I typically have two types of arguments online with other Christians: One is about whether or not Islam is a peaceful religion and the other is about how Jesus was absolutely not a pacifist Messiah.
So, in the same breath I can be in a conversation with Christians who scream at me about how Jesus was not nonviolent and totally wants them to own guns, kill terrorists and open carry, and then turn around and have another conversation with those same Christians about how their faith is a peaceful religion and Islam is a violent religion.
It’s kind of insane.
These Christians typically defend their violent Messiah by pointing out that Jesus told His disciples to “go and buy a sword” and that He turned over the tables in the Temple and chased out the moneychangers with a whip, and that He said “I came not to bring peace, but a sword!” and then typically they wind everything up by assuring me that when Jesus returns He will bring some serious whup-ass on His enemies.
However, these same Christians will also argue that Islam is violent by quoting verses from the Quran that command gruesome killings and then they’ll point to examples of how violent Muslims have been throughout history, and then typically they will wind up by quoting those “love your enemies” and “turn the other cheek” verses from Jesus to prove how peaceful Christianity is in comparison to Islam.
Where do I even begin?
Jesus Was A Nonviolent Messiah
First of all, Jesus was a peaceful Messiah, so much so that they even called Him the “Prince of Peace” [Isaiah 9:6]
Old Testament prophecies about Jesus promise that He would “do no violence” [Isaiah 53:9]
Isaiah also says that those who “walk in his path” as He “teaches his ways” to them will “learn to study war no more” and “beat their swords into plougshares” [Isaiah 2:3-4]
When Jesus was born God sent thousands of angels to shout: “Peace on Earth! Peace and goodwill to all mankind!” [Luke 2:14]
The Messiah, who came as a tiny baby rather than a mighty warrior, grew up to teach things like:
“Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. To one who strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also.” [Luke 6:27-29]
“Blessed are the peacemakers for they will be called the children of God.” [Matt. 5:9]
“My Kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my disciples would fight.” [John 18:36]
He also rebuked His own disciples for wanting to rain down fire on their enemies saying: “You know not what Spirit you are of. For the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives but to save them.” [Luke 9:55-56]
He wept over Jerusalem because they “did not know the things that make for peace.” [Luke 19:41]
Jesus also disarmed Peter saying: “Put away your weapon! For those who live by the sword will die by the sword.” [Matt. 26:52]
Who could forget that Jesus also forgave those who were pounding nails into his hands and feet saying: “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do!” [Luke 23:34]
So, it’s really hard to claim that Jesus wasn’t huge on Peace.
Islam Is A Peaceful Religion
Still, those same Christians who cock their pistols and polish their shotguns claiming Jesus was pro-gun will turn right around and argue with me that Christianity is a religion of peace as they wet their pants over the “violence of Islam.”
Usually, the disagreement begins after one of them shares a meme that compares the violent texts of the Quran with the peace-loving texts of Christianity. As if to say: “See? Islam’s Holy Book is violent while ours is all about Peace!”
Yet, this is not only inaccurate, it is outright cherry-picking. In fact, one could very easily turn the tables by posting something like this:
From there I usually try to point out that our own Bible [especially the Old Testament] has just as many – if not more – violent passages that have our God commanding genocide, infanticide and even condoning rape.Sometimes I’ll try to remind them that Christians [or at least, people claiming to follow Christianity] have done all sorts of horrific and violent things throughout history, starting pretty much right after Constantine wedded the Church with Empire and leading right up to our current events.
People don’t like to be reminded how several of America’s recent mass shootings have been committed by professing Christians. They also don’t like being reminded that the majority of mass shootings in recent years have been home-grown Americans and mostly white males.
Furthermore, most American Christians can’t see how it looks to people in Muslim countries when America [a self-professed “Christian Nation”] bombs civilians, kills the innocent and creates more suffering than any terrorist could ever dream of. Those Muslims look at what the American military does as an example of what Christianity is like. So, to them, Christianity is far from a “Peaceful Religion”, it is the most violent, bloody and ruthless religion on the planet.
Of course, those who are the most fearful of Muslims and the most critical of Islam have never actually met anyone who is Muslim or tried sitting down to get to know someone who follows Islam. They’ve simply bought into the Tribalistic mindset that says that “all Muslims are violent” and “all Muslims hate our freedoms” and other nonsensical gibberish which paints everyone in a single category as universally guilty of every crime ever done in its’ name.
Invite a Muslim family over for dinner and listen to them tell stories about their life, their families, their hopes and dreams, and you’ll never again be able to say – or to think – “All Muslims are violent” because you’ll know at least a few who are certainly not violent. In fact, you might even come to see that they love their children they way you love your children and want the same things out of life as you do.
Sure, in these cases you could point to several verses in the Koran where Muslims are told that Allah hates violence, or point to the millions of peace-loving followers of Mohammed around the globe as evidence of their nonviolent practice of faith.
You could even show them the “Ashtiname of Mohammed” which is a document penned by the Prophet himself in which he commands his followers to offer protection to Christians and to keep them from harm.
But, sometimes I’ll simply try to point out that Christians and Muslims have a lot in common. Mainly, the person of Jesus.
Most Christians are unaware that the Quran says that:
– Jesus is the “Word of God”
– Jesus is the “Spirit of God”
– Jesus is “the Messiah”
– Jesus creates life
– Jesus cured a man born blind, and a man with leprosy.
– Jesus gives life to dead people.
– Jesus went to heaven.
– Jesus is still alive today.
– Jesus will come again to judge the entire world.
Can you imagine any Christian rejecting another person who had these beliefs as part of their faith?
Now, I get it: Some people who claim to be Muslims do violent things. But so do some people who claim to be Christians. You don’t want to be compared to a member of the KKK or another Christian White Supremacy group, do you? So, please treat others the way you want to be treated and don’t compare all Muslims to ISIS or Al Qaeda.
Still, this merry-go-round continues to spin on a daily basis. American Christians seem convinced of two mutually-exclusive ideas: One, that their Jesus was absolutely not nonviolent and Two, that their religion is a peaceful religion.
I believe they call this “Cognitive Dissonance”, but to me, it’s just a huge disappointment.
Hopefully, one day, Christians in America will finally receive their Prince of Peace and start being members of the peaceful religion they already believe they’re in.
Until that day, I’ll be over here trying to help Christians see that they really do have a nonviolent Messiah who still asks them: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I say?”
Keith Giles is the author of the Amazon Best-Seller “Jesus Untangled: Crucifying Our Politics To Pledge Allegiance To The Lamb” and he also co-hosts the Heretic Happy Hour Podcast. He lives in Orange, CA with his wife and two sons.