Investigating the Bible: Response to evil can take variety of forms


December 2019, in a Sunday morning worship service, a gunman opened fire, killing two people. Before he could kill more, he was shot and killed by an armed usher, who later said he did not consider himself to be a hero. No community is spared the ugly possibility of violence. So what advice does the Bible give us if evil strikes close to home? There is no one-size-fits-all response; however, there are guidelines:

Jesus said: “…Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5:39, English Standard Version used throughout). The slap across a person’s face had a unique first century meaning. Biblical scholar, William Barclay, explained that a right-handed person can strike another person on the right cheek, only with the back of the hand. In Rabbinic law, this was twice as insulting as hitting someone with the flat of the hand. In this statement Jesus did not tell his followers to always be victims. He taught them to not retaliate against even the most calculated and mean insult.

Evil is not always external. God wants us to start with honest self-examination. Jesus told the religious leaders of his day, “Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” (Matthew 7:3). While our mistakes may be overshadowed by terrible acts of others, we are instructed to start at home: “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” (Isaiah 64:6).

Personal revenge for believers is prohibited. “Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine. I will repay, says the Lord.’” (Romans 12:19).

There are times to stand up for our legal rights or the rights of others. When the apostle Paul was in Jerusalem, he was about to be flogged, a cruel whipping with leather straps and sharp bone chips. Before the first strike, he said to the centurion, “Is it lawful for you to flog a man who is a Roman citizen and uncondemned?” (Acts 22:25) and they immediately stopped. Paul later used the legal option of his day of “appealing to Caesar,” which gave all Roman citizens the right of presenting their case to the ruler in Rome.

There are times to fight evil. “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven, ...a time to kill and a time to heal … a time to keep silence, and a time to speak … a time to love, and a time to hate … a time for war and a time for peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3: 3, 7, 8). We must seek the advice of those in our church or fellowship for our own response in extreme situations.

A young man in Japan had just achieved his black belt. Later, when he rode a city bus, a large and very drunk man stumbled up the steps, who began harassing an elderly woman and demanding that she give out of her seat. The young man moved toward the drunk, ready to use his fighting skills. Suddenly, an elderly man leaped up and asked the drunk, “Do you like sake?” The drunk was startled, but slurred out, “Yah.” Then the old man began a long story of how he also loved sake and in the evenings he would enjoy a glass with his wife as they watched the sunset. And then he asked the drunk, “Do you have a wife?” The drunk yelled, “She just left me!” The old man said, “I’m so sorry. Tell me what happened.” Soon the big drunk had his head in the lap of the old man, sobbing as he told him of his own personal troubles.

David Carlson Pastor (yes, that is his last name but not his profession) is a local resident and graduate of Bethel Theological Seminary in Minnesota (M.Div., M.Th.).



The story about the drunk is told in different ways. All the quotes used here are also Buddhist and probably every other religion that pre-date Christianity.

The quote about Paul conversing with the centurion is a political statement. Rome (Romans invented Christianity) was saying: if you pledge allegiance to Rome, you will be safe, but if you continue to butt heads with us you are not safe. Read between the lines and do your history homework. Roman statesmen and elite (including Jews) were very cunnng — this is one example.

Also, what’s the point of this column? It’s babble.

I would rather hear from people who live in Yamhill County via letters to the editor than from a preacher in Marion County spouting off from a book that was written after the Jewish war of 70 CE by authors unknown, although all of it was written most likely by the Piso family. All that’s presented here … no facts or evidence to back up any statement made to date (2000 years later).

This column should be on the opinion page every now and then.

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