Christianity responses to main criticisms

On Violence

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The abuses of the church as well as any other acts of violence are clearly against the teachings of Christ.

Protestantism –currently a large part of Christianity- was born as a response to the abuses and corruption of the Catholic Church.

Christianity values stay at the basis of the Universal Human Rights.

The wars in the Old Testament were limited to specific situations and specific groups of people that were practicing evil extensively. They indeed are proof that the God of the Bible is not just love but also justice.

In Christianity the notion of a just war exists.

The Bible was always against slavery.

 

Violence is against Christ’s teachings.

First, it is true that people have committed horrible atrocities in the name of Jesus Christ, from the inquisitions to the slaying of abortionists. However, it is clear that it is not possible to justify these actions from the teachings of Christ Himself. Nowhere in the New Testament does Jesus teach that one should kill for the sake of the Gospel, the Kingdom of God, or to defend the honor of Jesus Himself. In fact people are taught just the contrary when Jesus heals the man whose ear was cut in his defense in the garden of Gethsemane.

So it should be clear for everyone that true Christians, those who really follow Jesus, do not agree with violence.

In reference to the Crusades, Christians mention that Protestantism -started by the German monk Martin Luther –currently a large part of Christianity- was born as a response to the abuses and corruption of the Catholic Church. Martin Luther took a stand against the church, and everyone heard. With Luther and the Protestant Reformation, the Middle Ages were brought to a close. The Reformers, including Luther, Calvin, and Zwingli, differed in many finer points of Christian theology, insisting on the Bible’s supreme authority over church tradition and the fact that sinners are saved by grace through faith alone apart from works. 

Although Catholicism made a comeback in Europe, and a series of wars between Protestants and Catholics ensued, the Reformation had successfully dismantled the power of the Roman Catholic Church and helped open the door to the modern age.

(Read more about the Roman Catholic church using Christianity as a political tool- here and here)

 

Christianity values stay at the basis of the Universal Human Rights.

Many would argue that at the basis of the Universal Human Rights stand all the values of Christianity and also that Christianity teaches the separation between church and state which makes this worldview fundamental to the principles respected by any democratic government (see more about Christianity influence here)

 

The wars in the Old Testament.

Regarding the criticism on the Old Testament’s wars, the response is that the Bible is an historic book, which means it recounts, among other things, plenty of battles and wars that were part of human beings history. Many of them, as written in the texts, are the result of human beings free will not God’s will.

Nevertheless it is certainly true that there were also wars that the God of the Bible directed His people to fight. These were direct and specific commands to fight against particular groups of people for a limited time and for specific reasons. In all these cases the reasons had to do with these groups iniquity, rejection of God and lack of repentance- over an extended period of time. In fact the Bible says clearly that these groups were known to engage in bestiality, incest, even child sacrifice. Deviant sexual acts were also the norm. (Read more here)

(Source: ‘Knowing God’ by J.I. Packer)

The Decalogue should thus be interpreted in this perspective. If you want to accuse God of being inconsistent when he says do not kill and then urges his people to war, you have to understand that when he says do not kill, he has a specific situation in mind. If somebody wants to kill your child, you are tied to a tree but have one loose hand and a gun, what do you do?

The legislative system of Israel was meant to make the Israelis people after God’s heart as well as agents of righteousness in the world. Christians would argue that when God pushed them towards war, it was because of extreme evil behavior on the part of the attacked. As for the political wars in the Old Testament -planned by kings, rather than God- if you read the Chronicles, you will see that each king is judged by how he obeyed or disobeyed God. We must keep in mind that God changed His plan with mankind several times, at last providing an ultimate covenant through Jesus, his son. The Bible is actually a testament of God working against the will of mankind (even his people when they disobeyed), it is not a testament of the righteousness of Jews or Christians. God cannot be blamed for the hypocrisy of men.

 

In Christianity the notion of a just war exists.

There are several criteria for what Christianity considers a just war, among which: 1. there must be a just cause and intention- like bringing injustice, aggression, genocide to a stop. Ideological supremacy, geographical expansion, economic gain do not apply., 2. war should be the very last resort after all other methods to resolve conflict have failed, 3. proportionate means should be used, limited to what is necessary to repel the attack and prevent future aggression., 4. noncombatant immunity should be provided.

 

The Bible was always against slavery

In regards to slavery, the God of the Bible was against it from the beginning. Slaves in Israel were not to be treated like the slaves of Egypt. They became slaves because of their debt, but could be redeemed by their relatives. They lost values (animals, goods, money), but not the land that gave them the possibility to acquire those values. Furthermore, God installed the year of jubilee (every 50th year) when all debts from slaves were erased. The real-estate market declined every year it got closer to the jubilee-year. Finally, slaves were allowed to live with their families, they could not be forced to work during the Sabbath and Sabbatical year and if they were not treated well, they could leave their master without suffering punishment for it.

So the accuses against Christianity always stand on how the followers of the Christian God failed to live up to His calling, not on what God said to them.

 



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