Jesus Christ Forbids War

Christianity armed is Christianity falsified. The gospel that God gives to men and women through Jesus Christ is a message of peace, and a gift of the power to live in peace. If we accept this gift, we are not shamed, forced, or reasoned into laying down weapons and war. Rather, we are transformed into new creatures. And warfare is alien to this peaceable new creature. The new creature may make war on its own unruly habits, but does not willingly injure another soul.

This creature grows ever more like Jesus Christ, who lived and preached a way of life that often challenged people, but never harmed them. Indeed, as a “new creature in Christ,” we now find ourselves becoming a member of Christ’s body, just as an arm, a leg or an eye is a member of your body or mine. This is no mere poetic fancy; membership in Christ can be experienced as truly today as in the days when the Apostle Paul preached it. And what does it mean to become a member of Christ?

Jesus taught His followers not to fight back against evil, but to love their enemies. The Biblical records tell us that when two disciples urged revenge on villages that had refused them hospitality, Jesus rebuked them, saying that He had come “to save men’s lives, not to destroy them.” At the scene of His arrest in the Garden, when one of His defenders cut off an attacker’s ear, Jesus disarmed the defender and healed the ear. Questioned by the Roman governor on His alleged claim to kingship, He disowned armed defense of any such claim because His “kingdom was not of this world.” Finally, when foes had crucified Him, He prayed from the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” His followers maintained the unwavering peaceableness of His witness for over two centuries, again and again choosing martyrdom over a recourse to arms.

Because Jesus accepted torture and death rather than protect Himself by force, it should come as no surprise that His disciples taught, not arts of self-defense, but the acceptance of all suffering as experience knowingly permitted by a trustworthy God who will one day “wipe away all tears from our eyes.” And so the living Christ teaches us today – to accept suffering when it can’t be avoided, but without seeking to inflict injury in return. “I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves,” He instructs: “Be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.”

To become a member of this Person is to lose the knack of hardening one’s heart on which the power to wage war depends. Consistently, Jesus taught not new rules for outward conduct but new depths of compassion. This compassion is not to be won without struggle, but the struggle we are now called to is an inward one, a work of “casting down imaginations.” For this, spiritual weapons are needed, and not the “carnal” ones by which blood is shed. “Be perfect,” He tells us, “like your Heavenly Father:” meaning that we are to be bountiful to the just and unjust alike, as God is with sunlight and rain.

War and fighting, taught the Apostle James, come from uncontrolled desires, and the determination to snatch by force what God may not be granting because it is not in our best interests to have it. We are admonished to show respect and obedience to sword-bearing civil authorities, but also to take no part in the “futile works of darkness.” If they ask of us what we cannot give, we must choose obedience to God over obedience to men and women. How then to respond to the world’s many invitations to support warfare? As the Living God instructs us through our conscience. All this is not to pass judgment on fellow believers that listen for the voice of Christ, but feel they have not been told to forsake all things that make for war. To them we say, in all love and respect: just keep listening.

Today a great lie goes masquerading in Christ’s robes. It appears wherever apologists for war, or lethal injection, or lying, or ravaging the earth, or profiteering off human weakness, seek to persuade us that these evils are O.K. for Christians to take part in. How easily they fool us! We’re all too eager to imagine God smiling on all the old, familiar ways that the world does things: think how our ancestors bought into slavery, genocide, the whipping of children and the subjugation of women! Or we fancy God blessing the new ways that the experts say are now necessary: If nuclear weapons, disinformation, torture of detainees, and use of the products of unfree labor are necessary in this modern world, how could Christ fault Christians for participating in a necessary system?

This makes it terribly important for followers of Christ to stand against falsifications of Christ’s gospel message of love toward all – a message that can’t be maintained by anyone armed to kill. Neither is it credible to many a non-Christian who, surveying Christian history, looks on its record of slaughter – crusade, inquisition, witch-hunt, massacre, pogrom. How did we Christians become such hypocrites?

Christ instructed his followers to be faithful “even unto death.” The apostle Paul reinforced Jesus’ peaceable gospel by repudiating “carnal warfare” and “carnal weapons” in almost all his writings. And Christians of the first two centuries, faithful unto death, routinely accepted execution rather than serve in the Roman army. It was soon well known that Christians would die rather than bear arms. But by the end of the third century all that was gone. What happened? Had Christians given in to fear? Had the most stalwart pacifists among them been killed off during the many persecutions? Did successful evangelism fill the Church with young new converts who didn’t “get” the peace testimony before the military recruiters came for them? Did the example of one Christian youth in uniform make it easier for the next one to accept conscription, starting a chain reaction?

With the conversion of the Roman emperor Constantine in 312 it became acceptable to dominate by the sword “in Christ’s name,” and by the time of Aquinas’s Summa Theologica in the Thirteenth Century, the “just war” theory had become standard Christian doctrine. Christians who sought to reclaim their original nonviolent tradition over the centuries were often silenced or killed, though ultimately the Anabaptists, Quakers and others in the modern era, like the Jehovah’s Witnesses, recovered it, stood by it, and survived. Today, in most democracies, a Christian pacifist is rarely challenged to be “faithful even unto death.” But Christ has not ceased to ask that of us. We are still bidden to trust in His Providence rather than put our faith in the protection of the gun.

The peace testimony of such Christians is rarely preached on street corners or from the TV screen, because it can’t be promoted like a political program, with appeals to self-interest or humane ideals. For it can’t be separated from the gospel faith in which it is rooted, which converts us into a “new creature” capable of both understanding it and living it. The new creature is graced with an infectious inner peace that endures, if God wills, as well under oppression or martyrdom as under outward liberty. But the old creature can neither understand nor live this: “For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.”

This “preaching,” or message, of the cross is the only alternative to the way of the world, in which mutual fear, anger and ignorance will forever provide grounds for the pre-emptive attack that starts a war. Only the way of the cross, by which men and women renounce the right to kill in self-protection, removes these grounds. This can only seem foolishness to a world for whom death is the greatest evil, and self-preservation the highest law. “We are fools for Christ’s sake.” (Where is self-interest here? And what have “humane ideals” to do with such radical obedience?)

And what is this message of the cross? Simply this: the One who made you wants you to come home to your God. God means you to enjoy the peace, knowledge, and joy of the Divine Fullness, beyond time and change. God dwells in your heart, sees through your eyes, and knows your every thought – yes, including all the ones you wish no one knew. But there is not a foolish, or shameful, or evil thing you have done, or wished to do, or had others do for you, that God is not willing to forgive. God forgives it so that it may no longer keep you from perfect enjoyment of your heavenly inheritance. But to receive this forgiveness, you must turn to God and ask to be freed from “bondage to sin” – a technical term, often misunderstood as a matter of outward offenses, for an inward addiction to whatever draws us away from God’s light and love.

For this reason, people that have experienced this “repentance to salvation” have described it as being “born again” or being given “a new heart.” This process does not magically leave us immune to temptation, of course, or incapable of error or further growth. We must still “work out our salvation with fear and trembling.” But from now on, whenever we find ourselves lacking in the courage, or wisdom, or faith to do what God asks of us, we learn that God will give it to us merely for the asking. This means that we are free to live without our old defenses, “wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” For no one harms us except by “power given from above,” so that we may say with the Psalmist, “I will not fear what flesh can do to me.” This same creation, once seen as a battlefield of mutually opposing elements, a chaos of chance without Providence, now appears to us as one organism in which “all things work together for good to them that love God.”

This is the essence of the “good news” of salvation in Jesus Christ, who died and rose again to free us from slavery to sin, and who now lives, teaches, and reigns as king in the hearts of those here on earth who accept Him – under whatever name a particular heart may know its Savior by. This new life in Christ is a good life, the best of lives; but it requires us to die to the old self we knew, and so frightens many not ready for it. This is why so many of us choose an inauthentic Shadow Christianity, which allows us to hope for a Christian’s heavenly reward but keep one foot in a corrupt world largely run by the ignorant and self-serving, ruled by fear, foul with injustice, full of the glitter of false goods. But this Shadow Christianity will fail us in trouble and death, and must be discarded. It does not save.

A time of great pain and trial is upon us now. As a global civilization we’ve responded to our challenges shamefully, and as individuals, inadequately. All the world’s religions have taught that we must reap as we have sown, so we can foresee a frightful harvest as the world heats up, nuclear waste piles up, and oil, topsoil and fresh water run out. Will we repent in time? Or will Christ tell us, on that final day when we are shown all the souls we’ve injured, “inasmuch as you did this to these, you did it to Me?”

John Jeremiah Edminster, 6/16/2005, as revised 3/24/2007.

The writer is a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Print publication of this tract is made possible by a grant from the Witness Coordinating Committee of the New York Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). For more information on the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), call New York Yearly Meeting, (212) 673-5750.

Feel free to download and print this tract and distribute it freely. (You may contact the author for a PDF optimally formatted for printing.) Click here for a PDF of Jesus Christ Forbids War. The shortlink for this tract is

Thoughtful responses are welcomed below.


Bible citations are from the King James Version (KJV), New Jerusalem Bible (NJB), or Revised Standard Version (RSV).


