Third Way and Determinism

Some Christians are functional deists: they believe in God but their God has very little to do with this world. He’s the clockmaker God; made this place and then let it run. On the other hand, some Christians are theological determinists: they believe everything that happens is the result of God’s plans and God’s designs and God’s intent. Adam Hamilton, in Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White: Thoughts on Religion, Morality, and Politics, addresses this question in chp 14.

Hamilton makes it clear that deism is simply a contradiction to what the Bible teaches — that God is personal and involved in this world of ours and in our lives.

Hamilton is clear and I wish more determinists would fess up on this one: if you are a determinist, you have to believe God determines everything. Including bad things. God may not be the direct agent of everything, he is the ultimate cause. Including bad things, and Hamilton points to rape (and he refers here to a horrendous story he knows personally).


“No,” he says, “I don’t believe everything happens for a reason if, by this, someone means that the evil happened according to the will of God” (124). “I consider it blasphemy of the worst kind to attribute such evil [he refers again to the rape of a young girl] to God” (124).

He admits: “I was once a determinist.” He has had an experience or two that forced him to rethink his determinism.

He doesn’t believe God determines everything but instead that God uses everything for good. So, he — as so many of us do — appeals to the world God has made and into which God permitted freedom within limits. Somehow, “God has a way of bringing about his redemptive purposes through the tragic things that happen on our planet, and the terrible things we sometimes do to one another” (128). “God’s ordinary way is to clean up after us” (129).

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than fifty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://www.whiterose4jon.net Mike Mangold

    One of the worst quotes anyone could have given us during our trials (and believe me, many did), was “this is all according to God’s plan.” No, bad things happen to good people. God is not only there to “clean up the mess” but to hold us in His hands and tenderly caress us when we need need it most. And so is His church. We really are there for each other and the greatest support we received was from other believers who had been through similar circumstances. Perhaps God did not determine this mess but God is good. All the time!

  • http://www.communityofjesus.blogspot.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    God indeed works all things according to the counsel of his will (Eph), but that just begs the question, What? I agree, and find it appalling that any Christian theology would posit rape and other evils in some mysterious way to God’s will, be it decretive (and not preceptive, or whatever they say) or whatever.
    I like the description here.
    The problem comes for some or many as to why God doesn’t intervene more. But God lets people have the choice and consequences that go with it. And of course we live in a world that is wacked out for whatever reason. A boy of four years of age a son to parents where I work at RBC Ministries, is fighting a rare form of cancer and it seems to be bringing him to his end. The rough part is not the false notion that God did it, but that God doesn’t intervene. Somehow or other God will work in it for good, and will clean it up someday, the promise we have in Jesus. But in the meantime, such does not occur. And it’s one thing only: bad.
    But when we remember that in Jesus in the end God makes all wrongs right, and all things new, this does give us needed perspective. After all, we all die and we all meet bad things happening, even if on a much lesser scale.
    Just some of my ponderings.

  • http://www.communityofjesus.blogspot.com/ Ted M. Gossard

    Of course James makes it clear that God has nothing at all to do with human evil and acts of evil and sin.

  • http://krusekronicle.typepad.com Michael W. Kruse

    Rather than seeing God deterministically, I like the image of God positioned in the future calling all things toward himself. He isn’t controlling each event but is rather involved in such a way that events will have no option but to come to his preordained conclusion. The idea of predestination speaks to “destination” not the specifics of the journey toward the destination.

  • RJS

    Freedom within limits perhaps – but very broad limits. Any kind of strong (or perhaps even loose) determinism leads to diminished view of God and His glory, sovereignty, and power. Theoretically a glorious, sovereign, and powerful God could control and determine everything – but the world in which we live tells us that this is not how he chooses to act.

  • Daniel

    Perhaps it’s problematic to pray for God to ‘intervene’, and assume that that intervention will bring instant healing or whatever. If God is most fundamentally revealed in Christ’s self-sacrificial death at the hands of the powers, then that God’s presence must surely be a suffering presence. God’s ‘intervention’ is, paradigmatically, to be present with and to suffer with the fallen Creation.
    The hope of resurrection is always there, but cannot be guaranteed by the presence of the suffering God.

