DEBATE: What Does the Bible REALLY Say About War?

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This is a podcast episode titled, DEBATE: What Does the Bible REALLY Say About War?. The summary for this episode is: <p>Today on&nbsp;<em>Truth Over Tribe</em>, we're bringing you the final episode in our&nbsp;<strong>Just War vs. Non-Violence&nbsp;</strong>3-part series. If you haven't listened to the first two episodes, go back and listen now: <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">The Biblical Theology of Violence</a> + <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Should Christians Go To War?</a>.</p><p><br></p><p>In this episode, we finally get the debate we've been waiting for! <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Keith</a> and <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Patrick</a> ask each other clarifying questions about their respective positions: Keith on defending just war and Patrick on non-violence. Which is closest to what the Bible actually says about war? Tune in now! </p><p><br></p><p><strong>Ok, truth time... Did you like this episode?</strong> Tell us by leaving a rating or review! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 If you did, you won't want to miss what's next (so subscribe now!). And help a friend by sharing this with them. Thank you! πŸ™</p><p><br></p><p><strong>Plus, the conversation is just beginning! </strong>Follow us on <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Facebook</a>, and <a href="" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">Instagram</a> to join in on the dialogue! <strong>Want to learn more about Truth Over Tribe?</strong> Visit our <a href=";utm_source=Show%20Notes%20" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">website</a> and subscribe to our weekly <a href=";utm_source=Show%20Notes%20-%20website" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">newsletter</a>.</p>
Why we are having this discussion right now
01:12 MIN
Can a Christian be President of the United States, and could they be committed to nonviolence?
02:40 MIN
What's the difference between killing and murder?
02:17 MIN
Defending a third party as a nonviolent Christian
04:39 MIN
How does one wrestle with the fact that there's military people in the Bible who are not called out of their military service?
04:13 MIN
Leviticus 24:17 through 20
04:03 MIN
At what point does Jesus' command, to not resist an evil person, no longer apply
01:54 MIN
Just War and the Bible
04:53 MIN
Has there ever been a just war?
00:52 MIN
How do you know when you've(in war) killed too many noncombatants?
02:22 MIN
Closing thoughts from both Patrick and Keith
03:41 MIN

Keith Simon: Are you tired of tribalism?

Speaker 1: I think a lot of what the left supports is satanic.

Speaker 2: The only time religious freedom is invoked is in the name of bigotry and discrimination.

Keith Simon: Are you exhausted by the culture war?

Speaker 3: If they don't like it here, they can leave.

Patrick Miller: You could put half of Trump supporters into what I call the basket of deplorables.

Keith Simon: Are you suspicious of those who say Jesus endorses their political party?

Speaker 2: Is it possible to be a good Christian and also be a member of the Republican party? And the answer is absolutely not.

Speaker 2: From certainly a biblical standpoint, Christians could not vote democratic.

Keith Simon: We trust the lamb, not the donkey or the elephant. This is the podcast that's too liberal for conservatives and too conservative for liberals.

Patrick Miller: I'm Patrick Miller

Keith Simon: And I'm Keith Simon and we choose truth over tribe. Do you?

Patrick Miller: So Keith and I had this great idea. We were going to do one episode on just war and nonviolence.

Keith Simon: We're naive sometimes.

Patrick Miller: I think we knew deep down it was never going to fit into one episode, but we've now expanded this into three. And I'm saying that because if you have not already listened, our first episode explored a biblical theology of violence, a lot of stuff that Keith and I though, we hold different positions on this issue, agree on. In last episode, I did a steel man of the Christian non- violence position and Keith did a steel man of the just war position.

Keith Simon: Yeah. We just were to kind of clarify questions, right? Those are the only kind of questions that we could ask, but it got a little spicier than I think we anticipated.

Patrick Miller: I'm kind of embarrassed at what point you were saying things, and I just started laughing and I went home. I was like, people are just going to hear me condescendingly laughing at you in the background.

Keith Simon: You were laughing. And I was like, I think the majority of the church holds this position. So why are you laughing at me?

Patrick Miller: Well, we have a good relationship. And on that note, on today's episode, we're going to do the great roast where Keith is going to challenge-

Keith Simon: This is not a roast or I might get roasted, but I have no intention of roasting you, even if it were possible.

Patrick Miller: No, this is not going to be a roast. I agree. I'm guessing the questions you're going to ask me are pointed clarifying questions. And I'm going to do the same to you. I'm actually really excited because as the guy who holds a Christian nonviolence position, anytime this topic comes up, I'm always the one in the hot seat. I never get to be the one who asks the other people, the challenging questions, which I would love to do because I realize most people don't have great answers to some of the questions that I'm asking. Now, I hope you do.

Keith Simon: That's the whole thing is that there's going to be a lot of questions that both sides have to wrestle with.

Patrick Miller: Yes.

Keith Simon: That don't have great answers. If there were great answers to all the questions, this wouldn't be an issue that had divided the church for centuries. Everybody would agree if there were clear, obvious biblical truthful answers to these questions. There's not, there's a lot of gray area.

Patrick Miller: That's right. And neither one of us would say that either of our positions is airtight. And in fact, one of the things you're going to find is that neither one of us holds the extreme of our positions, which is going to make the questions a little more challenging. I had some that I realized in the midst of our conversation, I couldn't really ask you because you held a more moderate view than I expected.

Keith Simon: Well, and I just want to remind everybody why this is a big deal is that Ukraine is being attacked by Russia. United States could end up in a war. People have talked about in no fly zone or should we send equipment there. Is NATO going to get involved and be because Poland gets invaded. And so this is a topic that's on everybody's mind. And if you're a Christian around the world, this is a topic that you have to deal with quite a bit. For us here in the United States, protected by the oceans protected by a very strong military. We don't always have to be on the defensive side of these questions. It's easy for us to, you know, pontificate and have theoretical positions, but for a lot of Christians around the world, these are issues they think about every day.

Patrick Miller: That's exactly right. And that really was the Genesis of this conversation. Despite me holding a Christian nonviolence view for about six years now, I really wanted to reflect on my own position because of what was happening in Ukraine I mean, I was disturbed by it. And I thought is the position I hold that doesn't really deal well with the realistic on the ground experiences of lived people. And you know, I might not convince you. I still feel strongly about my view. If anything, I've probably given more space for gray area in my reflection, but Keith, you get to go first. You get to roast me. So let's hop in. You get to ask your questions to a real life Christian pacifist.

Keith Simon: Well, if you've listened to the previous podcast, some of these questions won't surprise you because these are issues that have been brought up already. But now we're going to get clearer answers than maybe Patrick provided. So let's start with this Patrick in a zombie apocalypse, what are our moral responsibility?

Patrick Miller: Well, I did not expect this question.

Keith Simon: Just kidding. Stop, stop. I just thought we'd start with something stupid. How about this one? You've made it clear before that you minimize your American citizenship in relationship to your kingdom citizenship. You don't say the pledge of allegiance. You now, we know, wouldn't join the military, but I'm somewhat confused because there is a sense in which you do think Christians should be involved in political office and hold governing positions within the country. So my question is, do you think a Christian could be president of the United States? And if you were president of the United States, or if a Christian were president of the United States, then how would they operate as commander in chief? How would they operate as the person who sends the budget to Congress and who oversees the Defense Department and the military, would you begin to dismantle the military? If you were president of the United States, if there were a responsible Christian pacifist president of the United States, how would they handle being attacked by another country? How would they handle some of the issues that every president has to deal with?

