Why Should Non-Christian Youth Study Christianity?

If the Christians don’t have a reason for taking Christianity seriously, do non-Christians? Let’s talk about it on Deeper Waters.

I’ve been writing this week about reaching the youth and making the case that youth need a reason to be Christian. At this point, it’s mainly been asking how can we keep those that are in the fold, inside the fold? While we want to keep them in, we must remember that Christianity is an evangelistic faith and we also want to get others to come inside and trust in Christ.

Now we have a problem. If we can’t give our youth a good reason to come to investigate Christianity, why on Earth should we expect that their non-Christian peers would do the same thing? If we’re wanting to draw others in to a church service, how will we do it by giving them what they can get elsewhere? How will we also do it if we tell them that they can’t get any more what they get elsewhere?

Let’s consider some aspects of what we’re telling a young person to believe if they believe in Christianity and some things we’re telling them to do as well.

We’re telling them to believe in miracles, what their friends would call “superstition.”
We’re telling them to “trust an ancient book.”
We’re telling them that it is important to be a good person.
We’re telling them that a man rose from the dead years ago.
We’re telling them that some behaviors are wrong and being a Christian means that they will say so. This will include behaviors deemed acceptable today such as sexual behaviors including homosexuality and pre-marital sex.
We’re in turn also telling them that they are to abstain from such behaviors which would mean taking the stance of chastity until marriage and if they’re virgins now, keeping that virginity until marriage.
We’re telling them to give up Sunday mornings and Sunday nights and quite possibly Wednesday nights.
We’re telling them to be honorable in their studies at school and avoid shortcuts like cheating.
We’re telling them that they could have limitations on not listening to the same music or watching the same TV shows or movies that their peers are enjoying.
Ultimately, we’re telling them to die to themselves and realize that they are not #1.

Now on the face of it, if you were told you had to do all of those things, you would want some serious reason to do them all. You don’t want to do that kind of activity just because someone tells you to do so, especially if you’re a young person who is probably more than happy to rebel against authority.

This is hard enough to do if you’re a Christian. How much harder will it be if you’re a non-Christian?

So what are we going to do to get them interested?

Some have said we need to change the system. We need to make Christianity relevant. These are the ones that constantly say we have to adapt to the culture.

Now in some ways, it’s fine to adapt. Most of us would not have a huge problem with using a powerpoint presentation. We all use the internet today in our evangelistic efforts and use cell phones, drive to churches with air conditioning, etc.

What do we not change? We don’t change our principles. We don’t change our claims. We don’t change our morality. Those have to stay the same. We can change how we present them, but we dare not tone down on Christianity. Keep in mind the early church did not do that. They came out with the most controversial message of all that went totally against their society, and they ended up conquering the Roman Empire in a few centuries on the weight of the message.

Still, this doesn’t say how we’re going to get non-Christian youth investigating Christianity. Here are my suggestions.

First, let the youth do the work. Our young people in the church have the potential to be evangelistic. They just need to have the tools so that they can do the job. Right now, Christian youth are on the defensive. The opposite worldview is assumed to be true and the Christians always have the burden. Let’s change that. Let’s have it that the other side is on the defensive. In saying this, I’m not saying Christians have no burden to prove their claims. They do. The reality is anyone who is making any claim has a burden to demonstrate that claim.

When we do this, then the non-Christians will want to avoid looking like the fool in the eyes of their peers. Consider the way it is with a bully. Suppose there’s someone in the school who has a following because he’s supposedly the toughest guy around and he gets his way by force. Then in comes a white knight figure who happens to be a black belt and catches said bully picking on someone who can’t defend themselves. Our white knight steps in and before too long, everyone knows this bully is no longer the toughest guy around. Which way does the respect go now?

Now suppose in another case that there is an atheist at the school who is known for embarrassing Christians. He’s the one that makes none of the Christians want to share their faith because word will get around to him and he’ll come and embarrass them with his questions. This time, our white knight is equipped with apologetics and sound scholarship. Off our hero goes sharing his faith and here comes the atheist to put him in his place, as has always happened.

Except this time it doesn’t! Our hero knows enough about the faith that our atheist is left stammering for answers and not knowing what to say. This also with all of his entourage watching. In fact, before too long, the Christians in the school are watching also. What are they learning? The dog is all bark and no bite. They are also getting the idea of “I want to be able to do that!” If they do indeed decide to go and learn like that, then they are the next white knights. This presents a problem for the atheist community at the school.

What do they do? Well they have to study! They have no choice! They’ve already been humiliated so they have to be prepared for next time. What happens if they consistently keep losing because our Christians keep studying and learning more and more? Here are some options.

