Sprinkle: Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence

Here are some thought provoking quotes from Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence by Preston Sprinkle. I recommend reading the entire book, but here are a few short excerpts and quotes:

“War is the deconstruction of creation itself. It defaces God as it defaces the images created in His likeness.” -Steve Watkins as quoted

“Jesus, not Moses, reveals God’s ideal ethic.” (50)

“The law of Moses was not a cul-de-sac but an on-ramp toward God’s ideal ethic.” (53)

Something is wrong when the kingdom of God is indistinguishable from that of the world. Christians should contribute to the good of the nation in which they live (Jer. 29:7). But we are first and foremost citizens of Jesus’s kingdom spread throughout the world. We have more in common with Christians in other nations—nations our country may war against—than we do with neighbors who share the same passport. When nations war against other nations, this critical point gets snuffed out. Take the Iraq war, for instance. Regardless of America’s cause for invasion—to secure oil reserves, disarm weapons of mass destruction, get rid of a dictator—the kingdom of God has suffered horrific effects from the war. And this should cause citizens of God’s kingdom to mourn. For instance, prior to 2003, there was relative freedom for the 1.5 million Iraqi Christians. But since 2003, more than half of these Christians have been tortured, killed, or exiled to other countries.

It’s sad when American Christians talk about “us” and “them” and use these identity markers solely in terms of different national identities. But”we”—the kingdom of God in America and Iraq—have suffered greatly.

Citizens of God’s kingdom did not win the war.We lost. Citizens of God’s kingdom, wherever we live, should pray for our leaders and submit to our governing authorities insofar as such submission doesn’t confict with the law of Christ. But through Jesus’s blood,we have more in common with our fellow kingdom-citizens in Iraq,who have suffered from America’s invasion, than we do with most of our nation’s military, which caused the suffering. We should never let our national citizenship take priority over our heavenly citizenship. (129)

Faithfulness rather than effectiveness is our motivation. That’s because Jesus grounds enemy-love in the character of God. We are to love our enemy so that we might be “sons of the Most High” who is “kind to the ungrateful and the evil” and is merciful to the undeserving (Luke 6:35-36). We renounce power and become servants because “even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve” (Mark. 10:45). We love our enemies, do good to those who hate us, bless those who curse us, extend kindness to the ungrateful, and flood evil people with mercy not because such behavior will always work at confronting injustice, but because such behavior showcases God’s stubborn delight in un-delightful people. Faithfulness rather than perceived effectiveness motivates our response to evil. We are faithful conduits of God’s undeserved love when we do good to those who hate us.

In a world swimming in violence, in a land where “messiah” meant militancy, Jesus never acts violently. Whenever violence is addressed, Jesus condemns it. Whenever His followers try to act violently, they are confronted. Whenever Jesus encounters people who deserve a violent punishment, Jesus loves them. And in doing so, He leaves His followers with a nonviolent example to follow. When people around the globe think that American Christians are pro-war, enamored with violence, and fascinated with military might, something is terribly wrong. No one in the first century would have made the same conclusion regarding Jesus and His followers.

Whether or not such behaviors will lead to chaos, ruin our religious freedom, or allow our enemies to rule our country is not our concern. Our faith is in the King of all creation, who suffered, died, was raised from the dead, and now reigns from on high and seats us with Him at the right hand of the Father. Our life, future, security, freedom, suffering, and destiny—they’re all in His hands. The reign of God on earth—Jesus’s kingdom—does not need military might, thick borders, superior weapons, or economic prosperity for its advancement. What God started two thousand years ago through His crucifed Son will triumph, and the gates of hell—let alone al-Qaeda—shall not prevail against it.” (148-149)

“Passports are irrelevant in God’s kingdom.” (153)

“…the New Testament isn’t an ethical guide for secular government, but an authoritative summons to join a cruciform kingdom.” (242)

“…the church should neither celebrate nor condemn the state’s use of the sword. God uses governments to carryout vengeance on evildoers. But if I were to vote on it, I’d probably vote against capital punishment, since I would rather see my enemy redeemed than killed—not to mention all the problems with the current systems of implementing the death penalty in the states where it is still legal…. Romans 13 doesn’t say that God needs capital punishment to judge evildoers. He can do that single-handedly. It only says that He can (and does) use the sword to judge the wicked. Regardless of what sort of punishment an evildoer receives or doesn’t receive in this life, he or she will meet God’s perfect justice in the end.

And from God’s perspective, the wages of sin is death, which means that we all—even you—have already been convicted of capital crimes in Gods courtroom and have been given the death penalty. It would be odd—some would say hypocritical—for Christians to thank God for taking their death penalty and then spin around to celebrate the death of somecone they think is worse than them.” (243)

-Preston Sprinkle, Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence.

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