies, but I haven’t made it to the point where I have. I’m not sure I will, and if I don’t, that’s something I’ll have to account for before God when my time comes. I also wonder if I’m even wording this correctly, as it’s up to God more so than me or other Christians to ‘forgive’ AQ, because He’s the one who will hold them accountable in the end. It’s up to Christians to pray that they (in this case, AQ) repent and accept Him as their savior before that time comes.

Answer honestly: do you think most hawkish Christians also do so?

I’d like to think they were, but I don’t know for sure. It’s no different from me hoping that (for example) Christians who covet what others have (which is a sin) make a good faith effort to stop doing so, no different from me hoping that Christians who engage in gluttony make good faith efforts to not do so. You’re making a lot of assumptions based purely on statements made out of anger and frustration, but unless you have the ability to look into a Christian’s heart (or unless he or she is open with you about what they’ve discussed privately with God), you really don’t know whether their efforts are in good faith or not. Don’t always judge a book by its cover, AP.

SisterToldjah on October 5, 2006 at 8:57 PM

And that’s the problem with this conversation and why I haven’t rung in before now: you’re conflating too many different issues. You went from the Amish appeal for their dead offender to be forgiven to the actions of various governments to the reaction of the individual Christian to Osama bin Laden. And you’re sounding like the major reason you’re not a Christian is because it’s too hard and impractical to do it right.

I’m not conflating different issues. I’m trying to figure out how hawkish Christians feel about one issue — forgiving one’s enemy — in various contexts: personally, politically, and so on. If you want to segregate forgiveness from “justice,” then we’re just going to go in circles again about why Jesus said “turn the other cheek” instead of “exact justice, then forgive.”

As for why I’m not a Christian, it’s because (a) I don’t believe the gospels are true, (b) I don’t derive any added well being from the narrative, and (c) I don’t believe it’s a realistic philosophy for dealing with situations like we’re in now.

Allahpundit on October 5, 2006 at 8:59 PM

As Christians, we are told that we are not to take revenge against someone who wrongs us. We are taught to obey the laws of the land. The law of the land just by chance, happens to include consequences for one’s behavior. There is an earthly judgment by the government and punishment is meted out accordingly. There is also the final judgment, where we will all be judged according to our actions.

As someone above stated, September 11th actually strengthened my faith. It helped me to realize that there truly are people out there that hate us simply because we are Christians. This is a battle that has waged for centuries.

Do I have a desire to avenge the victims of these vicious animals that maim and kill indiscriminately? Yes, I do struggle with that daily.

May the Lord repay them according to their works.

I pray for our governing leaders, our country and I pray for the Muslims that might turn from their rage filled beliefs and discover that there truly is another way to live.

It does occur. They can convert.

We are taught also, to follow our government leader’s directives. If that means war, then so be it.

I struggled for many years with a burning hatred against the man that murdered my younger sister. I have finally been able to forgive him. Never will I forget that my sister was taken from my life in so brutal a fashion.
I believe it will be much the same with these Amish families.
Where you try not to dwell on the circumstances that caused the loss of your loved one, that memory never dissipates.
Forgive, yes.
Forget, I am not sure that is possible.
Perhaps as I grow in my belief, it will happen.
I admit, I am not that strong yet.

MITX on October 5, 2006 at 10:01 PM

If anyone’s bored with this thread, please, by all means, discontinue reading. We’ve got a fresh new Rosie O’Donnell sex video up for your amusement.

No thanks man, I just ate.

I’m not asking you for a strategy on how to win the war, EFG, just for an explanation re: how you approach it. I don’t forgive Osama at all; nor do I strive to; nor will I ever. But then, I’m not a Christian. Nothing would please me more than to see him dragged to the top of a tall building, set on fire, and then have to make the same tough decision those people splattered on the pavement in the Trade Center plaza had to make.

Not a very Christian thing of me to say. Oh well.

Allahpundit on October 5, 2006 at 7:54 PM

Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’re asking me how do I approach the whole idea of being a Christian and killing in wartime.