50 Responses to “Jesus Christ Forbids War”

  1. kevin roberts Says:

    Friend John–
    I have just finished reading your essay, Jesus Christ Forbids War. I have found it to be one of the clearest statements of this essential discovery of Christianity I have recently seen, and to be written in a form accessible to modern English speakers, which I have not recently seen.

    I spend time each weekend in a big city at a farmer’s market, and one of the things I do is talk to people about Friends and hand out things for them to read if they have no time. I speak to everybody from Anglicans to Zorastians, with pagans, Buddhists, Wiccans, Presbytarians, Hindus, and Muslims in between.

    You say that you have a printable PDF. 1) Can I obtain a copy for duplication and free distribution to the general public? 2) Can I reformat it if necessary into a tri-folded 8.5×11-inch sheet? I will make no editorial changes. Or I can lift the text from your website and reformat it most easily that way. I will do nothing without your permission.


  2. Tom Durst Says:

    This article about war expresses what I’ve believed since my teenage year. I applied for CO status in the late 1950s when it was VERY unpopular and people were very angry if they found out you were a CO to all participation in war. I was investigated by the FBI and given my I-0 status. I’m very amazed at how “Bible-believing” Christians are so supportive of and eager to participate in war. The fruitage of war speaks for itself.

  3. Craig Says:

    Thanks for this wonderful tool to allow people to understand why we Friends do not participate in war. So many times we talk about the peace testimony without sharing the Foundation for our belief. The reason we are forbidden to fight is that Jesus said we shouldn’t. Either we follow Jesus or not…it is really quite that simple.

    Hopefully, there are those who will read this and repent and begin to live in the Kingdom of God. Also, this might allow Friends to understand that our testimonies do not stand on their own but are fruits of following Jesus.

  4. Rayshona Says:

    I beleave in the bible and god but my question is isnt there a war going on in the skies right now between good and evil heaven and hell, didnt jesus deciples have to fight evil? Last I would like to know what bible would you recommend I read for legitimate answers about Jesus ? I read somewhere that any publications of the bible printed after 1975-1978 were fixed or false teachings.

    • Signe Dillon Albertson Says:

      I read the Bible before 1975, and JESUS IS ABOUT PEACE, NOT WAR. You are trying to make excuses for War. IT IS WRONG.

      • John Jeremiah Edminster Says:

        Thank you, friend Signe. But I’m not sure that friend Rayshona is trying to make excuses for war here — I just hear Rayshona asking a question: are disciples of Jesus called on to fight evil, and if so, how?

        I think we are, but we’re called to “fight” nonviolently. Our main teacher here has to be the Holy Spirit, because we can always open our Bibles in the wrong spirit and draw wrong conclusions; but I find four things in Scripture pointing to the conclusion that we are not to fight evil with the violent weapons of this world:

        1. Jesus’ commandment to love our enemies, and do good to them that hate us (Matthew 5:44, Luke 6:27). This means not doing evil to them that hate us.

        2. Jesus’ rebuke to Peter at His arrest: “Put up thy sword” (John 18:11 ff.) — an example of Jesus’ own advice to us that we “resist not evil” (Matthew 5:39).

        3. “For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal,” 2 Corinthians 10:4. Here Paul is introducing to his Corinthian flock the idea that there are spiritual weapons that can be powerful and that have nothing to do with the world’s ways of accomplishing things by using or threatening physical force.

        4. “Overcome evil with good,” Romans 12:21. (“For the servant of the Lord must not strive,” etc. — 2 Timothy 2:24.) If we were expected to advance or defend Christ’s kingdom by doing evil to evildoers, “killing the bad guys,” as little boys like to say, we’d be in violation of Paul’s warning (Romans 3:8) against saying “let us do evil, that good may come [of it].”

    • Rayshona Says:

      Hi we have the same name was looking for the Hebrew meaning of my name and came across your name and is same as mine what a unique and rare opportunity

    • Rayshona Says:

      Hi Rayshona I tried leaving a reply I don’t know if you got it I also wanted to add one more thing besides us having the same unique name December 25 is my oldest daughter birthday

  5. Jean Weston Says:

    A lot of people feel that any Bible printed since 1000 are fixed or false teachings – since many gospels were omitted. It seems strange to think those from 1975 would be in error – since they can easily be compared to those printed earlier and see if they differ. But, what of the gospels that were omitted from way back? If we can err in 1975, we certainly could just as easily (or probably more easily – since not that many people could read and there weren’t so many copies to prove our cover-up) err in 1000. So, what is the answer here?

    Ultimately, we must trust our deepest understandings from the ‘Jesus’ we have come to personalize. At least I believe, we will find truth if we are sincere in our search.
    Peace and a Happy and Healthy 2008
    Jean W.

  6. Thy Friend John Says:

    Thank you, Jean, for this, and please forgive me, Rayshona, for taking so long to get back to you. I just got back home from spending the holidays out of state.

    I think there may always be problems with translations of the Bible. My personal favorite remains the King James Version, which I love for the majesty of its language. So far as I can tell, not being a Hebrew or Greek scholar, it seems painstakingly faithful to the original Hebrew and Greek wordings of things. It dares to translate the original Greek of Rev. 10:6 into its evident plain meaning in English: “that there should be time no longer,” whereas the Revised Standard Version more timidly translates it as “that there should be no more delay.” Here I’m more inclined to trust the King James.

    On the other hand, a respected friend of mine finds the King James offensively “racist and sexist”, and can’t abide it. Never having had the King James Bible used as a weapon against my own skin color, gender, sexual preference or intellectual integrity, I don’t feel the wounds that many other readers carry around through life; I can only guess at how they hurt. I would never ask anyone to read a Bible that I knew had hurt them, unless I felt confident that my leading them into it would help heal the hurt.

    I can give an example from my own experience, though, of finding myself repelled by the King James Bible; when I was a kid, I read Revelation 21:8, “but as for the fearful, and unbelieving,…[they] shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone.” “What!?” I felt like responding. “You just terrified me with a threat to throw me into a lake of fire, and now you say you’re going to throw me into it for being fearful? That’s just plain unfair!”

    But whatever God is, He/She is not a cruel sadist or a practical joker; I know from a certainty in my heart that God is All Good and All Love. So, just as I know that God is not going to throw me into a lake of fire at the first sign of my nervousness, I also know that my Lord will help me understand the Scriptures if I ask for His help. And if God will help me, then God will also help you, Rayshona, whether you’re reading a translation from 1611 or 1945 or last year. Shop around and try different versions, but most of all, ask the Lord to lead you to one you’ll feel at home with and that will speak to your heart. (If you ask for an fish, will He give you a serpent? – Matthew 7:10, Luke 11:11.)

    Among modern translations I particularly like the New Jerusalem Bible, though I couldn’t explain why, other than its clarity. If any readers want to say what their favorite Bible translation is, and why, I’d welcome their comments.

  7. Ed Egan Says:

    I havebeen looking for re-enforcement; strength …WW1,WW11, Korea,Viet Nam, Iraq, 1,Iraq 2, Afghanistan, soon to be Pakistan,Syria and Lebanon………then Mozambibique and Zimbabwe….it is never ending as President Eisenhower forewarned in his Farewell Address….but where is Jesus’s message to us…it is here… in this essay,..for me…

  8. Thy Friend John Says:

    Thank you, Ed. Fortunately Jesus keeps speaking to us, as Jesus or Conscience or the Light or the Voice of Allah, depending on whatever name we can accept, sometimes telling us to shoot at the sky rather than at the man across the valley, sometimes telling us to stay out of the Army altogether, sometimes prompting us to weep over what we’ve done and can no longer undo. As for convincing Washington and Pyongyang and Tel Aviv and Al Qaeda to disarm, however, we know that that’s the job of the Almighty, not of our little selves, and that all we’re asked to do to help it along is to be faithful to the duties we’ve been given, and to pray for the peace of the world if that’s one of the duties we feel laid on us. May God keep us both in the state of His Peace,

    Thy Friend John

  9. Jim Says:

    Dear John:

    Thanks for the clear and uplifting writing. I have been disturbed by recent polls which show that in the U.S. the more someone attends church the more likely they are to support torture; that the group with the largest percentage against torture is the unchurched. I take this to mean that something has gone deeply wrong at the center of American religious life. Thy essay is good medicine, reminding me to remain true to the message of peace and love even when others do not do so.


    • John Edminster Says:

      Dear Jim,

      Thanks for this, and God bless you! I hadn’t seen the polls, but I’m not surprised. Well, religious hypocrisy is a two-edged sword: as the hard-hearted and self-righteous flock to the churches to strut around and be seen as God’s favorites, they also come dangerously close to God, who may at any moment wake them up! — and then they can’t go on any longer being smug about the world’s cruelty. If they’re Christians, sooner or later they’ll run into the words “Remember those that are in bonds, as bound with them” (Hebrews 13:3) and perhaps the Lord will see to it that they have something like a warning dream, or a night behind bars, to turn them around and start healing them.

      It occurs to me that it may be a good thing to be part of a faith community with an embarrassing record to live down — you know, the Christians, with their reputation as warmongers, imperialists, bullies, slave traders, genocides, oppressors of women, abusers and molesters of children, vivisectionists, usurers, liars and cheats; it should keep one humble. And it certainly makes one grateful that Jesus was not such a person. And then, once one comes out of the closet and says “I am a Christian” or “I aspire to be worthy of the name ‘Christian’,” all of a sudden one starts to meet the most loveable, sweet, wise, inspiring people that also count themselves to be followers of Jesus Christ! At least, such has been my experience. (And I might have a comparable experience if I converted to Judaism or Islam, for all I know; but my Lord has called me to profess Christian faith and that choice is no longer mine to make.)

