Book Review : Fight – A Christian Case for NonViolence

Fight

In today’s culture that includes all view from the pendulum swing of gun-free extremism to open-carry extremism, how relevant is a book like this? My younger brother introduced me to Preston Sprinkle’s Fight – The Christian Case for Non Violence, and I was very skeptical thinking, “It’s probably just liberal politics with some holy water poured on it to make it sound Christian.”

I was both wrong and right. Let me start with my conclusion: This book is worth reading because of how Christians are influenced too much by what the culture is teaching rather than influencing culture by what the Bible teaches.

Forward

Is there a more lazy condemnation of something distasteful than to say, “Well, Hitler did xxxxxx?” Even though, he only mentions Hitler in passing, the context of that paragraph suddenly get swallowed in that black hole because of the strong emotions that come with his mere mention.

Some strong points from the forward:

The cure to bad theology is not “no theology” – but good theology

Definitely, and I found this book contained both good and bad theology

But in the end he reminds us that we are not called to follow Augustine…we are called to follow Christ.

This is so relevant to our culture because there is a strong temptation to latch onto some bumper sticker proverb or clever tweet from a famous pastor as though it were doctrine.

Chapter 1

One of the themes that runs throughout that book is the way that Christians have conflated the Kingdom of God with the Kingdom of the United States of America. It is a heresy that has infiltrated the church, and has diluted the power and truth of the gospel. If the reader gets nothing else from this book, Christians should live as citizens of the Kingdom of God with more passion than as citizens of their mortal land.

One of the first opportunities for recognizing this dichotomy is when he asks, “Should Christians celebrate the death of a terrorist or suicide bomber?” Our patriotism shouts victoriously that it’s good that this terrorist is dead, but as citizens of the eternal Kingdom, we recognize that any terrorist is suffering for eternity because of his sin. Death is the enemy (I Cor 15). What a sad state of affairs that we don’t weep for how sin has perverted Creation and instead cheer for the death of America’s enemies.

One of my favorite paragraphs from the whole book:

All the more need to open God’s Word to see what He thinks about these issues…But in order to address these issues from a Christian perspective, we need to dig into scripture to see what God does say about them. So often in heated debates, the Bible is rarely consulted. Or if it is, it’s done haphazardly or with blatant bias. Oftentimes we start with a view we are convinced is right; then we go to Scripture to find verses that support it.

More than anything I got from reading this book was the conviction that my Americanism influenced my view about guns and violence rather than letting God’s divine Word shape my thinking.

Sprinkle brings to light some horrific heretical teachings by famous Christian teachers:

Hal Lindsey, located the moral demise if America in the “crisis of military weakness.” He believed that “the Bible supports building a powerful military force…the Bible is telling the US to become strong again” and “to use our vast and superior technology to create the world’s strongest military power.” Jerry Falwell…called America back to biblical values, which included patriotism and a strong military to ward off the threat of atheistic communism…Wayne Grudem saw America’s “superior military weaponry” as “a good thing for the world.” After all, “genuine peace in the world comes through the strength of the United States.”

Grudem’s final comment is so disheartening that Christian leaders would so dishonor the Prince of Peace by elevating the USA to His rightful throne and say that the USA provides genuine peace through superior firepower.

PeaceThroughFirepower

As a youth, I loved this phrase, and it is easy to rally behind! But that again is the patriotism deciding my doctrine rather than God’s Word.

Some questions (though not specifically in the book) were brought to mind for me in reading ch 1:

  • Has Americanism invaded the church?
  • Is religious freedom God’s intention?
  • Is militarism the key to religious freedom and a hope for peace?

 

Chapters 2-5

Sprinkle spends most of these chapters building his case for non-violence. Sadly, I found most of these chapters as scriptures taken out of context, a huge stretching of the text to make a point, or repetitive frustration with militarism.

Sprinkle introduces a strange resolution to the Israelite’s destruction of the Canaanites (and other OT sins).

God both accommodates to and improves upon the ethical systems of the surrounding nations. p49

Accommodating sounds very much like God compromises his holiness since the Hebrews are unable to obey perfectly. It’s like saying, “Well, at least the Hebrews weren’t as bad as the surrounding nations. They did some things better, so God must have changed his standards to accommodate their behavior.” This is NOT God’s plan, so to say this (more than once in these chapters), Sprinkle seems not understand God’s purpose to redeem Creation from the curse of sin…completely.

But in light of other ancient war accounts, the Old Testament looks much less gruesome. p65

Compared to other nations, Israel did not glorify violence. p68

Here it is again – this idea of “At least it’s better than others.” God is not into hierarchical sins and above a certain threshold is unacceptable.