They will just simply be quiet. This is a fine option to have as a result. The Christians are free to evangelize and the non-Christians say nothing. Their silence is a testimony to the ability of the Christians to speak intellectually, just as our silence is a testimony to the atheists of our inability to speak intellectually when not equipped.

The other option is that they will become Christians themselves. Now this could in many ways be the least likely, but if they’re really honest investigators, then we can expect that they will study the claims and find that it is indeed the case that Jesus rose from the dead and our Sauls will become Pauls.

Second suggestion. Hold debates at churches and other Christian groups. Lee Strobel has talked about the time a debate was arranged between William Lane Craig and Frank Zindler at Willow Creek Community Church. What was the result? This huge megachurch was packed. Traffic had to be directed and there were jams within about a mile radius of the church. People were rushing to get into the church. (As Strobel says, when was the last time you saw people running into a church?) Radio stations across the country were carrying the debate live. Some stations even had commentators! (The atheist just delivers a jab and the Christian counters with an uppercut!)

Do you think that got people talking? Do you think that got people curious? Note that some people came to the meeting that night atheists and left Christians. Atheist readers might be thinking they weren’t true atheists to begin with. Let’s keep this in mind. Atheists came to church! Atheists were interested in a debate on Christianity.

And if you think atheists aren’t interested in this, what are you doing on the internet exactly that you’re missing this?

Most churches can’t afford to have Bill Craig and Frank Zindler come to debate and most might not have the room, but they do have room for some debates. I am quite sure wherever you live, there is an atheist. (I am unfortunately not as sure that there is a Christian apologist.) If you have an apologist in the area and they’re willing, let there be a local debate. Announce to the populace that in the future, there will be a debate on atheism vs. Christianity and set a date and get the word out. Have it be on a time when more people are prone to come and watch what happens.

Rest assured, you will get people talking. Local papers will often include stories about this in their news in the area and if that’s online, there will also be comments discussing the debate. In these cases, it forces people to interact with Christianity.

Third, teach controversial classes. Let it be known to non-Christians that you’ll be teaching on topics that will be controversial and inviting non-Christians to come and give their challenges. Have a class on homosexual behavior. Have a class on why Jesus it he only way. Have a class discussing the problems of the new atheism. Have a class showing why Bart Ehrman is wrong on the Bible. Have a class showing why Mormonism is a cult.

Look at it this way. If you were a non-Christian, would you be interested in hearing that you were being invited to “Bible Study.” I don’t think so. After all, consider these options. “I can either go out with my girlfriend on Wednesday night where I have a good chance of getting laid, or I can go to Bible Study. Which one will I choose?”

If you were a non-Christian, which would you choose? The choice is obvious. (Considering how many Bible Studies go today, some Christians might want to spend the night with the girlfriend at the movies instead even if they had no intentions of having sex. After all, how many times do you hear about people really enjoying going to church?)

This is also why pastors need to talk on controversial topics. Your congregation has heard several times about being a good people. Christians are to be good people, but Christianity is not about ethics alone. It’s a claim that Jesus is the king of this world.

With that claim comes ramifications. Let’s consider them for young people. Jesus is Lord. What does that say about what someone can do with their boyfriend or girlfriend? Jesus is Lord. What does that say about how one should study for a test? Jesus is Lord. What does that say about the music you listen to and the movies and TV shows you watch? Jesus is Lord. What does that say about applying for a college or choosing a career?

Adults in the congregation have issues too! Jesus is Lord. What does that say about how I am to treat my spouse? Jesus is Lord. What does that say about what I do with my finances? Jesus is Lord. What does that say about the kind of employee I am. Jesus is Lord. What does that say about how I raise my children?

Then are the moral issues. What does that say about how I vote? What does that say about my view on the unborn? What does that say about the question of homosexual behavior? What does that say about how one handles the environmental movement today? What does that say about how one handles the question of war today? What does that say about economic policy?

Recently at our own church, shortly after DOMA, we went to the service and our pastor suddenly started talking about our national conscience and what it means when a nation forgets God. He never mentioned DOMA directly that I recall, but the message surely had that in the background. I can assure you it was a message that I was sitting up and taking notice of. Normally when I hear a message in a church it’s “Been there. Done that.” Before too long, I’m more interested in thinking about the book I’m reading or a game I can play when I get home or what I’ll be having for lunch. After hearing this message, I was greatly desirous to see what would be said in part two of the sermon next week.

I strongly suspect I was not alone.

Preachers. Please. Give your congregation something that they are not used to hearing. Don’t give them just the talk about how to be a good person. That’s application only. Give them the theology behind it. Give your church real doctrine. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing. Doctrine is not the enemy. If we don’t have doctrine, we don’t have anything to preach! We have to give some message out there after all.

