Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Q and A: Violence in Christian Fiction

QUESTION: Having read your books, Perreti's and Dekker's novels - I see that there is a lot of violance in them. I suppose the genre in which you write would not allow for anything different. I also do take into account that these represent everyday fight of good versus evel. However, I can't get over the fact that Christianity is a truly non-violent faith, and I am not sure that even self-defence would be justified in His eyes. I am sure you have thought this through and are ahead of me - so I would appreciate your explanation.

ANSWER: Regarding the notion that Christianity is a non-violent faith, I'd have to disagree with you on that. The premise comes from part of Jesus's Sermon on the Mount where He talks about turning the other cheek, but that is for the Millennial reign when He will be in total charge, there will be no armies, and any affront or crime will be instantly dealt with by Him. His admonition to Peter in Mt 26 to put down the sword because those who live by it will die by it is referring to murder. The Old Testament Commandment not to kill (Ex 20), is more properly rendered "You shall not commit murder." And murder is mentioned in God's list of 7 worst sins (Pro 6:16-19), whereas killing in battle or defending one's life, family or property is not.

Also, when Jesus met the Roman Centurion in Matthew 8, he healed the man's son, and marveled that he had "not found such great faith with anyone in Israel." This was a man whose job was to be a soldier. To fight for Rome. To kill people and to be very, very good at it. If Christianity is non-violent, why didn't Jesus reprove him for his wicked choice of jobs instead of praising him to the skies? He didn't praise anyone else in all the four gospels as much as he did this guy.

Finally it was God who taught Israel to war (The Book of Numbers), God who taught David's fingers to fight (Ps 144:1). And it is Jesus who will return on a white horse with a sword to personally slay the armies of His enemies (human armies) until the blood runs as high as the horse's bridles... (Rev 14:20)

I say all that so you will know that I do not in any way believe I am compromising my faith to read books with violence in them (nor to write them, for that matter) so long as it lines up with the divinely instituted principles God has provided for life. In particular the violence of military function is needed for the perpetuation of nationalism which is important in preserving the freedom to spread the gospel and to grow in grace and knowledge of Christ. (yet another huge subject!)