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Love Your Enemies


egg
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I appreciate that the thread on Osama Bin Laden was closed nearly a month ago; but as a new boy to this forum I think it was less well developed than it could have been.

 

How do you love your enemies? More specifically, how should we have conductedd the war against Hitler and the Nazis, and how should we conduct the war against Al Quaeda (because it really is a war, though more like the Hundred Years War with intermittent encounters than the two World Wars)?

 

I believe it was right to oppose the Third Reich with armed force. It was led by an evil genius, whose worst and most inhuman feature was his anti-semitism. How do we love him and his colleagues such as Goering and Hess? How do we love the citizens of Nazi Germany?

 

There is nothing emotional about the word "love" as used by Jesus in this context. He means, at the very least, treat your enemies as responsible human beings, who have certain human and even divine rights. But if they are seeking to impose on you an alien rule, and particularly an alien rule with evil elements in it, there is nothing in what Jesus says which is incompatible with resisting them with all the force available to you. And if you are in the end victorious, give them a fair trial before executing or punishing them. Goering came out of the Nuremberg trial as a bigger man than before, in my view - Sir Hartley Shawcross, one of the prosecuting team, had considerable respect for him, and for the way in which he would wink or smile at him when prosecuting counsel did not get the answer he was hoping for. But in the end justice was done. It is perhaps fortunate that Hitler did not survive to face a trial. It was his trial at Munich in 1924 which gave him the platform on which to display his considerable gifts of oratory, and there would have been a danger that he might do so again.

 

Osama bin Laden was in much same league as Hitler. The difference is that he could not reasonably have been tried while the war, the jihad, was still in progress. We did not try Hess until after hostilities had ceased, although he was in our hands from May 1941. To try Osama bin Laden while the war was still going on would not have been sensible - and such a trial would have given him the kind of platform that Hitler might have had if he had been put on trial. The problem is similar with the detainees in Guantanamo Bay, who cannot sensibly be tried so long as there is a possibility that, if freed, they would return to the jihad (quite apart from the difficulty of providing admissible evidence against them). Bujt I do not like to contemplate the possibility of Osama bin Laden being imprisoned, in Guantamo Bay or elsewhere.

 

So I don't regard the killing of Osama bin Laden as conflicting with Jesus' saying "Love your enemies". He said himself that he came not to bring peace but a sword; and it is not always appreciated that the disciples, with the full knowledge of Jesus, went armed to the Last Supper - and used their swords.

Edited by egg
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Egg,

 

Welcome. You made some thoughtful and valuable contributions to the Spong forum while it existed and, I am sure, you will here as well.

 

As to the question at hand, while I personally agree with the Just War Theory, I am not convinced that Jesus did or would. I think he was much more of a pacifist. Unfortunately, we don't have any transcripts of camp-fire discussions with his disciples in which they explored questions like this in length. So, it is difficult to answer the WWJD question with regard to Hitler and bin Laden. I have trouble thinking he would say, 'take'em out' or, on the other hand, 'let them be.'

 

In general, your idea of "loving your enemies" by treating them with fairly and justly with human rights makes practical sense.

 

George

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Friends,

 

Greetings to you all in my first post here. While I endeavor to provide a snapshot profile for the list, I trust that our acquaintances will be progressively beneficial.

 

I’ll chime in with agreement on the direction of Egg’s proposal:

 

How do you love your enemies?

 

There is nothing emotional about the word "love" as used by Jesus in this context. He means, at the very least, treat your enemies as responsible human beings, who have certain human and even divine rights. But if they are seeking to impose on you an alien rule, and particularly an alien rule with evil elements in it, there is nothing in what Jesus says which is incompatible with resisting them with all the force available to you.

 

And offer for your consideration a purported version of historical specifics related to this subject as portrayed by the authors of the Urantia Papers, wherein is depicted the formal ordination of the twelve apostles by Jesus. Reportedly, during a portion of his charge, commonly known as the “Sermon on the Mount (of Ordination)”, Jesus said: "I say to you: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who despitefully use you. And whatsoever you believe that I would do to men, do you also to them.” (UPapers 140:3)

 

In this context, the authors took care to point out that the ordination sermon, while containing “much helpful instruction”, is not the gospel of Jesus, but rather “was the Master's personal commission to those who were to go on preaching the gospel and aspiring to represent him in the world of men even as he was so eloquently and perfectly representative of his Father.” (UP 140:4, em. mine)

 

Later on in the evening of the same day, reportedly (during a “camp-fire discussion” (GeorgeW), there was an exchange between Nathaniel and Jesus that went like this:

 

“Then asked Nathaniel: "Master, shall we give no place to justice? The law of Moses says, `An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.' What shall we say?" And Jesus answered: "You shall return good for evil. My messengers must not strive with men, but be gentle toward all. Measure for measure shall not be your rule. The rulers of men may have such laws, but not so in the kingdom; mercy always shall determine your judgments and love your conduct. And if these are hard sayings, you can even now turn back. If you find the requirements of apostleship too hard, you may return to the less rigorous pathway of discipleship." (UP 140:6, em. mine)

 

Another episode, among many from the life and teachings of Jesus as related by the authors, could provide additional food for thought, if I may be excused for lengthening this post:

 

“This cleansing of the temple discloses the Master's attitude toward commercializing the practices of religion as well as his detestation of all forms of unfairness and profiteering at the expense of the poor and the unlearned. This episode also demonstrates that Jesus did not look with approval upon the refusal to employ force to protect the majority of any given human group against the unfair and enslaving practices of unjust minorities who may be able to entrench themselves behind political, financial, or ecclesiastical power. Shrewd, wicked, and designing men are not to be permitted to organize themselves for the exploitation and oppression of those who, because of their idealism, are not disposed to resort to force for self-protection or for the furtherance of their laudable life projects.” (UP:173:1)

 

Until later, A Dios,

 

Brent

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Thank you, Egg, for a wonderfully thought provoking post.