If you say “Well I might drive some people away” then keep in mind so did Jesus. Who did He drive away? Those who weren’t ready to make a real commitment. Who were left behind? Those who were. If you preach these kinds of messages, who will be left behind? Those ready to make a real commitment and with that real commitment will come real action.

I would rather have 10 people who were really committed than to have 1,000 who were so-so.

We won’t get people interested until we change the tide, and the tide won’t change naturally. It will require that we act. It will require that we step outside of our comfort zone. Christianity shouldn’t make us comfortable anyway. We’re talking about the rule of God over us all. This is the rule of God that confronts us all in our sinful natures. God coming and making a claim on our lives ought to make us all uncomfortable, Christian or not Christian. As a Christian, I certainly don’t get comfort at the thought that I have to go through a molding process to be who I need to be. That’s painful to have to look at myself and see sinful tendencies that I need to have eliminated. I’m glad for the end result, but the process is not enjoyable! A wife can look forward to having a baby of her own, but the process of giving birth to that new life is not one she looks forward to with pleasure.

We must remember that we are in a war and it is one we cannot afford to lose. What is the price? Mothers and fathers. I want you to hear these words. The stakes in this game are your children. If you were playing a poker game, before you decided you’d go all in, you’d want to make sure you had a winning hand. You don’t want to bet everything on a bad hand.

What are you willing to bet your own children on?

And if you’re not a parent, perhaps even staying single, what will you bet the future of your world on? What will you bet your friends’ children on? What will you bet your own life on? Do you want it to be what you get in the churches now, or do you want it to be a robust faith with strong intellectual defenses? Do you want to wager your money in a fight on a black belt or a white belt who has really strong passion?

You know the answer to that.

Act accordingly. This game has no reset button.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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11 Responses to “Why Should Non-Christian Youth Study Christianity?”

  1. Josh Says:

    I just wanted to let you know that I replied to your post on Wintery Knight’s blog, and yet he refused to post it. I addressed each of the verses on non-violence, or at least most of them in a similar fashion to the way you did. I unfortunately did not save the post, but I would be interested to hear your theology on war in the public sector and why you arrived there. I noticed you addressed the way a Christian should vote in your post, and included the idea of war.

    My biggest hang-up is how do you dismiss the sermon on the Mount teaching so easily.

    Luke 6:27-37
    “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt.Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.
    “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

    It just seems so straight forward to me.

    Overall, though I totally agree with your posts lately. I am tired of fluffed up youth curriculum. It is time these kids learned why they believe what they believe, so they can back up any questions they are asked.

    • Nick Peters Says:

      Well Josh, let’s look at this:

      Josh: “My biggest hang-up is how do you dismiss the sermon on the Mount teaching so easily.”

      Reply: Notice your terminology. How do you dismiss the sermon on the mount so easily? This is a loaded question. It’s like asking “When did you stop beating your wife?” It assumes that what I’m doing is dismissing because “obviously” the correct interpretation is a pacifist interpretation. That’s just what the point of the debate is.

      Josh:Luke 6:27-37
      “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt.Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you. If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full.

      Reply: Do you notice if this was applied on the national level you could eliminate war, but you’d also eliminate the prison system, the police force, and any other system of justice. Why? Criminals are your enemies! You should love them! If you love someone, you don’t lock them away from you! You don’t impose fines on them!

      Love has become sentiment in this case. The two are not the same.

      Furthermore, this is talking about persons in the private sphere of life. It’s not talking about the public sphere of life. The slap on the cheek, for instance, is not a case of physical assault, though it is physical, but it is a personal insult. All of these have to fit into this context. If not, this will lead to some problems. Here’s an example:

      Josh. The text says to give to everyone who asks you. I’m asking you then to click the “donate” button up there and give me every thing that you have financially. I want your entire life savings and everything. I then want you to give me your car, computer, anything else that you have, even the very clothes you’re wearing. I will have everything you own. You can’t go against this because the text says to give everyone who asks of you.

      Now you’re either going to have to give me everything then and plan on joining a nudist colony or “dismiss” the sermon on the mount.

      Or you could see if your interpretation is wrong.

      Josh: “But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven.”

      Reply: The same criteria applies here. Here’s a good article on a part of this with links to others.

      http://www.tektonics.org/lp/nekkid.html

      I hope that explains the position further. I will say if you want to accuse me of being inconsistent, then if I don’t see you joining a nudist colony, I will say you’re being inconsistent.