      In any case, I wouldn’t be too distressed about polls that show Christians to be scoundrels and so invite non-Christians to revile or defame us. “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you,” said Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:11), and Paul wrote, “Being defamed, we intreat” (1 Corinthians 4:13). It actually makes me happy to see a lot of non-Christian or otherwise “unchurched” people of conscience mobilizing against torture, because stopping torture is so much more important than public relations for Christendom. From my point of view, also, it’s Christ at work in their hearts that’s making them refuse to be complicit any longer with a torturing world — call the Light in their Conscience what they will. All glory be to that Light, in whom is our salvation! If we could only all obey It, we might no longer quibble about what name to call It by!

      My best,

      Thy Friend John

  10. John Elfrank-Dana Says:

    This is a most valuable contribution to understanding just how simple Christ’s message is and why so many in power, including theologans, have had to do great mental gymnastics to justify the unholy institution of war.

    This devotion to love and peace is what seperates Christianity from Judaism.

  11. John Edminster Says:

    Good to hear from you again, John! And your words of encouragement are very welcome on the day I reprinted another 500 copies of the tract and brought some of them up to the Truth Commission on Conscience in War at Riverside Church this afternoon. It felt like a kiss from God for being faithful and putting in the extra effort.

    I’m not completely comfortable with the idea that devotion to love and peace separate Christianity from Judaism, because I’ve heard it said (that is, I heard a Quaker Biblical scholar report hearing it from one of his Jewish teachers) that Judaism, rightly understood, is a pacifist religion; I think this idea comes through very strongly in the later chapters of Isaiah. Indeed, 1 Maccabees 2:29-41 records the faithful witness of the thousand who would not defend themselves by arms on the Sabbath, but said “Let us die all in our innocency: heaven and earth shall testify for us, that you put us to death wrongfully” (v. 37, KJV). I think that Jesus would have thought of Himself as a prophet in this same nonviolent Jewish tradition. Not being a Jew myself, except in the sense that all Christians are part of the “wild olive branch” grafted into the tree of Israel (Romans 11:17 ff.), I have no right to speak for Judaism, except to say that I know that a nonviolent reading of its teachings is possible, and I pray that the Messianic Spirit will spread such an enlightened understanding throughout Jewry worldwide in our time.

    As for Christianity, I could easily cringe in shame over the many violent crimes done in its name over the course of its history if I did not trust that the living Christ disowns them — corrects and forgives their perpetrators, perhaps, but disowns any deed done that regards an opponent as a mere thing to be slaughtered and kicked aside. For such a view of any of our brothers and sisters is contrary to the Gospel of Love. Nonetheless it’s not for me to rebuke or shame any Christian who disagrees with me about this, but rather to try to convert the person by modeling what I believe to be the better way. Please pray that I’ll be strengthened to do this and continue to do this, because I know how easily we can all be diverted from the right path by fear, anger and self-importance.

    My best to your kids!

  12. Bill Says:

    What has gone wrong in American religious life is religion. When have religions (particularly Christianity) been anything more than a source of justifications for the violence and bigotry endemic to our species. Get rid, completely, of any organized religion and understand that nature is the only true religion (don’t waste my time boring me with what some people wrote about that a few thousand years ago… it doesn’t matter).

  13. Christian Says:

    Most of us are not “equipped” to become warriors. Thank God! But we must also ask ourselves what the reality of not fighting truly is. If we are to all stay home and clutch our Bibles in hopes of an easier death than Christ, we would experience the wrath of Satan upon us and our families, friends, neighbors, and watch in short order the total massacre and beheading of every Christian on earth. OK, then what? Jesus might return to defend us as He then WILL destroy Satan and hid followers or do we believe that death is the better choice than to “go to all nations and disciple them?” Surely we do not believe that our Lord wants us dead before His purpose for us is accomplished. So before we label our brave Guidian warriors as hateful, could we just agree on reality. It is the irony of such privilege to preach love when the true hero is dying for our freedom to speak of Christ without being decapitated. How then must we proceed in love without defending such freedom to do so? I pray for Christ to change the heart of those that hate us but the scriptures make it clear that they have not the ears to hear His loving message. I love all of God’s creation and I have had the privilege to lead a Muslim or two to Christ. The truth is that Christ wants to work through us and he needs us alive to do so. Do we believe that it is wise to invite Al Qaeda into our homes? Well my dear friends and Brothers and Sisters; the day we stop fighting them is the day we had better have faith that Christ will fight them for us. Or, yes we will simply be dead and useless. Wake up America and stop acting like the infidels that we are accused of. Until then all you pacifistic idealists prepare for your destiny of uselessness as you witness loving suicide. The river “denial” is bloody and against Christ. Please just say thank you Jesus for our blessing of freedom, His creating of brave soldiers, and hope for less need of them until He returns.

    • Thy Friend John Says:

      The writer of this comment has not thought to ask whether the writer of Jesus Christ Forbids War had ever served, honorably, in the United States Military, nor whether he had ever run into a fracas, unarmed and receiving near-fatal wounds to his own body, to try to save an African-American friend from a racist murderer’s knife; if he had, he would have thought twice before characterizing the writer of JCFW as a coward who would “stay home clutching his Bible in hopes of an easier death than Christ.” But then I perceive that the writer of the comment is in the habit of making himself look good in his own eyes by making others look bad, and cares little about checking his projections against the evidence; otherwise he would not have been able to imply, with a straight face, that the writer of Jesus Christ Forbids War “labels our brave Guidian [sic] warriors as hateful.” Nonetheless, I’m grateful that he and I both pray for Christ to change the heart of those that hate us. Amen to that, brother! And he and I both know that Christ both can and will bring the two of us into loving unity in Christ, to which I say, Hallelujah! Beneath his annoyance with me and mine with him, I sense that we’re both two idealistic guys who admire bravery and want to fight the good fight, under our Lord’s command, against spiritual wickedness in high places; it’s just a matter of time before we’re reconciled in our views of the situation, or, as he puts it, “agree on reality.” But even while we remain in disagreement, brother, I will pray for your salvation and I ask you to pray for mine, as two members and servants of Christ should.

  14. Grace Says:


    Although I appreciate many of your biblical arguments on Jesus forbidding war, you seem to be choosing only verses that support your belief. The Bible is a book with many gray areas, and if you are willing to use it to support one side of such a belief, it’s good to consider the opposition. For instance, you quoted Jesus in Luke 9:56 saying that the Son of Man came to “save men’s lives, not to destroy them.” Indeed, Jesus says this, and I believe He means it. But what about Jesus’ words in Matthew 10:34? “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” (ESV). The next verse (10:35) says, “For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law.”
    Where does this fit in to your argument? What do we do with these verses? And if Jesus and God are one, which I believe they are, what about the numerous accounts in which God commands the Israelites to physically attack another nation, village, or group of people? It’s God who commands Gideon to slaughter the Midianites with only 300 men. He doesn’t suggest it. He doesn’t say, “Well, there’s no other option.” He doesn’t even say, “Why don’t you try doing a non-violent peace rally—you’ll see how I’ll use that.” No. The God of the universe, the God of all resources, seems to be saying that war is the best option in Gideon’s and others’ situations.

    You seem to be saying that there is absolutely NO occasion appropriate for the Christian to partake in war, or any kind of violence, for that matter. So if you saw a little girl being raped you would politely ask the perpetrator to stop? Or if someone entered your house and grabbed your child in front of you, you would sit quietly and pray that they come back? I believe Jesus would throw an iron skillet at someone who was harming a child. God’s heart is vividly loud about His concern for defending the weak and vulnerable throughout Old and New Testaments. So the real question at the center of this question of war is this: What does Jesus mean by “love your neighbor”? Is true love looking the other way when militia are violently raping infants and burning down houses full of people in East Africa? Or is true love defending the poor, the needy, the orphan, and the fatherless in the most effective means? Jesus Himself forms a whip—not an object of peace—just to defend His Father’s house. I agree with you as I do with Paul in Romans 12:18, as best we can, live at peace with everyone. But sometimes there are situations that are justifiable to use force against someone. In fact, there may even be situations where we are wrong to not do so—to sit back and do nothing.

    War is not gonna save anyone’s soul—nor will any military. Jesus Christ is the only way to salvation, and our first concern should be to love Him fully and love others as we do ourselves. But we must ask ourselves what it means to love others as ourselves. Most of us would defend our own bodies from an evil person attacking us. If we are to love others like we do ourselves, would we not defend them from the same evil? When we wrestle with the biblical perspectives of war and force, we can’t just pick and chose verses. We must wrestle with all of it–and pray that the Holy Spirit will guide us where we are flawed.

    • Thy Friend John Says:

      Dear Grace,

      I feel blessed to get this thoughtful challenge from you. May the Lord use this conversation to bring us both closer to the Mind of Christ on this difficult subject.

