About Tim Suttle

Find out more about Tim at TimSuttle.com

Tim Suttle is the senior pastor of RedemptionChurchkc.com. He is the author of several books including his most recent - Shrink: Faithful Ministry in a Church Growth Culture (Zondervan 2014), Public Jesus (The House Studio, 2012), & An Evangelical Social Gospel? (Cascade, 2011). Tim's work has been featured at The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, Sojourners, and other magazines and journals.

Tim is also the founder and front-man of the popular Christian band Satellite Soul, with whom he toured for nearly a decade. The band's most recent album is "Straight Back to Kansas." He helped to plant three thriving churches over the past 13 years and is the Senior Pastor of Redemption Church in Olathe, Kan. Tim's blog, Paperback Theology, is hosted at Patheos.

  • Colleen Kristich

    Thanks, Tim, for hitting the nail on the head. The best way I’ve heard pacifism explained so far is that, if violence was the best way to overcome evil, Jesus would’ve done it. But he shows us the better way of peace.

  • Mark Evans

    If I’m being honest I have to say you do seem a bit obsessed with Driscoll. Having said that I agree that he is over the top with his tough guy persona at times and I was very disappointed to read if his actions at MacArthur’s conference. The flip side is that when you get past his bravado I find that most of what he says is pretty biblically solid. Take pacifism for example. I think Christian Pacifists have gone a little extreme but I don’t fault them and believe they are following their convictions.

    For example, I know a case in which a person called police and reported seeing a woman being forced into a car against her will. Police were able to find the car driving and enacted a stop, not a “please stop if you don’t mind” but a “you will stop.” Ultimately through threat of force they were able to take the man into custody and free the woman from the car. Inside the car very concerning things were found that would suggest he meant to do unspeakable things to the woman and potentially kill her. She also believed very bad things were imminent. Should the police have just stopped following when he declined to let her go? That would be the only alternative. How about when police arrive to find a man actively beating his wife and they have to use force to stop him? Should they Just ask him to stop while he beats her to death? Bear in mind these are all real scenarios that happen frequently. If your reaction is that your happy the police stopped these horrible acts but don’t feel it would have been right for a Christian Pacifist to wouldn’t that be a tremendous cop out? So in other words you’ll let someone else do all the work that you enjoy the benefits of because it wouldn’t be right for you to do it. I don’t like the idea of violence and would only employ it if it was absolutely necessary but I can tell you if someone attacks my 2 year old daughter I’m doing everything I can to protect her and if you would act passively and not actively intervene I don’t know what to say to you.

  • Mark Evans

    I also think it’s important to mention that Christ’s plan of action for his time on earth is two fold. The first part of course to come and provide a path to salvation which was done through non-violence and allowing himself to be the lamb dr our sacrifice. It should be noted that he did use a whip he made to drive out the money changers, not exactly the move of a dedicated pacifist.

    The second act of Jesus’s time on earth which is yet to occur will see a decidedly more aggressive stance. Revelation describes him as being on a white horse with a sharp double edge sword coming from his mouth. It also discusses his robe dipped in blood and appears to at least make it possible that he does indeed have what could be considered a tatoo on his thigh (I’m not a tatoo advocate but the implication there seems to be that Jesus has a tatoo on his thigh). Without quoting a whole bunch of revelations it’s clear that is telling us that when Jesus comes back the second time around he is going to be acting in a very violent manner in specific instances. I think that Martin Luther did a wonderful job of covering this question when he discussed the issue of government authorities using force to maintain order and stop victimization, which he felt was Biblical under Romans 13.

    Ultimately this is a difficult question without a seemingly some answer and I think you only do more damage when you constantly follow after Driscoll to point out his errors. How about just putting your point of view out there and why you think scripture supports it rather then going after a brother on the internet?

    Oh I forgot this idea that there weren’t Christians in the military before 170 AD seems incorrect as there are mentions of Roman Centurions who through practice appear to be saved who were in active service. See Cornelius as an example.

  • Tim_Suttle

    Mark, Thanks for your comments. I just wanted to add one thing that might help you understand where Christian non-violence comes from. Non-violence is not a strategy with which to rid the world of evil. Non-violence is not meant to be the most effective way to fight the darkness, or keep men from pushing women into cars to cause unspeakable harm to them. Christians are to be non-violent not in order to stop war, murder, violence, and harm being done to innocent people. Christians are to be non-violent because after Jesus, we cannot imagine being any other way. The only strategy to rid the world of evil is Jesus. Anything else is idolatry. Anything else and we have climbed up on the throne ourselves, pushed the lamb off onto the floor, and taken over.

  • Tim_Suttle

    One more thing on your second comment, Mark. I could not disagree more with your interpretation of Revelation. When Jesus comes back in the book of Revelation, he does so with a sword, but the sword is in his mouth. It is so clearly a reference to the word. The sword is his word; the word that spoke creation into being; the word that saves us; the word that is able to divide between joint and marrow.

    When the lamb comes back, the blood that is on his robe is his own blood. He’s already bloody when he shows up. The sword coming out of his mouth isn’t a literal sword, it’s a symbol for the truth. Very few biblical scholars I’ve ever read (none of whom I would call serious biblical scholars), believe that this is a literal sword. To take it literally is to use pretty grotesque imagery for Jesus. Revelations patent image for Jesus is the Lamb. There’s no way around that.

    Also, if you are going to try and build a doctrine like that out of the New Testament (Rambo Jesus who returns to kick ass and take names later), you would have to do it from more than a single passage out of Revelation – especially when the whole thrust of the New Testament bends so clearly toward peace, and when the dominant image for Jesus in the book of Revelation is a lamb.

    I’m not saying you have to take a strict passivist stance, either. It’s not hard to imagine a situation in which a strict passivist stance could be considered such a terrible evil that we could call it violent – or more violent than actually acting (as was the case you cited with calling the police). But that’s not the point. Even if we do exactly as you described in your example we would need to confess any actions that are complicit with violence as sin.

    The overall passivist or Christian non-violence stance is pushing in a good direction. Christians should not be so eager to jump on the band wagon when the state decides to use violence. We should certainly not be invoking God to ratify our violence. And once it’s done, we should all confess the sin of war (not just the soldiers… we ask them to do our dirty work & then just leave them to deal with it… something I think is really wrong). Once violence has been done in our name, we should all confess it as sin, and repent of what we’ve asked other human beings to do in our name.

    On the day to day, human level. Most people are non-violent – Christian or otherwise. In that situation, the main thing a commitment to non-violence does is it allows us to confess the ways in which we choose violence in order to avoid suffering the same fate as Jesus; in other words we confess that we do not want to take up our cross and follow him.