The Lamb’s War

I’ve always had trouble with the idea of original sin – I used to think that Pride was the original sin — that Adam and Eve decided they knew better than God what would be good for them to eat and they chose not to obey God – they could have eaten of any tree in the garden, except one tree they were not to eat from.  And they decided to eat from it – they decided to disobey God, that was the wrong choice.

But that forbidden tree was “the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” , and if they do not yet know the difference between good and evil, then how could they make a “wrong” choice.  – because if they had not yet eaten of that tree, they would not yet have known that it was “wrong” or “evil” for them to disobey God.  How can the choice of what to eat be “wrong” if they do not yet have the knowledge of good and evil.

If a cat kills and eats a bird, we may think that is wrong, but we don’t consider that the cat knew the difference between right and wrong and that it deliberately made a wrong choice.  The cat has not eaten of the tree of  the knowledge of good and evil – we do not think of animals as being motivated by the concepts of right and wrong.

If the original sin was to choose wrong over right, it must come AFTER eating of the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil”.  We would need to understand that what we contemplated doing was “wrong”.

So I think that what we traditionally call “the Fall” is actually a fall UPWARD – of reaching the point in our development when we understand the difference between right and wrong   We become capable of making moral choices.  And that is part of what it means to be made in God’s image – to be able to choose between right and wrong.

I also think the development of our species as a whole might be something akin to the development of an individual human.  Babies are not born with a sense of “right” or “wrong” – or the ability to choose between them.  They may feel hungry, tired, bored, insecure, hot, cold, and so forth, and they know when they are satisfied with their surroundings, but we do not hold them morally responsible for their behavior.  That comes later and they grow into the knowledge of right and wrong as they learn there are other people in the world.  We learn what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves when we understand that we are a self with definite ideas about how we want to be treated.

So if I was pressed to say what the “original sin” of human beings is, I think I would have to say VIOLENCE.   We have murder committed in the very first family, and it goes on from there.  We have Abraham throwing out his first son Ishmael and his mother because Sarah is jealous.  We have Abraham later trying to kill his second son Isaac as an offering to God.   We have Joseph’s brothers planning to kill him, and later settling for throwing him in a pit.  We have battle after battle described in the books of Joshua and Judges.  We have David sending the husband of the woman he commits adultery with to the front lines of the battle to be killed – we have one of David’s sons raping his sister, we have people put into fiery furnaces and lion’s dens.  And so it goes on, century after century, right up through our own history of slaughtering Native Americans, lynchings, to the  present day, when we see acts of violence on the large scale with our wars, and on a smaller scale with domestic violence and individual acts of terrorism, not to mention abuse of children and trafficking of human beings as sex slaves.  Yes, it seems to me that if there is something we seem to have an innate capacity for, it is violence.

There is a study done in the 1960’s which showed that more evangelical Christians than non-Christians supported the war in Vietnam and opposed Martin Luther King Jr. and the movement for women’s equality.  That is stunning.  Can that be true?  Evangelical Christians worship the Jesus who asks up to love our enemies, accept all people with loving respect, and honor women as much as men.

If George Fox lived among us today, he would be as thoroughly disgusted with the unchristlike Christianity as he was in the 1600’s.  He said that Jesus can speak to our condition.  And so he listened to Jesus.  He  learned that Jesus actually did tell his disciples to renounce the sword.  Jesus did tell us to love everyone and treat them respectfully.  And early Friends learned that women’s rights, the abolition of slavery, and making prisons less horrible really were part of Jesus’ will.

I had three cousins who went to war in the 1960’s.  I honor them for doing what they thought they should for their country, often sacrificing a great deal.  They deserve to be recognized as heroes.  But I also understand that our enemies felt they were serving God.  Almost everyone believers that “my” country is on God’s side and the enemy is on Satan’s.  (In the middle east, the United States is called “the great Satan”.)

Jesus teaches us a message of peace, forgiveness and love.  Interestingly, the Bible uses war imagery because we ARE involved in a war, but it is a spiritual war – against the forces of evil, the principalities and powers, as we are told in Ephesians, chapter 6.  Our defense is in wearing “the whole armor of God:” belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit.  Carry the Gospel of Peace.

