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Because I’m not a parent, I’m in no position to tell people how to raise their children. And unlike the Southern Seminary professor who wants to “raise up violent sons,” I do not hold a doctorate in theology degree.

My theological education is complete enough, however, that I know pursuing violence is completely contrary to my understanding of Jesus and how he wants us to live. And to aspire to pass along that misguided understanding of scripture to children—4-year-olds in this case—is just plain scary.

Lots of folks are sounding off on this professor’s views, each from his or her own perspective. Those of us concerned with Christian education certainly ought to take this incident as an opportunity to examine closely what we are teaching in our churches and how, what resources we are using and what additional helps we are offering parents to help them reinforce biblical principles in the home.

When Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers,” he meant it. In my mind, I can hear him emphasizing the second syllable in the word “peacemakers.”

Violence is a choice; so is peace. My understanding of the Sermon on the Mount leads me to conclude that Jesus called us to live radically, counter-culturally. When the Christian community looks clearly out of step with those around them and responds in completely unexpected and loving ways, Jesus said, then things are as they should be.

Jesus also said, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5:44).

In writing about the new life people live in Christ, Paul said, “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom 12:21).

Some things about the Bible are difficult to understand. This particular teaching is not one of them.

We go a long way toward understanding the more complicated parts of scripture (those that deal with violence, for example) when we first begin to live the parts we already understand.

Jan Turrentine is curriculum editor for Acacia Resources, publishing arm of the Baptist Center for Ethics. Her weblog, “Under the Acacia Tree,” appears at http://undertheacaciatree.blogspot.com/

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