Thursday, September 18, 2014

Love our enemies

We are commanded to love our enemies. 

Is this love?
  • Can we truly say that we love our enemies if we kill them? If our heart's desire is that "iron man" or "Rambo" would go in and wipe those people off the face of the earth can we say we love them?
  • Do we pray that God would kill them? If in our prayers we ask that God would smite them, send down lightening and zap them all, can say that we love them?
  • If we wish they would burn in hell, is that love?
Love may look like:
  • Praying that God would rescue and bless them. 
  • Wishing, hoping, longing, that at the end of time when when we stand before Jesus entering heaven these enemies would stand beside us as our brothers and sisters. 

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


Greg Boyd has written an excellent post on what does it mean to love our enemies in the midst of the ISIS crisis.

I appreciate how Boyd points out that practicality is not the first or most important factor in this conversation. Being faithful followers of Jesus is of greatest importance. We cannot simply abandon our beliefs because we do not find them practical in a certain situation.
The concern that our beliefs are not practical and therefore not applicable in certain situations says a lot about the greatness of the god we worship. The focus and drive on practicality is usually driven from a belief that god is not able to do anything and if we were really trust him then we are doomed. Sure trust God in life, as long as it makes perfect sense to us. In fact I find in interesting that sometimes we believe we can do more to bring peace and justice to this world with a gun instead of on our knees.
Also I love the way Boyd gives us practical ways of responding at the end of his article. We are to love and pray for the soldiers of ISIS. Praying for the soldiers of ISIS is the greatest and most important things we can do in this crisis.

There are a few things I do not see eye to eye with Boyd on this issue.
First, when Boyd talks about the role of the government he says that as Christians we should allow the government to use the sword to punish evil doers but as Christians we should not use the sword. If use of the sword is wrong, then it is wrong for anyone and everyone. I have a problem with being willing to live in safety and freedom because someone else is willing to do the dirty work. Boyd gives the impression that Christians should not be involved in politics. I disagree. We need to be immensely careful not to unite church and state. But I do not believe that this means a withdrawal from public service.
Second, Boyd leaves absolutely no room for violence. Now I am very close to agreeing with him. However at this point I believe that violence can be used to restrain evil. Violence cannot be used to bring peace. This has been clearly demonstrated throughout history. But police using violence to restrain a killer is the restraining of evil. Certainly there is a very careful line to walk in all of this. And as humans we are so quick to use violence to solve our problems. But I am not fully convinced that the bible calls us to no violence at all.
Third, Boyd never addresses how do we love the victims of ISIS. Life would be way more simple if we only had to love one side or the other. We are called to love everyone. Is the most loving response in this situation really to have our governments do nothing?

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

Convert or Kill?

How are Christians supposed to respond to ISIS (terrorist group in Iraq)?

Phil Robertson stated that we should either convert them or kill them.

Phil has the guts and honesty to state what many Christians feel. Most Christians would love to see those in ISIS discover the love and power of Jesus. However many probably believe that this is impossible and our only response is then to kill them.

Phil has received a lot of criticism for his statement. Some of the criticism is undeserved. Many have said that Phil is exactly like ISIS. I do not agree. Phil is speaking directly about ISIS, a terrorist group that is killing innocents including children. He is saying that something drastic needs to happen about this situation. Either ISIS needs to change or the world needs to take a radical and harsh approach with them. He is not saying that Christians should go into the streets and grab innocents and force them to convert, and if they refuse then to kill them. He is speaking of how to respond to radical terrorists, not how to respond to innocent people who have different beliefs.

That being said I still have a few objections to Phil's message.

First, we do not need to live in such polar extremes. Are our only options really "covert them or kill them"? Giving only two options shows a lack of imagination. There are always more than two choices.

Two, where is love? Phil speaks as a Christian and quotes the bible but never mentions how killing members of ISIS can be an act of love. Jesus has commanded us to love our enemies. We may not like it and struggle with how to do that but Jesus is our master so we need to listen to him. Loving our enemies is not an option. We cannot just ignore this command because we cannot imagine how this works.
However we are also to love ISIS's victims. Many who have objected to Phil sound like we should do nothing. It sounds like it does not matter that innocents are being killed. They are not our children or friends or from our country so why should we care. We are to care because Jesus tells us to love everyone (enemies and victims). Sure life would be easier if we could just love on side or the other but that is not how it works.

Three, why do we believe it is impossible for them to become followers of Jesus? Do we not serve a God who works miracles? It is impossible that a man was raised from the dead, yet this is foundational to our faith. Something being impossible is no reason to not believe that it is possible for God.