I can do that, but then all you have is me saying the same thing as a lot of the other people said earlier. Except they can use a lot more references to the bible than I can. So, I’ll do my best, but I’m just going to shoot some ideas off of the top of my head.

First, on killing. If I go overseas as a soldier, I’ve gotta do what all soldiers do. Fight the enemy. And that includes killing. So I do it. Because I gotta protect myself, my fellow brothers in arms, and my friends and family back home, and my country. And as a human being, I feel all the emotions that go with that. Fear, hate, vicious joy, love. And at the end of the day, there may be dead Jihadists at my feet. Killed by my own hand. And there can be a fierce joy in seeing that. Killing the one who tried to kill you. Besting another man on the field of battle. So it goes. The warrior heart can be like that. And after all, they were trying to kill me, my fellow soldiers, and all I hold dear back home.

But there is another side to it as well. When you look down at these men, these jihadists, those who were trying to kill you, and who were truly evil men. They too were made in the image of God. And in the end, when you look down at their broken, torn bodies, torn as violently as if they had been hacked at with swords and axes on a medieval battlefield, instead of modern bullets and blast, you see the utter waste of potential. Of what they could have been. Had they not chosen evil. Or if they had changed their ways, perhaps they could have redeemed themselves. But it is too late now. Whatever potential for any good they had in them is now gone. And I did it. I killed these men, who were made in the image of God. Whose commandment is, “Thou shall not kill.”

And eventually, I’ll die. And I hope I go to heaven. I’d like to say that my faith is strong enough to be totally assured. But it isn’t. But I hope. And I believe. Despite, the doubt, I believe. And eventually, God will look at me. And He’ll know what I did. And He’ll know all about the jihadists I killed. He won’t be proud of me for that. He won’t exalt me up high because I killed His fellow children. But I think He will forgive me for it. I’ll ask Him for His forgiveness, and I hope He will give it to me. But I think He will. I hope that He will. You may be angry with your child. But eventually, they say they are sorry, and you forgive them. I hope I can get the same.

So, what have I said here? Nothing much more that what others have. And I’m not a saint. Or even someone who finds it easy to do good. Anger, greed, wrath, furious vengeance. They are all there inside me. I covet my neighbors’ goods. The impulse to do adultery, even with a good woman by my side, is there. So I know exactly what you are talking about when you say that you would like to see him dragged to the top of a building, set on fire, and left with the terrible final choice. And if this could happen, it could also happen that I was the one who dragged him out of the stairwell, doused him with gas, and with a heart made of stone, pulled out the match and set him alight. And as you stood on the New York sidewalk and looked up into the sky, squinting into the bright light, watching him burn and smoke as he fell, you might see me, at the edge of the building, looking down, watching him tumble in his final descent.

I don’t know when it would happen. Maybe in the long walk back the stairs of the building. Maybe later that night. Or it might take years. But eventually, I would think on what I had done. And I would know that I had done wrong with that. God would not be proud of me for that. Not at all. I might get slaps on the back from some guys. But not from Him. And I would be ashamed. And perhaps from that shame, I could try to build again a more moral and Christian way of life. One that wouldn’t be based off of pagan fiery vengeance. But instead would revolve around killing him on battle, or capturing him and bringing him back to face judicial justice. And after that? Perhaps then I would be able to find it in my heart to try to find Christian justice and mercy for him.

And again, what have I said rather poorly here, that others haven’t said far better? This is a tough world we live in. God knows that. And there is evil here, and hard choices. And so we render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s, and render unto God what is God’s.

And there you have it. I have done my best to answer your question. And as usual, it takes far too long and could probably been said twice as well in half the length by someone else.

But now I still have a question for you. How do you think Christians should be handling this? You have asked many a probing question and have made many people think long and hard. And that is good. But you haven’t really said anything of what you think, except to point out logical errors in some of the arguments made here. And again, that is cool. I know you aren’t a Christian. But you used to be. And you obviously have the knowledge, smarts, and guts to make tough decisions and stick by them.

And concurrently, I am not a Muslim. Yet I have thought enough about this that I can say the Islamic world needs to put down the overheated rubric of global jihad against the infidel, as it only drives them away from any civilized life, and ensures that there will only be endless conflict and strife.