The Quakers have language for this – it is called “The Lamb’s War”.  This seems like a paradox.  An innocent lamb at war?  But our weapons are peace, forgiveness, and hope, which can overcome hate, violence, and fear.

James Nayler, George Fox, and early Quakers taught that

The Lamb’s war is an eschatological vision in which all obedient followers of Christ the King, who is at once the suffering and all-conquering Lamb, enlist in a total and unending struggle against evil in all of its forms in this present world until the Lamb and his army win victory, and history comes to an end with the triumph of good over evil and the coming of God to dwell with his people.       T. Canby Jones

The Lamb’s War begins with an inner transformation of our being, in which sin loses power over us and the kingdom of God is realized within.  Then the new life must be lived outwardly as we follow the leading of Christ.  For early Quakers, it meant not removing their hats, refusing to swear oaths, inventing fair trade prices, fair treatment for the insane, just treatment of Native Americans and African Americans, speaking truth to power.

None of this is about  physical  punishment and killing or physical force – it is all about the victory of faith and following the mind of Christ.  The universal mission of the Lamb’s War is to bring everyone to an inward knowledge of Christ and his power.  The victory of the Lamb will bring in the reign of virtue, love and peace.  It is belief in this final victory that allowed early Quakers to suffer imprisonment and persecution.  They believed, and we believe today, that God’s kingdom is already coming into being and we are privileged to be a part of it.  What might it mean for us to fight in the Lamb’s War – to live out love for our enemies.  What if we lived in such a way that the vulnerable among us had no need to fear?  Imagine our world if every Christian did what Jesus told his disciples to do.

 

I’ve always had trouble with the idea of original sin – I used to think that Pride was the original sin — that Adam and Eve decided they knew better than God what would be good for them to eat and they chose not to obey God – they could have eaten of any tree in the garden, except one tree they were not to eat from.  And they decided to eat from it – they decided to disobey God, that was the wrong choice.

But that forbidden tree was “the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” , and if they do not yet know the difference between good and evil, then how could they make a “wrong” choice.  – because if they had not yet eaten of that tree, they would not yet have known that it was “wrong” or “evil” for them to disobey God.  How can the choice of what to eat be “wrong” if they do not yet have the knowledge of good and evil.

If a cat kills and eats a bird, we may think that is wrong, but we don’t consider that the cat knew the difference between right and wrong and that it deliberately made a wrong choice.  The cat has not eaten of the tree of  the knowledge of good and evil – we do not think of animals as being motivated by the concepts of right and wrong.

If the original sin was to choose wrong over right, it must come AFTER eating of the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil”.  We would need to understand that what we contemplated doing was “wrong”.

So I think that what we traditionally call “the Fall” is actually a fall UPWARD – of reaching the point in our development when we understand the difference between right and wrong   We become capable of making moral choices.  And that is part of what it means to be made in God’s image – to be able to choose between right and wrong.

I also think the development of our species as a whole might be something akin to the development of an individual human.  Babies are not born with a sense of “right” or “wrong” – or the ability to choose between them.  They may feel hungry, tired, bored, insecure, hot, cold, and so forth, and they know when they are satisfied with their surroundings, but we do not hold them morally responsible for their behavior.  That comes later and they grow into the knowledge of right and wrong as they learn there are other people in the world.  We learn what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves when we understand that we are a self with definite ideas about how we want to be treated.

So if I was pressed to say what the “original sin” of human beings is, I think I would have to say VIOLENCE.   We have murder committed in the very first family, and it goes on from there.  We have Abraham throwing out his first son Ishmael and his mother because Sarah is jealous.  We have Abraham later trying to kill his second son Isaac as an offering to God.   We have Joseph’s brothers planning to kill him, and later settling for throwing him in a pit.  We have battle after battle described in the books of Joshua and Judges.  We have David sending the husband of the woman he commits adultery with to the front lines of the battle to be killed – we have one of David’s sons raping his sister, we have people put into fiery furnaces and lion’s dens.  And so it goes on, century after century, right up through our own history of slaughtering Native Americans, lynchings, to the  present day, when we see acts of violence on the large scale with our wars, and on a smaller scale with domestic violence and individual acts of terrorism, not to mention abuse of children and trafficking of human beings as sex slaves.  Yes, it seems to me that if there is something we seem to have an innate capacity for, it is violence.

