Dr. Piper offers,
4. Jesus set the stage for a life of sojourning in this world where we bear witness that this world is not our home, and not our kingdom, by renouncing the establishment or the advancement of our Christian cause with the sword.
Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” (John 18:36)
Jesus said to [Peter], “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword.” (Matthew 26:52)
a.) Jesus also came to die for the sins of His people. Does that mean that we likewise are called to die for the sins of people? Jesus also went about doing miracles. Does that mean that we likewise are called to go about doing miracles?
Of course the point here is that we are not called to do everything that Jesus was called to do. We are not called to born of a Virgin. We are not called to resurrect on the third day.
b.) Dr. Piper fails to explain how self-defense of the lives of the judicially innocent from the threat of the wicked is an example of trying to “establish or advance our Christian cause with the sword.” Dr. Piper fails to demonstrate that those who follow the 6th commandment in self defense means that we are trying to communicate that this world is our Christian home and is our Christian Kingdom.
c.) We could just as easily argue, in contradiction to Dr. Piper, that as Jesus came to establish His Kingdom in and over this world we should likewise seek to establish the Kingdom of God in and over this world.
d.) Dr. Piper then offers Scripture, completely taken out of context and misinterpreted.
For Dr. Piper’s mishandling of John 18:36 see,
My Kingdom Is Not Of This World
The Matthew 26 passage has a very established context. The most we can prove from it is that we should not use self defense to protect people who are on their way to the Cross to die for the sins of the world. This is especially so, where elsewhere in the Synoptic Gospels (Luke 22:36f) the Lord Christ expressly instruct His disciples to carry a sword.
Dr. Piper offers,
To be sure, there are many ambiguities about being exiles on this earth with our citizenship in heaven (Philippians 3:20), while at the same time being called to serve in the structures of society (1 Peter 2:13). But no book of the Bible wrestles with this more directly than 1 Peter, and the overwhelming thrust of that book is this: As you suffer patiently and even joyfully for your faith, do so much good that people will ask a reason for the hope that is in you (1 Peter 3:15).
I think I can say with complete confidence that the identification of Christian security with concealed weapons will cause no one to ask a reason for the hope that is in us. They will know perfectly well where our hope is. It’s in our pocket.
a.) The fact that Dr. Piper admits there are ambiguities might mean that he should be a little less dogmatic on his pacifistic declamations.
b.) The fact that Christians will suffer — and should do so patiently and joyfully — is not itself proof against the fact that Christians are commanded to defend themselves when able. The way Piper is reasoning here, one would think that Christians should be required to seek to put themselves under suffering. Peter’s book is speaking in the context of when suffering comes upon us. Peter is not teaching that all Christians must themselves seek out situations where they can suffer.
c.) Dr. Piper again makes the mistake of supposing that all because someone takes the 6th commandment seriously therefore that means that they are identifying with the tools used to esteem the 6th commandment.
d.) Given Dr. Piper’s reasoning one could as easily say, “I think I can say with complete confidence that the identification of Christian security with wearing safety belts will cause no one to ask a reason for the hope that is in us. They will know perfectly well where our hope is. It’s across our chest while driving.”
Does Dr. Piper wear a seat belt while driving? Well, clearly no one will now ask him for the reason of the hope that is within him.
Dr. Piper presses on,
5. Jesus strikes the note that the dominant (not the only) way Christians will show the supreme value of our treasure in heaven is by being so freed from the love of this world and so satisfied with the hope of glory that we are able to love our enemies and not return evil for evil, even as we expect to be wronged in this world.
a.) Why would Dr. Piper suppose that self defense means that those defending themselves no longer have as their supreme value our treasure in heaven? All because we take the 6th commandment seriously it means that we are not freed from the love of this world?
b.) Why would Dr. Piper think, that firing a weapon in defense of the judicially innocent against the wicked, who would unjustly and without biblical warrant take the life of children and women, be an example of returning evil for evil?
c.) Why would Dr. Piper think that because we expect to be wronged in this world therefore we should do everything we can to facilitate being wronged in this world? When Dr. Piper is wrongly accused of some heinous crime he committed while doing counseling does he not defend himself against such accusations because he expects to be wronged in this world?
d.) I would insist, in keeping with the 6th commandment, that when we return fire upon evil men seeking to take the lives of the judicially innocent we are at that point most certainly not returning evil for evil but are returning good for evil.