So in conclusion, how do you think Christians should approach the question you have raised?

Very respectfully,

EFG on October 5, 2006 at 10:07 PM

As for why I’m not a Christian, it’s because (a) I don’t believe the gospels are true, (b) I don’t derive any added well being from the narrative, and (c) I don’t believe it’s a realistic philosophy for dealing with situations like we’re in now.

No problem. I’m not gonna try to brow beat you into converting/reconverting. But I think Christian gospel is useful here. It can anchor us and keep us from sliding forever into savagery.

With it, you can go to war, do what you gotta do, and then come back and revert to living peacefully and well.

But what can a Jihadist do with his negative and destructive mindset? His mindset is what led and caused the war and misery. He isn’t responding to war, his mindset helps create the wars.

And so after on Jihad, he can’t help himself but look for another. And another.

EFG on October 5, 2006 at 10:13 PM

If you want to segregate forgiveness from “justice,” then we’re just going to go in circles again about why Jesus said “turn the other cheek” instead of “exact justice, then forgive.”

But, those issues are seperate. Inter-related, but not equivalent.

It really is too bad that Jesus didn’t say a number of things – like how God can be three, and yet one. The inherent tension between God’s sovereignty and man’s free will. Or, how Christ could be simultaneously fully human and fully God. What we have is what we have, and we take the narrative as it stands, and attempt to sort out its implications for us today.

As for why I’m not a Christian, it’s because (a) I don’t believe the gospels are true, (b) I don’t derive any added well being from the narrative, and (c) I don’t believe it’s a realistic philosophy for dealing with situations like we’re in now.

I appreciate your candor.

If I understand correctly, the question you have in this thread is essentially an issue of consistency? And, if so, do you feel that the Amish community exhibits this consistency to a greater degree than the “hawkish” Christians?

nailinmyeye on October 5, 2006 at 10:17 PM

EFG –
I appreciate both of those very well thought out, and deeply felt posts.

nailinmyeye on October 5, 2006 at 10:24 PM

I’m not conflating different issues. I’m trying to figure out how hawkish Christians feel about one issue — forgiving one’s enemy — in various contexts: personally, politically, and so on. If you want to segregate forgiveness from “justice,” then we’re just going to go in circles again about why Jesus said “turn the other cheek” instead of “exact justice, then forgive.”

Well, I’m not gonna speculate as to why Jesus said it like that, except maybe to say that it just sounds better the way he puts it. No body wants to hear somebody give an answer with a whole bunch of qualifiers. When we get married, we say “I do”, not “I do, subject to the following terms and conditions. 1a)…”

On a slightly more serious note, I don’t think Jesus meant by that that we were to be total pacificists. Afterall, he did get kinda fired up about the money lenders and busted up their stuff.

I’m not sure exactly what you think “turn the other cheek” means, but I’m pretty sure Jesus know and understood there would be a need for police. And although Jesus probably ment that if someone was mugged, he didn’t think we should try to respond with vengence, I am pretty sure he didn’t mean that some cop who happend to witness this should also “turn his cheek” and let this mugger go.

Again, I don’t wanna put words in your mouth, so I’m not saying that you are implying this. But I do think that turn the other cheek doesn’t really mean total passiveness.

EFG on October 5, 2006 at 10:29 PM

Thanks Nailinmyeye.

Much appreciated.

I’ve gotta get something to eat, so I’ll be back in a hour or two to read any more arguements anyone has.

EFG on October 5, 2006 at 10:31 PM

Wow. 149 comments. Is that a new record?

I enjoyed the comments.

Danilo on October 5, 2006 at 11:10 PM

Atheist Farmer Joe very well portrays the view of this Catholic. Taking action to prevent evil is not synonymous with condemning those against whom the action is taken. A criminal who cannot be rehabilitated needs to be locked up for the safety of others, but I cannot say that person is morally inferior to me.

mikeyboss on October 5, 2006 at 11:33 PM

I think everyone’s saying that forgiveness is one thing, and justice is another, and both are Christian. Together. At the same time, or one after the other, however it works out. They’re not contradictory at all.