There is a study done in the 1960’s which showed that more evangelical Christians than non-Christians supported the war in Vietnam and opposed Martin Luther King Jr. and the movement for women’s equality.  That is stunning.  Can that be true?  Evangelical Christians worship the Jesus who asks up to love our enemies, accept all people with loving respect, and honor women as much as men.

If George Fox lived among us today, he would be as thoroughly disgusted with the unchristlike Christianity as he was in the 1600’s.  He said that Jesus can speak to our condition.  And so he listened to Jesus.  He  learned that Jesus actually did tell his disciples to renounce the sword.  Jesus did tell us to love everyone and treat them respectfully.  And early Friends learned that women’s rights, the abolition of slavery, and making prisons less horrible really were part of Jesus’ will.

I had three cousins who went to war in the 1960’s.  I honor them for doing what they thought they should for their country, often sacrificing a great deal.  They deserve to be recognized as heroes.  But I also understand that our enemies felt they were serving God.  Almost everyone believers that “my” country is on God’s side and the enemy is on Satan’s.  (In the middle east, the United States is called “the great Satan”.)

Jesus teaches us a message of peace, forgiveness and love.  Interestingly, the Bible uses war imagery because we ARE involved in a war, but it is a spiritual war – against the forces of evil, the principalities and powers, as we are told in Ephesians, chapter 6.  Our defense is in wearing “the whole armor of God:” belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit.  Carry the Gospel of Peace.

The Quakers have language for this – it is called “The Lamb’s War”.  This seems like a paradox.  An innocent lamb at war?  But our weapons are peace, forgiveness, and hope, which can overcome hate, violence, and fear.

James Nayler, George Fox, and early Quakers taught that

The Lamb’s war is an eschatological vision in which all obedient followers of Christ the King, who is at once the suffering and all-conquering Lamb, enlist in a total and unending struggle against evil in all of its forms in this present world until the Lamb and his army win victory, and history comes to an end with the triumph of good over evil and the coming of God to dwell with his people.       T. Canby Jones

The Lamb’s War begins with an inner transformation of our being, in which sin loses power over us and the kingdom of God is realized within.  Then the new life must be lived outwardly as we follow the leading of Christ.  For early Quakers, it meant not removing their hats, refusing to swear oaths, inventing fair trade prices, fair treatment for the insane, just treatment of Native Americans and African Americans, speaking truth to power.

None of this is about  physical  punishment and killing or physical force – it is all about the victory of faith and following the mind of Christ.  The universal mission of the Lamb’s War is to bring everyone to an inward knowledge of Christ and his power.  The victory of the Lamb will bring in the reign of virtue, love and peace.  It is belief in this final victory that allowed early Quakers to suffer imprisonment and persecution.  They believed, and we believe today, that God’s kingdom is already coming into being and we are privileged to be a part of it.  What might it mean for us to fight in the Lamb’s War – to live out love for our enemies.  What if we lived in such a way that the vulnerable among us had no need to fear?  Imagine our world if every Christian did what Jesus told his disciples to do.

 

I’ve always had trouble with the idea of original sin – I used to think that Pride was the original sin — that Adam and Eve decided they knew better than God what would be good for them to eat and they chose not to obey God – they could have eaten of any tree in the garden, except one tree they were not to eat from.  And they decided to eat from it – they decided to disobey God, that was the wrong choice.

But that forbidden tree was “the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” , and if they do not yet know the difference between good and evil, then how could they make a “wrong” choice.  – because if they had not yet eaten of that tree, they would not yet have known that it was “wrong” or “evil” for them to disobey God.  How can the choice of what to eat be “wrong” if they do not yet have the knowledge of good and evil.

If a cat kills and eats a bird, we may think that is wrong, but we don’t consider that the cat knew the difference between right and wrong and that it deliberately made a wrong choice.  The cat has not eaten of the tree of  the knowledge of good and evil – we do not think of animals as being motivated by the concepts of right and wrong.