  • http://homewardbound-cb.blogspot.com ChrisB

    I’m not a determinist, though I certainly believe in a sovereign God who permits evil, but I’m not sure I can agree with his argument (at least as it’s laid out here).
    Determinism isn’t true because we don’t like the implications. It isn’t true because it’s inconsistent with how God has revealed Himself to us in the scriptures.
    If we build our theology around a God we like or one we can stomach, we’re just another batch of idolaters.
    ChrisB

  • Jayson

    This continues a theme in your recent posts of how we see God. I believe this affects how we live life. I have so enjoyed the posts and the comments. I wonder which view is more consistent with God the wish granting genie.(who is what I believe is the predominant modern incarnation of God) Emo Phillips prayer of “God, please bend the laws of the universe for my convenience” has too often reflected/defined my own prayer moments/theology and those of the churches I have attended.
    What happens if we talk at God rather than talk to God? The scene Jesus describes in which he says I never knew you at judgement day makes me wonder.

  • http://cramercomments.blogspot.com D C Cramer

    Interestingly, there isn’t necessarily much functional difference between deists and determinists. In both instances, God got the deterministic ball rolling (so to speak) at creation, and in neither instance does God need to respond to his creation in any meaningful way. (The difference, of course, is that God does reveal himself on most determinist accounts, but even that is pre-decided as all part of the deterministic plan, rather than a true response to creation.)

  • Glen

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this issue lately, not so much about the big issues (does God cause/allow evil), but the small ones. A lot of people in my world seem to attribute every tiny thing to God. If they happened to sit next to someone on the bus and the conversation turned out to be somehow beneficial, it was “a divine appointment”. Everything that happens is because God “laid it on someone’s heart”. They see God’s hand in every detail of their life, as though life was a puppet show and God was pulling the strings.
    Sometimes I wonder if my faith isn’t strong enough, and maybe I too should see God’s activity more clearly. (In fact, I know that there are times I don’t see it clearly enough.) And yet, I also feel that this can be taken too far. Yes, the Bible is clear that God is involved in our world. He is not hands-off, but intervenes at specific times and in specific ways to achieve his purposes. I have no doubt that there are times when he orchestrates meetings between people for his reasons, etc. But I don’t think he plans out every detail of each of our lives, and to act as though he does may seem “spiritual”, but it strikes me as disingenuous. Such a view would eliminate the notion of free will, as far as I can tell. Thoughts?

  • http://www.tgdarkly.com/blog dopderbeck

    Well, I’m not sure I agree with the taxonomy of “deist” vs. “determinist.” In the orthodox tradition, particularly in Roman Catholic theology, there’s a well-developed theology of divine action that avoids both poles, which focuses on “primary” and “secondary” causation. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Contra Gentiles develops this idea precisely with reference to the sort of theodicy question Hamilton raises here. Frankly, it’s a little annoying to hear 2000 years of Christian reflection on what it means for God to be totally sovereign but man to be free to commit horrible acts of evil summarzied so blithely.
    I’m guessing — maybe I’m wrong — that Hamilton is trying to preview an open theist position? That doesn’t seem necessary to me, and aside from being more than suspect in terms of who God is, I don’t think it helps with the theodicy problem at all.

  • Joey

    When I was at university a very popular professor got canned for being a proponent of Open Theism. Needless to say it was hard to have a conversation on theology or academic freedom without debating or at least exploring how God interacts with creation. I saw some pretty disturbing behavior from both sides of the argument. As a lover of God and a lover of theology these conversations always interested me, sometimes to a fault. By the end of it all my determination was that it really doesn’t matter to me. I mean, I really understand many of the implications of the many positions out there but in the end I affirm that God is good. God is good and no matter what His specific role in all of the mess is, in the end His goodness wins. There is a throne and somebody is on it. Maybe it is just laziness on my part but it breaks my heart how divisive this issue can be. If God is in meticulous control of everything or if he merely interacts creatively in every moment without predetermining anything other than His will I am OK with it. I have faith in His goodness and I believe that He wants His followers to enter into the suffering of the world. I can wax theoretical all day on pain but if I’m not willing to enter into it what good does my doctrine do?