The section heading on page 68 is “Should America follow Israel’s war policy?” I mentioned earlier that patriotism should not be intertwined with Christianity. In this section Sprinkle explicitly states a powerful truth that Christians today need to embrace:

But America is not God’s nation. Let me be clear: I do not think that America should use the Bible to construct or defend its military program, because America is not the new Israel, nor is it a Christian nation…God’s people should never celebrate military power, and we certainly shouldn’t find our hope and security in it.

There are lots of Christians in the USA, and a valid case can be made that some Christian principles were employed by many Christian founding fathers to create this nation, but it is not (as a nation) God’s chosen people.

In my opinion Ch 4 can be skipped completely, because he builds a strong case that American Christians today should not wipe out Canaanites as the Israelites did (either hyperbolically or otherwise.) We agree.

In chapter 5 he makes the strange case that Israel was not to possess “advanced weaponry.” So, for the time, horses were seen as advanced weaponry, and Israel (under Solomon) sinned by adding advanced weaponry (horses) to his army. What? And even though he specifically said earlier that the USA is not God’s nation, Sprinkle condemns the USA’s acquisition of advanced weaponry today as against God’s commands. So, why would that matter if the USA is not God’s nation? This contradiction is peppered throughout the book.

I can very much appreciate the sentiment in chapter 6 that Christians are called to be citizens of the eternal Kingdom rather than subject to the thoughts and desires of the world. Jesus confessed before Pilate “If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews.” Christians should evaluate their involvement into the affairs of the world’s kingdoms the way Jesus did.

[SPOILER: Skip to the next paragraph if you want to appreciate the surprise] On p.130, Sprinkle shares a powerful “gotcha” moment in which he describes a young man named, Martin, who served his country with honor during WW2. Martin said, “When this great nation was formed, God gave Christianity as its soul, and it is from these Christian roots that it has grown and developed.” Martin Niemoller served in the German army out of his allegiance to his earthly nation. It is a good reminder that when we ally ourselves with the world, we will inevitably not be serving the Kingdom of God.

I found myself in agreement with most of his writing in chapters 7 and 8. Love your enemies and Good Citizens. In Chapters 9 and 10, Sprinkle again builds a tired case that just because there is violence in the Bible (Revelation in this case), that Christians should not seek out violent means. Perhaps, it is because I do not travel in specific circles, but I’ve not heard Christian leaders make the case that because there is bloodshed prophesied in Revelation that Christians can kill and maim unbelievers, so I’m in agreement with Sprinkle…the chapters just seemed to drag on as unneeded to make his case.

Chapter 11 discusses what is perhaps the most asked question with regards to Christian violence. “What should Christians do when an attacker comes into your home?” Sprinkle does not answer conclusively, but the questions and concepts covered are very valuable in answering this question for yourself. When the Christian culture says, “Blast anyone who comes into your home” can we as Christians not recognize that when the people that Jesus loved most were faced with persecution/death, He chose not to act in violence?

success isn’t the highest goal. Faithfulness is. So what would be the most faithful Christlike response to the attacker at the door?

Pray for him. I’m living in a world ruled by Jesus.

We love our enemies because we were once God’s enemies. We were the attacker at the door who crucified His Son, and He didn’t shoot us. And even if we killed our enemy as the lesser of two evils, it’s still a horrific incident. We don’t cherish the death of our enemies.

It’s true that we were once enemies of God, but we do not love our enemies because we were once enemies. We love our enemies because Jesus said, “Love your enemies.” No other reason is needed.

There are other questions and objections answered in Sprinkle’s book, but my blog post is about 10X longer than I like to write, so I’ll end it here with an endorsement.

Christians should read this book – not because we have to agree with everything written in it. This book challenged my thinking…to break out of the cultural comfort of patriotic compromising of God’s Word. Today’s Christians have inherited/developed a strong sense of self defense and justice in violent retribution. More than anything else, we should strive to honor the King and obey him with faithfulness. If faithful obedience means sacrificing our Constitutionally-protected right to self-defense, obedience is the most important.

 

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Culture of Irrationality

Recently a young man took his firearms into a local high school and killed 17 students and teachers. This horrible act of atrocity has raised many questions and debates. Some of the debate has centered on whether this should be a culture that should be allowed to have firearms at all. Perhaps restricting ownership of firearms only to the government would prevent such terrible tragedies. Another view is that having teachers/police officers in the school carry firearms to be a deterrent against mass shootings would keep the cowardly criminals at bay. There are good and bad arguments on both sides.

Let me take this in a different direction that requires a little back story first.

Last night my teenage son and I sat down to watch a movie called Assassin’s Creed. I knew the movie was based on a video game, but I had no idea of the etymology of the story. What was revealed in the first 5 minutes of the movie horrified me. I’m so glad I was able to watch this movie with my son rather than him watching it with his friends. What horrified me was not just the killing (although that in itself is terrible enough), but the doctrine by which this coven of assassins lived. The speaking was in Spanish, but the sub-titles revealed the complete irrationality of their mantra. There are three main mantras that the coven of assassins repeated that I will cover.

