Piper's Guns and Martyrdom

Discussion in 'The Pilgrims Progress' started by martyrologist, Jul 7, 2008.

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  1. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    No one has adequately dealt with the early Christian martyrs in the Roman arena who went passivley to their deaths, with their whole families... [see my previous posts]
  2. kvanlaan

    kvanlaan Puritan Board Doctor

    Nope. I hear the crickets in the background too.

    And I don't have an answer for you either. For some reason, I feel that a violent attack based on personal gain by a thief or murderer can be justly answered and defeated with violence. But a 'rounding up' of Christians based on a confession of faith is a different matter. Can we still fight to save our families? Not sure. I think it will be made clear when it happens. (I'm hoping so, anyway.)
  3. larryjf

    larryjf Puritan Board Senior

    Was it wrong for the people of God to take up arms against those who wanted to destroy them in the book of Esther?

    I believe that gives us good insight into the biblical method for self-defense. It was made legal first, and then it was carried out. So as long as it's legal to defend yourself you can.

    With the martyrs of Rome, it would not have been legal for the Christians to defend themselves against the emperor.
  4. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    One point is that the early church was faulty on many points of theology. The Kingdom is like a mustard seed, and grows in knowledge as well as size, so I wouldn't necessarily use the early church as examples of proper behavior or theology.

    But a more practical point is that there was simply nothing a small minority of people could do in the Empire if the Empire wanted them dead. A Roman Legionnaire had to be 5 foot 9 inches, which was gigantic in those days, and they were superbly armed, and trained beyond the belief of what we call discipline nowadays. How could you take up arms against the Empire? And don't forget the principle behind decimation. It's to teach a lesson, and even if a few men got together and successfully jumped a couple of soldiers, the Empire would have made the whole Christian community pay dearly.

    So I think that to be a case of practicality rather than sound principle, although I take nothing away from those who did go with calm assurance of an afterlife.
  5. CDM

    CDM Puritan Board Junior

    Maybe because the differences between criminal (i.e., unlawful) assault on one's self and family and the *lawful* (i.e., in accordance with the law) execution by the State is self-evident.

    You and your family being sentenced to death in accordance with the *law* (and those martyrs were sentenced to death *lawfully*) for the capital crime of being Christian is suffering for Christ in accordance with 1 Peter 3:13-21; 4:12-16 to name but a few. Your home being invaded and your family attacked (unlawfully) by a thief are in a completely different category isn’t it?

    Those Christians in the arena are being slaughtered as they “did not love their lives unto death.” This is for Christ. This is for our testimony of him. This is for righteousness.

    Permitting you (and it is permission, albeit passive), your wife, and children being slaughtered in their beds by a criminal makes you an accessory after the fact - to say it in the least offensive way I can. This is not for Christ. This is not for our testimony. This is not for righteousness.

    Rather, this would be wicked, perverse, and contrary to the sixth commandment. This attitude and conduct makes a mockery of righteousness – the advocate of justice.

    Simply put: God commends the believer if he suffers for Christ's sake under an unjust State’s unjust law and unjust execution. Standing by and permitting the slaughter of innocents carried out by criminals (those with no authority to do so) is utter wickedness.

    As a side note, I do believe God would approve if those martyrs would have fled the State before pronouncement of judgment to avoid persecution and death. Yet, it was their willingness to die for Christ that gave God the greater glory.

    I do not see in Scripture that it is inherently sinful to avoid persecution and / or death.
    Last edited: Jul 17, 2008
  6. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    No, because it is a violation of Biblical law, and so can't be approved by God.
  7. CDM

    CDM Puritan Board Junior

    You misunderstand me. Sorry if I was unclear in my post - I will edit it.

    I meant that God approves of the Christian suffering for Christ’s sake which is abundantly clear in scripture. NOT that God approves of a wicked government pronouncing unjust judgment and executing Christians.