      • Josh Says:

        I said you dismiss it because this was your reply on the other site

        “*Yawn* You know turning the other cheek is about an insult one receives in the private sphere. It’s not about an open attack in the public sphere. Go look at Matthew 23. Jesus didn’t exactly turn the other cheek there did he?”

        If you apply things to the national level, you must assume the the nation in question is Christian. I do not make this assumption. Also, I do not see how this prevents prisons. It is possible, that it is a good and loving thing for a criminal to undergo correctional treatment or therapy.

        I think that Christ is teaching big ideas. Those are non-violence and generosity. He is telling us not to cling to our ideas about enemies, and also to not cling to our money.

        I also believe that enemy loving and non-violence is God’s ideal, as is taught in much of the OT and NT. If this passage was taken as the only evidence, I could draw your conclusion, but it is not.

        Micah 4:3-7 “And He will judge between many peoples And render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they train for war. Each of them will sit under his vine And under his fig tree, With no one to make them afraid, For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. Though all the peoples walk Each in the name of his god, As for us, we will walk In the name of the LORD our God forever and ever. ‘In that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will assemble the lame And gather the outcasts, Even those whom I have afflicted. I will make the lame a remnant And the outcasts a strong nation, And the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion From now on and forever.’”

        I think this a beautiful passage about God’s ideal for humanity. My interpretation of scripture is that we are to live a life in which God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. If the nations are to hammer their swords into plowshares, I think we as Christians should lead the charge.

        What is the argument for reactionary violence? I realize this is the common sense approach, but God’s wisdom looks foolish to the wise.

  2. Olsenator92 Says:

    The essence of this post can be summed up this way.

    The church needs more face-time with it’s attenders. Debates, classes, discussion topics and moderated talks with attenders will do the trick. Nick Peters does a great job of spelling out what’s at stake.

    The Barna Group’s book “You Lost Me” by Dave Kinnanman outlines the consequences of churches that don’t prepare young kids. Whether it be politics, sexual ethics, science or simply understanding doctrine, they are all interconnected and all need to be discussed in utmost clarity. It’s a great book that combs through each problem that is common to youth today and will stay relevant well into the future.

  3. Nick Peters Says:

    Josh: I said you dismiss it because this was your reply on the other site

    Reply: Notice that what I said on the other site was a reply. It was not a dismissal.

    For instance, I said

    *Yawn* You know turning the other cheek is about an insult one receives in the private sphere. It’s not about an open attack in the public sphere. Go look at Matthew 23. Jesus didn’t exactly turn the other cheek there did he?”

    Well did he? Either you’re not getting something right, or your Lord violated his own ethic. Note also he said in Matthew 5 to not call your brother a fool. Go see what happens in Matthew 23. So did Jesus contradict himself, or did you misunderstand him?

    Josh: If you apply things to the national level, you must assume the the nation in question is Christian.

    Reply: This is irrelevant to me because I do not think the Sermon on the Mount is meant to work on a national level but rather on the individual level in the private sphere.

    Josh: I do not make this assumption. Also, I do not see how this prevents prisons. It is possible, that it is a good and loving thing for a criminal to undergo correctional treatment or therapy.

    Reply: This assumes that all punishment is to be remedial. Perhaps you should consider Lewis’s essay on this: http://www.angelfire.com/pro/lewiscs/humanitarian.html

    Josh: I think that Christ is teaching big ideas. Those are non-violence and generosity. He is telling us not to cling to our ideas about enemies, and also to not cling to our money.

    Reply: Then why aren’t you following the latter? I asked of you. You did not give. I have received no notification through PayPal of you giving me all you own. Where is it? The text says “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”

    I have not seen word of you giving. Are you going to deny the commandment of Christ here, this big idea that you say is to be followed, all the while going after me because I’m supposedly not following the idea?

    Note, Christ would call that hypocrisy, and he had something to say about that.

    Or, could it be you’re interpreting the text wrong and not according to its 1st century social context.

    Finally, the command against violence in the private sphere is to not escalate violence, especially if you’re a powerless Jew and the Roman Empire is in charge. You’re not going to beat them.

    Josh: I also believe that enemy loving and non-violence is God’s ideal, as is taught in much of the OT and NT. If this passage was taken as the only evidence, I could draw your conclusion, but it is not.

    Reply: I believe God ruling on Earth as He does in Heaven is the ideal, but we’re not there yet. God Himself brings about violence and His greatest saints in the OT did the same. Note also that loving enemies is one thing, but one should also love the innocents being attacked by the enemies.