Patrick Miller: That's a great question. Let me just rewind to one thing you said I would not join the military.

Keith Simon: Well, you know.

Patrick Miller: Well, no, I just want to say that's not true. First of all, I could still, if the draft came back for one more year, until I turned 35, I could be drafted and I would allow myself to be drafted. Now I would have to request a role as a non- combatant. So that could be a chaplain. That could be a medical officer. That could be, you know, a transport officer.

Keith Simon: Stalling.

Patrick Miller: I'm not stalling. I'm just saying, I don't think it's fair. I'm going to try to be fair to you. So let's go to the presidential question. What would a president do? First of all, I want to ask you a question.

Keith Simon: Oh no, hang on a second. No, a Christian president. A Christian president who holds your position?

Patrick Miller: Holds my position. But I want to ask you a question. Would you ever want to be the president of the United States?

Keith Simon: Well, I wouldn't want to run for president of the United States. I would kind of like to be the president of the United States. Wouldn't it be kind fun?

Patrick Miller: I don't know. I like challenges. You like challenges.

Keith Simon: I like challenges. I would never want to be the president. I mean I'm sure it's far, far, far harder from everything I've read than it looks, but-

Patrick Miller: Okay. Let me ask a different question. Do you think Christians should be in the film industry? So Hollywood, that kind of thing.

Keith Simon: Yes, I do. I think Christians should be salt and light wherever they can be.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. So I agree. So let's talk about a Christian becoming a famous actor. So Andrew Garfield, he played one of the Spiderman in the Spiderman movies.

Keith Simon: I'll trust you on that. I've no idea.

Patrick Miller: He's a Christian.

Keith Simon: Okay.

Patrick Miller: Do you think Andrew Garfield should participate in nude sex scenes where there's a little bump and grind happening?

Keith Simon: Somehow? I feel like we've changed roles.

Patrick Miller: No, no, no, because I, we haven't changed roles.

Keith Simon: This is your answer.

Patrick Miller: This is my answer because I'm going to make sure that we're all on the same page. So just, what would you say? What should Andrew Garfield do that? Should he be in a movie where he has to get naked with another woman? Who's, let's say they're both married to different people. They have to touch, they have the bump, they have to grind. He has to be all over her. What do you think? Should he do it?

Keith Simon: I think that would take a fuller discussion on art. And what's the role of a Christian in art? How is art different than real life? So I think there would be some serious moral considerations that he would have to go through in order to get himself to that position. And I can imagine different Christians depending on their vision of art and whatever else coming to different conclusions on that.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. Okay. That's fair. So my guess is you're waffling a little bit, but deep down I know you probably agree with me. That's probably 98%, a really bad idea for him to do this. And inaudible in your church probably would say yeah, don't do it. But let me ask a different question. Okay. A videographer, someone who's filming the scene, should they film the scene?

Keith Simon: Well, again, I think you've gone down this position of art and I think Francis Schaeffer has a little book on it-

Patrick Miller: Yeah, yeah. Okay different question. I've heard you say with Game of Thrones that people probably shouldn't watch the TV show because in fact, I think you have a podcast where you said this, and I could go pull the clip and I won't do that to you, where you suggest that people shouldn't watch it because there are sex scenes inside of it that are pornographic.

Keith Simon: I think Christians cavalierly put themselves in front of material that harms their soul. And I'm not going to make a blanket statement that every person can't do X, Y, or Z, but I think Christians are careless about the things they take in, they consume on media and I don't think they realize all the damage it does. So I think at least Christians should put the brakes on that kind of thing and think about it hard.

Patrick Miller: I love trying to put you into this little corner right now because your views just sounded a little bit different than what I've heard in the past.

Keith Simon: That's fine. crosstalk I asked the questions and now all of sudden you're asking me questions, which shows that you don't have a very good answer, which is fine.

Patrick Miller: It shows, it shows a great answer, which is like you, I would say from top to bottom, these are areas of discernment. Now I would actually probably disagree with you. I don't think a Christian should participate in a graphic sex scene. I think that breaks our sexual ethic because in my view, sex is not just penetration. Sex is kind of a from top to bottom experience of sexual things, right? And so I think that actor is breaking God's law as regards sex, but that's okay if you don't want to go there. And by the way, I think the cinematographer shouldn't participate. Now, I think a cinematographer could be creative. They could say," Hey, I work on this TV show, but for this scene, I need you to have someone else come in." And hopefully the director, and everybody else around them would honor his conscience or her conscience and let him do that. But he might have to draw some lines in the sand and say, I can't do this part. Now that might mean he can't get the job. So now let's go to a president. Someone wants to run president who has my convictions. They are committed to Christian nonviolence. Well, first of all, I don't think that person would ever get elected because that would be a question that would be asked. And I just can't imagine the American populous voting for him, but let's say America votes for him. That means that they have chosen. They have elected democratically a president whom they know is not going to choose to enact military action. Now he might use our military for peaceful means. There's lots of things that a military can do that doesn't always require shooting a gun and killing people. He might use our military as a defensive threat to-

Keith Simon: The Red Cross. You're joining the military under the Red Cross.

Patrick Miller: I don't don't don't-

Keith Simon: That's fine.

Patrick Miller: I don't know what he would or wouldn't do. And I don't know what the consequences would be. What I'm saying here is if he wanted to remain faithful to his principles, he would have to seriously consider as the commander and chief of the military how he does it.

Keith Simon: Why are he presuming this is a male? She or-

Patrick Miller: This is, it's a great way to knock a guy off his thought. Now here's the deal.

Keith Simon: I'm good at that.

Patrick Miller: Someone in my position, as I've already said, in the previous episode, there are layers to this. There might be some areas where someone in a Christian nonviolent position would say, yes, I think this kind of violence is okay. That kind of violence is not okay. And so I would have to leave that gray area up to that president to decide and determine. My second thought is this Romans 13, I think teaches that the government does have have the sword. Now I think that has primarily to do with policing. I don't think it has a lot to do with military. My point in saying this is governments are going to go to war and we should expect in many, many cases that the people who are leading these governments, this is probably a true statement by the way, across the world right now that the people who are leading our governments are not Christians. That is not a normal normative circumstance. So if you're trying to push me into saying you can't be a president, I'd say, no, I don't think you're going to be electable as a president. And if you are elected as a president, yes, you're going to be in some tough situations, but you were chosen democratically. Everybody knew what you're going to do. So go ahead. If you want to work on dismantling the military, that might be your thing. I don't know that's what you would need to do or have to do though. I don't think you could call the military into combatant action with my position. I could not. Okay.

Keith Simon: Okay. That's what I asked is what somebody holding your position would say. And so what you are acknowledging is that-

Patrick Miller: I'm acknowledging that in all jobs, there are lines and there are situations which you as a Christian will have to, at times, choose not to cross. So certain jobs like being an actor or a cinematographer or a president might have more lines that you have to wander around and figure out than other jobs, right? If you're working at a McDonald's, your choice might just be, am I going to steal this person's credit card information? Like, that's not a hard choice to me. Now, president who's overseeing a military area, defensive force. That's a really, really hard thing to navigate. I'm acknowledging that.

Keith Simon: Okay. So you don't think that a person who holds your position is going to be elected and isn't going to be able to-

Patrick Miller: I don't think they're electable.

Keith Simon: -be a commander in chief of the United States army.

Patrick Miller: No, I said, if they got elected.

Keith Simon: If they got elected, they're not able to send the nation into war. Right. And so that probably means as you acknowledge that we aren't ever going to have a Christian president who holds your position.

