Bring back the church militant?

In the Middle Ages, strong young Christian men responded to the call of the Pope to push back the Muslims and regain control of the Holy Land by force.  They threw out the Muslim invaders and brought the Holy land back into Christian hands, where it had been for around a thousand years.  And they held their gains for around 200 years.  So they were a major demonstration of the church militant

Why is there no church militant today?  Mainly because of bad theology -- under the influence of Christ's words in Matthew 5  where he counselled not hitting back at oppressors:

39 But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also.

40 And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also.

41 And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.

Clear enough one might think.  But what are we to think of Matthew 10: 34

"Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword"

or Luke 22:

36 Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.

38 And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough

So we gather from the second and third scriptures above that Jesus at a minimum believed in his followers defending themselves.  So was Jesus being inconsistent?  Are Christians under different commands?  If we believe the Bible to be the word of God, that is surely ruled out.  So what is going on?

Clearly, Christ was giving different advice for different occasions.  And the advice in Matthew 5 runs against all nature.  No-one naturally behaves that way.  It is anti-instinctual. So it must have been designed for a very special occasion.  And it was.

Part of his foresight was that his disciples would be persecuted after his death -- so it was important that he give them ways of surviving that.  He had to tell them to behave in a way that would protect them.  He had to give them what modern-day psychologists call "de-escalation techniques".  Above all else they had to avoid getting killed by hostile others, so that they could pass on his message.  

And in Matthew 5:38ff he taught exactly how.  He taught his disciples to be unthreatening and even likable when confronted with hostility.  He was giving them lessons in survival against great threat -- things to do immediately after his death,  not rules for all times and all situations.  And when modern-day psychologists look at his rules they will see that his de-escalation techniques were pretty good. You can turn down hostility if you go about it the right way.

So Matthew 5:38ff was the practical aspect of his teachings.  What at first sight seems totally impractical was in fact superbly practical. The survival of Christianity attests to that.  

But, as the other scriptures show, that advice was not for all occasions, all situations and all times.  Jesus did not preach pacifism.  So it is unsurprising that few Christians today are pacifists.  Only some small sects preach it: Seventh Day Adventists, traditional Quakers, Christadelphians and Jehovah's Witnesses.   The U.S. army, for instance, is still largely a Christian army despite various attempts to suppress that.

So the conventional response to Matthew 5 is broadly right.  It does not stand in the way of both individual self-defence or defence of one's own society. 

But when it comes to oppression from forces within one's own society, many Christians suddenly decide that Matthew 5 is applicable.  There is no reason to.  Matthew 5 was an instruction designed to protect a small and threatened minority.  Christians are certainly threatened in minor ways today but they are not small and their collective survival is not at stake.  

There is for instance no reason why they should be passive when confronted by Muslim aggression.  If Muslims hold aggressive demonstrations, Christians should be out holding aggressive counter-demonstrations. If Muslims carry around placards extolling Mohammed, they would be perfectly justified in carrying around placards saying that Islam is a false religion and that the Koran is the ravings of an insane pedophile.  

If masked Leftists attack them during a demonstration, they should shoot.

That does not mean Christians should abandon Matthew 5 in their personal  lives.  Christian forgiveness still is a wise response to many conflict situations in 1 to 1 relationships -- JR

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