      I don’t need to be a child-rapist myself to know, from experience, how lust and hate have the power to make the evil look good, and how the human ego, terrified of its own guilt, takes lies for truth and truth for lies: “The child said ‘no’ but I could tell she meant ‘yes.’” – “The child was of the Fulano tribe, and all the Fulanos deserve such treatment.” I’d have no qualms about knocking such a man unconscious to rescue the child; but that wouldn’t destroy the man, or risk destroying his hopes of repentance and salvation hereafter. We’re talking about using non-lethal violence. It has its uses, as Jesus knew when he made the whip to purge the temple.

      It happens that the Lord granted me the experience, some forty years ago, of running into the scene of a street murder, shouting but unarmed, in hopes of giving the victim a chance to escape. I lost a kidney to the murderer’s knife, but gained the right to stand straight and tall in the company of veterans with purple hearts. Having served in the U.S. military myself, I can’t be accused of avoiding personal risk for the sake of the freedoms I enjoy. I’m sure that all this helped empower me to write Jesus Christ Forbids War without being paralyzed by a sense of hypocrisy. That said, I don’t know that I won’t play the coward when next put to the test. I can only pray that the Lord will embolden me to put my own body between the child and the gun if the situation, God forbid, ever arises for me.

      I’m not ashamed of the wars of the Israelites glorified in the Hebrew Bible, nor do I find fault with Krishna’s encouraging Arjuna to take up arms, in the Bhagavad-Gita, knowing that his victims were immortals who would not be slain when the body dies. Neither do I criticize the prophet Muhammad for abandoning his earlier pacifism to defend the fragile new Muslim ummah by force. I agree with Gandhi, who told his son that so long as he believed in the use of violence, he had the moral duty to use violence to defend his father. But I myself have been called to a non-violent life by Jesus Christ, who does this not because I’m His special darling or I’m exempted from arms-bearing by a special monastic status – the Lord is no respecter of persons – but because He calls His people to live under a new dispensation, where “we do not war after the flesh,” 2 Corinthians 10:3. To make this possible, He gives us a new heart. Having this new heart does not mean I can’t lose my temper or feel selfish impulses, but I know nonetheless that something at my deepest core has been changed.

      What, then, are we to make of Jesus’ “not peace but a sword?” Surely, in turning the man against his father, and the daughter against her mother, He was not advocating literal slaughter of parents. I think that, rather, He was calling men and women to a higher level of awareness: our “enemies” are no longer the massed warriors on the next ridge, blood-drinking idol-worshippers who jabber in subhuman tongues, but Mom and Dad. What do we do with such enemies? We weep, we entreat, we rack our brains to try to understand why they’re being so unreasonable, and in the end we may leave home like the prodigal son – all but unthinkable in traditional First-century Middle-Eastern society. Thus began the age of Enemies We Must See As Like Ourselves, of which the age of the psychological novel, the age of anthropology and the age of Freud are subchapters. It’s of a piece with Jesus’ commandment to love our enemies. It makes loving our enemies both easier and harder. That it is now harder requires us to turn more decisively against the evil whisperings of ego and turn more determinedly to God for help to live by Spirit-guided conscience.

  15. Matteo Masiello Says:

    This is an interesting blog. It seems that those who continually want to feed the fire of hate and anger within them want to rationalize Jesus’ words into allowing for war and anger. He said this, he meant that. Blah blah blah. So much for loving your neighbor as yourself, I suppose. Why are some Christians so insistent on wanting to be antiChristian? Unfortunately, war is a result of our sinful nature. THERE IS NO “JUST” WAR. Even if we are saved, we are still subject to the consequences of sin in the world. The sin of Adam, down through the generations of sinful. but chosen figures in the Bible, and historically through the centuries. When will anyone have the faith and strength to stop the cycle. When Jesus said that he did not bring peace, but a sword, it was not meant literally. He meant that his words would cut through sin like butter. He demands that we love him more than we do our mother and father – that lineage of sin – and break with the past and love what is really sacred. God Himself. Do anyone of you have the guts to love your enemies? As you love yourself? As God demands you do? Doesn’t it seem logical that once you love your enemy they CEASE to be your enemy? And what if they cut you down and kill you? So what? When did Jesus say that we need to be so attached to this world anyway? Shouldn’t our thoughts be in heaven, as he said? Wouldn’t we then be suffering like him, as he EXPECTS us to? Or are you not willing to have FAITH? Resist not evil? Turn the other cheek? Are you afraid of being made into a slave? Is that any worse than you being a SLAVE to SIN which you clearly demonstrate? We can use the Old Testament or Paul or Peter or John to water down what Jesus said, but the TRUTH is that what Jesus says goes. No other commentary necessary. Live your life by what HE SAID and DO WHAT HE DID and boy, I guarantee you that this world will surely pass away and the kingdom of God will appear very, very quickly. We will be transformed in an instant. We as Christians should be ashamed of ourselves for NOT being REAL followers of Jesus. Thank God that He is merciful. So, please stop allowing your fear to give the devil a foothold in your souls. Get a real life and live and die by and with Jesus and His awesome words.

    • Thy Friend John Says:

      Amen, Brother! It’s refreshing to hear someone say “get a life” who means “get eternal life.” I like your fire.
      For those of us that don’t have the guts to love our enemies, the willingness to have faith, the courage to lay down our lives, the heart to love God more than mother or father, the integrity not to be taken in by lies, or the other things you rightly rebuke us for not having, Matteo, I have a word of comfort: it’s OK not to have those things. But you can ask God to give you those things, and God will be delighted to give you what you asked for, and more.
      There will be moments when it seems as if we’ve been totally transformed, and instantly, like Cinderella! And then there’ll be those depressing moments when we seem to still be slaves to sin after all. But God knows what God’s doing with us, and there’s something to be learned from every experience God puts us through. Moreover, everything we learn from those humbling experiences of our own fallibility helps us in the all-important work of teaching others about God’s ways. This may be why we see so few spiritual Cinderellas and so many chronic stumblers-and-repenters. The Cinderellas show us that all things are possible with God; the stumblers-and-repenters make good teachers for other stumblers-and-repenters. But never be sure which kind of saved soul you are, because God may have other plans for you!

  16. jbm1 Says:

    As a Reorganized Latter Day Saint, I also abhor war. My father walked into the draft board office with scriptures, and walked out a free man, a man who didn’t have to fight in Vietnam.

    He asked the Military officers if they could guarantee he would not meet a fellow Vietcong Christian on the battle field. Of course the Military officers could guarantee no such thing. Dad had a way with words and the power of suggestion. My father also possessed the gift of speaking to people at their level, in a language they understood.

    He made it known to the draft board officers he as a Christian was duty bound to protect and defend even the least of these his brother Christians. To my father protecting his Christian brothers and sisters, be they black, white, Red, Yellow, or Vietcong, required he must first lay down his own life for their sakes.

    The draft board let dad, go. Through the use of scripture, good speaking and the workings of the Holy Spirit, the draft board assumed dad was indicating he might turn his own gun on his fellow troops to protect his possible Vietcong Christian brothers.

    Dad hated war! I as his son, have inherited the same hatred for war.

    Be it war of words, politics, sports, ” especially religion ” or any level where men strive against each other for personal gain and profit, where men work to the invalidation of his brother and fellow human beings, all is part of the game of war.

    Our society has glamorized the war game into a thing we call sport. We even call it business! The Majority of us as a Christian people have allowed ourselves to become brainwashed by our government and churches to believe war is of God!

    When really war is of the devil.

    We forget that God only used war as a last resort. To destroy a hardened, and hard hearted people, who would not repent of their sins, who hated God, who wondered after their own lusts, who did more harm to the earth and their fellow man than God could justify. Men who loved to do endless evil to their fellow man. Oppressing the poor, and despising those who would walk honestly before God and all men.

    God is the great balancing scale and judge. Does a man do more harm to God’s purpose that good? It depend upon us as his people to answer that question.

    Thank you so much for posting an article that calls war for what it is.
    It’s good to see I and my family are not alone. That others regardless of race or religion feel the same as I.

    God bless you all!

  17. jbm1 Says:


    Parting comment on war.

    Men waist to much time warring with their brother, they use war as a distraction, a way to avoid fighting the war which rages within themselves.

    When men shall embrace the truth about themselves, when we learn the true war, the true battle is for our hearts and minds within, then we will shun waring with our brother, instead, we will each as individuals take up our responsibility/cross, working within ourselves, to control ourselves, to discipline ourselves, to first make sure we do no harm to our fellow man.

    The real war is for ourselves, to insure we are not instruments in the hands of the devil.

    The Battle is to cleans ourselves of all unholiness, that the Holy Spirit may come and dwell within us in power, that evil may not have hold upon us, or influence us anymore.

    God Bless

  18. Thy Friend John Says:

    Thank you for these comments, Brian. I found them moving. I’m told that Muslims the world over regard the “Battle to cleanse ourselves of all unholiness” as the “greater jihad;” 17th-century Quakers called it “the Lamb’s War against the man of sin.” Ours are more relaxed times, and we’re encouraged to find ways to feel good about ourselves more often than we’re encouraged to examine our conduct, speech and thought for the day’s evidences that we’ve let the devil (or the ego) hijack us yet again, but yes, it really is a war. But what a blessing that our Commander’s yoke is easy, and His burden light!