Patrick Miller: Probably. Yes.

Keith Simon: And my problem with this is because you're saying this is what Christians should believe. I mean, you're not saying in an arrogant way as if every Christian who doesn't believe what you believe is wrong, but you are saying, this is what Christians should believe. And if every Christian were to believe this, what we would then have is no Christians who are participating in the upper levels of our government, no Christians in the Department of Defense who are in a position where they're having to lead the nation, where I get the whole non- combatant thing I get that you can believe-

Patrick Miller: I think Christian could be in that position and actively work in all circumstances to prevent the military from going to war.

Keith Simon: Right. Which is therefore unrealistic because the military is designed to go to war in certain situations.

Patrick Miller: I'm, I'm agreeing with your realistic.

Keith Simon: So we're not going to have any Christians in Department of Defense. We're not going to have any Christians, probably in the Senate who believe what you believe.

Patrick Miller: That's not true.

Keith Simon: But you're going to have to-

Patrick Miller: That's a more electable position. And they could hold to a nonviolent position and they could argue against every single military action that the United States wants to take.

Keith Simon: And therefore they're not electable. That's what you said.

Patrick Miller: I would say have a hard time being elected. Yes.

Keith Simon: We're not going to have circumstances. We're not going to have Christian generals.

Patrick Miller: In the post Iraqi war, if you were a Senator who said," Hey, I want to get us out of Iraq. I want to get us out of-"

Keith Simon: And you elected a president.

Patrick Miller: That could get you elected as president. So my, my point is actually in some circumstances they are. Now, I just want to interrupt you for one second, just to say this. This is it. Let's look through the history of American presidents. And let's just ask the question. What percentage of them? Not again, we're not God, we don't know who's Christian and not Christian.

Keith Simon: I'm not going to go down the road.

Patrick Miller: But if we had to guess how many of our presidents were sincerely Christians and how many weren't, I would give highest numbers to 50, 50. Highest numbers to 50, 50.

Keith Simon: That's fair.

Patrick Miller: Would be the case. Right? And so do I want the 50% that aren't Christian to be president? Well, certainly not. Do I think that they are following through, on all of their Christian convictions? Well, obviously not, but here's the deal. I get to live in a world, I suppose, where people don't hold my conviction. And so Christians are still there. And so at the end of the day, if you're asking me what I think I should do, there's one thing, then reality's a different thing.

Keith Simon: No, I'm asking you about what happened in history. I'm asking you about what-

Patrick Miller: Arguably some of the presidents who have done some of the greatest things for ordering our society haven't been Christians.

Keith Simon: But you've changed the topic. And it's an interesting topic. I'd love to talk about that topic on a different podcast. But the question is whether Christians, if they all hold your position-

Patrick Miller: They couldn't, they couldn't be electable.

Keith Simon: Way to hold these... way to hold these... way to hold these high offices. And now I want to take you to people in the storyline of the Bible who were believers.

Patrick Miller: There was no one who was a president and ruler. There was not. Name one.

Keith Simon: You are getting desperate.

Patrick Miller: I'm not getting desperate. I already said you could be elected as Senator.

Keith Simon: Sure, sure.

Patrick Miller: You could be elected as a Senator.

Keith Simon: Sure, sure.

Patrick Miller: You could be put into a cabinet. There are lots of positions you could, I could oversee America's agricultural.

Keith Simon: Wonderful, wonderful. So Joseph-

Patrick Miller: You know what he oversaw? Agriculture.

Keith Simon: He oversaw more than that because if you go back and read it, you find that he was the second highest in Egypt. Now, Daniel, he lived in Babylon, another pagan nation in which he had lots of responsibilities.

Patrick Miller: Yes.

Keith Simon: Now we don't know for sure that he sent people off into battle. We have no way of knowing that, but we do know that he had to wrestle with a lot of gray areas and he had to make decisions.

Patrick Miller: And he drew lines.

Keith Simon: Were not in, but, but not always. He had to make decisions that wouldn't fit your pure idealistic view of how Christians should live. And we have Mordecai and Esther, we have Nehemiah. So hold on. Crosstalk

Patrick Miller: I strongly contend that what you just said was false. I do not think-

Keith Simon: What was false?

Patrick Miller: You, you just said, first of all, Daniel is actually upheld by Ezekiel as one of the few purely righteous people that has ever lived. And so I do think that somehow he lived very, very-

Keith Simon: Seamlessly?

Patrick Miller: True to his convictions. I didn't say seamlessly, but he is upright. And you are painting him and Joseph, as these figures who maybe probably oversaw military action, you more idea than I do.

Keith Simon: No, I said, we don't know that.

Patrick Miller: Nothing they did broke my convictions.

Keith Simon: What I said is-

Patrick Miller: I love Joseph and Daniel. I could be Joseph for Daniel, right? If they want to oversee agriculture, commerce, all different kinds of things, you can be a part of-

Keith Simon: What I said is believers that you admire and all of us should admire were involved in upper levels of government and had to make decisions. Right?

Patrick Miller: Which I think they should be.

Keith Simon: I agree.

Patrick Miller: Which I think they should be.

Keith Simon: And wonderful. And I think that they had to make lots of decisions that were probably messy and morally ambiguous. And they couldn't have been in those positions had they always gone and said, Hey, I can't film this scene. Hey, I can't make this decision. Hey. And so I think your idealistic view doesn't fit with the reality of Daniel being second or third in command. Like when Daniel said, Hey, I can't pray to Nebuchadnezzar, Hey, I-

Patrick Miller: It was to Darius.

Keith Simon: Nebuchadnezzar I'm going to confront you on your pride and your idolatry. There were places where he drew lines and places where he weren't. He took inside Babylonian name, which was an honor of a Babylonian god. He enrolled in the Babylon.

Patrick Miller: We got to change the question because I think at the end of the day, you and I fully agree on this. I've already said, I think Christians can be in these positions. I already said, they're going to have to ask themselves conscientious questions about where they draw their lines in the sand. We asked on the issue of violence. I said, that's a line in the sand that I would draw. There's lots of other lines that I think are blurrier.

Keith Simon: So the Christian pacifist position as held by you and espoused by you would not be in the upper levels of government. If that required them to be involved in military action, whether it was just or unjust, whether it was going to free the people from the concentration camps of World War II or whatever the military action is, you wouldn't do it. We'd save a lot of money, I guess. I mean, I don't know how long we exist as a country.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, that's fine.

Keith Simon: But we'd save a lot of money.

Patrick Miller: Now here's the deal.

Keith Simon: Why have bombs if you're not going to use em, right?

Patrick Miller: I will repeat. I think that nations are going to go with war with nations. And I think that Christians.

Keith Simon: You just don't think Christians should be involved in it being salt and light, making godly decisions, pursuing just war, using morally appropriate force you don't think Christians should be in there.

Patrick Miller: This is my last thought before you ask your next question. This is my closing.

Keith Simon: Is it a thought or is it another question?

Patrick Miller: No, it's a thought.

Keith Simon: Oh wow.

Patrick Miller: It's a thought. Christians, I think should be in every possible layer of government and every possible layer of vocation unless the actual vocation itself is entirely antithetical to the kingdom. For example, I don't think should be a prostitute. You probably shouldn't be, you know, a gang banging drug dealer. Like there are lines we all draw. And in your job, you will have to decide what your lines are. You will have to act in line with your conscience. Some jobs will have more of those lines. Some jobs won't. Beyond that. Nations will go war with nations. Christians were not taught in the New Testament or the Old Testament to expect to be the ones who were in charge of these military forces. You will be hard pressed to find a single Jewish person who is the leader of a foreign military inside of the Bible because it doesn't exist. So all that to say, my view does not in any way, contradict Joseph or Daniel.