    Anyone who knows me KNOWS I would not advocate State-sponsored terrorism. :um:
  8. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Oh, sorry and thanks!
  9. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    So the Jews should not have fought back either when the Nazis killed them, according to Nazi law?
  10. Mushroom

    Mushroom Puritan Board Doctor

  11. CDM

    CDM Puritan Board Junior

    On the contrary. I really do not see how you can come away with that idea from my post. Please let me know where I may clarify my comments so as to avoid this in the future.

    Point of clarification: The [unbelieving] Jews are not God's people so their refusal to fight / resist the Nazi’s has no bearing upon the Christian's “suffering for Christ’s sake” or the point of the OP which was about the Christian's (not the non-Christian's) rights or lack thereof to defend himself.

    1. In my previous post, you see my comment at the end - "I do not see in Scripture that it is inherently sinful to avoid persecution and / or death."
    2. An unjust law is no law at all.
    3. I am afraid this is going to end up in a God's law is perfect / “Theonomy would fix this” discussion at this rate. ;)
  12. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    I think there's a good parallel there with the early Christians. Jews in Germany were a third of one percent of the population, and in 1933 they lost citizenship, so didn't have any military training, and couldn't deal in arms (although I've never heard their personal guns were confiscated). There's no way they could have done anything to prevent deportation, etc...

    There was no targeted killing of Jews before the war, or in it's early stages. Even after war with the UK and France broke out, Jews were allowed to leave the country. It wasn't until late in 1941 that there were targeted killings, and that wasn't on German soil, and never was during the whole of the war, for that matter.

    It wasn't a sure thing for either group, and people have a tendency to think it will only happen to the other guy.
  13. sastark

    sastark Puritan Board Graduate

  14. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Most did not. The question is not whether small pockets did, but SHOULD they have? Were they sinning by resisting, or sinning by NOT resisting? The same with the early Christians in Rome.
  15. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist

    Jews in Germany simply couldn't. Jews in occupied Europe formed partisan bands, and former German Jews even joined armies like the French Foreign Legion to fight back. Jews in the West joined the war effort full blast. Jews were disproportionately involved in the war effort, and except for some very small groups had no moral qualms about fighting, it was more a question of opportunity.

    Remember, the vast majority of Jews had no idea they'd be killed after deportation, so it would be unfair to blame them for not going down with all guns blazing.
  16. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    Bad odds are no reason NOT to resist IF our duties lies in that direction.

    If we are to resist than aren't we to take out as many of the enemy as possible (or is that only in wartime). If our duty is to resist, and yet we lack the means then we are to resist with whaever means we have. Samson killed people with bone, others have killed the enemy with rocks.

    The Jews COULD have resisted a lot more it seems. As also the early Christians under Roman persecution.

    What are the ethics of surrender anyhow (maybe a fitting split off thread).
  17. TimV

    TimV Puritanboard Botanist


    Again, sure, but resist what? You get a notice that you are to be interned, like my neighbors the Nakamuras were in California during the war. No Japanese Americans wanted to go to the camps, but none fought, even when their land was confiscated. There was just nothing that they could do. They knew what was ahead wasn't going to be fun, but there was still a chance that when the war was over life would go back to normal.

    Or our American soldiers who surrendered to the Japanese, or the Germans who surrendered to the Russians after Stalingrad. Only 5000 men of Von Paulus' WHOLE ARMY ever made it back to Germany, and that put their murder rate even higher than Auschwitz, which was 85 percent of long term inmates, and much lower when you count the thousands who were processed there and sent to other camps.

    The Germans went to the Russian camps, just as the Jews went to German camps, and I'd dare say that everyone reading this thread would have done the same.
  18. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    Justin Martyr said of the early Christians "We used to be filled with war, mutual slaughter, and every kind of wickedness. However, now all of us have, throughout the whole earth, changed our warlike weapons. We have changed our swords into plowshares, and our spears into farming implements."

    In Matthew 5, Jesus commands His disciples to love their enemies.

