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Non-Violence

"Kenotic power may seem feeble because it is patient and humble, but in the end, God-as-love—the truly Christlike God—is the overcoming force more powerful because He [sic] does what no tyrant can ever do: He [sic] wins hearts, restores lives and transforms societies."    - Brad Jersak ; Facebook Post


"Violence can beget fear, stalemate, annihilation, dominance, or more violence, but it cannot beget love, justice, abundant life, community, or peace."    - Rita Nakashima Brock & Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parker ; Saving Paradise


"The law and the prophets were in effect until John came; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is proclaimed, and everyone opposes it by force. But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than for one stroke of a letter in the law to be dropped."    - Jesus ; Luke 16.16-17


"War-makers love to talk of sacrifice, peacemakers love to practice mercy. 'Go & learn what this means, I desire mercy not sacrifice.'-Jesus"    - Jarrod McKenna ; September 11, Facebook Post


"As the early Christians knew, the rejection of war is not an optional ethical issue. Rather, it is the clearest indication of the church’s calling to be a community free from nationalist and other forms of domination."    - Richard Deats ; Active Nonviolence: A Way of Life, A Strategy for Change


"The eschaton is not about the destruction of the world, but about its transformation into a place of justice and nonviolence. It is not about the annihilation of the earth, but about its transformation into a location of freedom and peace."    - John Dominic Crossan ; The Greatest Prayer: Rediscovering the Revolutionary Message of the Lord's Prayer


"Their objective was to create an entirely different kind of human being. All the sages preached a spirituality of empathy and compassion; they insisted that people must abandon their egotism and greed, their violence and unkindness. Not only was it wrong to kill another human being; you must not even speak a hostile word or make an irritable gesture. Further, nearly all the Axial sages realized that you could not confine your benevolence to your own people: your concern must somehow extend to the entire world."      - Karen Armstrong ; The Great Transformation: The Beginning of Our Religious Traditions


If we think the ideas of Jesus about peace are irrelevant in the age of genocide and nuclear weapons, we have invented an utterly irrelevant Christianity!

   - Brian Zahnd ; Personal Blog Entry


"For Augustus and for Rome it was always about peace, but always about peace through victory, peace through war, peace through violence."    - Marcus Borg & John Dominic Crossan ; The First Christmas


"There are, in other words, two utterly divergent descriptions of God’s final solution to the existence of imperialism, one violent and the other nonviolent, one extermination in a Great Final Battle and the other conversion at a Great Final Feast. They are both there from one end of the Christian Bible to the other. Which one, do you think, is announced by those Christmas stories? When Luke’s angels announce “peace on earth” to those shepherds at Bethlehem, is it peace through victory or peace through justice?"    - Marcus Borg & John Dominc Crossan ; The First Christmas


"With the establishment of a relationship of oppression, violence has already begun. Never in history has violence been initiated by the oppressed. How could they be the initiators, if they themselves are the result of violence? How could they be the sponsors of something whose objective inauguration called forth their existence as oppressed? There would be no oppressed had there been no prior situation of violence to establish their subjugation. Violence is initiated by those who oppress, who exploit, who fail to recognize others as persons— not by those who are oppressed, exploited, and unrecognized. It is not the unloved who initiate disaffection, but those who cannot love because they love only themselves. It is not the helpless, subject to terror, who initiate terror, but the violent, who with their power create the concrete situation which begets the 'rejects of life.' It is not the tyrannized who initiate despotism, but the tyrants. It is not the despised who initiate hatred, but those who despise. It is not those whose humanity is denied them who negate humankind, but those who denied that humanity (thus negating their own as well). Force is used not by those who have become weak under the preponderance of the strong, but by the strong who have emasculated them."      - Paulo Freire ; Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition


A theology of love cannot afford to be sentimental. It cannot afford to preach edifying generalities about charity, while identifying ‘peace’ with mere established power and legalized violence against the oppressed. A theology of love cannot be allowed merely to serve the interests of the rich and powerful, justifying their wars, their violence and their bombs, while exhorting the poor and underprivileged to practice patience, meekness, longsuffering, and to solve their problems, if at all, nonviolently. A theology of love may also conceivably turn out to be a theology of revolution. In any case, it is a theology of resistance, a refusal of the evil that reduces a brother or sister to homicidal desperation . . .  Instead of preaching the Cross for others and advising them to suffer patiently the violence which we sweetly impose on them, with the aid of armies and police, we might conceivably recognize the right of the less fortunate to use force, and study more seriously the practice of nonviolence and humane methods on our own part when, as it happens, we possess the most stupendous arsenal of power the world has ever known.
   - Thomas Merton ; Toward a Theology of Resistance