Keith Simon: Next question. You're in the hot seat. So you get the last word.

Patrick Miller: I know.

Keith Simon: So that's what I'm going to do.

Patrick Miller: I'll let you get the last word too. We spent way longer on that than I thought we would. Music

Keith Simon: Next. What's the difference between killing and murder? Can you help us understand the difference?

Patrick Miller: That's pretty easy. So let's say I am out mowing my lawn and in some freak accident, the blade fires out of my mower into my nextdoor neighbor's head and kills him. Okay. Now, if now this sounds,

Keith Simon: That's gruesome.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, this is gruesome.

Keith Simon: Just walking down the street and he gets hit by flying mower blade.

Patrick Miller: I'm actually taking this from-

Keith Simon: Did this almost happen? Is this why it popped into your head so quickly?

Patrick Miller: It's actually popped no, no it popped into my head because there's part of the law code in Exodus, which talks about a man who's chopping wood. And it says that as he's chopping the wood, he throws back the ax and the head of the ax flies off and hits someone and kill them. And it's trying to make sense of what do you do in those kinds of situations or another example is your ox gores someone else. In those kinds of instances, the Bible seems to view that as manslaughter, it's a form of killing, it was accidental, right? So what does it come down to? It comes down to intentionality. I did not mean to kill the guy who my mower accidentally impaled or beheaded or whatever else. It comes down to intention, right? Murder is when I intentionally kill someone. When I am actively, volitionally trying to kill someone.

Keith Simon: I think that I disagree with that in the sense that in the Bible capital punishment. And I think you even acknowledge this is approved in certain circumstances, not in every circumstance, by any stretch. So the person killing them is intentionally killing them, but it's not murder. We don't arrest the people who were part of the execution of a capital crime, because there's a difference between murder and even trying to kill someone, the distinction of murder is not that it was done on purpose.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. I think to press in further, because you just ask me to define the two. Now, if we want to get more nuance, I think there are all kinds of situations where we can ask the question just in terms of like a just legal system. For example, if someone kills someone else in self defense, do I think we should have laws which put that person in jail and make them liable to the death penalty. Personally? I actually don't think so. Do I think a Christian should respond that way? No, I don't think a Christian should respond that way, but I think in a secular society, which is not ordered according to God's law, His kingdom, His ways there is still space for that kind of thing. And so in that instance, I like our legal system does a good job of differentiating manslaughter of differentiating all different kinds of, you know, premeditated murder. That seems like a good legal system to me that I feel very comfortable with.

Keith Simon: I'm sure you get the point that I'm trying to make.

Patrick Miller: Yeah.

Keith Simon: Is that a police officer could intentionally kill someone who's committing a violent crime, a military soldier could intentionally kill someone and it's not morally wrong. It's not murder. You know, you probably disagree, but-

Patrick Miller: Well, I-

Keith Simon: You don't think it's murder, but you still say it's wrong.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. I actually like this question cause I don't think I have a good answer to it. So what I will say is, and what makes my view, I think so hard to articulate is there's a difference between what God calls people in His kingdom, how he calls us to act in some instances and how He calls people in the secular world to act. And I think that we see this in God's own law when he's accommodating himself to people, we already used the divorce example, but that's a great example. God allows people to get divorces in the Old Testament, even when they shouldn't be getting divorces. This is an accommodation. So is what they're doing morally wrong? Maybe it is what I can say for certain is that people who are part of Jesus's kingdom for us, it most certainly would be wrong. We should not be acting in that way. And I know this sounds wiggly. And so I'm very happy to say, Hey, you've got to get point here.

Keith Simon: That was the last word. So that's, let's go to next question. You and I put out on Twitter that we were going to be having this conversation and asking people if they had good questions for either side. Yeah. And of course, most people had questions for your side, which you thought was entirely predictable. One really good question came in from a guy named Dan Darling who's at Southwestern Seminary and also writes for USA Today and World magazine. Maybe you've seen some of his stuff there and I'm not quoting him exactly but essentially what he was asking is if pacifism is a luxury belief. So he was getting to the point that someone can hold your position and stay out of war, stay out of combat, stay out of policing, stay out of all the places where forces used to ensure safety and the wellbeing of others, but you benefit from it. So in other words, you benefit from all the, I guess you would say non- Christian soldiers out there or disobedient Christians doing the policing, doing the waring, fighting all the battles for your freedom, keeping your kids safe, keeping your streets safe. So it's this weird deal where you get the benefit without any of the sacrifice. And imagine that all Christians hold your position. I guess that's where all Christians would be. Then getting the benefits of other people's sacrifices. So how do you think about that? Are you okay with that?

Patrick Miller: I was going to say what's the question. So the question seems to me, do I benefit from being under the umbrella of protection, which has been secured by people who don't subscribe to my position.

Keith Simon: Yeah. That's a good way of saying it. So thanks for helping me ask my own question. But Steven Bateman followed up on Dan Darling's tweet with the meme of Jack Nicholson from A Few Good Men saying," You want me on that wall? You need me on that wall." And so that's kind of your position. You need these people out there on that wall protecting you, but you're not going to go out on the wall.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. So I actually really like this question. I think it's a really fair question. And it's one that I ask myself frequently. It's part of why when everything happened in Ukraine, I said, hey, we need to do this episode. Cause I want to reevaluate this because my social location and my historical location are such that I have a very, very small fear of violence in my life. Ergo, I can hold. I views my positions with very little cost to myself. I don't have to defend it. I don't have to worry about it. And so it very well for me may be a luxury belief. I might change my opinion if all of a sudden I was living in the inner city of a violent place like Chicago, right? Maybe my position would change. So I don't think it would. I've tried to think hard about this, but it's something I've had to wrestle with now actual question that you're asking beyond. This is also a good one. I would frame it two different ways. In principle, nonviolence does not require any protection. Nonviolence is just a principle. So I can live nonviolence out in a place where the Visigoths and Goths are conquering. I can live nonviolence out in Columbia, Missouri, where I don't feel much threat of violence. I can live nonviolence out in Sierra Leone, where there's children soldiers coming after me. I can live nonviolence anywhere. Right? So because it's a principle, okay, now you're asking the question," Hey, but at the end of the day, like don't you benefit from this?" And so this is where I think the nuance on my view is going to cause people maybe frustration or irritation at me. Remember Romans 13 teaches me that the government is going to have the power of the sword. And I think that's primarily focused on policing, which is why I do think Christians in policing to me is the biggest gray area. I think there's a strong case to be made that maybe Christians could be in police forces and use violence. I think they can be in police forces no matter what. The question is, violence. In other words, part of how God is ordering society in this era, because we're living in the time between the ages. We're living in the already, but not yet. Part of the not yet is that nations are waging war against nations and God in His goodness in provision is using that warfare between nations to keep those nations relatively peaceful. Now my question is not whether that's going to happen. And I would go back to the Old Testament profits who said the exact same thing. God said, look Syria is a rod in my hand. And I will use them to bring my justice to the nations. And then he turns around in the exact same chapter, Isaiah 10. And he starts critiquing as Syria. And he says, I'm going to judge you by the way for the violence that you've done in my hand. I mean, it's very paradoxical. And so I take that view. I take the paradoxical view of saying yes, at this time, in this age, God's going to use nations to keep peaceful borders. And yes, of course I'm going to benefit from that. That's God's wonderful provision for me and for all people. My last thought though, is the guy who says, you want me on the wall? You want me on the wall too. And here's what I mean, not that I'm going to be the person pointing a weapon, but there is a rich and long history of people like me, people who are committed to nonviolence, creating more just and ordered societies. I could go through a long list of examples. And without people like me, I would argue that the cycle of violence and warfare, which has taken away so many lives, would be in many cases, far worse than it is today. And so yes, you can say that I want you on the wall. Fine. That's great. I think that's part of God's provision, but you want me there too. You want the Christian nonviolent people there too. They have changed the world for the better.

