Monday, March 4, 2013

Was Jesus a Pacifist?

 Pacifism:  opposition to settling dispute through war or violence

Most people know which passages Jesus shows/ talks about being pacifistic.

Matthew 5:39- turning the other cheek

Matthew 26:52- after one of Jesus' companions cuts off the ear of the servant of the high priest, those who live by the sword, die by the sword

John 13:34- Love One another as I have loved you

Matthew 22:39- love your neighbor as yourself

And the numerous passages where he performed miraculous healings.

If we look at the above passages and the above definition, we could say that Jesus was opposed to war particularly anything vengeful.  Although one could argue that where Jesus says he comes not to bring peace but a sword (Matthew 10:34) means he isn't opposed to war, I'm not inclined to think so.  Most people interpret this to mean that Jesus's teachings will bring about blood shed because they aren't easy to accept.

But how about these passages:
Luke 22:36- where Jesus tells his disciples to sell their coat and buy a sword

John 2:15- driving out the money changers

Pacifism, if you note the above, does not mean lack of self-defense.  One could argue that Jesus was arming his men for a variety of reasons like self-defense against attacks.  The only mention of a sword being used in the Bible is when Jesus is being taken and a disciple cuts off the servant to the high priest's ear.  Clearly it was meant in self-defense.  So one could argue that Jesus instructed his disciples at one point to only use swords in self-defense.

In the gospel of John, Jesus could be viewed as punishing the money changers or as it's said driving them out.  If he intended harm, why didn't he grab one of the swords the disciples had?  Was he intending to lethally attack them?  Was he vengeful?  Hardly.  The passage mentions nothing about him harming anyone let alone killing them.  Again not a strong argument for Jesus the War Hungry.

So was Jesus a pacifist?  Sure.  I think so.   

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