Gandhi was not blind to the realities of conflict often involved in wars, and to the fact that one side might well have much more right on its side than the other. In such cases, ‘neutrality’ or ‘impartiality’ played no role in Gandhi’s thinking. Gandhi wrote, ‘Whilst all violence is bad and must be condemned in the abstract, it is permissible for, it is even the duty of, a believer in ahimsa (nonviolence) to distinguish between the aggressor and the defender. Having done so, he will side with the defender in a nonviolent manner, i.e., give his life in saving him.’ Even if the defender continued to struggle by violent means in such an instance, Gandhi believed that such nonviolent intervention and assistance would contribute to a quicker and less vindictive peace.
   - Gene Sharp ; Gandhi As A Political Strategist


"Nonviolence training is important because it empowers us and forces us to consider means and ends, and because it decentralizes power. Most important, however, it strengthens the movement for social change. Feminism remains as important as nonviolence in my thinking. It is my concern to work out any apparent contradictions since I think that one without the other would be unsuccessful."
   - Lynne Shivers ; quoted in Reweaving the Web of Life


[Nonviolence] does not mean meek submission to the will of the evil-doer, but it means the pitting of one's whole soul against the will of the tyrant. Working under this law of our being, it is possible for a single individual to defy the whole might of an unjust empire to save his honour, his religion, his soul and lay the foundation for that empire's fall or its regeneration.
   - Mohandas Gandhi ; Young India; January 8, 1920, p.3


The history of mankind is crowded with evidences proving that physical coercion is not adapted to moral regeneration, and that the sinful dispositions of men can be subdued only by love; that evil can be exterminated only by good; that it is not safe to rely upon the strength of an arm to preserve us from harm; that there is great security in being gentle, long-suffering, and abundant in mercy; that it is only the meek who shall inherit the earth; for those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.      - Leo Tolstoy ; The Kingdom of God Is Within You


“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not retaliate against an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you."    - Jesus ; Matthew 5.38-42


All violence consists in some people forcing others, under threat of suffering or death, to do what they do not want to do.    - Leo Tolstoy ; The Law of Love and the Law of Violence


"In order for this struggle to have meaning, the oppressed must not, in seeking to regain their humanity (which is a way to create it), become in turn oppressors of the oppressors, but rather restorers of the humanity of both."    - Paulo Freire ; Pedagogy of the Oppressed


"The terrible truth is that our world has never established peace through victory. Victory establishes not peace, but lull. Thereafter, violence returns once again, and always worse than before. And it is that escalator violence that then endangers our world."    - Borg, Marcus J.; Crossan, John Dominic ; The First Christmas


The desire that lives through imitation almost always leads to conflict, and this conflict frequently leads to violence.

   - Girard, Rene ; I See Satan Fall Like Lightning


How do you defeat a movement that defines defeat as victory? ... Constantine.

   - James Carroll ; Constantine’s Sword


"On the opposite side of the city, from the west, Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor of Idumea, Judea, and Samaria, entered Jerusalem at the head of a column of imperial cavalry and soldiers. Jesus’s procession proclaimed the kingdom of God; Pilate’s proclaimed the power of empire. The two processions embody the central conflict of the week that led to Jesus’s crucifixion."    - Marcus Borg and John Dominic Crossan ; The Last Week


If individuals are naturally inclined to desire what their neighbors possess, or to desire what their neighbors even simply desire, this means that rivalry exists at the very heart of human social relations.

   - Girard, Rene ; I See Satan Fall Like Lightning


Violence brings only temporary victories; violence, by creating many more social problems than it solves, never brings permanent peace.

