Left Justified: Jesus don’t like killing

Left Justified: Jesus don’t like killing

By Stanley Campbell

“Jesus don’t like killing, no matter what the reason for,” or so said singer John Prine. So I was chagrined to hear some of the televangelists call for the head of Saddam Hussein on a platter. And the more “fundamental” leaders are drumming for a holy crusade against unbelievers, slaughtering Mullahs and converting the heathen.

Since when did Jesus Christ ever sanction war? What I remember from reading my Bible are the times Jesus told people to stop beating on each other. He admonished a crowd of Pharisees not to stone a woman, and he told Peter to “put away [his] sword” after Pete cut off the high priest’s servant’s ear. Jesus also said to “turn the other cheek” even though the Torah said “an eye for an eye.”

Of course, the warlike Christians use more obscure Bible quotations to show God blesses their killing. “I have not come to bring peace, but a sword” Matt. 10:35, although it refers to conflicts in the family when one member becomes a believer, and “vengeance is mine,” leaving off the last part.

I personally don’t believe God sanctions murder, but I could not find but a few Christian clergy who would publicly say prayers for peace, especially at a peace rally.

Hopefully, the discussion this Monday, May 12, 7:30 p.m. at the Unitarian Universalist Church will resolve some of the conflicts. Three clergy will share ideas on “the pacifism of Jesus.”

Leading the panel is the senior pastor of Second Congregational Church, Rev. J. Michael Solberg. He’ll review Bible verses and give his interpretation. We’re honored to have such a prominent pastor leading off the discussion, and hope his viewpoints don’t get him into trouble.

The Rev. Dan Johnson is an ELCA (Evangelical Lutheran Church in America) clergyman. Since 1980, he served congregations in Aurora, Durand and Freeport, and he proclaims himself a lifelong pacifist, or as he prefers “committed to nonviolent creative love.” Rev. Johnson will talk about the pacifism of the early church, from Jesus to the Constantinian “regime change,” at which time the church took a turn and adopted a double standard that he characterizes as unfaithful. “In my ministry, I have discovered widespread unawareness of the nonviolent commitment of Jesus’ closest followers,” says Rev. Johnson.

Finally, Neddy Astudillo will share her understanding of liberation theology. She is a graduate of McCormick Theological Seminary and a Presbyterian candidate for ordination. She is Latin American and has a special perspective of the nonviolent Christ. Liberation Theology was declared a “Marxist” form of Christianity by the Reagan administration, who warred against the poor of Latin America.

It’s not often Coffee Talks gets such a distinguished panel. I’ll be there with my concordance as well as a large pot of free coffee and cookies. I hope you can join us for an interesting and timely discussion.

Stanley Campbell is executive director of Rockford Urban Ministries and spokesman for Rockford Peace & Justice.

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