Ramifications of Nonresistance

Oct 08, 2013

This post was originally posted in December of 2009 on an old blog of mine. It’s being reprinted here.

I talked a little bit about what nonresistance meant earlier, in my first post on nonresistance. Now I’d like to look a little bit more specifically at, first of all, the ramifications of nonresistance–what it entails in everyday life–and then at specifically what I believe was demonstrated to be unbiblical.

Nonresistance, as it’s defined and expounded by the Anabaptists and their descendants, involves, as I mentioned in the original post, forbidding all violence. This includes fighting back against an attacker or even defending one’s family against an attacker. They also sometimes say that resistance–of any kind–is wrong, but at other times say that we are to resist them spiritually (i.e. praying/singing), just not physically.

One of the logical conclusions of this view is that Christians shouldn’t take government offices. Again, there is some disagreement about the extent of this, but in general the consensus is that if a government office requires resisting people with force (i.e., a soldier or police officer), or requires commanding others to resist people with force (i.e., judge, President), a Christian should not be in that position. (Some go further and declare that all government jobs, regardless of the duties required, are forbidden.)

Furthermore, if Christians shouldn’t take those positions, they argue, they shouldn’t encourage others to take those positions either–meaning, no voting. In fact, no political involvement at all–protests, rallies, etc., since those would be “resisting” one or more political parties.

The only methods a Christian is allowed to use are prayer, singing, witnessing, etc.–spiritual weapons as opposed to “carnal” weapons of the world.

The point I’ve tried to make is that, first of all, this clearly was not an Old Testament law–they were commanded to execute wrongdoers/carry out God’s punishment on the other nations. Furthermore, there is no support for this position in the New Testament, either, if the interpretations I proposed in the last post are correct.

But there are still some things that the Anabaptists identified with nonresistance that aren’t unbiblical. For instance, loving our enemies–while their specific interpretation of this passage may have been wrong, it’s still true that we are to love our enemies. So we can’t just throw out the baby with the bathwater and dismiss everything they say; some of it is still true.