  • The Wingnut

    I agree with Hamilton.
    One of the most hurtful things my wife and I have ever heard was a comment from a close family member on our struggles to start our family.
    The comment was, “Well, God was trying to teach you something, and since you didn’t understand the lesson with your first miscarriage, God gave you the second miscarriage.”
    It is deeply saddening to see that there are people who believe that God would want any part of His beloved, good creation to suffer in any way.
    wingnut

  • Rebeccat

    Like everyone else who has ever approached these matters, I don’t have good answers here. What I have come to is much like what Joey says above: it doesn’t matter so much because God is good. Which may seem like a cop out, but the fact of the matter is that I and the people I’m closest too have been through enough horrific crap to make me realize that at the end of the day it’s the only answer that works and fits with our humble position in the scheme of things.
    I have sometimes thought that this issue of suffering and God’s will goes back to our fall at the very beginning. Adam and Eve were tempted by the idea of being able to know good and evil as God knows good and evil. That’s what they wanted and that’s what many of us search for to this day: what does this evil situation look like from God’s perspective? Why does this good thing not happen? This desire to know good and evil as God does brought death to Adam and Eve. Today, it’s so deeply ingrained in our fallen nature, that I don’t suppose we can avoid struggling with it. But I do wonder if its fruit isn’t the same today as it was then.
    But like I said, at the end of the day and at the end of a lotta suffering, I don’t think we can know (and maybe shouldn’t know) God’s role in all this mess. If God actively allows these things to happen, then it is for His good purposes and I trust Him in that. (And honestly, sometimes in the middle of the worst of the worst, this is a comforting thought because we can endure almost anything for a good enough reason.) Or if God is just fiddling at the edges and His role is to respond when we seek comfort and nothing more, well again, it would be so for His good purposes. And I trust Him.

  • http://www.saet-online.org Gerald Hiestand

    “I consider it blasphemy of the worst kind to attribute such evil [he refers again to the rape of a young girl] to God”
    I wonder if Hamilton would say this in reference to the crucifixion of Christ–the greatest injustice the world has ever seen. If there was ever an evil that should raise questions of theodicy, the crucifixion is it. And yet it was clearly God’s foreordained “plan”.
    I’m a determinist, but as far as I can figure, the theodicy of determinism is not really substantively different than the theodicy of Arminianism (or even open theism). Determinism just more comfortably calls a spade a spade. Laying aside the debate between “allow” and “foreordain”, both systems claim that God allows evil for a higher reason. Determinism–in it’s better forms–chooses to remain silent on what exactly that higher reason might be. (My sympathies to Wingnut). Arminianism claims that it is to establish “free will” among moral creatures. But in both cases, God could have done things different, knew what would happen as a result of his own actions and the actions of others, and choose to allow the evil to run it’s course.
    Not even open theism gets God off the hook. It just moves the problem a bit further down the street. God may not know ahead of time what exact evil our actions will result in, but he knows in the present when (for instance) a child is being abused. And at this point he often chooses not to intervene (for the higher purpose of maintaining the “free will” of the abuser). I don’t see how this serves as a more effective theodicy than determinism, if the main issue that one has with determinism is that it makes God in some sense culpable for the evil in the world. Open theism (and even arminianism to a lesser degree) sells the farm, but doesn’t get anything back. God still has blood on his hands.
    At the end of the day, the only two options I can see for establishing a coherent theodicy are determinism or some sort of process theology. You can’t posit an all-knowing, all-powerful divine being, and not admit that in an ultimate and final sense (even if not direct), the buck stops with God.
    At least that’s how I see it, anyway.

  • http://angiespoint@blogspot.com Angie Van De Merwe

    One must believe “by faith” that God intervenes in history, as it is unproveable, but this is “proof-texting” history or “experience”. I choose not to believe that God “allows” evil, as this does not hold leadership accountable. Leadership is responsible for what happens in this world, not God. Believers choose to believe within a “Christian context”, which is an existential hermeneutic. And this type of hermeneutic is understood within the realm of “faith”, not reason. I don’t think that this type of hermeneutic is “reasonable” or believeable.

  • RJS

    Gerald (#15),
    I wonder if Hamilton would say this in reference to the crucifixion of Christ–the greatest injustice the world has ever seen. If there was ever an evil that should raise questions of theodicy, the crucifixion is it. And yet it was clearly God’s foreordained “plan”.
    If, in fact, Jesus was merely a man – an innocent God fearing man – then the crucifixion raises questions of theodicy. But…isn’t the Christian view of the crucifixion that God himself, Jesus as fully divine, fully human, redeems mankind and conquers death and evil in the life, death, and resurrection? If so it becomes God’s foreordained plan of self suffering to ultimately defeat suffering.