Justice in this context doesn’t equal punishment or vengeance. Turning the other cheek could mean, don’t exact revenge. It doesn’t seem to have meant (according to previous comments), don’t stop criminals from doing damage.

(Is Christianity a suicide pact?)

The Amish can concentrate on forgiving this guy because it’s over. They don’t have to fight him.

Bin Laden can’t be forgiven yet because he’s still trying to kill us.

Or rather, he probably can be forgiven, and probably should be (by Christians), but he still has to be stopped, and there’s nothing wrong with working on that, and rejoicing when it happens. Being happy he’s been stopped has nothing to do with forgiving him or not forgiving him.

Perhaps the Amish didn’t need wiggle room because by the time they knew what was happening, it was over. Perhaps they forgave seemingly-quickly because they think about their religion more than most people — so they’re sort of in practice. And as has been pointed out, they can live that way because they’re sheltered by rougher men. Not necessarily less-Christian men, but certainly men whose ‘defense’ reactions are quicker than their ‘forgiveness’ ones.

What if the killer had escaped, and was still at large? I suspect a devout Christian could hunt him down ruthlessly, all the while bearing him no grudge. Like you’d hunt a vicious animal. You don’t blame it, or you forgive it, but you do stop it, and you’re pleased when it’s gone. No contradiction involved. You can want someone dead without hating him. You can be sad that he required killing, without being sad that you ran him through.

On the other hand, maybe that’s a cop-out. Maybe his essential humanness has to figure in, in order for the forgiveness to count. In which case you’d have to deal with the question of how and why evil can exist in a creature created by the same guy who created all the Christians (or was he? Do people still believe in the devil, and what does *that* mean?), and how a good Christian is supposed to react to it, and in that case I’ll just stop here. :O

Anyway, yeah, if you want logic and consistency, religion is maybe not the place to look.

Yikes, mikeyboss 11:33: if you can’t say he’s morally inferior to you, doesn’t that open up a whole new issue? Moral equivalence and whether there are absolute standards or not?

kate q on October 6, 2006 at 12:05 AM

Wow, Allah, good question. I missed a lot while I was at work today.

There have been many good responses, but I think wardrobedoor probably summed it up the best, to my understanding.

Jesus was refering to personal relationships. If some one wrongs you, don’t exact retribution in kind. It also says in the Lord’s Prayer to ‘forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.’ Same principle, but with more ‘meat’ to it. The reason we should forgive those who harm us is because God has forgiven us for our sins against Him. Jesus forgave his murderers and prayed for them as he was on the cross. Is it easy to do? No, and I can’t think of any fellow Christians who don’t struggle with this.

However, it doesn’t mean that I have to try and forgive the killer of the Amish girls because it didn’t involve me. If he’d killed my children, it would be a different matter, and I’d try to be forgiving, though it wouldn’t be easy.

As far as our enemies in the war on terror: I don’t think the same principle applies, unless you happen to be a victim of a terrorist attack or related to a victim. However, they would kill me because of what I believe, therefore they are my enemy. When I pray, I pray that God will protect our soldiers and give them his strength and courage, and I pray for our enemies that God will show his truth to them. I truly feel that they are practicing a false religion, and that only by knowing Christ will they be saved, so I pray that they’ll become believers. The rest is in God’s hands.

I probably didn’t clear the mud much, but I hope it helps.

Jezla on October 6, 2006 at 12:24 AM

I just want to go back to the article posted since it seems to get lost in the comments.

God Bless and receive his children.

How a child can ask an assassin to shoot her first is beyond my understanding or the killer’s forgiveness.

I pray God bring strength to the families and this community.

This tragedy is truly beyond any understanding.

Texas Gal on October 6, 2006 at 12:47 AM

I just want to go back to the article posted [...]
God Bless and receive his children.

Well said Texas Gal. Well said indeed.

Anyway, I’ve said all I think I can say about this. One thing though… I said this about AP

But you haven’t really said anything of what you think, except to point out logical errors in some of the arguments made here.

