Nonresistance - Christian Theology

Christian Theology

Christian nonresistance is based on a reading of the Sermon on the Mount, in which Jesus says:

You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you. —Matthew 5:38-42, NIV

Members of the Anabaptist (Mennonite, Amish, Hutterite and Schwarzenau Brethren/German Baptist) denominations and other peace churches like the Quakers have interpreted this passage to mean that Christians should do nothing to physically resist an enemy. According to this belief, only God has the right to execute punishments. Non-resistance Christians note that sacrificial love of Jesus resulted in his submission to crucifixion rather than vengeance.

To illustrate how nonresistance works in practice, Alexandre Christoyannopoulos offers the following Christian anarchist response to terrorism:

The path shown by Jesus is a difficult one that can only be trod by true martyrs. A "martyr," etymologically, is he who makes himself a witness to his faith. And it is the ultimate testimony to one’s faith to be ready to put it to practice even when one’s very life is threatened. But the life to be sacrificed, it should be noted, is not the enemy’s life, but the martyr’s own life — killing others is not a testimony of love, but of anger, fear, or hatred. For Tolstoy, therefore, a true martyr to Jesus’ message would neither punish nor resist (or at least not use violence to resist), but would strive to act from love, however hard, whatever the likelihood of being crucified. He would patiently learn to forgive and turn the other cheek, even at the risk of death. Such would be the only way to eventually win the hearts and minds of the other camp and open up the possibilities for reconciliation in the "war on terror."

Author James R. Graham wrote, "The Christian is not a pacifist, he is a non-participationist."

Old Order Mennonites, Amish, and Conservative Mennonites continue to uphold a higher purpose and do not join the armed forces in any capacity, sue at law, lobby the government, hold government office, nor use the force of the law to maintain their "rights".

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