Nothing is true

As Frank Turek likes to point out when someone makes a claim; turn it back on itself, to see if it is self-refuting. “Nothing is true.” Is it true that nothing is true? Self-Refuting. But in this wildly popular video game and Hollywood movie, young people blindly accept this claim. The “conclusion” (if such a terrible premise can lead to a conclusion) that a young person can get from this mantra is that there is not a moral truth by which one must abide. Moral relativity. Absurdity.

Everything is permitted

If everything is permitted, why shouldn’t people gun down their peers for fun or a political view or a religious view? This preaching by the movie, video game, and book series give full license for young people to behave however they want to please themselves. Why should our culture expect anything else than for young people to act selfishly? It is again this idea that there is no Creator, who gave moral standards, so do whatever you want.

For those who recognize this phrase from the Bible, did Paul say that everything is permissible too? I’ll not get into the purpose of Paul’s commands to the Corinthian church here, but I do implore you to apply the proper hermeneutic of contextual analysis. Paul clearly lists behaviors that are not permissible just prior and subsequent to this phrase.

We work in the dark to serve the light.

Another example of cognitive dissonance that is preached to the young people of our culture. These fictional assassins repeat these mantras in order to justify their behavior of killing Catholics and others who would attempt to live by God’s revealed standards.

After seeing these three mantras play out on the screen for 30 minutes or so, my son and I talked about the irrationality of those dogmas and turned off the movie. It had lost all appeal because of its absurdity. But that is what is being preached to the young people of today in movies, video games, and other media.

So, how do we combat people using guns against their neighbors?

  1. Men must be involved in the lives of their children. No longer can men selfishly impregnate women and move on to the next conquest. Single-parent households are fertile grounds for lawlessness, poverty, and spiritual illness. When men take the selfish path by fulfilling their own needs without first taking the responsibility of a lifelong commitment to one woman and then raising their children with discipline and love, the culture degrades into barbarism. Men must disciple their children and love their wife.
  2. Stop glorifying absurdity in video games and movies. Every movie and video game has some sort of agenda. Learn to recognize the agenda by comparing it to the revealed truth of God’s Word.
  3. Teach people how to think. Use presuppositional apologetics to analyze claims. Don’t accept someone’s worldview just because they strongly believe it.
  4. Teach your children the value of human lives comes from being made in God’s image.

 

Ultimately, the source of mass shootings is a sin problem. Jesus fulfilled the scriptures and came to free mankind from the curse of sin. If the problem is sin, the solution is God’s grace through faith.

Christians = Terrorists

Sadly, the church in America has gotten a little too cozy with the government of the USA. There’s too much “rah-rah; kick ’em in the jaw!” when it comes to bombing Muslim extremists or assassinating Bin Laden. The church has been fine supporting and giving more power to the government.

What will happen if when the government adds Christians to the terrorist bucket?

It has only begun.

Now, the SPLC is not the government, but the government has been using the SPLC’s lists of hate groups to build their strategies. The SPLC even added Dr. Ben Carson to their extremist list back in 2015. There is a strong desire by those in power and those with “the microphone” to marginalize Jesus and his Word.

All of that to say that being an outspoken disciple of Jesus is becoming and will become more unpopular. All the more reason for us as Christians to stay grounded in the Word because our hope and our citizenship is not in this world (Phil 3:20.) Since we recognize Jesus as King, we must continually be reminded that our King’s kingdom is not of this world (John 18:36). The kingdoms of this world have fallen and will continue to fall, but Jesus’ kingdom is an eternal kingdom, and it is for this kingdom that we should endeavor to serve. There is a battle, but our enemy is not abortion or liberalism or agendas or the Gaystapo. Those seem like ripe targets as Christians, and I’ve struggled with battling those physical targets. Ephesians 6:

For we are not contending against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

So let yourself be filled with righteousness, truth, the gospel, faith, salvation, and the Word of God.

Remember that history is written by the victors and we know that the victory has already been won. So, it will be unpopular and it will get tougher to be a disciple of Jesus, but that should not dissuade us from being lights in a dark world.

 

UPDATE: Now the courts are making it a standard practice to punish those who express quiet thanks to God in a public place.

Where Do Rights Come From?

Where do our rights come from? Are our rights (religion, speech, press, assembly, petition, bear arms…) granted to us by the government? If it is the government that grants our rights, then the government can take them away as well.

When we read the Constitution, it is clear that the Constitution is there to RESTRICT the government from withholding/obstructing the rights of citizens of the United States.

So, if they do not come from the government, from where do they come?