I was wrong about that. In some of his later comments, AP stated some of his own views and clairified his position. I missed those when I wrote that comment. Of course, in a 150+ post thread, that’s easy to do.

Good night all.

EFG on October 6, 2006 at 1:03 AM

I sent AP an e-mail trying to voice what I think is the opinion most are trying to get across and he graciously allowed me to register instead of just quoting it:

Allah,

In regards to your questions on how folks of the Christian faith deal with war, I present the following:

How do American police deal with hostage situations or stand-off situations with no hostages? They ALWAYS try to persuade the perpetrators to surrender before taking action to resolve the situation which sometimes results in the death of the perpetrator. This is the epitome of the 6th commandment, “Thou shall not murder.”

Too many people (mostly leftists trying to twist the bible against believers of the faith who support defending America) try to hype that commandment as, “Thou shall not kill…ever;” and that is a very wrong interpretation. The 6th commandment does not instruct against justified killing.

I once heard a preacher tangling with the same question you are asking. His response was simple. “Killing to stop a crime is NOT wrong.”

Murder is a crime against God and against humanity. Killing to stop crimes against God and humanity is to be a last resort for sure; but it is sometimes necessary.

In the case of the Amish school murders, we already have a solution. He’s dead and no longer a threat to God’s word or humanity.

In the case of the 9/11 hijackers, the case is also moot. Forgiving them is up to each individual
Christian. I’m still struggling mightily with it, personally; but researching into the background of how they were taught hate, intolerance and death since they were kids brings me closer to it every day.

In the case of the Taliban/Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, we tried to passively gain control of the men who funded and/or whipped up support for 9/11. The Taliban repeatedly refused, so we embarked upon the last resort available to us…military action.

In the case of Iraq, following MONTHS of demands that he remove his forces from Kuwait; we fought one “Mother of all battles” to kick Hussein’s ass out of Kuwait to teach him a lesson followed by massive restraint. If 12 years of UN resolutions after the coalition literally handed him his ass is not restraint, I don’t know what the meaning of “turn the other cheek” is.

Hussein’s continued support for terrorists during this period of UN resolutions was rather blatant. Funding to Palestinian homicide bombers’ families to kill Israelies (what was it? $35,000 to each family?), the “mock-up” of an airliner that turned out to be a “how to hi-jack” training ground, the terrorist camps in Northern Iraq that our special forces had to neutralize with the help of the Kurds (since the Turks proved themselves cowards).

“Turn the other cheek?” We did. For 12 years he flipped us off and slapped us in the face more times than I can count by continually sponsoring and/or promoting murder. We finally got tired of it. Christianity is not a suicide pact. We are free to fight when we are pushed too far. 9/11 pushed us too far. We are now free to actively (instead of passively) engage any nation who state-sponors terrorism. We have no more cheeks to turn.

Hope this answers some of your questions.

American_Jihadist on October 6, 2006 at 1:06 AM

Seems to me you’re hitting on a difficult area for American Christians, AP.

Jesus did counsel turning the other cheek and going the extra mile. Going the extra mile was a specific reference to a law which said a Roman soldier could consript any passer-by and make them carry his pack up to a mile. Jesus said go the extra mile. Go farther than what law requires, even for enemies.

On the other hand, the Bible also says that civil authrorities often act on God’s behalf and that they “do not bear the sword in vain.” So God’s justice sometimes takes a very temporal form through the acts of rulers and of laws. Therefore the New Testament advice to individuals is to live simply, keep your head down, avoid getting into legal trouble and love everybody. Against these things there is no law.

It gets tricky today because in America we have a vote and ultimately we are the government. We can actually affect policy. So the line between individual (avoid trouble/love your enemies) and state (bear the sword) gets fuzzy somewhere around the ballot box.

Honestly, I’d rejoice to see OBL dead. That would be some small measure of justice. But I think you’re correct that there is a conflict there. We must love our enemies, even when it’s Nero (then) or OBL (now). Doesn’t mean I’d step in front of a daisy cutter if the Air Force has one with his name on it. But it’s not my job to kill him. Not me personally. That belongs to the state.