Dr. Piper offers,
You have heard that it was said, “An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.” But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. (Matthew 5:38–39)
Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. (Matthew 5:44–45)
Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you. (Matthew 5:11–12)
a.) The “turn the other cheek” passage (Matthew 5:38-42), often cited to support an extreme pacifism, clearly addresses our reaction to personal insults and inconveniences, and not serious threats to one’s life, family, livelihood, or home.
b.) When justice, in the context of self defense, is visited upon the wicked who are seeking to harm the judicially innocent, we are loving our enemies.
c.) Matthew 5:11-12 has nothing to do with this conversation. We can still defend ourselves and remember that we are blessed with others revile us and persecute us and utter all kinds of evil against us falsely on the account of Christ.
Dr. Piper offers,
The point of Matthew 5:11–12 is that Christians are freed to rejoice in persecution because our hearts have been so changed that we are more satisfied in the hope of heaven than in the hope of self-defense. This is the root of turning the other cheek and loving the enemy. The steadfast love of the Lord is better than life (Psalm 63:3). Or as Paul put it, “Whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord” (Philippians 3:7–8).
Jesus struck the note that the way his disciples demonstrate most forcefully the supreme value of knowing him is by “letting goods and kindred go, this mortal life also,” and calling it “gain” (Philippians 1:21).
a.) Matthew 5:11-12 says nothing about the abjuring of self defense. This is complete eisegesis on the part of Dr. Piper. I can be free to rejoice in persecution and reload at the same time.
b.) The steadfast love of the Lord lies upon those who esteem the 6th commandment.
c.) All because I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord doesn’t mean I stand by and allow women to be raped, children to be killed, and the judicially innocent to be attacked because I’ve concluded, by way of the grossest eisegesis, that the Scriptures teach Anabaptist pacifism.
Dr. Piper continues,
6. The early church, as we see her in Acts, expected and endured persecution without armed resistance, but rather with joyful suffering, prayer, and the word of God.
“Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:29–31)
a.) Dr. Piper continues to compare apples with hot pocket’s pizza. Of course it is the case when we have been stripped of all ability to defend ourselves we must entrust ourselves to the God of hosts who fights for us. However, all because we entrust ourselves, when completely stripped of the ability to use tools to esteem the 6th commandment, to the God of hosts who fights for us, doesn’t mean that when God has providentially provided weapons of self defense we should not use them. The Hebrew children could not fight against Egypt because they had no way to resist Egypt and they witnessed the God of Host be Warrior on their behalf. Later the God of Hosts fought through them and their weapons of which they now commanded.
b.) The Acts 4 passage and Dr. Piper’s usage of it is another example of gross exegesis. What could that passages possibly have to do with the propriety of self defense. Dr. Piper takes a unique historical situation and absolutizes it to prove that Christians shouldn’t defend the judicially innocent against the intention of evil men firing weapons.
c.) Doubtless there will again be times when Christians have to endure persecution as unarmed. One thinks of the Armenian Christians in Turkey at the turn of the 20th century. One thinks of the Ukrainian Christians during the Holdomar. But the reality of these persecutions doesn’t prove that therefore we should do all we can to make sure that we too come under the hand of the Satanists. Should God decide to place us in the kiln of oppression we should rejoice for great is our award in heaven. However, that is not the same as crawling in the kiln of oppression by our own idiotic reasoning.
Dr. Piper offers,
In all the dangers Paul faced in the book of Acts, there is not a hint that he ever planned to carry or use a weapon for his defense against his adversaries. He was willing to appeal to the authorities in Philippi (Acts 16:37) and Jerusalem (Acts 22:25). But he never used a weapon to defend himself against persecution.
This is called arguing from silence and is universally recognized as weak argumentation.