  19. jbm1 Says:

    Friend John,

    You’re so right. The battle for earth, starts within man. Adam and Eve proved this point. Ultimately our bodies are the Lords Temple. How we treat our bodies, indicate our attitude towards God and the first gift he gave us, our physical body. This respect, or the lack thereof carriers over into every other facet of our lives and how we live.

    To use ones body, ( God’s Temple ) to perpetuate war and violence, when my body was intended to bring peace and joy, is the greatest of abominations, the worst of blasphemes. For our God intended purpose was towards the opposite of war. To bring life!

    Many Christians spend time ridiculing Muslims, Muslims Christians, even as the Americans ridicule the French for being pansies at war.

    But that is all a smoke screen. A diversion to keep mankind off course, imbalanced and confused.

    The true war is to realize when we point a finger at our brother seeking an excuse to make war, three of our own fingers are pointing back at us. It takes two parties to make war. It only takes one party to make peace.

    The power of one to the doing of good, is ultimately more powerful
    than standing armies. If a group of people ever dedicated their lives to doing good in the face of adversity, the world could not stand against them.

    To my thinking, finger pointing is the ultimate call to self responsibility. Every time I want to blame someone else, I need to remember I’m part of the mess, I need to clean it up. Being the example for everyone else.

    So with those words said, I’m going to stop talking now. I’m afraid I’ll jinx myself if I say to much more. Life can be a serendipitous conundrum. A paradox as they say. If I say to much God may decide to teach me once again how far I’ve yet to grow in life. And while I need the teaching, revisiting old tapes and lessons I hate to do.

    The more one talks, the more one falls behind, into the pit of the hypocritical.

    God bless you all.

    Thanks once again.

  20. jbm1 Says:

    Dear Grace,

    There is a difference between looking for a fight, or looking for a fight in order to make money, and defending our children and families.

    There is also a difference between respecting the God of the Universe and the land He gave us. A difference between spitting in His face after all He’s given us as a people, and our becoming a man or woman who does not deserve to live on this earth because we kill to many people, harm to many souls, use, abuse, rape and again, kill our fellow man.

    God loves His people, and He does fight our battles for us in His peaceful ways. Either through the using of other men, or He brings justice to man by the powers of Heaven. But no matter what He does, God plays fair with all men. But! All men do not play fair with God — and that is why you see so many killed at war in the Old Testament,

    If you’ll read the Old Testament in detail, every war happened and every people were destroyed by war because they as a people didn’t want to repent/change their bad destructive ways. They were a warring people. They were warned by God through his prophets and servants to repent or be swept off.

    We cannot defile the Holy Land of God, and expect Him to put up with us. We cannot kill His little children and expect to keep our lands and homes.

    For instance the Old Testament Jews at one time, began the sacrifices of their baby children to the god Baal, burning them in the fiery furnaces. They were soon taken into captivity after a war. They were not destroyed, but they suffered greatly for their sins, sins which involved Auschwitz-like behavior.

    Should God have continued to allow Jews to burn their babies alive? NO! Yet the Jews for their behavior have paid ten times over. Including being themselves burned alive by the Nazis in WW II.

    God knew the Jews aside from being part of God’s covenant people, would eventually repent and mend their ways. But some men and women never do. But wax deeper and become more evil in their iniquity. Sin is a habit you see. Missing the mark by intent according to the Greek translation.

    But some people do change in time. This makes all the differences in how God see’s us. How much He will put up with us, and weather He see’s that in time He can use us as instruments b to bring peace and joy to other men.

    Then some places like Sodom and Gomorrah, offended God so much, He warned them to repent and change their ways, when they did not, God personally destroyed them Himself. Apparently grown men sodomizing little boys is not something God puts up with.

    As further proof, I submit to you the Roman Empire, who’s playful pastime also was sodomy of men and children. They collapsed also.

    Is this a total coincidence?

    God’s mercy and love is so great, Moses was commanded by God to warn the Egyptians in advance pertaining the 10 plagues and the death of all first born males to die – if the Israelites were not allowed to leave the land of Egypt. Most people miss the fact that Moses was not a evil mean man, but a man of warning and a servant of God, warning all of Egypt to change their personal direction as a nation. To allow the Israelites to go free. Some did not want to.

    God does not like war and killing. He only uses war if He has to. If it’s His only and last option. He get’s rid of those who rape/kill and hopefully replaces them with a people who will bring joy and peace. The parable of the vineyard is a great example of how God works with men.

    My point being is we can get all bent out of shape about how God commanded men to war. But the truth is, the Israelites were God’s servants. A holy priesthood. They had made a covenant agreement with God, to do as He commanded them, in return, they would get the land, ( God’s Holy Land ) — Under the circumstance they ( the Israelites ) did not commit the sames sins as the people who lived in the land before them.

    Unfortunately, the Israelites did commit the same sins, and they, like those whom they helped God destroy from the land, were themselves destroyed ( not all of them ) and taken into captivity…

    And yes, the Israelites also received this warning in advance. But they didn’t listen.

    The primary difference is God gives life and takes life, He has that right. He made us, before we were born he knew us, knew our hearts, the sins we would commit, and the good we would do before we came to this world. He gave us the chance and choice to come here, to repent and change our ways, in spite of what he knows in advance about our as yet uncommitted sins.

    We need to stop pretending God is some vicarious pretend entity whom we pay lip service to on Sunday/Sabbath, and realize God has an agenda, a purpose and is closely monitoring His people. He is in us, though us and all around us. Every word we say, thought we think and action we take, God knows and notices.

    The Lords judgement is swift, either to the delivering us up to the powers of men, or to the condemnation of heaven. Therefore let us stay the hand or war, and learn the ways of peace, to the discovering of our salvation and life.

    You never know, perhaps God will once again live with us.

    God Bless

  21. nonchristianfollowerofjesus Says:

    Thank you, John, for your thoughts

  22. Thy Friend John Says:

    You’re welcome, nonchristian follower; I appreciate having your company as we follow Him on this blessed and surprise-filled journey.

  23. Child of God Says:

    of course,as Christians,we hate evil and all the actions of it(proverbs 8:13).on this,the article is right.but when Jesus said do not resist an evil person,when he said turn the other cheek,when he said to endure persecution,he meant this.let’s say a street preacher is spreading the gospel,someone gets mad(John 7:7)(John 15:18) and decides to slap him,throw water at him,or push him or something.
    that’s what he meant.dont retaliate.we are to bless them,not curse them.we spread the word,are treated shamefully,and don’t retaliate.
    this is what not fighting back against evil means.
    that’s why we are made fools for Christ sake (1 Corinthians 4:10-13~2 Thessalonians 1:4).
    now this is what he means by faithful unto death-
    Revelation 2:10~”fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer:behold,the devil shall cast some of you into prison,that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days:be thou faithful unto death,and I will give thee a crown of life.”
    Matthew 16:21-26~”from that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem,and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes,and be killed,and be raised again the third day.then peter took him,and began to rebuke him,saying,be it far from thee,Lord:this shall not be unto thee.but he turned,and said unto peter,get thee behind me,satan:
    thou art an offence unto me:for thou savourest not the things that be of God,but those that be of men.then said Jesus unto his disciples,if any man will come after me,let him deny himself,and take up his cross,and follow me.for whosoever will save his life shall lose it:and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.for what is a man profited,if he shall gain the whole world,and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
    so what does faithful unto death mean? if persecuted,if someone says deny Christ or die,you choose death and remember,to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord(2 Corinthians 5:8).
    now finally about weapons,war,soldiers,and the police.
    Ecclesiastes 3:8~”a time to love,and a time to hate;a time of war,and a time of peace.”
    Proverbs 21:15~”it is joy to the just to do judgment:but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity.”
    Romans 13:4-7~”for he is the minister of God to thee for good.but if thou do that which is evil,be afraid;for he beareth not the sword in vain:for he is the minister of God,a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.wherefore ye must needs be subject,not only for wrath,but also for conscience sake.for for this cause pay ye tribute also:for they are God’s ministers,attending continually upon this very thing.render therefore to all their dues:tribute to whom tribute is due;
    custom to whom custom;fear to whom fear;honour to whom honour.”
    God has allowed for just wars throughout the history of his people.
    he doesn’t just allow for soldiers and police,he puts them there(Romans 13:4).don’t you know what would happen if we didn’t have our fighting men and women?our soldiers and police?
    if a loved one,father,mother,brother,or sister were being assaulted,would you just stand there and do nothing?
    no.of course not.that would be a sin,that would be aiding the evil.
    John 15:13~”greater love hath no man than this,that a man lay down his life for his friends.”
    we should be grateful and thankful for our soldier’s and police,our defenders,and God,our true defender and loving father who protects his children.we should pray for the lives and souls of our fighting men and women,and that God would give them strength.
    may God bless you.

  24. Toko Bunga Jakarta Says:

    World more peacefully without war.

