Reformed Treatments of the Non-Aggression Principle

ZackF

Puritan Board Post-Graduate
I'd appreciate any sources of serious Reformed engagement with the NAP, either for or against.

Thanks
 

yeutter

Puritan Board Senior
A few observations:

Definitions of the non aggression principle
“...no man may initiate the use of physical force against others.… Men have the right to use physical force only in retaliation and only against those who initiate its use.” Ayn Rand
“no man or group of men may aggress against the person or property of anyone else.” Murray Rothbard
“Every man has freedom to do all that he wills, provided he infringes not the equal freedom of any other man” Herbert Spencer
“...being all equal and independent, no one ought to harm another in his life, health, liberty or possessions.” John Locke

Libertarians who hold to the non aggression axiom also hold the law of non-contradiction as being self evident
If A can be demonstrated to be A.
Then A can not be demonstrated to be not-A.
Two mutually exclusive assertions cannot both be known to be true at the same time.

From these pagan definitions arises the question: Is coercion without actual violence, or even the explicit threat of violence synonymous with aggression?
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
All governments operate by power and coercion. NAP is a fantasy.

Plus, if you know somebody is gonna punch you - why not hit first? It's just good tactics. I see nothing more moral about waiting to get punched.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
All governments operate by power and coercion. NAP is a fantasy.

Plus, if you know somebody is gonna punch you - why not hit first? It's just good tactics. I see nothing more moral about waiting to get punched.
What about if someone smites you on the cheek, give him the other one? Must you smite him first, then give him both cheeks?
I think it's different for governments than for private people: they ought to pre-emptively squash enemies that are a credible threat, but private folk ought to give aggressors the benefit of the doubt. What if they're just bluffing? Most threats against me have been a bluff, or could be turned aside with a soft answer.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
What about if someone smites you on the cheek, give him the other one? Must you smite him first, then give him both cheeks?
I think it's different for governments than for private people: they ought to pre-emptively squash enemies that are a credible threat, but private folk ought to give aggressors the benefit of the doubt. What if they're just bluffing? Most threats against me have been a bluff, or could be turned aside with a soft answer.
A good case for pre-emptive war for states is Israel's pre-emptive attacks against credible threats. I see no reason this does not apply to private persons. If someone breaks into your house at night, you've got to wonder what else they are willing to do to your family, you need not wait and see if he actually carries it out first. Turning aside from a harmless insult (slap on the cheek) is different than ignoring a real and present danger.
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
A good case for pre-emptive war for states is Israel's pre-emptive attacks against credible threats. I see no reason this does not apply to private persons. If someone breaks into your house at night, you've got to wonder what else they are willing to do to your family, you need not wait and see if he actually carries it out first. Turning aside from a harmless insult (slap on the cheek) is different than ignoring a real and present danger.
I think this is a bit of a straw man. If someone has broken into your house that is already clear and unequivocal aggression initiated against you, so that's not a fair depiction of the NAP.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I think this is a bit of a straw man. If someone has broken into your house that is already clear and unequivocal aggression initiated against you, so that's not a fair depiction of the NAP.
I hate to admit it, but you might be correct. Perhaps shooting a person for climbing your fence is premature, they might be retrieving their football, etc. but once they go through a locked door then they seem fair game as they clearly intend to harm you and have, indeed, already harmed you through the violation of your privacy.
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
I hate to admit it, but you might be correct. Perhaps shooting a person for climbing your fence is premature, they might be retrieving their football, etc. but once they go through a locked door then they seem fair game as they clearly intend to harm you and have, indeed, already harmed you through the violation of your privacy.
Even there I have questions. Was it at night or in broad daylight? Is it a child, or a man in a mask? Even Proverbs absolves a thief's death from bloodguilt if it happens at night... but not in the daytime.
 

Ben Zartman

Puritan Board Sophomore
If someone enters my house at night, I'll probably club him with a saucepan and ask questions after I'm sitting on his head--he's already showing criminal violence. But for an altercation in the street, I think it's best to let him swing first.
 

Taylor

Puritan Board Graduate
But for an altercation in the street, I think it's best to let him swing first.
Maybe, maybe not. Not all situations are the same. If someone is coming at me obviously intending to harm me, or is making verbal threats while approaching me menacingly, and there is nowhere for me to flee, I will absolutely not “let him swing first,” because that’s all it could take to end me. Why would I do that?
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
Real men follow Romans 12. Paul is Reformed. I'm pretty sure.
Of course, too many real men tend to have high blood pressure, ulcers, and die young.

Sorry, OP Zack, that's probably not what you were hoping for,

ps. The real trick is living Romans 12 with joy and peace.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
If someone enters my house at night, I'll probably club him with a saucepan and ask questions after I'm sitting on his head--he's already showing criminal violence. But for an altercation in the street, I think it's best to let him swing first.
You are probably like most men and over-estimate your ability in a physical confrontation and are preparing to be made a victim.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
only fight if you can’t run. then only fight until you can run.
Sure, if no women and children are also involved. Otherwise you are a coward. Sometimes they cannot run even if you can.

A righteous man who falters before the wicked Is like a murky spring and a polluted well.
 