Keith Simon: Not so much on the physical wall, defending the nation with the gun, but on the wall of working for peace and justice, prayer, all those kind of things.

Patrick Miller: Yes. We probably won't have time to do it. But what I've discovered is a lot of people who hold this position simply... there's an entire field of study dedicated to this. Peace studies. And it is a really interest, fascinating area that talks about how conflicts work, how to end armed military conflicts with nonviolence. And I could tell countless stories. I could talk about the 48, 000 Jews. The largest number of Jews who were saved from the Holocaust were done so nonviolently, we could talk about Gandhi. Movements that have made more ordered and just societies precisely by not taking up guns. The examples are endless. Is that a good answer?

Keith Simon: You start by answering the question and then you go off on a soliloquy. That is good. It just doesn't have related anything to do with the answer, but I understand why you do it. You get away from the hard part and talk about things that you care about. And there are really good answers.

Patrick Miller: I said, I answered the question. Yes, I do benefit.

Keith Simon: And there are really good answers.

Patrick Miller: I said, I answered the question. Yes, I do benefit from living under the umbrella, but I followed it up by saying, and that's, God's good provision in this already, but not yet age that there will be secular governments that go to war and protect their people. And it's part of how God does it. But remember, God will judge those nations.

Keith Simon: Just to clarify.

Patrick Miller: It's Isaiah 10. It's Isaiah 13.

Keith Simon: I agree, 100%, that's in the Bible and taught in the Bible.

Patrick Miller: And so we can't participate in the part that they're being judged for.

Keith Simon: I just want to be clear. I'm not trying to make a counter.

Patrick Miller: He's a judge for violence.

Keith Simon: I'm just trying to bring out clarity here, is that you don't think Christians who hold your view should be in combatant positions in the military, or maybe the police that's still fuzzy. We're going to get to some clarification here in a second, but you benefit from it. And so if all Christians believe what you did, Christians wouldn't be in these combat positions.

Patrick Miller: Correct.

Keith Simon: But they would benefit from all the other people, making the sacrifices-

Patrick Miller: Whoa, stop.

Keith Simon: That's the whole argument.

Patrick Miller: By the way that framing of sacrifices. I do believe that there's a lot of courage and a lot of bravery that goes into warfare. But you and I, by the way, had talked about at the language of sacrifice in military and how it can be used to give moral seriousness to actions, which may or may not be sacrifices. Look, if Germany won the war, if the Nazis won the war, they would be talking about the brave sacrifices of the Nazi warriors who defended their cause. Victors, write the history. Now here's the deal, do I think in some instances the word sacrifice applies. Yes, probably it does. I think in some instances it doesn't. I don't know. I think in some instances it definitely doesn't, but I'm not going to let you say that these people are sacrificing for you. Maybe they are in God's economy of history doing what the nations do, which is war against each other, and those who pick up the sword, die by the sword. That's Jesus, by the way, not Patrick.

Keith Simon: That's the last word on that question. Let's go to the next one. So, you and I said in our last episode that we agree that Christians should not defend themselves. In other words, we should accept violence against ourself and absorb that. That that's what the kingdom ethics of the Sermon on the Mount we're teaching. But I don't think the Sermon on the Mount teaches that we must do that on behalf of others. In other words, I don't think the Sermon of the Mount addresses the question of, can we rescue others from injustice and even use force to rescue others? So, let's put ourselves in a couple different situations and my guess is that you'll want to distinguish between them. But I think it will be better just to ask them as one. The first and the most obvious that your side always gets, so we just need to address it is-

Patrick Miller: The home intruder.

Keith Simon: Well, I'm going to go to the Hitler one. So, we know there's injustice. We know that millions of Jews are being killed. And what do we do that's realistic? You know you've got to persuade people. I know you're going to say pray. I know you're going to say that we should march in the streets because you brought up Gandhi, so we're going to march in the streets of Germany. I don't know. I want to hear what you have to say about that. Can we use force even physical violent force to rescue people from gas chambers? And the second little modification of that is let's say that you are licensed to carry a gun. So, the government sanctions you having a gun and there's a school shooting that breaks out. Now, this isn't too big of a hypothetical because unfortunately we have school shootings more frequently than any of us would want. And so someone is killing students. You have the opportunity to intervene, but it's going to require you to shoot your weapon at this person. I don't know if you're trying to kill them necessarily, but you're trying to stop them and you're willing to kill them if that stops them from killing more kids and teachers and parents and all the people who are standing around. So both of these have in common that they are defending, using force to defend a third party, not yourself.

Patrick Miller: So-

Keith Simon: And both are sanctioned by God through the government or through laws. And neither one of them is the vigilante rogue individual out kind of trying to do justice on their own.

Patrick Miller: Those are great questions and they're not the home intruder questions, so that's fun. Thank you for not making me say that, I won't protect my wife or something like that, which I would. I just would not use violent means to do it. But let's talk about both these situations. Hitler, this is the easier one for me. I take the paradoxical prophetic view that nations wage war against nations. I know that's going to bother people like,"Wait, what are you even saying there?" This is Isaiah. I'm quoting from the Bible and it really matters. The reason why there's Hitler's, is because nations war against nations. The reason why there's a Nazi Germany is because we have a secular culture of violence. The reason why these kinds of people go to war with each other and these things happen is precisely because this is how in this age, the nation's rage with one another. So do Christians have to participate? I would say, no, you should not participate in violent action against Hitler, partially because I know God in his providence, because this is not a Christian world. Something you have underlined to me countless times, we do not live in the kingdom of God. It is not here. There will be nations that fight. Christians may not participate in the violent aspects of that and there are lots of parts of the war that I think you could still participate in and matter tremendously. You can't do wars with only combatants. Now, let me give an example of the Hitler thing. Bonhoeffer is the classic, because he was someone who was historically in my position and he ends up changing his mind and it's clear that he was tormented over this. And he was absolutely tormented over whether or not it was the right thing to join an assassination plot, to kill Hitler. And he never seems got to a clear point of saying," I think this was moral." It just seems like he got to a point of saying," I don't have any other choices and even if this is going to be a sin, I guess I'm just going to do the sin because I don't feel like I have any other choices." And I take that really seriously because he was someone who is deeply committed to his faith. What I will say is this though, that plot against Hitler, it had an effect on Hitler's psychology. It caused him to bunker down. It caused him to hide away and it caused him to hide in violence. And this is one of the challenging things in the midst of violence and violence. Oftentimes when you bring a gun or a weapon or anything into a situation, rather than deescalating, you end up escalating. Now, I realize a lot of Christians don't have the moral imagination in circumstances to think," How can I use nonviolence? How can I see this person who's my enemy, not as my enemy. How can I come up with a creative way to bring different kinds of people to the table?" And this comes from the peace making stuff I'm talking about. There's lots of principles and these things have worked to stop child soldiers. They've worked in all kinds of armed military conflicts in Columbia. I mean, actually the worst military conflicts in Columbia were ended mostly by nonviolent people who were willing to bring people to a table. So all this to say, could nonviolence have ended World War II? I'm might sound like the biggest dummy in the world to say yes, but I think living by my principles, I have to say, neither one of us has a crystal ball. We don't know. What we do know is that violence escalated violence and that nonviolence was used to great good to protect the Jews at the type. So, that's the Hitler question.

