What does the Bible say about violence and self-defense?

This is the myth of redemptive violence – that violence will bring peace, but the violence will return.


In this episode, Pastor Adam Ericksen answers the question, “What does the Bible say about violence and self-defense?” by sharing his experience at the Theology and Peace sponsored Collaborators Conference.  There Adam met a pastor from Africa whose story changed Adam’s views on nonviolence and self-defense. The pastor explained the situation in his country where Christians are under physical threat of violence and asked how he needed to protect his loved ones from violence with weapons and potential violence.

While the Bible contains violence, Genesis reveals God disrupting the cycle of violence started by Cain’s murder of his brother Abel. God protects Cain by marking him so people knew to leave Cain alone. Throughout the Bible, the futility of using violence to end violence is futile. This is the myth of redemptive violence – that violence will bring peace, but the violence will return.

Jesus says, “He who lives by the sword will die by the sword.” He invites us to practice nonviolence resistance. Walter Wink explains how turning the other cheek is an act of nonviolence resistance. Adam shares a story from Wink’s Engaging the Powers: Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination demonstrating a contemporary example of nonviolent resistance.

The Olive

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