Touchy area here, but this applies to abortion. I’m against it. Worked at a CPC. Marched 4 times in DC, many times elsewhere. I give money, etc. I lobby the government to change the law, but it’s not my job to start throwing bricks at abortion clinics or worse. As a citizen I press my case through every legal means. As a Christian, I don’t take law into my own hands AND I have to try to love my neighbors even if they’re gung ho pro-choicers.

Same problem with illegal immigration. I’m against it as a matter of policy. I wish the feds would build a fence and keep the smugglers out (human and drugs). At the same time, there are a lot of Mexicans in my town. My wife tutors them once a week. My church is working on other programs to help this very poor community. I’m all for that. Even hope to contribute some time.

So I can be against something as a political issue, but shift gears when it comes to what I do here and now with real people living in my town. On that level it’s “love your neighbor” and “go the extra mile.” Real people trump political ideals.

There is ultimately a separation between church and state. Unlike the situation in 1st century Palestine, in this country today, that line runs right through every Christian.

John on October 6, 2006 at 4:49 AM

Hussein’s continued support for terrorists during this period of UN resolutions was rather blatant. Funding to Palestinian homicide bombers’ families to kill Israelies (what was it? $35,000 to each family?), the “mock-up” of an airliner that turned out to be a “how to hi-jack” training ground, the terrorist camps in Northern Iraq that our special forces had to neutralize with the help of the Kurds (since the Turks proved themselves cowards).

Just wanted to add that everyone forgets about those handful (out of millions) of Iraq documents that were released showing Saddam’s contacts with AQ, discussions of working together, etc. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I can dig up the links for you, just let me know. I can only imagine what the rest of the documents and thousands of hours of tapes show (if we ever can get them released)

RightWinged on October 6, 2006 at 8:44 AM

Okay, but if you know it’s a sin not to, then why don’t you start doing it? We’re seeing a lot of this “I know I should pray for Osama, but…” stuff here.

The truth is, Allah, as Christians (or more accurately, as people) we each have our individual weaknesses. For some, forgiveness, even of Bin Ladin, is an easy thing. And for some, helping the poor and sacrificing of yourself is easier.

Yeah, anyone who refuses to forgive Bin Ladin is sinning. It’s spitting in the face of Christ who even forgave his killers while on the cross.

If we don’t at least try, then we’re committing an even bigger sin and harming ourselves in the process, but I think your picture of Christians skimming through the Bible on 9-11 is inaccurate. If anything, when Christians are quick to anger, it’s because we’ve neglected to turn to our Bibles, or rather because we’re turning our backs on our faith.

The same is true when we engage in any other sinful behavior.

But as to the Golden Rule. I think that’s where the hawkish Christian makes the most sense. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” It’s the only phrase of its nature said in the positive. Many others state “Do not do unto others as you would not have them do unto you,” or some variation but always stated in the negative, or what not to do.

It’s an important distinction. It calls us to action. I mean if we see injustice in the world, it calls us to do something against the tyrants or murderers and not allow their deeds to continue.

If I were being assaulted, I would want someone to stop the assault, even if it meant violence.

If a man starts gassing Jews, it calls us to do something. And asking nicely clearly wouldn’t have been enough.

If the Goldren Rule had said “Do not do unto…”, then clearly it would indicate no action whenever possible, but as it is, stated in the positive, Christians are not allowed to just sit on the sidelines and stay out of affairs of the world.

But as has already been said, whenever possible, Christians are to try and avoid conflict. Like that woman who used The Purpose Driven Life and aparently crack or something to convince that man to turn himself in.

We shouldn’t seek out a fight, but we are also called to not run from them either.

Esthier on October 6, 2006 at 8:46 AM

In the case of Iraq, following MONTHS of demands that he remove his forces from Kuwait; we fought one “Mother of all battles” to kick Hussein’s ass out of Kuwait to teach him a lesson followed by massive restraint. If 12 years of UN resolutions after the coalition literally handed him his ass is not restraint, I don’t know what the meaning of “turn the other cheek” is.