Keith Simon: Well, okay, so let me just push back a little bit before we move on by the next part of it. So here you have Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and I admit that it's a little vague about how he wrestled with all this. It's not super clear where he came out, just like, I don't think it's super clear how Hitler responded to it and would Hitler have done the same thing, had the assassination plot not been foiled? We don't know.

Patrick Miller: That's fair.

Keith Simon: We don't know. There's speculation, but what you laid out is at least reasonable that may very well be how it went down. But here you have a guy who's a pacifist until he is in the actual position of having to see all these people murdered. And then he says," Okay, this cannot be right. This cannot be what God wants." And he's wrestling with it and there's ambiguity there, but when confronted with injustice, he thought he needed to bring about justice, even if that meant using force and even if that meant killing Hitler. So, I guess I just think that if you were actually in that position, you might change your mind.

Patrick Miller: Yeah.

Keith Simon: That you might have moral, moral imagination to read the Bible differently when you're confronted with it, instead of sitting in the middle of a country in one of the most safest areas in the world and not only in the world today, but in the world throughout history. That's what I mean by a luxury belief.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. Keith, I think that's fair and I worry, I hold a luxury belief because the proof is not in the pudding, it's in the eating and I don't know. No one knows until they're in this situation, how they're going to react. I've already granted that. And I always said, that's a great question to ask and you can find Dietrich Bonhoeffer's inaudible, and I take it very seriously, but I can also find countless examples of people who responded to gross and terrible violence. Maybe not on the scale of the Holocaust, but sometimes on similar scales, gross and terrible violence and remain nonviolent. They stayed true to the principal. So yeah. That's fine. Tell me, I have a luxury belief. I don't know what to say. I'm admitting, yeah, I might, but I have to live by my principles.

Keith Simon: Let's go to part B, which is the active school shooter. You're licensed by the state to carry a gun. Do you use violent force in order to stop this person from killing more kids?

Patrick Miller: Well, first of all, I want to say I'm a very interesting advocate of nonviolence. If I'm walking around with my concealed carry.

Keith Simon: I agree. I'm just trying to make it harder because here's why I said it that way, is because if I would've said it was a police officer-

Patrick Miller: I would've wiggled that.

Keith Simon: Then you would've gone to your," Well, police are different," and I still don't understand how they're different. It doesn't quite make sense to me, but I know that's what you're going to do.

Patrick Miller: If I think Romans 13 applies to policing and not military action. I do think that there's a way to read it. I don't read it this way.

Keith Simon: Policing by Roman soldiers, just-

Patrick Miller: Well, yes.

Keith Simon: Policing by Roman soldiers, not by a whole different department.

Patrick Miller: Paul was perfectly capable of saying there are some things that I think a person could do or not do. So you might be a tax collector, but there're things you can do as a tax collector and not do as a tax collector. You might be a soldier. There're things you can do as a soldier that you can't do as a soldier. And I think he makes it clear in the passage before what he can't do.

Keith Simon: Let's go to the individual, who's licensed by the state to carry a gun and he has a weird pacifist, but what should he do, should you be there? Or what should you advise him to do?

Patrick Miller: I'm just going to say, this is why I don't like the gun in this situation, in this theoretical-

Keith Simon: Because you can't tackle him. That's what I'm trying to keep you from saying-

Patrick Miller: Well that's-

Keith Simon: "Oh,I'll go and I'll tackle him."

Patrick Miller: With my definition of violence, I do not think that I could shoot to destroy. That leads me to a second question then, if I'm going to pull this gun out, am I a good enough shot to somehow disabled this guy?

Keith Simon: Most people aren't. I know we have this vision that police officers can shoot a gun out of a hand. They can't. Not in that situation. So no, this person is not going to be able to do that.

Patrick Miller: Now, if this person is already actively shooting, so they're already in the violence phase.

Keith Simon: Yes.

Patrick Miller: So, in some ways I'm past the point of can I deescalate this? So, they're already trying to-

Keith Simon: They've killed two kids and they're after more.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. Okay. So what would I do in that situation? I would try to put myself in a physical position where there is no one between me and this guy. Okay. So, you're saying I'm a hundred yards. I don't know where in the school, there's a hundred yards worth of space other than a football. So apparently on we're on the football field.

Keith Simon: Just trying to make a hard.

Patrick Miller: Let's say, we're in a classroom or a hallway. I would try to get myself in that situation, and once I was able to get myself in situation, I think the rational thing to do would be pull out that gun and start firing it above him.

Keith Simon: But violence breeds violence, so when you pull out the gun that may make him more violent.

Patrick Miller: No, I agree. Remember you're the one who put the gun on me, so I do have it. But the second thing as I said, we've already reached the point of escalation. He's already shooting. So, my whole point of pulling a gun out is I see they might not shoot, if you hadn't had pulled the gun up. This guy's already shooting it.

Keith Simon: That's fair.

Patrick Miller: So we're past that point. What would I do? I would try to get.... and then I would start shooting. Now I would try to shoot from a place where I was hard to kill, hard to hit. I would do that. Why? Because by me doing that, I would draw his attention. I would draw his fire and would I probably die? Yes. But in the process of me probably dying, which by the way, I mean, if this is me, there's no way I'm hitting him even if I'm 10 feet away. I've never been good with a handgun. Okay. Shotgun, now you got a chance with a shotgun-

Keith Simon: But not that okay, because it's a concealed carry. So thanks for that little nugget. It's not going to be a shotgun.

Patrick Miller: That's what I would do. And I would hope that I could draw him away from the group. Now, I don't know how far I could go or what I could accomplish, but if I could draw his attention for even 30 seconds, how many lives would I end up saving? If I end up shooting at him and miss, or let's say even worse. I don't wait until there's people between me and I miss shooting him and end up shooting someone else. There's a lot of consequences that come from that action. Now, I know that's not going to be a deeply satisfying answer for some people, but I would argue for me personally, with my personal shooting abilities, there's a good chance, I'd actually save more lives taking that approach, even though I lost my own. Than the approach of me turning around and trying to fire him.

Keith Simon: One last question for me, and we're going to go to one that you probably knew was coming and you're, I'm sure prepared for it. We're going to go to the Bible. So, it's a little bit more predictable, perhaps. We're going to go to something we've talked about in the last couple episodes. And that is the whole idea of the soldiers, the centurions that encounter Jesus or John the Baptist or Peter in Acts 10 and all that. So there're no examples of them being told they have to stop using force, stop doing what military people do. And while you might be able to say one or two of them, they were involved in that kind of thing because there were people serving in the military, in the Roman empire who never experienced war. I think there're enough centurions, enough military officials and leaders, that we would be hard pressed to say that none of them ever experienced war. And so Jesus, John the Baptist, Peter, none of them say," Now as a Christian, you need leave this military service." But it's not as if Jesus or the apostles, aren't willing to say that in other circumstances. So for example, Jesus tells sex workers who become believers, that they have to leave their sex work. The magicians in Acts 19, come out and publicly burn their books. Jesus tell the rich young ruler, he has to leave everything to follow him. Now, last point I'll make on this, is Zacchaeus, because Zacchaeus is a tax collector. And Jesus tells him he needs to do his tax collecting differently, but he doesn't call him out of tax collecting. So, I guess my question is how do you wrestle with the fact that there's all these military people in the Bible who are not called out of their military service?