If the original sin was to choose wrong over right, it must come AFTER eating of the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil”.  We would need to understand that what we contemplated doing was “wrong”.

So I think that what we traditionally call “the Fall” is actually a fall UPWARD – of reaching the point in our development when we understand the difference between right and wrong   We become capable of making moral choices.  And that is part of what it means to be made in God’s image – to be able to choose between right and wrong.

I also think the development of our species as a whole might be something akin to the development of an individual human.  Babies are not born with a sense of “right” or “wrong” – or the ability to choose between them.  They may feel hungry, tired, bored, insecure, hot, cold, and so forth, and they know when they are satisfied with their surroundings, but we do not hold them morally responsible for their behavior.  That comes later and they grow into the knowledge of right and wrong as they learn there are other people in the world.  We learn what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves when we understand that we are a self with definite ideas about how we want to be treated.

So if I was pressed to say what the “original sin” of human beings is, I think I would have to say VIOLENCE.   We have murder committed in the very first family, and it goes on from there.  We have Abraham throwing out his first son Ishmael and his mother because Sarah is jealous.  We have Abraham later trying to kill his second son Isaac as an offering to God.   We have Joseph’s brothers planning to kill him, and later settling for throwing him in a pit.  We have battle after battle described in the books of Joshua and Judges.  We have David sending the husband of the woman he commits adultery with to the front lines of the battle to be killed – we have one of David’s sons raping his sister, we have people put into fiery furnaces and lion’s dens.  And so it goes on, century after century, right up through our own history of slaughtering Native Americans, lynchings, to the  present day, when we see acts of violence on the large scale with our wars, and on a smaller scale with domestic violence and individual acts of terrorism, not to mention abuse of children and trafficking of human beings as sex slaves.  Yes, it seems to me that if there is something we seem to have an innate capacity for, it is violence.

There is a study done in the 1960’s which showed that more evangelical Christians than non-Christians supported the war in Vietnam and opposed Martin Luther King Jr. and the movement for women’s equality.  That is stunning.  Can that be true?  Evangelical Christians worship the Jesus who asks up to love our enemies, accept all people with loving respect, and honor women as much as men.

If George Fox lived among us today, he would be as thoroughly disgusted with the unchristlike Christianity as he was in the 1600’s.  He said that Jesus can speak to our condition.  And so he listened to Jesus.  He  learned that Jesus actually did tell his disciples to renounce the sword.  Jesus did tell us to love everyone and treat them respectfully.  And early Friends learned that women’s rights, the abolition of slavery, and making prisons less horrible really were part of Jesus’ will.

I had three cousins who went to war in the 1960’s.  I honor them for doing what they thought they should for their country, often sacrificing a great deal.  They deserve to be recognized as heroes.  But I also understand that our enemies felt they were serving God.  Almost everyone believers that “my” country is on God’s side and the enemy is on Satan’s.  (In the middle east, the United States is called “the great Satan”.)

Jesus teaches us a message of peace, forgiveness and love.  Interestingly, the Bible uses war imagery because we ARE involved in a war, but it is a spiritual war – against the forces of evil, the principalities and powers, as we are told in Ephesians, chapter 6.  Our defense is in wearing “the whole armor of God:” belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit.  Carry the Gospel of Peace.

The Quakers have language for this – it is called “The Lamb’s War”.  This seems like a paradox.  An innocent lamb at war?  But our weapons are peace, forgiveness, and hope, which can overcome hate, violence, and fear.

James Nayler, George Fox, and early Quakers taught that

The Lamb’s war is an eschatological vision in which all obedient followers of Christ the King, who is at once the suffering and all-conquering Lamb, enlist in a total and unending struggle against evil in all of its forms in this present world until the Lamb and his army win victory, and history comes to an end with the triumph of good over evil and the coming of God to dwell with his people.       T. Canby Jones

The Lamb’s War begins with an inner transformation of our being, in which sin loses power over us and the kingdom of God is realized within.  Then the new life must be lived outwardly as we follow the leading of Christ.  For early Quakers, it meant not removing their hats, refusing to swear oaths, inventing fair trade prices, fair treatment for the insane, just treatment of Native Americans and African Americans, speaking truth to power.