 

Your post brings up what I thnk are two important and often confusing points in attempting to read, interpret, and apply anything from scripture.

 

First is that of taking care to determine who is addressing whom, and under what circumstances, in considering how anything is rightfully applied by/to whom in any situation in the present. I think there's always been a lot of confusion, resulting in unsound doctrines, arising out of this very point. For example, what Jesus said to His specially called, instructed, and sent out disciples/apostles as He instructed them in private should not be assumed to be said to or apply to each and all believers.

 

This potential point of confusion also affects how we would carry anything addressed to the believers as individuals, and even as in congregations of believers, out into the world at large so as to apply to government and nations. We see a lot of this in how Americans have come to bind together their Christian identity with nationalism, patriotism, which then leads to viewing God's dealings with Israel, and what applied to Israelites, to be as how He deals with this nation and the American people. Unlike the relationship between God and the nation of Israel in the OT, the Christian relationship with God is personal, individual to each believer, so there is not and can never be a "chosen Christian nation" in the worldly sense of a nation.

 

Second is the common problem of accurately defining such terms/ideas as love, hate, forgiveness, friend/enemy, etc. Love and forgiveness do not neccesaruly mean to subvert honest judgement, or to negate the legal and moral consequences of anyone's actions. The problem of defining friend/enemy is, I think, particularly problematic, because it does so often seem to be presented as a rather liimited dichotomy, an either/or, casting any person as friend or foe, such as "he who is not with me is against me". I think that often degenerates in real life application to whomever is not like me, in agreement with me, favorable in their treatment of me, or that gets in the way of getting what we want, is my enemy. This can and often does degenerate into such pettiness as people percieving as their personal enemies even other co-workers that might be competing for the same promotion at work, or some in church congregations vying for potential new members from within the same community.

 

Jenell

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Urantia papers....took a few minutes to look this up...

 

This book seems consistent with the flurry of popular interest in the 19th and early 20th century in things pertaining to spiritism, mediums, channeling of spirits...the same period gave rise to those such as Edgar Casey, Grace Cooke (whose channelings are still basis for teachings in the Church of the White Eagle Lodge), and possibly to be included in that, Joseph Smith's 'recieving' of the Book of Mormon, though the latter doesn't quite fit into the time period for most those type woorks, and is somewhat different in tone than the works of later mediums/spiritual channels. There are others that I'm not recalling just now off the top of my head.

 

Excluding Smith, most the others do have a similar 'tone', one strongly rooted in love and the divine cosmos. I've actually had some personal experience among those of the Church of The White Eagle Lodge, one of their major world centers being located not too far from where I live. I've attended some of their services, read their literature, and socialized among them for a few years. While I didn't and don't embrace all their ideas and teachings, their position as a mystical Christain church, and many of their interpretations and presentations of Jesus and Christ are interesting. Overall,they are some of the most genuinely sweetest people you could ever meet, though my impression has been that they are somewhat out of touch with the real world, and practical applications in real life, which I attribute to their tendency to live in rather cloistered communities.

 

But my point being, this reference Urantia papers do seem to be consistent with the tone of most of what came out of that era. And whatever the actual 'source' was, whether spiritual or because of interating contact among them, it was very consistently rooted in divine love and the model for an ideal of love among humans.

 

Jenell

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Since this discussion is going deeper I moved it the General Discussion Forum.

 

Dutch

Egg & Friends,

 

As for this discussion going deeper, it would seem appropriate that your

original post be its focus.

 

It seems generally accepted that Jesus dared to love even his enemies...

as a Father/Creator loves even his erring children, perhaps?

 

A Dios,

Brent

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It seems to me that in the command to love even our enemies, we are called to go beyond what is normal human behavior and thoughts. Its easy to love those that treat us well.

 

I think it is also related to the teaching that we cannot judge others, for we do not have the means to do so. To 'judge no man', how can we cast any into an evil role, and evil judgement, to call them our enemy. I also see this inability to judge others as one of our limited and fallable perspective. We really do not "take the role of other" very well when someone's position seems to complicate or interfere with our own. An example of that is how most Americans utterly fail to understand that people in other countries, right now particularly the middle east, actually do have some valid and reasonable grievances toward the West, and the United States, for past roles in those regions. In that, we seem to not only understand situations form their point of view, but tonot even recognize they may have a valid differing point of view.

 

One meaning of an enemy is one that impedes us in our own endeavors, but that fails to consider that other person may have as much right as we do to be striving toward their goals.

 

So to me, loving even our enenmies is much related to our inability to make right judgements of others.

 

Jenell

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