Patrick Miller: At least I'll get to answer one question, I was kind of prepared for.

Keith Simon: I'm sure you're prepared for this one.

Patrick Miller: Thanks for being nice. What a good guy.

Keith Simon: You should have given me the questions you expected. I'd be happy to ask them.

Patrick Miller: No, this is more fun. You asked some really hard questions and I really appreciate it because it's sharpening my own view and you asked some questions, I felt like... I even said it," Hey, I don't have a great answer for that." The murder and killing thing was great. Let's answer this question though. The first question here that I think we have to start with is, do I have a plausible explanation for why in particular, in Luke's gospel and the book of Acts, which Luke also wrote, a plausible reason for why he in particular seems to highlight these Roman military figures and you can already guess what I'm going to say. I do think there is... every author agrees that Luke's gospel was primarily written for Gentiles and it focuses on people who would've been excluded from the assembly, the community by the average Jew. So this would include Gentiles in particular, it focuses on people in the margins like women and people in poverty. And of course, it's going to focus on Gentile, military figures, who would've been looked down upon by any ordinary Jew. And so, I do think Luke has a reason for doing this. It's his way of saying," Hey, you might think because of your identity, you can't be a part of God's kingdom. You can't be a part of what he's doing, but that's wrong. You can be, even as a Roman military official." Now that gets to your question. How could they? How could they be? And if Jesus is willing to say to other people," Leave your job." The prostitute's the best example or," Zacchaeus do your job differently." And I want to come back to that. That's great. So, let me start with John the Baptist. John the Baptist has these guys come along, they're Roman soldiers and they say," Hey, what do we do to inherit the kingdom?" And he tells them to basically stop extorting people. Don't use their job to take money from people wrongly. That seems to be the focus of what John the Baptist is telling them. Now, here's what I find really interesting about that. This is the most common response to me, whenever I tell them I'm committed to Christian nonviolence, is they'll pull up this passage even before Romans 13, which I find interesting. This will be the most common. They say," See, John, didn't tell them to leave the military." Now I find this funny for two reasons. First of all, it's an argument from silence. Somehow we have managed to turn up the volume on what John didn't say, louder than what Jesus explicitly said in other places. That's something you just have to wrestle with.

Keith Simon: That's fair.

Patrick Miller: I don't understand it. I don't know why John's non- words count more than Jesus' real words, but okay, whatever. Let's keep moving on. Second thing, if you know anything about Roman soldiers who worked in that arena and that area, you know two things. First thing is this, very rarely the kinds of soldiers that John the Baptist was talking to, would they have been involved in violent action. They weren't in campaigns, just like our soldiers today who have different kinds of skills are going to be in different kinds of places. They were not situated in a military context, which meant that they were probably not enacting violence.

Keith Simon: Okay, hang on a second. How do you know that's true of the people John were talking to... or I know you don't know-

Patrick Miller: Because of where they're looking.

Keith Simon: But why is it likely?

Patrick Miller: Because it's on the Jordan river. We know that the soldiers who were stationed in that arena were doing the policing thing. It wasn't just policing. It was policing, it was a civil order, it was firefighting. There was all kinds of jobs that would've been included. Now I'm not saying that they never did violence.

Keith Simon: Or that they hadn't come from the front or were maybe going back to the front in the future.

Patrick Miller: From what I've read, I'm not an expert is that most Roman soldiers, once they were situated in a place, they didn't tend to take someone from the Gagian front where there was no warfare and then go throw them to fight the barbarians, because guess what? They weren't prepared for it. And the other way around you don't want a bunch of people who are used to murdering barbarians to come down to Jerusalem and have that same. I mean, we understand this, your psychology's different. But let me highlight the main point. Do you know what was true of all soldiers in all places that they all had to do on a very consistent basis?

Keith Simon: No.

Patrick Miller: Idol worship. This was a part of the Roman military. It was a far more common part of the Roman military than violence even. You were consistently sacrificing to the martial gods, to the emperor, and this was seen by them as a key part of your victory. I mean, remember why is Constantine converted? Because he says he saw Jesus appear and win the battle. Well, that fits into a Roman worldview framework because they understood, I mean, read the Iliad, read the Odyssey, they understood that warfare was a battle between gods. And so if you've got a guy on your team who won't sacrifice to the god that's going to keep you and all your buds safe. That's a big deal. If you've got a guy who's not willing to sacrifice to the god, who's keeping public order intact, that's a big deal, because that god might get angry and you guys might die. Now, here's why I'm saying this. You know what John the Baptist didn't say to them?

Keith Simon: He didn't tell them to stop worshiping idols.

Patrick Miller: He did not say to stop worshiping idols. In fact, I don't think we have anywhere in the Bible where John says anything about idols.

Keith Simon: John the Baptist?

Patrick Miller: John the Baptist. Now, why does that matter? So, apparently the less common thing, which is violence, he says nothing about, but that's the thing that he should have said something about. But the thing that's very common idolatry, he also says nothing about, but this does not mean to that same person that now we can commit idolatry. Does that make sense?

Keith Simon: It does, but I am... not convinced.

Patrick Miller: So, did John say we can commit idolatry by not saying that we can commit idolatry?

Keith Simon: But hang on a second. So, these soldiers are standing around and they're part of a group in which they start asking John the Baptist, the group does," How does the kingdom affect me specifically?"

Patrick Miller: Yes.

Keith Simon: If I can, I just want to walk us through Luke 3 because I'm not sure your answer is convincing in light of how this story plays out. So, John the Baptist is out announcing the kingdom of God and the crowds come out and he kind of questions them," Why are you coming out here to hear me?" And he tells them to produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And so then the crowd asks," What should we do then?" And John starts telling them how they should live in light of the kingdom. What repentance looks like. And he says," Well, if you have two shirts, share with the one who has none." And the tax collectors come and say," They want to be baptized, what should we do?" Then he says," Don't collect anymore than you are required to." And then some soldiers come and ask him," What should we do?" So, they're asking the question in light of their soldiering. And his response is," Don't extort money. Don't accuse people falsely, be content with your pay," which I will acknowledge sounds a lot like the policing stuff that you just said, but it doesn't-

Patrick Miller: crosstalk exactly like it.

Keith Simon: Yeah, it does. I agree. But it doesn't get to the point that when they came to said and asked him," How should we do our soldiering differently?"

Patrick Miller: Hold on. Are you about to tell me that you think idolatry, wasn't a part of their job?

Keith Simon: I'm saying that-

Patrick Miller: This is not the United States. This is not a place where church and state were separated. Let's not do dishonest work here.

Keith Simon: Yeah.

Patrick Miller: You know that this was part of their soldiering. Idolatry was part of it. In fact, in our last episode you said, the reason why most soldiers left was because they had to commit idolatry.

Keith Simon: I said that the reason that there weren't a lot of military people in the early church is because of the idolatry. I agree. But I am suggesting that could be a little different from saying," How do I do my actual soldiering differently?" And he could have then said," You can't use force. You can't go around and kill people. You can't be violent toward people." And also, before you jump in, because I'm sure you have a great answer for that. But I also want to say that there were plenty of other teaching that told them they shouldn't commit idolatry. I mean, idolatry had been criticized, critiqued all the way back in the Old Testament. It had been critiqued in Jesus. So, I think the idolatry thing was clear. Of course, you shouldn't be doing idolatry, but now we're talking about your specific soldiering and what does that look like? And so, he could have then told them," Stop doing it. Stop using force in a violent way."