    Josh: Micah 4:3-7 “And He will judge between many peoples And render decisions for mighty, distant nations. Then they will hammer their swords into plowshares And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation will not lift up sword against nation, And never again will they train for war. Each of them will sit under his vine And under his fig tree, With no one to make them afraid, For the mouth of the LORD of hosts has spoken. Though all the peoples walk Each in the name of his god, As for us, we will walk In the name of the LORD our God forever and ever. ‘In that day,’ declares the LORD, ‘I will assemble the lame And gather the outcasts, Even those whom I have afflicted. I will make the lame a remnant And the outcasts a strong nation, And the LORD will reign over them in Mount Zion From now on and forever.’”

    I think this a beautiful passage about God’s ideal for humanity. My interpretation of scripture is that we are to live a life in which God’s will is done on earth as it is in heaven. If the nations are to hammer their swords into plowshares, I think we as Christians should lead the charge.

    Reply: It is a beautiful passage, and will happen in God’s time. If we do this first, then what will we do to protect the weaker ones who we no longer can? That is not loving our neighbor. How can you love your neighbor when you subject them to attack?

    Josh: What is the argument for reactionary violence? I realize this is the common sense approach, but God’s wisdom looks foolish to the wise.

    Reply: It was given. It’s loving your neighbor. How can I love my neighbor and not do anything while unjust harm is being done to them? You yourself said you would not use force to save a loved one being attacked. I can assure you I will physically go after anyone who physically goes after Mrs. Peters.

    • Josh Says:

      Nick: Well did he? Either you’re not getting something right, or your Lord violated his own ethic. Note also he said in Matthew 5 to not call your brother a fool. Go see what happens in Matthew 23. So did Jesus contradict himself, or did you misunderstand him

      Reply: Jesus is not repaying violence with violence. He is giving a verbal lashing to the religious of the day. He is also not calling them fools, he is condemning them because they claim to speak for God, but continue to burden the people with their demands. He is condemning them for being hypocrites. He sees right to the hardened hearts of the pharisees, and addresses the truth staring back at him. He is not violating his own command. Non-violence is not passivity.

      Nick: Then why aren’t you following the latter? I asked of you. You did not give. I have received no notification through PayPal of you giving me all you own. Where is it? The text says “Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back.”

      Reply: You may be on to something here. As far as I can tell this could be referring to the tax collectors in the first century, but it might not be. I also think it may be talking about and enemy attempting to take what belongs to you.

      Nick:Finally, the command against violence in the private sphere is to not escalate violence, especially if you’re a powerless Jew and the Roman Empire is in charge. You’re not going to beat them.

      Reply: I don’t think Jesus’ advice on loving your enemy has to do with the position of the Jews, below the Romans. It seems to me he sums up his point by saying, what credit is it to you if you only do good to those who do good to you. Everyone does that! We are supposed to be different, doing good to those who are evil to us.

      A few questions about when to apply the Bible to private matters and when to apply them to public matters. What Biblical matters can we extend to the public sector, and which should remain in the private sector?

      Nick: It was given. It’s loving your neighbor. How can I love my neighbor and not do anything while unjust harm is being done to them? You yourself said you would not use force to save a loved one being attacked. I can assure you I will physically go after anyone who physically goes after Mrs. Peters.

      Reply: First I want to say that I never said I would not stand around and do nothing. I would do everything from talking to the person to restraining them. If you imagine the situation involving two people you love, with one attacking the other. Say your son is attacking your wife. You would do everything in your power to avoid violence, because you love both parties. I think if we truly love our enemies we would see them in this way. We are not called just to love our neighbor, because everyone does this. We are called to love our enemy.

      Sorry for typos, I tried to do this fast.

      • Nick Peters Says:

        Josh: Reply: Jesus is not repaying violence with violence. He is giving a verbal lashing to the religious of the day.

        Reply: Well let’s at what he said in Matthew 23:17

        “You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?”

        But in Matthew 5:22 he says

        “And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

        Now either you face a contradiction, because the word moros is used both times, or else you have to accept there’s something you’re not understanding rightly.

        Josh: He is also not calling them fools,

        Reply: Except he did.

        Josh: he is condemning them because they claim to speak for God, but continue to burden the people with their demands. He is condemning them for being hypocrites. He sees right to the hardened hearts of the pharisees, and addresses the truth staring back at him. He is not violating his own command. Non-violence is not passivity.

        Reply: Nor am I saying this is a case of violence. I’m saying if you take it the way you’re taking it, then you have a contradiction or Jesus being a hypocrite. You also have Matthew being too ignorant to notice this.

        Josh: You may be on to something here.

        Reply: This gives me hope for you.

        Josh: As far as I can tell this could be referring to the tax collectors in the first century, but it might not be. I also think it may be talking about and enemy attempting to take what belongs to you.