This brings to mind another non-Biblical proverb from another famous philosopher:

“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” —President George W. Bush, Nashville, Tenn., Sept. 17, 2002

(video)

RightWinged on October 6, 2006 at 8:53 AM

Ennui,
Sorry it took so long to get back to your question.

To answer: I was not very eloquent yesterday, and I grossly misstated what I was intending to imply. You correctly stated that it is a joy to help non-Christians understand the ways of God. I too welcome the dialogue that has occurred on this post.

What I should have said instead of what I did say is – I get frustrated by aethiests and the like who attempt to use phrases like “turn the other cheek” to imply that all Christians are or should be pacifists. The good result though – a dialogue is opened. Well, one is opened if the participants are open-minded. The non-believers have to be seeking knowledge, not just volleying an attack, and the Christians have to be receptive and teach with love, rather than taking offense and firing back.
I can gladly say that, at least what I have read so far, dialogue has occurred here and that is a wonderful thing.
ALL: forgive my seemingly “dissing” statement toward non-believers in my original post. I meant no ill-will, I was simply not waxing eloquent yesterday.
Now, if you want to really get me fired up, let’s talk about the drive-by-media pundits who spout off about Christianity’s hipocracy. We all know that the lamestream media is a one way conversation, no dialogue is sought, so it’s nothing more than a vicious attack on me and my Savior.
Thanks for the great dialogue all, keep it up!
Michael

y2church on October 6, 2006 at 8:57 AM

I found it interesting that many incredibly well-thought-out comments here have mentioned the same segments of Scripture found in the following “Roots of hee Just War Doctrine“. Well said, for many of the in-house philosophers! I think the following paragraphs do a good job of gathering in a lot of the little threads together in one place:

In the Beatitudes, Jesus tells us “blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9). Elsewhere in the Sermon on the Mount he tells us “if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also” (Matt. 5:39). From such verses some have concluded that Christianity is a pacifist religion and that violence is never permitted.

But the same Jesus elsewhere acknowledges the legitimate use of force, telling the apostles, “let him who has no sword sell his mantle and buy one” (Luke 22:36). How are these passages to be reconciled?

In broad terms, Christians must not love violence. They must promote peace whenever possible and be slow to resort to the use of arms. But they must not be afraid to do so when it is called for. Evil must not be allowed to remain unchecked.

Added weight is given to this realization when one recognizes that Scripture — all of Scripture — is inspired by God (2 Tim. 3:16). This means that the Old Testament is just as inspired as the New Testament and thus an expression of the will of Christ.

The Old Testament acknowledges frankly that there is “a time to kill” (Eccles. 3:3). At various times in the Old Testament, God commanded the Israelites to defend their nation by force of arms. Yet it was always with the recognition that peace is the goal to be worked for. Thus the psalmist exclaims, “how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Ps. 133:1). Peace is the goal, but when it cannot be achieved without force, force must be used.

In the same way, the New Testament sets forth the goal of peace but acknowledges the legitimate use of force. It does so by John the Baptist’s acknowledgment that Roman soldiers, whose job it was to enforce the Pax Romana, or “Peace of Rome,” could keep their jobs (Luke 3:14) and by Paul’s observation that the state “does not bear the sword in vain” but is “God’s servant for your good” (Rom. 13:4).

As long as Christianity remained a minority religion in the Roman Empire, it was not forced to put these insights together into a formal theory of when warfare could be used. But as Christianity grew predominant, more attention had to be devoted to this subject. By the time of Augustine (A.D. 354-430) the need for a theory of when warfare was just was keen, and Augustine provided one, crystallizing biblical principles into what is now known as just war doctrine. In the intervening centuries the theory has been refined, but its framework remains as he gave it.

JUST WAR DOCTRINE TODAY

The strict conditions for legitimate defense by military force require rigorous consideration. The gravity of such a decision makes it subject to rigorous conditions of moral legitimacy. At one and the same time:

* the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
* all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
* there must be serious prospects of success;
* the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

These are the traditional elements enumerated in what is called the “just war” doctrine. The evaluation of these conditions for moral legitimacy belongs to the prudential judgment of those who have responsibility for the common good.