   - King Jr, Martin Luther ; A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart


Violence brings only temporary victories; violence, by creating many more social problems than it solves, never brings permanent peace.    - King Jr, Martin Luther ; A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart


Satan can never be driven out by Satan. Error can never be corrected by error, and evil cannot be vanquished by evil.    - Leo Tolstoy ; The Kingdom of God Is Within You


Roughly two hundred years separate the two greatest apologetic works of early Christianity against the classical world: Origen's Contra Celsum and St. Augustine's City of God. During these two hundred years a crucially important change has taken place in the Christian attitude to war. Origen took for granted that the Christian is a pacifist. Augustine, on the contrary, pleads with the soldier Boniface not to retire to the monastery but to remain in the army and do his duty, defending the North African cities menaced by barbarian tribes . . . When Augustine developed his theories of the "just war," barbarians were at the gates of the city of Hippo, where he was bishop . . . St. Augustine is, for better or for worse, the Father of all modern Christian thought on war.

   - Thomas Merton ; Peace in the Post-Christian Era, p.39-41


We are scattered all over the world with the bloody horror of camps (military outposts). The whole world is wet with mutual blood. And murder - which is admitted to be a crime in the case of an individual - is called virtue when it is committed wholesale. Impunity is claimed for the (military's) wicked deeds, not because they are guiltless - but because the cruelty is perpetuated on a grand scale!"    - Cyprian (c.250) ; Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol. 5 pp. 277


One man may not kill. If he kills a fellow-creature, he is a murderer. If two, ten, a hundred men do so, they, too, are murderers. But a government or a nation may kill as many men as it chooses, and that will not be murder, but a great and noble action.      - Leo Tolstoy ; The Kingdom of God Is Within You


"While they were stoning him, Stephen prayed, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.'  Then he fell on his knees and cried out, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' When he had said this, he fell asleep."    - Luke ; Acts 7.59-60  


"Jesus did not advocate non-violence merely as a technique for outwitting the enemy, but as a just means of opposing the enemy in such a way as to hold open the possibility of the enemy's becoming just as well."    - Walter Wink ;


People who bear crosses are working with the grain of the universe.

   - John Howard Yoder ; Armaments and Eschatology; Studies in Christian Ethics


For this cause I too am prepared to die, but for no cause, my friend, will I be prepared to kill.    - Mahatma Gandhi ; Unsourced Quotations


The cross is a paradoxical religious symbol because it inverts the world’s value system with the news that hope comes by way of defeat, that suffering and death do not have the last word, that the last shall be first and the first last.    - James H. Cone ; The Cross and the Lynching Tree


It makes no difference whether you put a man to death by word, or rather by the sword, since it is the act of putting to death itself which is prohibited. Therefore, with regard to this precept of God, there ought to be no exception at all; but that it is always unlawful to put to death a man, whom God willed to be a sacred animal.

   - Lactantius of Bithynia (aprox 240-317 AD) ; Divine Institutes


"Before his conversion, Paul had read his Bible and concluded that he should commit violence in God’s name. He was convinced that justice comes through punishment, and saw himself as an agent of that. After his encounter with Christ on the road to Damascus, Paul completely reassessed how to understand scripture, leading him to a radically different understanding focused on God’s way of restorative justice in Christ."

   - Derek Flood ; Healing the Gospel: A Radical Vision for Grace, Justice, and the Cross


"In other words, Paul’s great sin, as he came to see it, had been participation in what he understood as religiously justified acts of violence motivated by religious zeal. His conversion was a conversion away from the religiously justified violence he had formally embraced. It was not a rejection of his Jewish faith (Paul continued to regard himself as a faithful Jew), rather it was a recognition that his former embrace of violence in God’s name was not in fact an act of faithfulness, but a grave sin."

   - Derek Flood ; Healing the Gospel: A Radical Vision for Grace, Justice, and the Cross


Pilate deserves our sympathies, not because he was a good though tragically mistaken man, but because we are not much better. We may believe in Jesus, but we do not believe in his ideas, at least not his ideas about violence, truth, and justice.    - Miroslav Volf ; Exclusion and Embrace


Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

   - Jesus ; Matthew 5.9s


A Voice, echoing through the corridors of time, says to every intemperate Peter, “Put up thy sword .” History is cluttered with the wreckage of nations that failed to follow Christ’s command.   