  • Brad VW

    Glen:
    I appreciate your comment and can relate. It also makes me think about the people who pray for a good parking space. I also find myself thanking God for small little things like good weather on the day I want to golf, and it even seems silly to me but I also realize that we try to put too many things into either the “God did this” camp or the “God wasn’t involved” camp. Why does it have to be either/or when of course everything that exists is because of God and maybe it’s our ideas of God sitting up in a throne picking and choosing when to get involved that is the problem. I don’t know, I just read stuff and it sounds good but I can’t spit it out yet.:)

  • Jeff B. SC

    There is a thing called free will and sin. God gave each of us this. God does not force us to do right, nor does He stop us from doing wrong. God allows us all to choose the path we will walk and will judge us accordingly once we pass on.
    The ultimate act of evil is when Adam and Eve chose to walk away from God and we have been paying the piper for it ever since. Christ death on the cross was no accident. Christ KNEW it was going to happen and in many ways, spoke honestly but harshly to the Pharasees and Sudacees.
    He KNEW that he was going to go up on that he was going to be betrayed by Judas when Judas was asked to follow him. Jesus KNEW that many people would hate him. Jesus KNEW all these things in advance and the 4 Gospels testifies to this.
    There was purpose for Christ to go up on that cross. To offer forgiveness of sins to those that humbled themselves and BELIEVED in Christ.
    But, God does not FORCE anyone like a puppet master to worship Christ, He once again leaves that to your own free will.

  • John Meadows

    The issue raised here is the same one that The Shack address. And, The Shack comes down in the same place Hamilton does.

  • Your Name

    One other “concern” that I have concerning God’s intervention in history; Children believe that their parents are “all powerful”, like the evangelical Christian God. But, when they “grow up”, they put away childish things and think differently. These are developmental issues concerning the indivdual, and social structures, not theological understandings of “texts” or “Christian” proof-texting of history…as “all truth is God’s truth”. The problem today, is there are various understandings of “truth”, even within one academic discipline, as well as interpretaions of Scripture.

  • http://www.saet-online.org Gerald Hiestand

    RJS (#17)
    Interesting thought. But I don’t see how Jesus’ divinity eliminates the difficulty, nor the fact that his death had a redemptive purpose of which he was (in one sense) a willing partner. His death remains a grievous evil, does it not? If all that’s required to eliminate the need for theodicy is a willing victim and a redemptive purpose, then we could sweep away the need for theodicy in the death of every martyr who willingly chose faithfulness for the purpose of glorifying God. Besides, there was clearly a sense in which the crucifixion was a “not my will but your will be done” sort of thing. But maybe I’m not understanding the thrust of your comment.
    But aside from Jesus, one can point to Job and Joseph as instances where God was clearly the “buck stops here” sort of person in their particular instances of suffering. And I think that’s my larger point. No matter how you slice it, I can’t see a way to totally absolve God from at least indirect responsibility in the suffering of his creation (unless one moves toward process theology). And I don’t think God is looking to be absolved either. That’s the whole point of God’s homily at the end of the book of Job, it would seem.

  • Gerald Hiestand

    I should have written,
    “No matter how you slice it, I can’t see a way to totally absolve God from the final (even if indirect) responsibility in the suffering of his creation (unless one moves toward process theology). I think Rebeccat (#14) above says it well… God has his reasons, whatever they are, and we can trust him.

  • RJS

    Gerald,
    Oh, there are many other problems and the issue of God and suffering is not likely to be one we solve, as it has been a conundrum for some 3000 years or so of recorded history. I just do not think that Jesus and the crucifixion is an appropriate example unless one rejects core Christian doctrines. Somehow in our wrestling this is the good news – the solution, not yet another example of inexplicable injustice.

  • Jason

    If God is the architect of the cross from the beginning of time, then how big a leap is it to believe that even this rape mentioned has a purpose yet unseen?
    None of us could have figured out the cross if not for divine revelation. And is the death of God at the hands of evil men not the greatest wickedness to be seen on earth?
    Again, I don’t know the answer but the cross seems to be the sticking point for me. Please tell me where I am thinking wrong.

  • linda

    many christians are also functional cessationists i.e. they give lip service to believing the gifts are for today but neither practice them nor really expect God to show up supernaturally. while i don’t believe God always heals in this lifetime i think that if we prayed and continued praying for our healing we’d see it a lot more than we do in much of the church today. my comments here are in reference to christians saying “it was God’s will” when a child dies of some horrendous illness or something terrible happens.