        Reply: Any evidence it’s with tax collectors? The latter is more likely. If the Roman Empire wanted something, you had to just give it then. You could not win by escalating violence. It wasn’t as if you could go to the police. They were the police! In our day and age, the situation is not the same.

        Josh: I don’t think Jesus’ advice on loving your enemy has to do with the position of the Jews, below the Romans. It seems to me he sums up his point by saying, what credit is it to you if you only do good to those who do good to you. Everyone does that! We are supposed to be different, doing good to those who are evil to us.

        Reply: Part of doing that good is restraining them from doing evil, and that means using force if we have to. How is it good of us to not stop someone intent on doing physical evil?

        Josh: A few questions about when to apply the Bible to private matters and when to apply them to public matters. What Biblical matters can we extend to the public sector, and which should remain in the private sector?

        Reply: This is determined on a case by case basis. It’s the same with the OT Law. WHich ones apply today and which ones don’t? There’s no ironclad rule. It requires one’s own study.

        Josh: First I want to say that I never said I would not stand around and do nothing. I would do everything from talking to the person to restraining them. If you imagine the situation involving two people you love, with one attacking the other. Say your son is attacking your wife. You would do everything in your power to avoid violence, because you love both parties. I think if we truly love our enemies we would see them in this way. We are not called just to love our neighbor, because everyone does this. We are called to love our enemy.

        Reply: I would love to avoid violence, but sometimes it’s not possible. Which one do I deal with then? Whichever one is in the wrong. Note if you restrain, you are using physical violence.

      • Josh Says:

        Nick: Well let’s at what he said in Matthew 23:17

        “You blind fools! Which is greater: the gold, or the temple that makes the gold sacred?”

        But in Matthew 5:22 he says

        “And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.”

        Now either you face a contradiction, because the word moros is used both times, or else you have to accept there’s something you’re not understanding rightly.

        Reply: He does say fools, but there are perfectly good explanations for it. I am guessing you obviously know this, because it is not a problem for you. First, it is clear if you read the Matthew 5:22 verse that he is talking about calling a “brother” a fool. If this is the case, Jesus does not consider the Pharisees brothers.

        If you do not like this explanation, Jesus also has the gift of being God, and can see what was “in a man”. John 2:21 Therefore, Jesus can rightly call these men blind fools, because they refuse to see what is right in front of their faces.

        Nick:Nor am I saying this is a case of violence. I’m saying if you take it the way you’re taking it, then you have a contradiction or Jesus being a hypocrite. You also have Matthew being too ignorant to notice this.

        Reply: I am missing the either, or clause. How does me taking the non-violence teaching literally, cause problems with Jesus speaking truth about the Pharisees? He was not violent, and I addressed the fools comment above.

        Nick: Any evidence it’s with tax collectors? The latter is more likely. If the Roman Empire wanted something, you had to just give it then. You could not win by escalating violence. It wasn’t as if you could go to the police. They were the police! In our day and age, the situation is not the same.

        Reply: The tax collectors were the Romans or Jews that collected for the Romans, so yes I guess there is evidence. Just because the fight wasn’t practical at the time, doesn’t mean Jesus meant for us to only pick fights we can win. Thankfully you are right that the situation is not the same, but Jesus teaching wasn’t meant to be taken only practically. He was not saying to love your enemies only when they rule over you. He wasn’t saying to do good to your enemies only when they over power you. His statement is not qualified. The fact that he is calling the people of his day to love terrorists, seems to leave little wiggle room on whom we can choose to love.

        Nick: Part of doing that good is restraining them from doing evil, and that means using force if we have to. How is it good of us to not stop someone intent on doing physical evil?

        Reply: When you use force, what makes you different from them? Usually when violence is used, the person or nation thinks they are justified for one reason or another. If you retaliate, you feel as though you are justified. Jesus is just saying, that retaliation IN KIND is never justified. Jesus is saying the using force to stop evil IS EVIL. So, in essence what you are saying is I can restrain someone from doing evil, by forcefully stopping them, which is also EVIL. I choose to do evil to stop evil.

        Nick: This is determined on a case by case basis. It’s the same with the OT Law. WHich ones apply today and which ones don’t? There’s no ironclad rule. It requires one’s own study.

        Reply: It is convenient that one’s own study seems to always say the sins I am guilty of, or my Nation is guilty of can be taken care of in private, or better yet their sins aren’t really even sins. But the sins of others or other nations should be taken care of publicly through legislation, law enforcement, or foreign policy.

        Nick: I would love to avoid violence, but sometimes it’s not possible. Which one do I deal with then? Whichever one is in the wrong. Note if you restrain, you are using physical violence.