    In John 18, Jesus scolds Peter for slicing off Malchus' ear, saying "No more of this!"(NIV, ESV)

    In all honesty I find it difficult to comprehend how one can love a burglar while simultaneously shooting him in the chest. When we argue that such actions are permitted, it robs "love" of its meaning and, if I may say so, gives weight to those who think the Bible is confusing. If we can take "love your enemies" and turn it into a justification of killing them, it's no wonder people find the Bible confusing.
  19. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Is one's enemy in Matthew 5 to be understood as one who breaks into your home and threatens your life? Doesn't it apply to those who persecute you and spitefully use you? I don't think a burglar would fit into that category.
  20. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    :eek: Wait he promised! Obama promised we would get money! I was going to pay my house off with that!

    ooops! Wrong post...sorry!
  21. SolaScriptura

    SolaScriptura Puritan Board Doctor

    So help me understand... when precisely DO we as private Christians have to not resist him who robs us or turn the other cheek when we're assaulted?
  22. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    When they are breaking the law of the land?
  23. BobVigneault

    BobVigneault Bawberator

    "Those who hammer their guns into plowshares will plow for those who do not."
    Thomas Jefferson
    Third President of the United States
  24. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    Were the natives who killed Jim Elliot & co. doing it for religious reasons?

    I don't recall any such motive, but perhaps you do.

    If not, though, then by your logic these missionaries weren't martyrs after all.

    "Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves."

    That is what Paul wrote, If I recall correctly, to the Christians in Rome.

    So, should they have resisted?

    Are we, then, only to love those who persecute us for our religious beliefs? The rest of our enemies don't count?

    Do we allow the "law of the land" to define "murder" for us?

    ^^Not sure if you followed his somewhat convoluted sentence, sjonee, but that's the answer I give.

    What he said, I think, translates roughly to:

    "When shouldn't Christians resist robbers or turn the other cheek to assailants?"

    Somebody's got to do it. :)
  25. Poimen

    Poimen Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    Originally Posted by Poimen:
    Originally Posted by Skyler:
    No. Jesus command to love our enemies does not exclude love for others (such as a wife & children etc. whom I certainly love more than a burglar who may threaten their lives and would do everything within my power to protect them AND prevent the burglar from breaking the sixth commandment thus also bringing upon himself more judgment from God and the magistrate).

    By definition, that is by Jesus definition, the love that I am to show to my enemies is not something that applies to a burglar. He is not my enemy as defined by Jesus here.
  26. OPC'n

    OPC'n Puritan Board Doctor

    His sentence was a bit Grammatically incorrect. :lol: Wasn't he asking, "When can we shoot them for breaking into our house?"? I'm glad others commit the "Grammatically incorrect sin" and not just me! :)
  27. LawrenceU

    LawrenceU Puritan Board Doctor

    For the record: Elliot, Saint, et al carried fire arms for protection and there is pretty solid evidence that they attempted to use them but were unsuccessful. This has been debated. But, there were Indians with wounds that only could have come from firearms.
  28. Skyler

    Skyler Puritan Board Graduate

    Well, I don't think Jesus was necessarily defining "enemy" as being limited to a "persecutor". It would seem more reasonable, especially in light of the fact that the KJV and NKJV include "those who hate you" and "those who curse you", to say that his meaning was more along the lines of "Love your enemies, even those who persecute you."

    Secondly, while I agree that love for one's family should be greater than--or perhaps a different kind of love than--that for an enemy, it does not negate the responsibility to still have love for said enemy.
  29. JBaldwin

    JBaldwin Puritan Board Post-Graduate

    If the colonial Americans had not taken up arms to defend themselves, we would not have this country. A study of the revolutionary war period (especially in South Carolina/North Carolina/Georgia) shows that the Americans were protecting their homes from enemies before it broke into all out war with the British.

    I am quite impressed with the testimony of General Andrew Pickens (a presbyterian elder) who refused to fight the British until they crossed the line and burned his crops and tried to destroy his home and kill his family. When that happened, it was all out war for him. I think this an example of the principal of fighting your enemies.
  30. Hamalas

    Hamalas whippersnapper

    Wow, I'd love to contribute to this discussion. But I just can't read all 196 posts before this one!
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