Ryan&Amber2013

Puritan Board Senior
I've noticed it's natural for humans to think aggressively, defensively, and violently. That's how most people are. But by God's grace we can seek peace in gentleness and love, and try our best to deescalate any situation. Self defense is not wrong, but I think the Bible paints a different picture than the typical "tough manly Christian" mentality that is common today.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I've noticed it's natural for humans to think aggressively, defensively, and violently. That's how most people are. But by God's grace we can seek peace in gentleness and love, and try our best to deescalate any situation. Self defense is not wrong, but I think the Bible paints a different picture than the typical "tough manly Christian" mentality that is common today.
I hardly think that the error of our age is that Christians are too tough and manly.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
I know what you mean, and I do see that as well. I was thinking of a different group of people I have experienced. But there is that group. LOL
Yes..... there is a reactionary trend among some of our reformed folks. A caricature of toughness. I believe that is what made Mark Driscoll attractive. I still like much of what the guy had to say.

There is only so much some of us men can stand when soft pastors like John Piper tell us he would pray with the thief who broke into his house. Trying to pray for a man assaulting your wife is to fail to provide for your own family what they most need (safety and security) and so these men are thus worse than infidels according to Scripture, at least on this one point of non-aggression and self-defense and pacifism.

Pacifism is sin, pure and simple. Life sometimes demands action. Even pre-emptive violent action. I believe the non-aggression principle is good in general, but cannot be applied the same at all times and in all situations. There are exceptions.
 

reformed grit

Puritan Board Freshman
The Reformers were very big on fellowship in the sufferings of Christ. Calvin comforted the Huguenots a lot on that issue. But not so much on non-violence. One mostly has to stealthily work one's way though the Anabaptists and Radical Reformers to approach strong elements of non-aggression and pacificism.

It probably doesn't help to insist that Scotsmen were some of the absolute best mercenaries in all of recorded history.
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
There is only so much some of us men can stand when soft pastors like John Piper tell us he would pray with the thief who broke into his house. Trying to pray for a man assaulting your wife is to fail to provide for your own family what they most need (safety and security) and so these men are thus worse than infidels according to Scripture, at least on this one point of non-aggression and self-defense and pacifism.
Agreed here. Not one of JP's finer moments. I wonder how, theologically, he arrived at that strange conclusion.
 

Eyedoc84

Puritan Board Freshman
Sure, if no women and children are also involved. Otherwise you are a coward. Sometimes they cannot run even if you can.

A righteous man who falters before the wicked Is like a murky spring and a polluted well.
Of course
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
Agreed here. Not one of JP's finer moments. I wonder how, theologically, he arrived at that strange conclusion.
Influenced by baptist tradition maybe? It is better to be persecuted than to persecute others, etc. Better to suffer violence without sin than to do violence and sin in the process. But that is a false dilemma, especially when passivity before evil is itself sin.
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
Influenced by baptist tradition maybe? It is better to be persecuted than to persecute others, etc. Better to suffer violence without sin than to do violence and sin in the process. But that is a false dilemma, especially when passivity before evil is itself sin.
It's odd to me because I would think that his teaching would lend itself more to the manbro stereotype than the soyboy (sounds like a new poll in the making!). He thrives on dramatic calls to action on a wide range of subjects. You'd think he'd set apart self defense as a characteristic of biblical masculinity. I'd expect him to go off the rails maybe by saying that a women should not defend herself because femininity is yielding and compliant or some such nonsense - but for him to go where he did was a surprise to me.
 

Pergamum

Ordinary Guy (TM)
It's odd to me because I would think that his teaching would lend itself more to the manbro stereotype than the soyboy (sounds like a new poll in the making!). He thrives on dramatic calls to action on a wide range of subjects. You'd think he'd set apart self defense as a characteristic of biblical masculinity. I'd expect him to go off the rails maybe by saying that a women should not defend herself because femininity is yielding and compliant or some such nonsense - but for him to go where he did was a surprise to me.
Maybe he is fascinated by the early Church martyrs who died passively in the arena. If the civil state imprisons you and feeds you to a lion in the arena or to be killed by gladiators, you don't really have a lot of options otherwise, at that point. Or, if like Dirk Willens (sp?) Catholics are chasing you across frozen ice and they fall in and start freezing/drowning, then you might be duty-bound to save them despite their persecution of you. But the Hussites armored wagons and defeated the Catholic armies in battle many times and this is the better solution as a whole I believe to protect your family and children.
 

Irenaeus

Puritan Board Freshman
Maybe he is fascinated by the early Church martyrs who died passively in the arena. If the civil state imprisons you and feeds you to a lion in the arena or to be killed by gladiators, you don't really have a lot of options otherwise, at that point. Or, if like Dirk Willens (sp?) Catholics are chasing you across frozen ice and they fall in and start freezing/drowning, then you might be duty-bound to save them despite their persecution of you. But the Hussites armored wagons and defeated the Catholic armies in battle many times and this is the better solution as a whole I believe to protect your family and children.
They may have died willingly (not passively, I'd argue) but they didn't sit around waiting for the Romans to capture them. They ran and hid. Resisting arrest by the state wasn't normally a viable option in Roman times.

I think JP probably just didn't think much at all before posting that.
 
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