  25. Paul Thompson Says:

    This is an interesting conversation. I was researching in regard to Jesus’ thoughts in relation to the notion and implications of war because it’s “Anzac” Day in Australia today. This day commemorates the lives of people involved in war and reflecting and remembering these special people who were called upon and innocently did what they did for the sake of freedom. I am confused, however, because sprinkled throughout the speeches given is the suggested correlation between Jesus’ “cross” and the sacrifice of countless brothers and sisters across the globe during times or war. I believe that Jesus was absolutely and unmistakably clear in regard to allowing our natural inclination of love to guide us, thereby being totally alien to any kind of hurtful thought or action towards anybody, regardless of the circumstances. He is telling us that our natural state of being is indeed unconditional love and that anything less is behaving insanely “We will make them in our own image.” “God is Love.” We seem to be capable of behaving both lovingly and unlovingly i.e. sanely or insanely. I feel that “I bring a sword”, which seems to be the only scripture that connects Jesus with a violent suggestion, are simply “firm” words and are designed to implore us to concentrate and remain focused on reality and do not allow, even those close to us and even our parents, to divert us. He is basically saying, ‘This is the most important thing in your whole life. Your salvation in the most important thing, even more important than the relationship with your family. Don’t worry. They’ll get there too. We all will.’ I feel that we are indeed in the midst of intense pressure to evolve as “heaven is brought to earth.” Although this kingdom is spacious and has room for everybody and everything, regardless of race, colour, sex or anything else, fortunately there is no room for ‘unlove.’ It simply cannot exist in this kingdom. ‘Unlove’ is being quietly, patiently and methodically dismantled, along with our egos, which is the very creator of ‘unlove’. For something that is really not real, we have certainly given ‘unlove’ a lot of leverage, however I can only say that this is part of our journey that needs to be experienced. For this dismantling proces to happen more quickly, it may be too painful and perhaps we would not be able to withstand the intensity. Our Creator knows what he/she is doing – we are in good hands. I believe that although there is much disharmony in the world today, there is ‘light at the end of the tunnel.’ We are heading somewhere. We are heading towards something special. We are indeed a ‘work in progress’. Can we speed up the process? Possibly not – we probably wouldn’t learn the necessary kharmic lessons of “reaping and sowing.” Our Creator indeed knows what he/she is doing. Jesus is our ‘Living Icon’, our Mentor, our Teacher, our Lover, our Guardian, our Saviour, our Brother, our Facilitator, our Yardstick, our Guru, our Great Friend, our Greatest Companion whose “yolk is easy and whose burden is light” – His “second coming’ is here in the hearts of every man and woman who has ever lived or will live. We just have to live this reality – and if that means, falling into love with everyone and everything – then so be it. He is telling us that until we do this, we will never truly find happiness, peace and joy and more especially we will never really find God. “Everything is reconciled through Christ.” So we lose our ‘illusionary’ life living the ‘real’ life of Christ? “Blessed is he/she who is prepared to give this life for the real life.” It seems to me that there is not even an argument here. There is only one way forward – LOVE. Faithful early Christians knew what they were doing when they gave up their earthly bodies, singing love songs with smiles on their faces. I served as a Police Officer for twenty years – I never saw anything positive come from violence. Hope this helps and God Bless You.

  26. Thy Friend John Says:

    Friend Paul, your words bring tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. Yes! The only way forward is Love, universal love, and faithfulness to its call, in which our salvation lies, *is* the most important thing. Unlove, which comes from the ego, from the spirit of fear, and is kept in place by insanely misplaced trust, is something we must all outgrow, and yes, I too believe that it *is* being patiently dismantled, probably as fast as it can be, but I know we’ll both be delighted if we see the process speeding up as more and more souls “get it.” I love your spirit and your faith; may your clarity and faithfulness inspire many!

  27. Paul Thompson Says:

    Jesus often challenges us as a matter of serious importance – “repent” which I believe to be the correct interpretation for the Greek word, “metayona” which means ‘to change the way you think’. Very often and usually always, our perceptions are found to be either marginally, partially or completely incorrect. The implications relating to these ‘errors’ of judgement can be far reaching and are usually at the heart of every quarrel, Our egos have decided that we are all experts and believes it a weakness to even consider the view of another person. Our egos are infatuated with the process of ‘winning at all cost’, and this has had severe consequences for a very, very long time. Our souls are being stirred as the “Great Lover” really ramps up in these ‘times of intensity’ because technology has advanced at such a rate and a severe imbalance is not ideal. We are indeed in the throws of necessary great change and the human mind is being personally and collectively ‘pressured’ to evolve. We have our Great Teacher whose ‘Sermon on the Mount’ sets out completely and instinctively ‘how’ to start the initial process, thereby allowing the Holy Spirit to initiate the ‘new heart’. The ‘Great Lover’ allows free will (as only love could) and knows that ‘salvation is imminent’ – it is all a ‘work in progress.’ Therefore, as a final act of sanity, when we are sick and tired of behaving in insanity and when we are exhausted from doing it all ‘wrong’ and we are ripe for the picking, we say, “please help me.” Now, the great Psychologist, Jesus says, “trust me – just be like me. You are me and I am you. We are the Heart of God. It’s the nature of God” At this point, one cannot even entertain the notion of hurting another person let alone taking the life of another. Everything becomes sacred and the universe is a very good and benevolent place – one that we can trust, no matter what happens. Just one more thing that really inspires me is this – if all of the electrons that do their thing in atoms (spinning and vibrating and moving and grooving and everything else) that creates matter to be matter, stopped and just did nothing for a moment……………there would basically be……… completely nothing. Is this worth ‘fighting’ for? There is only LOVE – nothing else. Isn’t that the best news you have ever heard? Go on – don’t take my word for it – ask yourself – will the REAL me please stand up? Funny how, when we see a bird flying or a fish swimming, we don’t say, “that special bird is flying” or “that special fish is swimming.” We all know that birds fly and fish swim. When a person is kind, compassionate and shows love, we say, “Wow, that person is really lovely.” Why – because we forgot that birds fly and fish swim and humans……………….well……we LOVE. That’s really all that we are really capable of…….in reality. Otherwise, the Gospel is not the Gospel and then we really are in trouble. I’m going with the first scenario – the one that breathes LIFE. We are all tired and worn out from sampling the alternative. Get excited – the ‘birth pains’ are well and truly here – feel the essence of Christ welling up inside your hearts, bubbling with LIFE. These are very cool times indeed – get with it!

  28. jbm1 Says:

    @Paul Thompson,

    Over my lifetime, the Spirit of God has shown me a few things about His person. He has shown me He is in all and through all. He has shown me He knows what moves I’m going to make before I do make them. The lesson that He loves me, but is strict on self discipline…

    Strict on telling our brother what to do? Strict on making an argument of any kind? No! God is strict about self example, “self discipline”. He is strict about peace. That others may see the light, of mine and your personal committement to Christ.

    I have learned these lessons, because the more I learn about the omnicient God, more I’ve learned how to watch mankind, and predict the moves they will make before they make them.

    Man as a corporate whole, never learns from their mistakes.
    Man often see’s God as the separated, insulated and removed diety, Who, could be likened to a stand off weapon. He, God, watches the little ant men, scramble around on ther earth.

    What most men do not realize, is the scriptures call the believers in Christ, the “body of Christ”… But take that prase farther.
    Farther than “God is love, father than repent and be baptized and come unto me… Think in medical terms.

    Think Immune system. God, Jesus, and the Holy Ghost are 1 great immune system. Yes God is love, but that cuts two ways.

    Because God loves, He being the great “SUPPORTING” immune system for all of creation, especially His creation,”man”…

    Those that live by the sword, will die by their swords.
    Those who live violently by their words, will experience a violent live in turn, Those who practice false doctrine, will experience little power, will have little understanding in their lives as to whom God is. Great will be their stumbling block.

    So many have died because man kind refused to practice sound medicine, sound health care. They think life, is all one big war.

    Gladiator sports, workplace competition, pitting 1 church against another church like Ford against Chevy. Pitting men against men for entertianment. And man allows this, havin little understanding their God is a God of peace, of health, of surety, of confidence who boldly says, “fear not”…

    If there is no reason to fear, there is no God given reason to war,- Unless the people doing the waring will not listen to God… But then God could just take care of them Himself.

    Point being while men make themselves God by going to war, and doing violent interpretation to scripture to justify the sin of war, they by their actions make themselve incompatable with Creations Giant Immune System.

    Hell, in a sense, is a place of burning!

    So is a bodywide fever.

  29. jbm1 Says:

    But the earth shall be destroyed by fire, and the rightious shall be left upon the earth, that they may not be destroyed by the wicked.

    Again immune system.

    I’ve only gained this concept about a year ago.
    But it has helped me understand much about myself, and some about my fellow man.

    We’re all sick to a degree, all we need to get well, is to eat right, be right with God, and do all the things Adam and Eve didn’t do.

    Then we can have spiritual health, and we and the earth can have peace.

    After all, only sick people war, and think it’s OK.

    • John Edminster Says:

      Well, Paul, “by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh,” reads Isaiah 66:16, but I’m not sure what the Lord wants that to mean for me. The fires of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, Hamburg, Dresden, and Hitler’s death-camps, and the swords of all the wars of my 71-year lifetime, have pleaded with me enough to convince me that I don’t want to live by fire-bombing, nuclear weapons, genocide or the sword. The increasing “fire” of global warming moves me to pray to the Lord to call all the rulers of the earth to repentance. The glorious gospel of Jesus, who both preached and demonstrated love of the enemy by forgiving His murderers from the cross, and let us know that the God he called “Abba” was of the same mind as Himself, makes me want to plead with the wicked, “Turn from your wickedness and ask to be healed of it! You could bask in the love of an all-forgiving God if you could only admit that your way isn’t working!” It saddens me to see people walk into fires of their own kindling. I hope that God, in His mercy, has a way of delivering the spirits of the unrepentant even from the heart of the fire they cook themselves in or the outer darkness they exile themselves to. They are, after all, just like me, except by the grace of God.