This week, CNN anchor, Chris Cuomo said that rights come from man. Again, if rights come from man, then they can be taken away by man. Well, this flies in the face of the primary historical document of the United States, the Declaration of Independence.

All men are created equal

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

The Creator has endowed rights to mankind. The Constitution is written to protect these inalienable rights and to limit the power of the government to within very specific boundaries.

Vox Day takes the premise of Mr. Cuomo to its logical conclusion when he shows quite clearly that mankind tends to treat poorly those who are different or with whom they disagree.

This is why the Left is so willing to abrogate and alienate what the Declaration of Independence declared to be self-evident and unalienable rights, among them being Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. They simply don’t accept that God-given rights are not laws, or that laws that do not respect those rights are illegitimate.

Worst of all, the Left fails to grasp the obvious consequences of their ill-considered actions. If the law can legitimately permit a homosexual man to force a Christian man to bake him a cake, then it can legitimately permit a white man to force a black man to pick his cotton. If the law can legitimately deem a man to be a woman, or two men to be married, it can just as legitimately deem a Jew to be subhuman or an African to be a monkey.

Thankfully, there is a God, and all of mankind has been created in his image. We all have value and unalienable rights from the Creator. Don’t let the Left control the argument lest they follow their presuppositions to their wicked conclusions.

 

UPDATE: My daughter  is traveling with her class to Washington DC. She sent me this picture from the Jefferson Memorial.

God, who gave us liberty

God, who gave us liberty

If you read closely, you’ll see that it was the founding fathers of this country who understood the importance of recognizing the source of our freedoms.

Asking Tough Questions

This article appeared as a headline on The Drudge Report this morning. It intends to mock Republican presidential nominees who do not worship at the feet of atheist patron saint, Charles Darwin.

While 99.85% of American earth and life scientists believe the theory of evolution to be bedrock fact, 42% of the general public surveyed in a 2014 Gallup poll said they believed that human beings arrived on the earth in their present form.

While the belief in evolution, or lack thereof, may not directly impact whether a given candidate is qualified to become president, the question is regularly put to those who seek the White House. Why? Because some liberals believe it helps demonstrate whether a politician will be guided by evidence in making decisions

The article goes on to show some video clips of republican presidential candidates squirming in their seats when having to answer direct questions on whether they believe that the earth is 6000 years old or whether or not people come from monkeys.

Here’s what I’d like to see. I’d like a reporter to ask those candidates, who support evolution wholeheartedly, these questions about the effects of evolution in their decision-making:

  • Since you strongly believe that biological evolution is true, what intrinsic value would you place on human life? If humans are simply here because of a collection of accidents, why not kill your political enemies and take from the populace whatever you want? Only the strong survive…right?
  • As a strong believer in the success of natural selection, why do you think that the government should provide handouts, entitlements, and assistance to the downtrodden, the weak, and the victims? Are you not abandoning your strong stance of evolution for more of a Christian worldview by helping the weak?
  • There have been national leaders in the past, who were strong advocates of evolution, and because their value of human life was consistent with this belief, they made decisions that lead to the death of tens of millions of their own citizens. Should you be elected, what assurances do we have that you will not make decisions that are consistent with your belief that evolution is true?
  • Should apes and higher simian mammals receive more protections under the law since you believe that people are closer relatives to these evolved “cousins”? Where should we draw the line? Why not include the entire order of primates? Or the family of mammals? Why do you not advocate protecting the rights of bacteria…after all, they’ve been here longer and propagated more successfully? Is it because they do not pay taxes?

I give full permission for any journalist to take these questions and ask…no, press hard for answers to these questions from the presidential candidates. I also give full permission for any candidates who speak boldly to supporting biblical authority to link their campaign website to my creation manifesto, which goes into much detail about the truth of God’s Word and the emptiness of evolution.

UPDATE: Steven Meyer, who is a scientist and writer for the intelligent design movement recently posted this article that is supposed to help conservative politicians answer the question of whether they believe in evolution. The succinct answer he gives is appropriate for the campaign trail:

Reporter: “Do you believe in evolution?”

Candidate: “I believe that organisms change over time, but I am skeptical about unguided evolution.”

I’d really like to see more push-back from candidates, who are asked this question,  to expose the equivocation fallacy that many evolution-believers espouse. Does evolution mean change over time? Does it mean universal common ancestry? Does it mean naturalism’s mechanism for forming all of life?

There has most certainly been evolution…change over time, but as the Bible tells us, there is no change between kinds of animals. The coyote, fox, dog, and wolf probably all came from a common ancestor, which was a kind of dog. Canines have always borne canine pups, and this is verifiable by experimentation. To claim that sometime in the past, an animal had offspring that were of a different kind is perpetuating their naturalistic religion.