None of this is about  physical  punishment and killing or physical force – it is all about the victory of faith and following the mind of Christ.  The universal mission of the Lamb’s War is to bring everyone to an inward knowledge of Christ and his power.  The victory of the Lamb will bring in the reign of virtue, love and peace.  It is belief in this final victory that allowed early Quakers to suffer imprisonment and persecution.  They believed, and we believe today, that God’s kingdom is already coming into being and we are privileged to be a part of it.  What might it mean for us to fight in the Lamb’s War – to live out love for our enemies.  What if we lived in such a way that the vulnerable among us had no need to fear?  Imagine our world if every Christian did what Jesus told his disciples to do.

 

I’ve always had trouble with the idea of original sin – I used to think that Pride was the original sin — that Adam and Eve decided they knew better than God what would be good for them to eat and they chose not to obey God – they could have eaten of any tree in the garden, except one tree they were not to eat from.  And they decided to eat from it – they decided to disobey God, that was the wrong choice.

But that forbidden tree was “the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” , and if they do not yet know the difference between good and evil, then how could they make a “wrong” choice.  – because if they had not yet eaten of that tree, they would not yet have known that it was “wrong” or “evil” for them to disobey God.  How can the choice of what to eat be “wrong” if they do not yet have the knowledge of good and evil.

If a cat kills and eats a bird, we may think that is wrong, but we don’t consider that the cat knew the difference between right and wrong and that it deliberately made a wrong choice.  The cat has not eaten of the tree of  the knowledge of good and evil – we do not think of animals as being motivated by the concepts of right and wrong.

If the original sin was to choose wrong over right, it must come AFTER eating of the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil”.  We would need to understand that what we contemplated doing was “wrong”.

So I think that what we traditionally call “the Fall” is actually a fall UPWARD – of reaching the point in our development when we understand the difference between right and wrong   We become capable of making moral choices.  And that is part of what it means to be made in God’s image – to be able to choose between right and wrong.

I also think the development of our species as a whole might be something akin to the development of an individual human.  Babies are not born with a sense of “right” or “wrong” – or the ability to choose between them.  They may feel hungry, tired, bored, insecure, hot, cold, and so forth, and they know when they are satisfied with their surroundings, but we do not hold them morally responsible for their behavior.  That comes later and they grow into the knowledge of right and wrong as they learn there are other people in the world.  We learn what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves when we understand that we are a self with definite ideas about how we want to be treated.

So if I was pressed to say what the “original sin” of human beings is, I think I would have to say VIOLENCE.   We have murder committed in the very first family, and it goes on from there.  We have Abraham throwing out his first son Ishmael and his mother because Sarah is jealous.  We have Abraham later trying to kill his second son Isaac as an offering to God.   We have Joseph’s brothers planning to kill him, and later settling for throwing him in a pit.  We have battle after battle described in the books of Joshua and Judges.  We have David sending the husband of the woman he commits adultery with to the front lines of the battle to be killed – we have one of David’s sons raping his sister, we have people put into fiery furnaces and lion’s dens.  And so it goes on, century after century, right up through our own history of slaughtering Native Americans, lynchings, to the  present day, when we see acts of violence on the large scale with our wars, and on a smaller scale with domestic violence and individual acts of terrorism, not to mention abuse of children and trafficking of human beings as sex slaves.  Yes, it seems to me that if there is something we seem to have an innate capacity for, it is violence.

There is a study done in the 1960’s which showed that more evangelical Christians than non-Christians supported the war in Vietnam and opposed Martin Luther King Jr. and the movement for women’s equality.  That is stunning.  Can that be true?  Evangelical Christians worship the Jesus who asks up to love our enemies, accept all people with loving respect, and honor women as much as men.

If George Fox lived among us today, he would be as thoroughly disgusted with the unchristlike Christianity as he was in the 1600’s.  He said that Jesus can speak to our condition.  And so he listened to Jesus.  He  learned that Jesus actually did tell his disciples to renounce the sword.  Jesus did tell us to love everyone and treat them respectfully.  And early Friends learned that women’s rights, the abolition of slavery, and making prisons less horrible really were part of Jesus’ will.

