Violence, Hatred, and Christianity

Jesus washing feet

Personal photo at Crossroads Christian Communications

Like you, I’ve heard the news that a terrorist acting in allegiance with ISIS committed an unspeakably evil act of terror targeting Orlando’s LGBT community. I grieve with you for the people who lost their lives or who were hurt in the attack. When a religion is misused, it is the responsibility of the religious community, and especially its leaders, to speak out against the misuse of their religion and condemn the unlawful behaviour.

Although this massacre was not committed by a Christian, as a Christian leader I want to take this opportunity to state very clearly to the general public three declarations which I believe every Christian denomination in Canada would affirm:

  • First, all human beings are made in the image of God and are my brothers and sisters. We are one human family.
    • This includes those of other faiths and no faith, those with whom I am in complete agreement and those with whom I have significant disagreements.
    • Specifically, it includes all members of any community with a non-traditional expression of human sexuality.
  • Second, acts of violence or coercion are completely incompatible with the Christian faith. Christians cannot further the Christian mission through use of force, because our faith is based on a change of heart, which is a spiritual matter.
  • Third, Christians are called to express God’s love for all humanity. Hatred is therefore a grievous sin. We live in a broken world, in which there is much to disagree with. People exploit other people, cause war, and do all kinds of bad things. Christians acknowledge that we are all broken in some way, including every Christian, including me, yet in our brokenness our role as Christians is to bring healing and hope into people’s lives, to help them progress towards the fulfillment of God’s desire for them.

There is much to be said in terms of the theology that supports these three declarations, but that is for another time. Today I want to condemn violence in all forms, but especially violence that is motivated by a misguided understanding of a religion or of a secular ideology.

Download discussion guide

Download discussion guide

May God bring peace and solace to the families of the victims of the Orlando massacre. All humanity has suffered a loss with the murder of ordinary people who were simply living their daily lives.

Note: Barry Bussey has also written for CCCC on this horrible event.

Thoughts on Violence, Hatred, and Christianity

  1. Andrew Lucas

    I understand what you are saying John with respect to point number 1, genetically we are all members of the human family. What may be confusing to some readers is the language of brotherhood; because the same language is used in both the Bible and in the Christian community to refer to specifically ‘brothers and sisters’ in the faith. Liberal theology (at least the German school of the 19th century) began with the assumption of the universal fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man, however the Bible is clear that only believers are children of God and consequently truly brothers and sisters.

    Reply
    1. John PelloweJohn Pellowe Post author

      That is quite true, Andrew, and is one of the reasons I dislike ‘soundbite’ communication, because rich ideas are necessarily lost. We are all related as family (brothers and sisters) because we are all created by God (which is the point of this post) and so we grieve when others are hurt. It is also true that we are all invited to become children of God (and brothers and sisters to each other) through faith in Jesus Christ. Blessings!

      Reply
  2. Dorcas

    Recently in our nation a bus was raided with bullets. It was only one Pastor I know who escaped. He lost a dear friend a Pastor who was even more polished than him and he is crying everyday. He ran for more than 5 kms before he was rescued. What a tragedy? God is faithful he gave him another chance to preach the gospel. Hatred does not pay at all. We are told not to repay evil with evil. We will continue praying for God to open the eyes of the evil doers that they may accept him as their Savior.

    Reply
  3. s n otieno

    Hi, as christian can we just sit down and watch as other faith plan and execute their evil act on christian?the issue of Orlando is that they were caught up doing and living in sin can that be the judgement of God toward sin?.

    Reply
    1. John PelloweJohn Pellowe Post author

      Hi Sebastian. It appears you have mixed two issues in your comment, and a little clarification on my part may be helpful.

      1. We should do everything we can to help the many Christians who are being persecuted right now around the world. But not just Christians, others are persecuted too and we must stand up against violence inflicted upon them as well. At the same time, we know that as Christians, we are called to follow Christ, and that means we are called to a life of potential suffering. (John 15:18-19 and John 3:20) So we don’t choose suffering, but if suffer we must, then it is nothing more than what Christ said would be.

      2. Your second issue is the question of whether the Orlando massacre was God’s judgment. All I can say is that as a Christian, it is NEVER my place to enact judgment on God’s behalf. I realize that’s not quite what you were asking, but some people may think they can take it on themselves to carry out God’s judgment against someone, and that is something that only God can do. The massacre was a tragedy, pure and simple, and the result of one man committing a criminal act for which there is no conceivable excuse.
      Blessings!

      Reply

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