      I agree that the Lord asks self-discipline of us, and a lot of it: just when we thought we’d come to a plateau, say, when we gave up smoking and drinking, He asks us to start another steep climb: no more hurtful speech, no more sarcasm, no more bad-mouthing people behind their back. Or, no more indulging adulterous or vengeful fantasies, run away from them to Jesus when they come to you! But I find that His yoke is easy, and His burden light nonetheless; He forgives me when I stumble, and encourages me to keep trying, never asking more of me than I can do.

      I love your image of an immune system, Paul. I’ll be holding it and seeing what it reveals for me.

      Humanity as a corporate whole does not seem to be doing very well at learning from its mistakes, or not as well as I wish it would, but I don’t know how God sees it. By the year 100,000 we may have outgrown lying, war, and hurtful selfishness of every kind, and then God may have us, humanity, serve as angelic teachers to some other class of beings. But foolish, blind little cell in the body of Christ that I am, I lack the ability to think in 100,000-year spans of time. However, I have hopes that we all might grow wiser as we age.

  30. Matthew Says:

    Amen Brother!

    I recently found God. I hope that one day I can articulate and teach his message as well as you do John. Can you recommend some tips? What’s the fastest way to learn to teach and love God even more? I just want to be closer to him, to be one with him, walking and spreading his love and healing for the world. To “Deny thyself and pick up the cross”.

    Your comment within the comments:

    “But then I perceive that the writer of the comment is in the habit of making himself look good in his own eyes by making others look bad, and cares little about checking his projections against the evidence; otherwise he would not have been able to imply, with a straight face, that the writer of Jesus Christ Forbids War “labels our brave Guidian [sic] warriors as hateful.””

    …resonates with me. I find that as my love for God strengthens, I care less about self validation and I only seek to open the flow of gods love into my heart and let his love run through my veins. However, the realities of money and supporting my family always seems to bring me to a strange crossroads of a paradoxial balance of spirituality vs. worldly problems…

    ….Oh, the joys and challenges that god bring us… I am so thankful!

  31. John Edminster Says:

    Thank you, Matthew! The first tip it occurs to me to give you is to pray, and pray as much and as deeply and as often as you can, because the more you pour your heart out to God, the more God will fill you with Himself. Don’t worry about doing it wrong. The second is, let’s have a phone conversation! Write to me c/o Fifteenth Street Monthly Meeting, 15 Rutherford Place, New York, NY 10003 with some contact information of your own (e-mail and/or phone number), and I’ll send you mine, and we can arrange a time to talk. I love your love of God and want to do whatever I can to encourage and strengthen it. I am your friend forever.

  32. Paul Thompson Says:

    Thankyou for all of your wise and powerful words – you have all inspired me today. I only wish that I lived next door to you, John, so that I could really get to know you. I have been reading your writings and I can honestly say that I have never been inspired by an individual’s raw honesty and plain integrity and wisdom than you (and I have read a lot). There’s a kind on sheer, soulful nakedness about you that I really love – nothing to defend, only love to promote (it seems) – I am truly inspired and I really love you.
    Sometimes I feel that mankind is really living the lfe of God, warts and all and if we could say to God, “How do you feel about the way things are?”, I feel that God would say something like this, “Please remember – We made all of you as a reflection of our character. Therefore, We are the essence of pure love, nothing more, nothing less. We have certainly felt what it is like to really extend Our ability to make choices and We love our resourcefulness. We literally will not die wondering. We knew this would not be ‘a walk in the park’ but that is the price We all pay for complete transparency. The inherant nature of life is that Our lives are always challenged and We will all grow together. We have our mentors to check in with. We all know them – they are dotted right through history, and sprinkled across our various religions that came into play during the journey. If They bear fruit, We can count them as qualified and We can trust them – We know who We are. We are the ones who cannot do anthing else except love. We are You and all of Us – it’s just that We ‘remembered’ a little sooner, that is all. In some ways, what inspires Us is Our ability to keep going. We are happy with Our lot – We have challenges ahead however We are up to the task. We are self correcting and therefore We cannot be defeated. We would like you to watch how a butterfly is created – meditate on the entire process – this is Our journey and We will travel this journey as one cosmic flow. Watch the river and the ocean. Why does love feel so good? We amaze ourselves with Our will to go on. We are wonderful. Please don’t give up. Carry Our cross with both hands – no matter what. We are happy”
    Have a beatiful day today, my dearest friends.

  33. John Edminster Says:

    Thank you, Paul! I love receiving love! I love letting it flow through me, too, as the Lord is teaching me to do, and as I’m learning to do, however gradually. I give the Lord the glory for any good qualities you find in “Jesus Christ Forbids War.” It has an interesting history:

    I was in despair about being able to do anything to discourage this country’s march to war – first against Afghanistan and then against Iraq (Yes, “against,” not “in”). The Bush-Cheney Administration seemed to have taken Congress captive, and the media, and just about everyone. Letters to elected representatives seemed to do nothing; neither did demonstrations in the street: I remembered one big one in New York City where the police barricaded us into side-streets where we were effectively immobilized and left clueless as to what might be being said at the podium, blocks and blocks away. Then the press seemingly lied shamelessly about our numbers, and anyway hid the news of the protest on some deep inner page. But what did it matter whether we demonstrated? The majority of people in the U.S. seemed to believe that Saddam Hussein had been behind the attack on the World Trade Center, was furiously building nuclear weapons, and needed to have his people slaughtered and vanquished so that we could ultimately kill him and then be “safe from the Islamic menace.” In my eyes, my people had gone mad, dangerously, homicidally mad, or perhaps had let themselves be possessed by the Devil.

    In despair I prayed: “What can I do?” And the answer seemed to be: “Write what you know.” And so I did. It took several editings. The son of a good friend had become a very conservative Republican, and my tender feelings toward young Nick, who’d just lost his grandmother, helped me purge my text of any hint of political partisanship (which 2 Timothy 2:24 warns me against, anyway).

    At last it was ready. Someone advised me to lose the page full of endnotes (which unfortunately isn’t included in this online version): “People who read tracts aren’t going to be interested in endnotes! That’s for intellectuals, academics!” – “No,” I said, “Every reader deserves being treated with the respect due the wise and serious. Anyway, my endnotes cite non-Christian scriptures with respect: Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu — and it’s about time that a Christian religious tract did that!”

    Then a Quaker from North Carolina wrote to warn me that my tract could sound anti-Semitic. What!? I thought. How? I immediately withdrew it from circulation and re-read it. Oh! I saw the spot in the text that had earned me a swastika on my arm in at least one Friend’s eyes. I had been arguing against Christians who derive justifications for war from “pre-Christian scriptures.” It’s true that the Hebrew Bible is full of divine commands to the Israelites to defend themselves by military means, and that Jesus, breaking with Hebrew tradition, has us put away the carnal sword. But that has to be said with the utmost care to respect the integrity of the Jewish faith. And so I found a more sensitive wording.

    Thus began my career as a tract-writer.

    The tenderness of your words, Paul, inspired me to change the Gravatar image of myself that I put on this blog. I no longer want to look fierce or forbidding to anyone, or like a proud smart-ass, or like anything but a soul that wants to be kind. And so I went back to a photograph that had been taken of me in 1945 or 1946.

  34. Paul Thompson Says:

    I feel this, just feelings, the feelings of just one dot of seven billion dots, Just one life experience in God’s eternal flow of experience. A gig, I suppose, in the grand human show, where we are given a very small part and as the characters’ parts unwind, the opportunities present an ever evolving movement towards something better. It seems that God’s Job Description is simply that – an endless supply of “red carpets” (like the ones saved up for the king and queen), uniquely presented, tailor made and fitted at God’s discretion, for the sole purpose of God experiencing God’s self – God holds God’s breath. We simply take it or leave it – sadly, we mostly leave it. Our parched faces and thickened hearts and skins are a testament to that. My own silly, bumbling life is a testament to that. So God spells things out a little more clearly and comes to earth as us. But can we trust the text, the ambiguities, the interpretations, the translations, the questionable bias opinions of the writers, the church, our own biases and of course whether we exist at all? What else do we have? When the dust settles and we realise that we are merely earth itself, humus, a series of living matter, given an attempt at consciousness with a breath through the nostrils, a rhythmic flow of ins and outs, ups and downs, a moment in time really. As we stand on this earth, for just one more day, wounded and broken, it can become apparent that we are very limited and very fragile and very temporary. We are all going to die. The early Christians had it all worked out and sang and praised and loved as they met their sometimes painful endings. The Saviour’s energy was very present and very real and very cutting, it seems. What happened? Can I be trusted to accept he next “red carpet” as it is tirelessly and mercifully rolled out before the broken mess of a man again? “In His Will Is His Peace” (Dante).
    1945-1946 is a long time, John. It seems to me that you are a humble man and that you have chosen “red carpets” on lots of occasions. He says, “You will tell by the fruit.” Your words have been of great benefit to me. Can we all choose the “red carpets” today? Is life really real or an opportunity, if nothing else, to experience God’s personality? Maybe just one shot. Maybe, “I never knew. I am so sorry”, will feel like “gnashing of teeth.” I think this feeling would feel like “gnashing of teeth.” I don’t think anybody would like “gnashing of teeth.” Some will say, “You have avoided the big deal here in this world with your idealistic views and your dreamy ideas! You have suggested nothing to help the situation.” I would bow my head and humbly agree with you. I am tired. Maybe we all can be tired? I am a dissenter. Could even be branded a traitor.