I had three cousins who went to war in the 1960’s.  I honor them for doing what they thought they should for their country, often sacrificing a great deal.  They deserve to be recognized as heroes.  But I also understand that our enemies felt they were serving God.  Almost everyone believers that “my” country is on God’s side and the enemy is on Satan’s.  (In the middle east, the United States is called “the great Satan”.)

Jesus teaches us a message of peace, forgiveness and love.  Interestingly, the Bible uses war imagery because we ARE involved in a war, but it is a spiritual war – against the forces of evil, the principalities and powers, as we are told in Ephesians, chapter 6.  Our defense is in wearing “the whole armor of God:” belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit.  Carry the Gospel of Peace.

The Quakers have language for this – it is called “The Lamb’s War”.  This seems like a paradox.  An innocent lamb at war?  But our weapons are peace, forgiveness, and hope, which can overcome hate, violence, and fear.

James Nayler, George Fox, and early Quakers taught that

The Lamb’s war is an eschatological vision in which all obedient followers of Christ the King, who is at once the suffering and all-conquering Lamb, enlist in a total and unending struggle against evil in all of its forms in this present world until the Lamb and his army win victory, and history comes to an end with the triumph of good over evil and the coming of God to dwell with his people.       T. Canby Jones

The Lamb’s War begins with an inner transformation of our being, in which sin loses power over us and the kingdom of God is realized within.  Then the new life must be lived outwardly as we follow the leading of Christ.  For early Quakers, it meant not removing their hats, refusing to swear oaths, inventing fair trade prices, fair treatment for the insane, just treatment of Native Americans and African Americans, speaking truth to power.

None of this is about  physical  punishment and killing or physical force – it is all about the victory of faith and following the mind of Christ.  The universal mission of the Lamb’s War is to bring everyone to an inward knowledge of Christ and his power.  The victory of the Lamb will bring in the reign of virtue, love and peace.  It is belief in this final victory that allowed early Quakers to suffer imprisonment and persecution.  They believed, and we believe today, that God’s kingdom is already coming into being and we are privileged to be a part of it.  What might it mean for us to fight in the Lamb’s War – to live out love for our enemies.  What if we lived in such a way that the vulnerable among us had no need to fear?  Imagine our world if every Christian did what Jesus told his disciples to do.

 

I’ve always had trouble with the idea of original sin – I used to think that Pride was the original sin — that Adam and Eve decided they knew better than God what would be good for them to eat and they chose not to obey God – they could have eaten of any tree in the garden, except one tree they were not to eat from.  And they decided to eat from it – they decided to disobey God, that was the wrong choice.

But that forbidden tree was “the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil” , and if they do not yet know the difference between good and evil, then how could they make a “wrong” choice.  – because if they had not yet eaten of that tree, they would not yet have known that it was “wrong” or “evil” for them to disobey God.  How can the choice of what to eat be “wrong” if they do not yet have the knowledge of good and evil.

If a cat kills and eats a bird, we may think that is wrong, but we don’t consider that the cat knew the difference between right and wrong and that it deliberately made a wrong choice.  The cat has not eaten of the tree of  the knowledge of good and evil – we do not think of animals as being motivated by the concepts of right and wrong.

If the original sin was to choose wrong over right, it must come AFTER eating of the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil”.  We would need to understand that what we contemplated doing was “wrong”.

So I think that what we traditionally call “the Fall” is actually a fall UPWARD – of reaching the point in our development when we understand the difference between right and wrong   We become capable of making moral choices.  And that is part of what it means to be made in God’s image – to be able to choose between right and wrong.

I also think the development of our species as a whole might be something akin to the development of an individual human.  Babies are not born with a sense of “right” or “wrong” – or the ability to choose between them.  They may feel hungry, tired, bored, insecure, hot, cold, and so forth, and they know when they are satisfied with their surroundings, but we do not hold them morally responsible for their behavior.  That comes later and they grow into the knowledge of right and wrong as they learn there are other people in the world.  We learn what it means to love our neighbor as ourselves when we understand that we are a self with definite ideas about how we want to be treated.