        Reply: No, restraint is not violence.

        vi·o·lence
        /ˈvī(ə)ləns/
        Noun
        Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

        Restraint is not intended to hurt, damage, or kill. So, no restraint is not violence. Also, avoiding violence IS always possible, but it is not always convenient.

  4. Nick Peters Says:

    Josh: He does say fools, but there are perfectly good explanations for it. I am guessing you obviously know this, because it is not a problem for you. First, it is clear if you read the Matthew 5:22 verse that he is talking about calling a “brother” a fool. If this is the case, Jesus does not consider the Pharisees brothers.

    Reply: You are correct here. The fools are not part of the in-group of Jesus. They are outsiders and therefore the command does not apply to them. There must be unity in the in-group. Not so much with outsiders.

    Josh: If you do not like this explanation, Jesus also has the gift of being God, and can see what was “in a man”. John 2:21 Therefore, Jesus can rightly call these men blind fools, because they refuse to see what is right in front of their faces.

    Reply: This is actually a bad explanation. We are told to imitate Christ and be like Him, except for the fact that we are not supposed to imitate Him and be like Him? We are to be like Him morally, but how can we do so if He cheated in that area?

    Note also Paul did the same thing referring to the Galatians as foolish in Galatians 3:1 and in 5:12 said he wanted the circumcision crowd to go the whole way and emasculate themselves. He refers to the super-apostles in 2 Corinthians as ministers of satan.

    “Well he was an apostle!”

    Except in Philippians, he tells us the same thing about Jesus. Imitate Paul as he imitates Christ.

    You have a modern individualistic ethic that’s foreign to the biblical text.

    Josh: I am missing the either, or clause. How does me taking the non-violence teaching literally, cause problems with Jesus speaking truth about the Pharisees? He was not violent, and I addressed the fools comment above.

    Reply: I am speaking about the fools claim. Your idea is wrong here which leads me to think if we interpret the rest of the Sermon the same way you did here, we have problems. We already have one other problematic area.

    Josh: The tax collectors were the Romans or Jews that collected for the Romans, so yes I guess there is evidence.

    Reply: No. To say that there were tax collectors there does not mean that they were listening in the audience nor does it mean that there’s anything in here that indicates “Oh. This is only to the tax collectors. Give only to them whatever they ask of you. Don’t do the same with anyone else!”

    Josh: Just because the fight wasn’t practical at the time, doesn’t mean Jesus meant for us to only pick fights we can win. Thankfully you are right that the situation is not the same, but Jesus teaching wasn’t meant to be taken only practically. He was not saying to love your enemies only when they rule over you. He wasn’t saying to do good to your enemies only when they over power you. His statement is not qualified. The fact that he is calling the people of his day to love terrorists, seems to leave little wiggle room on whom we can choose to love.

    Reply: The Romans were not exactly terrorists. They didn’t need to be. You could also love the Romans and oppose them. Note as well that you are to love your own household and take care of it. Shepherds are supposed to protect their flocks from harm and that includes Christians protecting innocents from harm. Nothing in that means “Don’t go to war.”

    Furthermore, this passage is about personal enemies. Someone attacking the innocent is not a personal enemy so much as an enemy of the good. To stop them is to show agape for more people, the innocent, the whose God heart is close to.

    Josh: When you use force, what makes you different from them?

    Reply: An action is determined to be moral or immoral by the intent behind it, the action itself, and the desired result. What makes me different? They mean to inflict harm on the innocent. I mean to stop harm on the innocent.

    If all that matters is the action, you might as well say it’s just as moral for me, a layman with regards to medicine, to perform surgery on you as it is for a skilled surgeon. The actions are exactly the same after all!

    Josh:Usually when violence is used, the person or nation thinks they are justified for one reason or another. If you retaliate, you feel as though you are justified. Jesus is just saying, that retaliation IN KIND is never justified. Jesus is saying the using force to stop evil IS EVIL.

    Reply: Then Jesus would have to condemn much of the OT since this is regularly what the saints in the OT did and they were in fact praised for it. God Himself does this in the OT. In fact, look at Hebrews 11:32-34

    “32 And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, about David and Samuel and the prophets, 33 who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised; who shut the mouths of lions, 34 quenched the fury of the flames, and escaped the edge of the sword; whose weakness was turned to strength; and who became powerful in battle and routed foreign armies.”

    Those are commendable actions according to the inspired writer. This is someone who is familiar with the teachings of Jesus and has no problem with celebrating those who served in the cause of conquering enemies.

    Jesus is talking about personal retaliation with regards to insults in the private sphere.

    Josh: So, in essence what you are saying is I can restrain someone from doing evil, by forcefully stopping them, which is also EVIL. I choose to do evil to stop evil.

