Monday, April 13, 2009

Speaking of too easy, Philip...

by Smitty

Brief disclaimer: I have every respect for those who adhere seriously to a pacifist viewpoint, e.g. the Amish.
For Philip over at Who, Whom, the jury is still out.
Be Like Christ?
In a post entitled "God bless the Navy Seals," Rod Dreher cheers: "Killed three Somali pirates, rescued the American hostage. Hooray!" This just above an open thread about Easter.
"Hooray"? Really, Rod? What's that about respect for all human life? What's that about all of us being sinners before the eyes of an angry God? What's that about forgiveness, turning the other cheek, loving thy enemy?
Just too easy, sometimes.
Philip, I'd be interested in your exegesis on the following passage from the Gospel of Luke:
For which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?
Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him,
Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.
Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand?
--Luke 14:28-31

Does it seem odd that the King of the Jews uses the example of a king "going to make war" without even the slightest hint of "forgiveness, turning the other cheek, loving thy enemy" in the conversation?
Could it be that the Sermon on the Mount, while truly life-changing expression of relations between God and man, and among men and women, isn't intended as much of a foreign policy statement?
Could it be that Jesus, who was of the line of David, understood that combat is a part of the tragic godlessness of the world, e.g. David vs. Goliath?
Something to ponder there, boss.


  1. Rev. 6:7,8: When the Lamb opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature say, "Come!" I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. The were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth.Forgiveness, turning the other cheek, loving thy enemy.

  2. And if you turn to Matthew 5:39 and really read it, you note something: "But I tell you, Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also." A strike on the right cheek, by a right-handed person, is a backhand slap - in simpler terms, a blow to the pride. The 'evil person' is one attempting to hurt your pride, not necessarily your physical person. So Jesus was talking about pride, rather than a physical attack.

  3. @The Watcher,
    An excellent point. This underscores what I meant by: isn't intended as much of a foreign policy statementIt is excellent to honor God by de-escalating at the interpersonal level. Whether or not that translates into a policy statement at the level of principalities and powers is less immediately clear.