Christian Mythbusters

Christian Mythbusters

Nonviolent Resistance

January 12, 2021

In this episode of Christian Mythbusters, Father Jared debunks the myth of Christian Resistance and explains why a resistance that is truly Christian should almost always be nonviolent. You can hear Christian Mythbusters in the Grand Haven area on 92.1 WGHN, on Wednesdays at 10:30am and Sundays at 8:50am.

The transcript of the episode is below, or you can listen to the audio at the bottom of the post.

This is Father Jared Cramer from St. John’s Episcopal Church in Grand Haven, Michigan, here with today’s edition of Christian Mythbusters, a regular segment I offer to counter some common misconceptions about the Christian faith. 

Like many of you, I spent much of last week shocked and saddened by what took place in our nation’s capital, as rioters and insurrectionists who believed the lies told them by our current president about the election, charged down the street to the Capitol building, broke past barricades, and—for the first time since the war of 1812—occupied that important civic space… even killing a brave Capitol police officer. I was particularly distraught to see some of the rioters carrying signs and Christian emblems, making it seem to those watching that this heinous and violent act had something to do with the Christian faith.

Let’s be clear. What happened last week on January 6 had nothing to do with Christianity. And those Christians who are planning to repeat that behavior in Washington DC and at state capitals around our nation on January 20th better think very carefully about the sort of witness they are providing to the watching world. 

Now, I want to be clear, there are times Christians are called to stand up and resist injustice, even to break unjust laws in the name of God’s calling to us—but that is not the case in this election. There was nothing stolen. There is no injustice that has taken place. Over 60 court cases have made it clear that the claims of fraud are baseless and without evidence. 

But, for future information, if you do want to resist what you perceive as an unjust act, this is not how Christians are called to do it. So today I’d like to break the myth of Christian Resistance and why that resistance should actually almost always be inherently non-violent, if it will be the resistance of Christ. 

One of the unfortunate results of the church becoming the legal religion of the Roman empire is that the early history and insistence upon Christian nonviolence began to slip away rather quickly. The church lost its way so entirely that in the middle ages we sent armies to invade the Holy Land in the misguided Crusades. It feels good, of course, to fight in the name of God, the problem is that God very rarely is asking us to fight. 

But that is not to say God doesn’t ask us at times to resist. 

A great example of this difference is found in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, and its cousin in Luke, the Sermon on the Plain. In both of these important texts that contain the preaching of Jesus, our Lord urges us, “If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.”

For far too long this text has been misused, it’s been seen as an example of being a doormat and letting people walk all over you. After all religious authorities have used these words to perpetuate systems of abuse and oppression. Jesus said to turn the other cheek and so I’ve actually heard pastors tell women in abusive situations they should continue to suffer under that abuse, that this is living into the love of Jesus. 

That’s a lot of… I cannot say that word on the radio.