2674401Ev’rywhere I hear the sound of marching, charging feet, boy ’cause summer’s here and the time is right for fighting in the street, boy?
[‘Street Fighting Man’ Rolling Stones]

“Sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all And the mountains look so big, and my faith just seems so small So hold me, Jesus, I’m shakin’ like a leaf You have been king of my glory, won’t you be my prince of peace?”
[‘Prince of Peace’ Amy Grant]

I am sure that by now you would have read some version of this news story.

“WASHINGTON — The administration quickly distanced itself Tuesday from the suggestion by religious broadcaster and Bush backer Pat Robertson that the United States assassinate a leftist Latin American head of state.” [Associated Press]

To be fair I think this is what Pat Robertson actually said. My own summary:

[Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, keeps claiming that the U.S. is out to assassinate him. We are not but since he keeps claiming that we are, we might as well do it. Assassinating him would be much cheaper than going to war to remove him.]

Robertson claims that Chavez is a danger to the U.S and to the region because he is exporting militant communism and radical Islam. (Personally I would like to see Chavez pull this off since communism and Islam are sworn enemies.)

What should trouble readers of this column is a recognized Christian leader calling for the assassination of a democratically elected leader.

(Pat Robertson’s Bio: Marion Gordon Robertson, better known as Pat Robertson (born March 22, 1930), is an American Christian televangelist, entrepreneur, and right wing political activist. He is the founder of numerous organizations and corporations including: the American Center for Law and Justice, Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN), the Christian Coalition, the Flying Hospital, International Family Entertainment, Operation Blessing International Relief and Development Corporation, and Regent University. He is the host of the popular TV show The 700 Club, which airs on many channels in the United States and on CBN affiliates worldwide. wikipedia)

Was Robertson wearing his politician’s hat when he said what he did? His pastor’s hat? WWJD?

Well this is what Jesus did in another situation:

While he was still speaking, Judas, one of the Twelve, arrived. With him was a large crowd armed with swords and clubs, sent from the chief priests and the elders of the people. Now the betrayer had arranged a signal with them: “The one I kiss is the man; arrest him.” Going at once to Jesus, Judas said, “Greetings, Rabbi!” and kissed him. Jesus replied, “Friend, do what you came for.”

Then the men stepped forward, seized Jesus and arrested him. With that, one of Jesus’ companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear.

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” [Matthew 26:47 ? 54 TNIV]

In a day and age where much violence is done in the name of religion, it is said that every religion has a history of violent behaviour. Christianity, it is claimed, is no different. Just take look at the Crusades.

The era of the Crusades is a long and convoluted one where undeniably there were those who took up the sword in the name of Christ, against Jews, Muslims, and their fellow Christians.

But can you imagine Jesus and His apostles taking up arms for whatever reason? I can imagine the earliest Muslims doing so. In fact they had to do so as they warred for their survival against various animistic tribes in Arabia.

Therefore, on the question of whether Christianity, Islam, or other religions have violence in their DNA, I say go back to the source. And in going back to Jesus and the earliest Christians I can’t see them tolerating violence as an option to further the purposes of God. And if Christians have been guilty of violence and warfare in the Name of Christ it has been a deviation from the source.

We may not be living in a time of global conflict. Indeed recent developments in Northern Ireland and Palestine give some cautious reasons for hope. Unfortunately we can’t get our hopes up too much. Jesus has already told us that wars and rumours of war will precede His second coming. Still, those who stand on the side of the angels must speak peace. And surely those ordained to preach the gospel?

I guess Pat Robertson is fair game right now. But even as I write this I also remember that Jesus also equates anger with murder.

“You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder, and anyone who murders will be subject to judgment.’ But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment.? [Matthew 5:21-22]

Craig S. Keener: Anger that would generate murder if unimpeded is the spiritual equivalent of murder (1 John 3:15). God has never merely wanted people to obey rules, he wants them to be holy as he is, to value what he values.

So…while it is easy to pontificate on another’s deviation from the path of peace I find it much harder to deal with the anger in my own heart. While I may not publicly ask for someone to be killed I wonder at the lethality of the contents of my own soul.

Since the time of Cain, violence has beckoned as a quick fix to humankind’s problems. The children of Cain have often found the power of warfare and death irresistible. But history already gives a different testimony.

The Roman Empire had many swords and was not afraid to use them. The Roman Empire is long gone. But the revolution that started with no army save one armed with prayer, love and the gospel, continues to grow throughout the world.

So while the church may be divided on the issue of just wars (Just assassinations?), there is no confusion as to the heart and the agenda of Jesus.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. [John 14:27]

If we claim to be followers of Jesus that too must be our agenda. We need to work for peace in the world. And in our own hearts.

Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called children of God.

Your brother, Soo-Inn Tan