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Non-Violence

"Violence is not an absolute evil to be avoided at all costs. It is not even the main problem, but only the presenting symptom of an unjust society. And peace is not the highest good; it is rather the outcome of a just social order."    - Walter Wink ; Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way (Facets)


"The drops of rain make a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by oft falling."    - Lucretius ; Roman poet and philosopher from the first century B.C.


"The God of Peace is never glorified by human violence."    - Thomas Merton ; No Man Is An Island


"In a gentle way, you can shake the world."    - Gandhi ; Quit India Speech, (1942)


“The end is redemption and reconciliation, the aftermath of nonviolence is the creation of the Beloved Community, while the aftermath of violence is tragic bitterness.”    - King Jr, Martin Luther ; A Gift of Love: Sermons from Strength to Love and Other Preachings


"At the center of nonviolence stands the principle of love. The nonviolent resister would contend that in the struggle for human dignity, the oppressed people of the world must not succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter or indulging in hate campaigns. To retaliate in kind would do nothing but intensify the existence of hate in the universe. Along the way of life, someone must have sense enough and morality enough to cut off the chain of hate. This can only be done by projecting the ethic of love to the center of our lives."    - King Jr, Martin Luther ; A Gift of Love: Sermons from Strength to Love and Other Preachings


"The greatest victories of the church were all won before Constantine, in the days when there was no Christian army and when the true Christian soldier was the martyr, whose witness for Christ was nonviolent."    - Thomas Merton ; Peace in the Post Christian Era


"Nothing has contributed so much to the obscuring of Christian truth in the eyes of the heathen, and has hindered so much the diffusion of Christianity through the world, as the disregard of [non-resistance to evil by force] by men calling themselves Christians, and the permission of war and violence to Christians."    - Leo Tolstoy ; The Kingdom of God Is Within You


"To question and rebel means to organize resistance. What we need now and what we will need in the coming years is a broad, comprehensive resistance movement against militarism, a movement that includes members of every political grouping from the center to the left. We have to take up the cause of peace, take sides with life, interfere nonviolently and illegally. I think we can learn the most for our purposes from the liberation struggles in the Third World. I have been given a leaflet from the resistance movement in Chile, a leaflet that can be distributed there only at the risk of one’s life. These Chileans are reflecting on their situation, on what it means to live under a dictatorship and what is happening to them as a result. I think we can adopt a great deal of what they say, for they say: ‘Rebel! Don’t cooperate with death! Choose life!’ They also say: ‘Don’t let them steal away your soul! Amen!’"
   - Dorothee Sölle ; Of War and Love


"Whoever hits you on the cheek, offer him the other also; and whoever takes away your coat, do not withhold your shirt from him either."    - Jesus ; Luke 6:29


“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


"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to turn  ‘a man against his father, da daughter against her mother, a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law—a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household.’ Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it."    - Jesus ; Matthew 10.34-39


"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."    - Paulo Freire ; Pedagogy of the Oppressed: 30th Anniversary Edition


"In Jesus Christ, God disarmed himself. God surrendered himself without protection and without arms to those who keep crying for more and more protection and arms. In Jesus Christ, God renounced violence. And of course, he did this unilaterally, without waiting for us to lay down our weapons first."    - Dorothee Solle ; Of War and Lovenon


"When the practice of nonviolence [as Jesus taught it in the Sermon on the Mount] becomes universal, God will reign on earth as God does in heaven."    - Gandhi ; Essential Writings


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


"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


"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


"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


"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


"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)


" 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


"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


"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


"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.


"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]


"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."  

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


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

   - Gospel of Matthew ; Matthew 5.9


"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


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

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


"[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


"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


"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


"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


"Abelard, Heloise, Bernard, and Hildegard were harbingers of change in Western Europe that would long shape the modern world’s understanding of love. Bernard’s Christian faith, loving and yearning, pastoral and kind, had a Janus face of hatred for the “other” that sanctified killing for God as a form of love and exalted self-abasement as true love. Hildegard’s affirmations of incarnation, the greening of the soul, could be glimpsed in cloistered life, but it could not overcome the horrors of the age. She held the beauty of Christ suspended beyond Bernard’s world of Eros and Mars, until it could be fulfilled in the future. Abelard’s scholasticism and use of logic were the first glimpse of education independent of the church; at the same time, his ideal of self-sacrificing love as the highest Christian moral achievement encouraged victims to acquiesce to violence in passive, forgiving love. Heloise stood in a long line of Christian dissenters who rejected the worship of violence, the demonizing of sexuality, and the valorization of suffering. She offered a love grounded in honesty, mutual care, obligation, and responsible uses of power."    - Rita Nakashima Brock & Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parkera ; Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, p. 305


"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


"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


"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


"We can come to know the world as paradise when our hearts and souls are reborn through the arduous and tender task of living rightly with one another and the earth. Generosity, nonviolence, and care for one another are the pathways into transformed awareness. Knowing that paradise is here and now is a gift that comes to those who practice the ethics of paradise. This way of living is not Utopian. It does not spring simply from the imagination of a better world but from a profound embrace of this world. It does not begin with knowledge or hope. It begins with love."    - Rita Nakashima Brock & Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parkera ; Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, p. 409


"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


"The community’s work was to restore human life in paradise by healing the sick, instructing the ignorant, loving its neighbors, liberating the captives, resisting evil, practicing nonviolence, and appreciating the beauties of life. This understanding of salvation permeated many regions and branches of the first millennium of Christianity."    - Rita Nakashima Brock & Rev. Dr. Rebecca Parkera ; Saving Paradise: How Christianity Traded Love of This World for Crucifixion and Empire, p. 170


"You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not respond in kind to 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."    - Matthew ; Matthew 5.38-42


"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


"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


"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


"I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. Be on your guard; you will be handed over to the local councils and be flogged in the synagogues. On my account you will be brought before governors and kings as witnesses to them and to the Gentiles. But when they arrest you, do not worry about what to say or how to say it. At that time you will be given what to say, for it will not be you speaking, but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you."    - Jesus ; Matthew 10.16


"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


"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


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


"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


"When the fear of jail disappears, repression puts heart into the people."    - Gandhi ; The Onion Thief


"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 ; Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way


"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


"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


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