   - King Jr, Martin Luther ; A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart


God, in prohibiting killing, discountenances not only brigandage, which is contrary to human law, but also that which men regard as legal. Thus participation in war will not be legitimate to a just man; his "military service" is justice itself. … What are the interests of our country, but the inconveniences of another state or nation? that is, to extend the boundaries which are violently taken from others, to increase the power of the state, to improve the revenues all which things are not virtues, but the overthrowing of virtues: for, in the first place, the union of human society is taken away, innocence is taken away, the abstaining from the property of another is taken away; lastly, justice itself is taken away, which is unable to bear the tearing asunder of the human race, and wherever arms have glittered, must be banished and exterminated from thence. … How can a man be just who injures, hates, despoils and puts to death? Yet they who strive to be serviceable to their country do all these things.

   - Lactantius ; [tutor of Crispus, the son of St. Constantine the Great]


Right after 9/11, I asked a kid in my neighborhood what we should do in response. His answer: "Those people did something very wrong..." He thought pensively and continued, "But two wrongs don’t make a right." As Martin Luther King taught us, you cannot fight fire with fire, you only get a bigger fire. You fight fire with water. You fight violence with nonviolence. You fight hatred with love. As a Christian, a follower of Jesus the Prince of Peace, I am deeply troubled about the possibility of a military response to the violence in Syria. Jesus consistently teaches us another way to respond to evil, a third way – neither fight nor flight. He teaches that evil can be opposed without being mirrored, oppressors resisted without being emulated, enemies neutralized without being destroyed. I am praying that the nonviolent imagination of Jesus and MLK would move the leaders of our country and our world to find another way forward than violence. When I heard US military leaders calculating the collateral damage of an attack on Syria ("classified" information), something feels terribly wrong. Christ once scolded his own disciple who tried to use the sword to protect him. After healing the wounded persecutor, he said to Peter, "If you pick up the sword you will die by the sword. Put your sword back." Over and over we have tried to use the sword – in Iraq, in Afghanistan, now possibly in Syria… and the sword has failed. The cure becomes as bad as the disease. When we fight fire with fire, we only get a bigger fire, and a bigger mess. Two wrongs do not make a right.

   - Shane Claiborne ; Public Facebook Page Post


Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: But rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ's sufferings; that, when his glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.

   - Peter the Apostle ; 1 Peter 4:12, 13


The Anabaptists are beginning to make more and more sense to a world that is increasingly aware of the emptiness of materialism and the ugliness of militarism. Anabaptist logic is rooted in the wisdom of the cross of Jesus, which Scripture says confounds the wisdom of this world. It seems the world is poised for a new Anabaptist movement.

   - Shane Claiborne ; Brethren In Christ author


We shall match your capacity to inflict suffering by our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force. Do to us what you will and we will still love you. We cannot in all good conscience obey your unjust laws and abide by the unjust system, because non-cooperation with evil is as much a moral obligation as is cooperation with good, and so throw us in jail and we will still love you. Bomb our homes and threaten our children, and, as difficult as it is, we will still love you. Send your hooded perpetrators of violence into our communities at the midnight hour and drag us out on some wayside road and leave us half-dead as you beat us, and we will still love you. Send your propaganda agents around the country, and make it appear that we are not fit, culturally and otherwise, for integration, and we'll still love you. But be assured that we'll wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be a double victory.

   - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ; 1967 Christmas Sermon on Peace


I cannot enlist for I am a Christian. I cannot serve, I cannot do evil.    - Maximilian, the son of a Roman soldier in present-day Algeria, was required to join the army at the age of twenty-one. ; Spoken before the court of the Roman proconsul. Because of his refusal he was beheaded. He was a follower of Jesus which meant he could not fight the wars of men. He insisted that we can die for Christ, but we cannot kill for him.