Redhead Infidel on October 6, 2006 at 10:03 AM

Whoa – that turned out to be long. Sorry about that, y’all – it didn’t look so long in a wider format.

[also, typo in the title of the article "Roots of THE Just War Doctrine]

Guess I’ll go get a cup of coffee now and wake up a little more. :)

Redhead Infidel on October 6, 2006 at 10:06 AM

AP,

My guess is you have moved away from this subject and others might have this point already. But the Bible is clear on how to treat enemies and then to “be subject to the governing authorities” beacuse they “have been instituted by God” and “do not bear the sword in vain.”

Historically Christians have understood there is a difference between seeking revenge for yourself and and a state establishing justice.

Is it so unreasonable to think a man might forgive another who has done violence to him or his family and still want the perpatrator stopped so he is not able to harms others. The believer is to do nothing out of vengeance.

From Romans 12:14 – 13:5
Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. 15Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. 16Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly.[h] Never be conceited. 17Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. 18If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. 19Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it[i] to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” 20To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” 21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

1Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. 3For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience.

matt redmond
pastor to students
westminster pca
greenwood, ms
discerningthetimes.blogspot.com

mbredmond on October 6, 2006 at 10:43 AM

What incredibly brave young women.

Christoph on October 6, 2006 at 11:11 AM

Is it so unreasonable to think a man might forgive another who has done violence to him or his family and still want the perpatrator stopped so he is not able to harms others. The believer is to do nothing out of vengeance.

Matt,

I still don’t understand how Ro 12:14-13:5 is a call to forgive. Paul was clearly echoing our Lord here:

Matt 5:43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.’ 44But I tell you: Love your enemies[i] and pray for those who persecute you, 45that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

This still isn’t a call to forgive, just a call to “love your neighbor as yourself.” God just doesn’t unconditionally pardon the guilty without the propitiation for sins. There must be an antonement made first (Jesus).

PRCalDude on October 6, 2006 at 1:04 PM

PRCalDude,

Well, first you are right, the Romans passage says nothing about forgiveness. Bit it is no hermenuetic trick to assume it…since it is all over the NT. And Paul makes no bones about it in 2 Cor. 2 and Col. 3:13.

Also, I would argue loving an enemy (which is called for in Romans)is complicated enough without forgiveness. If anyone assumes they need not forgive an enemy simply because all is asked for is love, they are reading the Bible with one eye closed.

I also understand that a propitiatory sacrifice must be made. But that is irrelvant to the discussion at hand about whether to forgive an enemy and what that looks like. The propitiatory sacrifice of Christ is the surpreme exhibition of forgiveness and justice being carried out…as well as love being manifest.

My guess is we are arguing the same point to a degree. I simply assume from Paul and Jesus’ exhortations to forgive and love your neighbor/enemy, one cannot be done without the other. A proof text is not necessary for such an assumption.

I wanted to make the point that the Christian life is a complicated one. It is not simply following a set moral codes. It is trustung in the sufficiency of Christ as he is given to us by God on the cross and risen triumphant. If we are satisfied in him alone and believe “to live is Christ and to die is gain” we will feel the pull of justice and the gravity of loving our enemy and forgiving so that God is glorified-shown to be the most valuable One in the Universe.

matt redmond
pastor to students
westminster pca
greenwood, ms
discerningthetimes.blogspot.com

mbredmond on October 6, 2006 at 2:41 PM

Matt,

John Piper preached a good sermon on this:

I think I see your point. Thanks.

PRCalDude on October 6, 2006 at 3:15 PM

Hi kate q,

Yikes, mikeyboss 11:33: if you can’t say he’s morally inferior to you, doesn’t that open up a whole new issue? Moral equivalence and whether there are absolute standards or not?

I mean this in the sense that I don’t know that, given the same genetics and environment, I wouldn’t do much worse than anyone else. I do think there are right and wrong actions – no relativism there. But I don’t feel qualified to call another a “bad person” or whatever.

mikeyboss on October 6, 2006 at 3:23 PM

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