  • Napman

    I think it is important to see that Christ crucified is part of the climax of God reconciling the world to himself. Jesus was not a”willing victim” but one who chose obedience to death on a cross. He gave his life as a ransom for many–or so he said–and as such he was not a victim in the normal sense at all. It is passing strange to me that the cross would represent a difficult problem of theodicy when in fact it is God himself who is acting to set things right through the cross. It is pretty clear to me, at least on theological grounds, that our theory has a big problem if God himself cannot confront the principalities and powers on the cross without giving rise to the very question of why God would allow such suffering within his own Son!

  • Napman

    RE#15: Theological determinism requires that God to be the ultimate cause of all actions. In contrast, if one holds that God created human beings with libertarian freedom, one cannot say that God is the cause of all actions. So it does not at all follow that God has blood on his hands in the same way in both deterministic and nondeterministic theories. One may believe that God is morally required to intervene in the life of his free creatures to prevent child abuse, but one has to make a case for that. It is much harder, and much different to defend God when he himself is the ultimate cause of the actions of the child abusers. I myself do not believe that a reasoned defense is possible for the God who causes all actions.

  • SamB

    Gerald #15 – What do you mean by process theology?

  • http://www.saet-online.org Gerald Hiestand

    Sam (#29) Process theology is a step to the left of Open Theism, and generally denies God’s omnipotence as understood by classic theism. It largely eliminates the need for theodicy in that God is at many points unable to eliminate evil.
    Napman (#28)One may believe that God is morally required to intervene in the life of his free creatures to prevent child abuse, but one has to make a case for that.
    First, I don’t believe that God is morally required to intervene. (Im’ a determinist, after all). But why is this less of a “self-evident” proposition compared to the proposition that God is the “ultimate yet indirect” cause of evil? Why is one required to make a case for this proposition and not the other? If you stood in a room and watched your daughter be molested by your neighbor, wouldn’t anyone with a moral conscience rightly condemn your non-intervention? And how meaningful would a jury find your defense of “I was honoring the free will of my neighbor”?
    My point here is that whether God is a passive bystander or the ultimate cause, in either case he bears some responsibility. And this reality requires trust and submission to the divine will. Trying to absolve God of responsibility with a “free will” argument doesn’t really resolve the tension. Trust and submission to his sovereignty is still required.
    Or said in another way, imagine the “comfort” the free will argument has for a twelve year old girl who was raped by her uncle, “Well you see, God choose not to stop your uncle from molesting you because that would have been an infringement on your uncles freewill.” Do we really think the uncle’s free will is more valuable than the child’s safety? I don’t. Especially in light of the fact that God often steps into such situations and squashes the person (and their free will) who is harming another. And so I’m forced to trust that God must have some other reason for why he allows one evil here, but prevents another evil there. And if he has a reason, then he has a plan. And I’m content to trust that plan, even if I don’t know why it has to be that way.

  • Napman

    Re #30: In the face of great evil, it requires faith, trust, and submission to believe in a good God. On that, Gerald and I agree.
    My point is that on determinism, God is the ultimate cause of the actions of the child abusers. I don’t know of a sound reasoned defense for that moral responsibility. On many nondeterministic theories God is not the cause of abuse in any manner for he has created humans with libertarian free will. To say that God is responsible for the abuse is nonsense, because he is in fact not the cause of it, as the deterministic God would be.
    One doesn’t have to make a case for God’s moral responsibility for child abuse on determinism, because determinism requires God to be the ultimate cause of the abuse. I think a case must be made for the idea, given a nondeterministic God, that God is morally required to intervene to prevent child abuse because it brings into play, among other things, other goods that may hang on God not intervening.
    The question of whether God is morally required to intervene in the free actions of his creatures to prevent child abuse may be a settled matter to Gerald, and I respect that. I would say there are a variety of reasoned arguments to defend the fact of God’s nonintervention, some that may be more successful than others.
    But I think Gerald is mistaken to think that proponents of the “free will” defense of God intend to comfort a 12 year old child abuse victim with an abstract argument concerning philosophical objections to the Christian faith. The defense is a philosophical response to a rational objection to the Christian faith and was not developed as a resource for providing pastoral care or “comfort.”
    In the same way, I doubt that Gerald would want the same child abuse victim to be comforted by a theological determinist telling him or her that the abuse you suffer was ultimately caused by God. It just wouldn’t be the right time to discuss such abstractions, regardless of the merits.