If might is right, then love has no place in the world. It may be so, it may be so. But I don't have the strength to live in a world like that, Rodrigo.    - Father Gabriel ; The Mission


Tell me, how can a Christian defend scripturally retaliation, rebellion, war, striking, slaying, torturing, stealing, robbing and plundering and burning cities, and conquering countries?    - Menno Simons ; Anabaptist leader and writer in the Netherlands from 1536


It should be obvious by now that violence, and not Christianity, is the real religion of America. This is why it cannot be stressed too much: love of enemies has, for our time, become a litmus test of authentic Christian faith.    - Walter Wink ; Jesus and Nonviolence


On some positions, Cowardice asks the question, "Is it safe?" Expediency asks the question, "Is it politic?" And Vanity comes along and asks the question, "Is it popular?" But Conscience asks the question "Is it right?" And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular, but he must do it because Conscience tells him it is right. I believe today that there is a need for all people of good will to come together with a massive act of conscience and say in the words of the old Negro spiritual, "We ain't goin' study war no more." This is the challenge facing modern man.    - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. ; Remaining Awake Through a Great Revolution (March 31, 1968)


If we all derive our origin from one man, whom God created, we are plainly all of one family. Therefore it must be considered an abomination to hate another human, no matter how guilty he may be. For this reason God has decreed that we should hate no one, but that we should eliminate hatred. So we can comfort our enemies by reminding them of our mutual relationship. For if we have all been given life by the same God then what else are we but brothers? . . . Because we are all brothers God teaches us never to do evil to one another but only good - giving aid to those who are oppressed, and experiencing hardship, and giving food to the hungry.    - Lactantius ; Divine Institutes, Book 6 Ch 10


We used to hate and destroy one another, and refused to associate with people of another race or country. Now, because of Christ we live together with such people, and pray for our enemies.    - Justin Martyr ; Justin's First Apology Ch 11


In the early centuries of the church, Christians who suffered wrong without resistance at the hands of their enemies and persecutors were called 'confessors' and 'martyrs'. Martyr in Greek means 'witness'. Martyrs were persons who had given the ultimate witness. They were willing to suffer death rather than use violence to defend or avenge themselves. Martyrdom, therefore, meant much more than simply resisting pressures to deny faith. When these Christians refused to resort to the violence of revolution or self-defense, they're being faithful to their missionary call. They sought to make disciples of all nations.    - John Driver ; How Christians Made Peace With War


The politics of nonviolent Calvary-love don't wait to be voted in, they wait for us to live them out.

   - Jarrod Mckenna ; Facebook Page Post


My claim, which I’m told is audacious by some and naïve by others is simply this: Jesus Christ and his peaceable kingdom are the hope of the world.

   - Brian Zahnd ; Word of Life Church weekly sermon.


Very truly I tell you, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go." Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"

   - Jesus ; John 21.18, 19


He told them another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. 32 Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches." He told them still another parable: "The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough."

   - Jesus ; Matthew 13.31-33


Those who follow Christ will likewise have to "bear the cross" on behalf of others.

   - Gordon D. Fee ; Commentary on Philippians


To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.

   - Peter ; 1 Peter 2.21


The overwhelming evidence suggests that the followers of Jesus were pacifists for the first three centuries. Many early church leaders and documents underscore the unwavering commitment to nonviolence.

   - Charles Kimball ; When Religion Becomes Evil


Then he said to them all: "Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me."

   - Jesus ; Luke 9.23


With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. "Put your sword back in its place," Jesus said to him, "for all who draw the sword will die by the sword.

   - Jesus ; Matthew 26.51,52


My feelings as a Christian points me to my Lord and Savior as a fighter [Warrior].

   - Adolf Hitler ; Speech from April 12, 1922 and published in My New Order


It makes no difference whether you put a man to death by word, or rather by sword, since it is the act of putting to death itself which is prohibited.

   - Arnobius ; Against the Heathen


It is better to suffer wrong than to inflict it.

   - Arnobius ; Adversus Gentes


You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children 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. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

   - Jesus ; Matthew 5.38-48


And to those who inquire of us whence we come, or who is our founder we reply that we are come, agreeably to the counsels of Jesus, to cut down our hostile and insolent wordy swords into ploughshares, and to convert into pruning-hooks the spears formerly employed in war. For we no longer take up sword against nation, nor do we learn war any more, having become children of peace, for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader.

   - Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD) ; Against Celsus


And shall the son of peace take part in the battle when it does not become him even to sue at law? And shall he apply the chain, and the prison, and the torture, and the punishment, who is not the avenger even of his own wrongs?

   - Tertullian (160-225 AD) ; The Chaplet


For we no longer take up sword against nation, nor do we learn war any more, having become children of peace, for the sake of Jesus, who is our leader.

   - Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD) ; Against Celsus


For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,

   - Paul the Apostle ; Philippians 1:29


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