    Reply: This is begging the question. By the way, keep trying this approach. It’s exactly what brought Hitler to his knees….

    Oh wait! It didn’t! What brought him to his knees and saved the Jewish people and others in Europe was our showing up and kicking tail!

    Josh: It is convenient that one’s own study seems to always say the sins I am guilty of, or my Nation is guilty of can be taken care of in private, or better yet their sins aren’t really even sins. But the sins of others or other nations should be taken care of publicly through legislation, law enforcement, or foreign policy.

    Reply: I have no idea what you’re talking about. I have written much on the sins of America. There’s no hiding it.

    Josh: No, restraint is not violence.

    vi·o·lence
    /ˈvī(ə)ləns/
    Noun
    Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.

    Restraint is not intended to hurt, damage, or kill. So, no restraint is not violence. Also, avoiding violence IS always possible, but it is not always convenient.

    Reply: Let’s look at what you said.

    “So, in essence what you are saying is I can restrain someone from doing evil, by forcefully stopping them, which is also EVIL.”

    So it looks like you’re doing evil anyway….

    • Josh Says:

      After reading your reply, which I thank you for taking the time to do. I have a few questions rather than replying to each point. I will then address a few things at the bottom.

      Who are the innocents?

      Explain a situation where you would feel justified killing a person?

      How are you defining violence and restraint? What would restraining a person look like?

      Do you mean a physical insult, or verbal when you say it is insults in the private arena?

      What does it mean to be an imitator of Christ?

      What constitutes a “just war”? Opposing unfair taxes, slavery, unwanted occupation, genocide, communism, religious differences, drug use, terrorism. Are all of these justified?

      Can you carry out a war where you kill no “innocents”?

      In your use of the term forceful restraint, did you intend to hurt, damage, or kill?

      In your reference us beating Germany in WWII, you seem to neglect the two nuclear weapons we dropped in Japan. These indiscriminately wiped out all men, women, and children. Was this justified? I guess we kicked their butts, but the end result were hundreds of thousands of people spending an eternity in Hell. Was it worth it?

  5. Nick Peters Says:

    This will be the last reply of the day I expect and I don’t debate on Sunday. I need time to relax.

    Josh: After reading your reply, which I thank you for taking the time to do. I have a few questions rather than replying to each point. I will then address a few things at the bottom.

    Who are the innocents?

    Reply: Of course biblically, no one is innocent, but in the situations described, innocents are those who have done nothing worthy of the level of treatment that is being given them by someone hostile. Of course, even if someone is not innocent, one can go over the top in dealing with them. If you steal a candy bar from me, I have justification to go after you. I do not have justification to break every bone in your body.

    Josh: Explain a situation where you would feel justified killing a person?

    Reply: There are three.

    A war that I believe is just.
    Capital punishment.
    In defense of myself or someone else.

    Josh: How are you defining violence and restraint? What would restraining a person look like?

    Reply: Both of them are physical in my case. Restraint could be holding someone back physically, although someone in a police situation could use a weapon capable of not inflicting long-term physical harm, but capable of knocking someone out.

    Josh: Do you mean a physical insult, or verbal when you say it is insults in the private arena?

    Reply: Verbal insult. The slap on the cheek was not meant to be a physical insult but a shaming device.This never applied in the public sphere. When Christ was challenged in public, he always answered publicly. I recommend a work like DeSilva’s “Honor, Patronage, Kinship, Purity.”

    Josh: What does it mean to be an imitator of Christ?

    Reply: See what John said. We must walk as Jesus walked.

    Josh: What constitutes a “just war”? Opposing unfair taxes, slavery, unwanted occupation, genocide, communism, religious differences, drug use, terrorism. Are all of these justified?

    Reply: Here’s a brief look at it. http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~jasingle/justwar.html

    Josh: Can you carry out a war where you kill no “innocents”?

    Reply: It is to be done to the best of one’s ability. That is something our military has strived for.

    Josh: In your use of the term forceful restraint, did you intend to hurt, damage, or kill?

    Reply: It depends on the situation.

    Josh: In your reference us beating Germany in WWII, you seem to neglect the two nuclear weapons we dropped in Japan. These indiscriminately wiped out all men, women, and children. Was this justified? I guess we kicked their butts, but the end result were hundreds of thousands of people spending an eternity in Hell. Was it worth it?

    Reply: No one is in Hell because of what we did. People are in Hell for what they did. With the bombing, I see good points on both sides. It could be we saved more lives in the long run because the Japanese would fight to the last man. We did two massive actions to persuade them to not do so. Again, even a just war proponent like Edward Feser disasgrees with the bombing.

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