  35. Love your neighbor Says:

    true Christian should not be worrying about what we think but what Christ said love your neighbor and really do we do that now so start loving your neighbor

    • John Jeremiah Edminster Says:

      Thank you, Love Your Neighbor. If you can suggest some way that I can love my neighbor better, or more fully, I’ll be glad to learn it. — By the way, it recently occurred to me that one reason many of us do such a poor job of “loving our neighbor as ourself” is that we don’t love ourself very well.. God knows all the things we’re terribly ashamed of, and loves us anyway, and wants to wash us clean of those things. But when we look inside ourselves and see those things, instead of asking God’s help, we hate them, and then hate ourselves, and imagine that they’re in our neighbor too, and then hate our neighbor for them, because hating him distracts us from our own self-hate: and all this could be avoided, perhaps, by our turning to our Lord in tears, asking His forgiveness and mercy and correction, on us and everyone else who told a lie, injured or humiliated a playmate, stole someone else’s belongings, the evil things that children do, then grew up and embezzled from the company, made unwelcome sexual advances, or any of the evil things that grown-ups do, including the evil things that their employers ask of them. So much harm is done when we don’t turn to God!

  36. Paul Thompson Says:

    Jesus is very clear in relation to his opinion regarding the way that we need to treat each other. Yet we completely disregard his advice, while continuing to be resentful and judgmental to others, including our family and friends, let alone our “enemies.” Are we capable of overcoming our affinity with “worldly thinking”and thereby leaving the space open to allow a brand new and ironically ancient human love and affection for ourselves, each other and the entire world? I look at my own foolishness and arrogance and I wonder if ever I am even capable. Jesus maintains that we are perfectly capable – in fact, the New Testament is saturated with the words of Jesus, compelling us to “WAKE UP” and realize our “true selves.” In my attempts to understand the concept of “gnashing of teeth”, I feel that this best describes what it will feel like for us when we realize who we really we are, however, we were just too “hoodwinked by the world” to get it! The early Christians like the “desert fathers” got it – they were comforted in their death as, like Jesus, our living icon of God, they prayed for their persecutors and sang and loved each other. We say, “how could this be?” as we gather up our usual resentment and ill feeling towards some person who offends our egos by failing to say hello to us or simply doesn’t live up to our expectations. I ask myself this question every day – “What is wrong with you, Paul? You call yourself a Christian and you say that you love God and the you are an evangelist for Jesus Christ and his Gospel and yet, you simply cannot live in peace and harmony. Instead you hold resentment and ill feeling toward just about every person in your life, thereby missing the entire point altogether.” I can only assume the God is the “Essence of Pure Love” that I have romanticized about, otherwise I would probably be done and dusted, now and in the future. It seems very clear, given the words of Jesus himself and also the words of other various “mystics” (dotted throughout all of the world religions), who have have blessed us with their insight that we are in fact the “heart of God”, that they all insist we are. The question is, are we capable of “seeing through the clouds” and realizing the truth about who we really are? God seems content to allow this process to run its course – like any authentic, good parent, this God appears to have all the patience in the world. The greatest and profoundest lessons in life are the painful ones. To hold a resentful or ill feeling towards another human being would be failing to see the reality that they are in fact the heart of God and that to hurt another human being would be complete insanity. Jesus says that the “kingdom of God” is waiting anxiously and patiently for our inclusion. It seems like we have a lifetime to “wake up” – is it really necessary to endure the pain of insanity, while our egos ride “rough shod” over ourselves and our brothers and sisters? There has never been a better time to accept the reality that we are in fact a living, breathing, expression of God – now let’s see if I can actually live it…….(very good words which mean nothing if they don’t materialize). Does anyone have any advice? The stakes have never been higher and the clock is ticking. A friend reminded me that if we are to pull a caterpillar a little way through the cocoon during its journey to being a butterfly, it will probably die. Perhaps there are no shortcuts for us during our journey either and in that case, the violence we submit against each other will continue indefinitely. Where to from here? Hopefully we are all tired and backs to the wall, looking for an alternative. Hopefully we are ripe for the harvest.

  37. John Jeremiah Edminster Says:

    Paul, your words speak my own heart, and I wouldn’t have thought to respond to them at all, except that you asked, “Does anyone have any advice?” And so I offer three words of caution: (1) Be as gentle with yourself as you want our Heavenly Parent to be with all of us. God loves you infinitely and wishes your eternal bliss, and to that end intends to wash you, and everyone you might conceivably pray for, completely clean of all the selfish and evil deeds you’ve ever loathed yourself for. “Washed completely clean” includes the eradication of selfish and evil impulses, so that those same energies might be redirected into loving impulses and feelings of gratitude. (2) The stakes may be high, our backs to the wall, and the clock ticking, but the Almighty One intends our deliverance, remains in control, and has probably, Paul, saved your ass from humiliation and disaster more than once with such perfectly-timed providential choreography (as God has saved mine) that you *know* God can do it. And if for one person, why not for 7.4 billion? (If any of us must die martyrs’ deaths, or any such worst-case scenarios, we have God’s assurance that He/She will wipe away all tears from our eyes.) So I would encourage trust, and if your trust feels wobbly, prayer that God will increase your trust. (3) Be watchful for temptation, particularly for the kind that whispers, “do evil, so that good may come of it.” For example, it’s one thing to be grateful for a sword-wielding magistrate who keeps the peace (cf. Romans 13); it’s another to put the sword into his hand by campaigning and voting for him — for how do you know that God can’t keep the peace just as well with an unarmed, non-violent magistrate? Or that God wants the peace kept, right now, the way you want the peace kept? Likewise, when your heart says “Give away that dollar” and your reason says “Hold on to it” — or vice versa — which voice will you listen to? So pray for right discernment, trusting that God loves to answer such prayers. In short: prayer, prayer, prayer — that’s my advice.

  38. Paul Thompson Says:

    Thankyou John.
    Your wisdom is reassuring and I think that trust is the key to this whole deal because it seems to be that for us to have any chance to see through the clouds of illusion, into the deeper reality, there must be a form of letting go. Perhaps as our self constructed personal worlds start to “peel away”, cracking and necessarily failing, then we begin to think more deeply, right into,the hands of God. I think when Jesus says, “the first will be last and the last will be first”, he is speaking (amongst other things) about this process. When the shakiness and instability of the imaginary life, which we constructed ourselves, opens up and fails, it feels like you are dying. I have personally experienced this, only to find glimmers of heaven “slicing through the cracks” on the other side. For me, this is the Good News!! The things that used to matter so much, including, holding our position, defending, winning, achieving, overpowering,……etc etc, don’t seem to matter anymore. Just to be here and to be alive and be a part of something like this life is enough. It seems that there is nothing to fight for anymore……
    I recently spent a lot of time with my father in law who was dying with Cancer. On the day that he died, nothing mattered except for Love. I wanted to hold that moment for ever, like nothing mattered anymore. If only we could all just live our lives with the first and foremost thought that life is good and that peace is heaven itself – nothing more, nothing less. We have all constructed in-groups and out-groups so that we can enjoy our usual tussle. I feel a great awakening coming……not sure when and I’m not even sure how many there are going to be left to enjoy this great awakening. Maybe we are just visiting here anyway, learning the lessons of love and also learning the lessons associated with indulging in non love. I have a question – why does love feel so good anyway? Did we all forget? Are our hearts too calloused over?…..a real shame if that is true. It is probably mostly true for me, to be honest. You are right, I think, John – God’s love always seems to show up and keep us going.
    In Australia, where I live, everybody has a dog and they seem to be in love with their dog. The dogs are the big winners – why can’t we be the great lovers that Jesus insists that we really are, so that people can be in love with a human for a change. Is it all irretrievable? Have we all been hurt just one too many times?
    I like De Chardin’s idea about the gradual evolution towards complete reconciliation, or Pure Love, which he refers to as the “Omega”. I like it….there’s lIght at the end of the tunnel, that means. The caterpillar can’t speed up the process in its cocoon as it morphs into the beautiful butterfly. Maybe we are trying to get to the finishing line too quickly. Sadly, it all means more pain in the interim…..everybody is my hero, really. Life – a long hard road – I think for most anyway.




    Sent from my iPhone

  39. John Jeremiah Edminster Says:

    How beautiful your words are, Paul! If my children could experience such a revelation of the power and importance of Love at the side of my deathbed, I can’t imagine a more desirable death! But forgive me; I know that the revelation you experienced at your father’s bedside had to cost great pain to him and to you; and I can’t help but grieve the pain.

    “Everybody is my hero.” Paul, I want to be more like you.

  40. Episode 4: Idealism, Obligation, and Quaker Holiness - Quaker Faith & Podcast Says:

    […] Jesus Christ Forbids War by John Edminster […]

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