  • Gerald Hiestand

    Sam (#29) Process theology is a step to the left of Open Theism, and generally denies God’s omnipotence as understood by classic theism. It largely eliminates the need for theodicy in that God is at many points unable to eliminate evil.
    Napman (#28)One may believe that God is morally required to intervene in the life of his free creatures to prevent child abuse, but one has to make a case for that.
    First, I don’t believe that God is morally required to intervene. (Im’ a determinist, after all). But why is this less of a “self-evident” proposition compared to the proposition that God is the “ultimate yet indirect” cause of evil? Why is one required to make a case for this proposition and not the other? If you stood in a room and watched your daughter be molested by your neighbor, wouldn’t anyone with a moral conscience rightly condemn your non-intervention? And how meaningful would a jury find your defense of “I was honoring the free will of my neighbor”?
    My point here is that whether God is a passive bystander or the ultimate cause, in either case he bears some responsibility. And this reality requires trust and submission to the divine will. Trying to absolve God of responsibility with a “free will” argument doesn’t really resolve the tension. Trust and submission to his sovereignty is still required.
    Or said in another way, imagine the “comfort” the free will argument has for a twelve year old girl who was raped by her uncle, “Well you see, God choose not to stop your uncle from molesting you because that would have been an infringement on your uncles freewill.” Do we really think the uncle’s free will is more valuable than the child’s safety? I don’t. Especially in light of the fact that God often steps into such situations and squashes the person (and their free will) who is harming another. And so I’m forced to trust that God must have some other reason for why he allows one evil here, but prevents another evil there. And if he has a reason, then he has a plan. And I’m content to trust that plan, even if I don’t know why it has to be that way.

  • Gerald Hiestand

    Napman (#31)
    I typed out a response, but it got lost when I refreshed the text (the one time I didn’t save it first.)
    It took me about twenty minutes to type it out and I don’t have the energy to do it again. Thanks for the discussion.
    blessings and happy new year to all!

  • Chris E

    There seems to be confusion amongst some of the posters here about how determinists understand the idea that God “is the ultimate cause of all actions.” Please see Bruce Ware’s “God’s Greater Glory” for an extended determinist explanation of how God’s meticulous control does not leave him guilty of evil. Somebody up there said it, and I agree with the idea that a theology approaching Open Theism (or Greg Boyd’s Warfare Theology) does not absolve God of wrongdoing, if human evil is wrongdoing. Under Open Theism, God still chooses to “allow” certain evils, and, even worse, is either impotent to defeat other evils, or would have defeated them if only he had seen them coming.

  • http://cramercomments.blogspot.com D C Cramer

    RE: the distinction between “causing” and “allowing,” John Howard Yoder offers an interesting discussion (though in a slightly different context). Note especially point (d):
    “Leaving aside several valid criticisms at this point, let us give the ‘lesser evil’ argument its most defensible form. The contention is that out of love for my Neighbor A I should protect him when Neighbor B attacks him, for if I did not I should share the guilt for the attack. Being guilty of defensive violence against Neighbor B is less evil than being passively guilty of permitting offensive violence against Neighbor A for one of two reasons: either because Neighbor B is the aggressor or because Neighbor A is my friend or relative or fellow citizen for whom I have more responsibility than for Neighbor B.
    “The nonresistant answer here cannot help being scandalous and pushing the scandal of the cross to the end. If the cross defines agape, it denies:
    a. that ‘one’s own’ family, friends, compatriots, are more to be loved than the enemy;
    b. that the life of the aggressor is worth less than that of the attacked;
    c. that the responsibility to prevent evil (policing Neighbor B) is an expression of love (it is love in the sense of a benevolent sentiment but not of agape as defined by the cross) when it involves the death of the aggressor;
    d. that letting evil happen is as blameworthy as committing it.
    “These four denials are implicit in the positive development of this treatment. To develop them further here would be repetition. That these denials appear scandalous demonstrates simply how thoroughly the western Christian mind-set has been Constantinianized, i.e., influenced by pagan and pre-Christian ideals of particular human solidarities as ethical absolutes.”
    - J.H. Yoder, “If Christ is Truly Lord,” in The Original Revolution: Essays on Christian Pacifism, 80-81.


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