So if I was pressed to say what the “original sin” of human beings is, I think I would have to say VIOLENCE.   We have murder committed in the very first family, and it goes on from there.  We have Abraham throwing out his first son Ishmael and his mother because Sarah is jealous.  We have Abraham later trying to kill his second son Isaac as an offering to God.   We have Joseph’s brothers planning to kill him, and later settling for throwing him in a pit.  We have battle after battle described in the books of Joshua and Judges.  We have David sending the husband of the woman he commits adultery with to the front lines of the battle to be killed – we have one of David’s sons raping his sister, we have people put into fiery furnaces and lion’s dens.  And so it goes on, century after century, right up through our own history of slaughtering Native Americans, lynchings, to the  present day, when we see acts of violence on the large scale with our wars, and on a smaller scale with domestic violence and individual acts of terrorism, not to mention abuse of children and trafficking of human beings as sex slaves.  Yes, it seems to me that if there is something we seem to have an innate capacity for, it is violence.

There is a study done in the 1960’s which showed that more evangelical Christians than non-Christians supported the war in Vietnam and opposed Martin Luther King Jr. and the movement for women’s equality.  That is stunning.  Can that be true?  Evangelical Christians worship the Jesus who asks up to love our enemies, accept all people with loving respect, and honor women as much as men.

If George Fox lived among us today, he would be as thoroughly disgusted with the unchristlike Christianity as he was in the 1600’s.  He said that Jesus can speak to our condition.  And so he listened to Jesus.  He  learned that Jesus actually did tell his disciples to renounce the sword.  Jesus did tell us to love everyone and treat them respectfully.  And early Friends learned that women’s rights, the abolition of slavery, and making prisons less horrible really were part of Jesus’ will.

I had three cousins who went to war in the 1960’s.  I honor them for doing what they thought they should for their country, often sacrificing a great deal.  They deserve to be recognized as heroes.  But I also understand that our enemies felt they were serving God.  Almost everyone believers that “my” country is on God’s side and the enemy is on Satan’s.  (In the middle east, the United States is called “the great Satan”.)

Jesus teaches us a message of peace, forgiveness and love.  Interestingly, the Bible uses war imagery because we ARE involved in a war, but it is a spiritual war – against the forces of evil, the principalities and powers, as we are told in Ephesians, chapter 6.  Our defense is in wearing “the whole armor of God:” belt of truth, breastplate of righteousness, shield of faith, helmet of salvation, sword of the Spirit.  Carry the Gospel of Peace.

The Quakers have language for this – it is called “The Lamb’s War”.  This seems like a paradox.  An innocent lamb at war?  But our weapons are peace, forgiveness, and hope, which can overcome hate, violence, and fear.

James Nayler, George Fox, and early Quakers taught that

The Lamb’s war is an eschatological vision in which all obedient followers of Christ the King, who is at once the suffering and all-conquering Lamb, enlist in a total and unending struggle against evil in all of its forms in this present world until the Lamb and his army win victory, and history comes to an end with the triumph of good over evil and the coming of God to dwell with his people.       T. Canby Jones

The Lamb’s War begins with an inner transformation of our being, in which sin loses power over us and the kingdom of God is realized within.  Then the new life must be lived outwardly as we follow the leading of Christ.  For early Quakers, it meant not removing their hats, refusing to swear oaths, inventing fair trade prices, fair treatment for the insane, just treatment of Native Americans and African Americans, speaking truth to power.

None of this is about  physical  punishment and killing or physical force – it is all about the victory of faith and following the mind of Christ.  The universal mission of the Lamb’s War is to bring everyone to an inward knowledge of Christ and his power.  The victory of the Lamb will bring in the reign of virtue, love and peace.  It is belief in this final victory that allowed early Quakers to suffer imprisonment and persecution.  They believed, and we believe today, that God’s kingdom is already coming into being and we are privileged to be a part of it.  What might it mean for us to fight in the Lamb’s War – to live out love for our enemies.  What if we lived in such a way that the vulnerable among us had no need to fear?  Imagine our world if every Christian did what Jesus told his disciples to do.

This message was delivered to Spokane Friends on 12 November 2017

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