Patrick Miller: Okay. I have too many thoughts to get out here. First of all, I don't want to pray upon people's knowledge or lack thereof of the Roman world. Our concept of a separation between church and state is an incredibly contemporary concept for them. And you're nodding because you know-

Keith Simon: I agree, you're right.

Patrick Miller: The idolatry was part of their job. So, let's not frame it like it was kind of their personal worship. Like on Sunday I went to the Roman God today and I just happened to be a soldier. That's not how it works.

Keith Simon: They had idol worshiping fees before they went out to do battle. You're right.

Patrick Miller: It was a part of the job. It was a part of the job. I just don't think there's anyway. Now, you're saying like," Look-

Keith Simon: Lots of other scriptures told them to not do idol worship.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. So, your point is," Hey, why didn't he say the thing that they wouldn't understand?" Well let's remember what did he tell them? He told them not to extort others. There's lots of other scriptures that tell people not to extort others. So, why did he need to say that one? My point is that we don't have everything John the Baptist said to the soldiers. I can imagine that John the Baptist did say to them," You need to stop worshiping your idols. You need to put those things away." We don't get everything in Luke and that's actually my point because we don't get everything, we can't start making arguments from silence to change this. Let's say this is true. I, Patrick Miller, I look at pornography every day. I embezzle money from the church and I have a regular habit of lying to church goers. Let's say all three of those things are true. Okay. Now, let's say you come along and you say," Patrick, you must stop embezzling money from the church."

Keith Simon: You're going to say that, I don't also mean that you should stop doing the other sinful things, you're doing.

Patrick Miller: One of those things, the pornography every day, I'm doing every single day. It's a more common thing. So, you could ask a question." Why didn't you go on that?" And that would be the idolatry. I would argue, they probably committed idolatry more than they were extorting from people. That's probably a more consistent part of their life. My point is you would probably say, Well, why didn't you start with the porn thing because that was an everyday deal and the rest..." I don't know why, that's just what you chose. And I don't know why Luke only chose this one thing from... oh wait. I think I do know why, because one of Luke's themes is about money and how we use money and power. It runs throughout the entire gospel. So, is it a shocker that what he says to the tax collectors and what he says to the soldiers, circles around one of his major themes, which is the use of money. Maybe, maybe not. So this is not a inaudible but the broader question is around soldiering. What do these soldiers do? We know that idolatry was a part of soldiering and somehow we know that there lots of Christian soldiers who found their way around the idolatry problem. We don't know how they did it. I don't know how Cornelius did it. I don't know how the centurion who said this is the son of God did it. I don't know how these soldiers did it. We have no idea how they did it, but I would propose to you that, because that was a very frequent part of their life. If they were able to get around that, is it possible perhaps, maybe that they also figured out ways to get around the use of violence. I don't know. There are historians who have said that most Roman soldiers lived in peace. They probably did not see violence. It might sound outlandish to us today and I can understand that, but we don't know how they did it. We don't know how they got out of idolatry. To be frank again, getting out of the idolatry is a much more impressive feat in the long term than getting out of violence. So just like Zacchaeus who you brought up, who continued being a tax collector, but stopped doing the bad parts of his job. I would contend that Roman soldiers kept being Roman soldiers, without doing the bad parts of their job, which Jesus condemned in the Sermon on the Mount.

Keith Simon: So, Roman soldiers commanded by Nero stopped using violent force once they became believers? Okay.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. I-

Keith Simon: Okay, I mean, that's your answer.

Patrick Miller: I think it's believable. I think that those same Roman soldiers had they been sent to the front, might have rejected it. Some of them. Again, remember they're not all perfect Christians. Christians do all kinds of inconsistent things.

Keith Simon: Oh, absolutely.

Patrick Miller: So, we know that, but that is an answer. And I think it is a credible answer. Here's my bottom line. I know I'm going to convince about 0. 004% of people who listen to this podcast. I realize that-

Keith Simon: You can't even convince your wife.

Patrick Miller: I can't even convince my wife. So who am I going to convince? What am I trying to do? I'm trying to get people to take seriously Jesus's teachings on the Sermon on the Mount, where he lays out in his most key critical teaching in the New Testament, what the kingdom of God is supposed to be like. And he says," Not to resist evil with evil." He says," Not to return violence for violence." And he repeats this theme in other places in the gospels. And he lives it out in his actual life, in his battle with evil. So, you might not go with me all the way, but my hope is that the American church, where we can have like the story I told the other day, pastors who joke about shooting people, if they walk into their house in the middle of the night. Or serious Christians saying, I like Will Smith slapping people across the face. That's the state of our discipleship right now. And I don't think you're any happier with that than I am. And so, if I can move people closer to a position of seriously considering whether violence is required, if I can get a general to be in your position, because here's the deal, it's very hard to get someone to do what their paycheck requires them not to do.

Keith Simon: I love that line.

Patrick Miller: Okay. But that would be my challenge. Even for you as a police officer, you might not agree with me, but if you walk away from this saying," I want to use less force than before. I want to be creative." I think that could be a good thing. You might still use violent fatal force. You might disagree with me, but you might walk away and say," You know, the commandments of Jesus are pressing me to figure out how to be a peacemaker in a nonviolent way, in a creative way." And I think you'd agree with me too, that'd be great. If that happens, then I've served my small idiotic role in God's economy.

Keith Simon: Yeah. I love the vision that you played out of Christians being less violent. I'm all for it.

Patrick Miller: Yep. Okay. Your turn.

Keith Simon: Okay. We'll jump back in a second. But one of the places that Patrick and I have been getting a lot of ideas for the podcast is Twitter.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. Which actually, by the way, sounds like a terrible idea. No one should be getting their news or ideas solely off of Twitter. But I love sharing what we're going to talk about and seeing the kinds of things that people offer.

Keith Simon: I didn't quite believe you to be frank when you said all that, and then I've watched people respond to your stuff. So, I just posted some things today about an episode we're going to do. And all of a sudden, everybody started interacting with it and I'm going to use the stuff they said in that episode. So it's kind of cool.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. So help shape this show by following Truth Over Tribe, on your favorite social platform and share your ideas and who knows, it might make its way into one of the shows.

Keith Simon: Yeah. Make sure you interact with us. Don't just follow. Don't be a stalker. Don't be a creeper, participate.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. We want to hear. All right, Keith, you've got in your chance to question me and I am thrilled for an opportunity to actually be the one asking questions of the individual who holds the juxtapose position, because I rarely get to do this. And my goal sincerely, is not actually to roast you. I want to ask clarifying questions. I want to seek to understand this position.

Keith Simon: I don't believe you. I believe your goal is to embarrass me, which shouldn't be hard. That's what my crosstalk.

Patrick Miller: I believe in a proportional war. Proportionate use of force. So, I'm a fan of Christian nonviolence. So, I will do unto you as I wish you had just done unto me.

Keith Simon: Stop.

Patrick Miller: Let's go. Okay. So, here's where I want to start because I was a little bit surprised to find that you believe that violence in self defense is prohibited by the Bible.

Keith Simon: I don't know why. Jesus seems fairly clear. Romans 12 seems fairly clear. There are other passages in scripture that seemed like we shouldn't take up violent means to defend ourselves. When we start talking about taking up violent means on behalf of others, then I think that is a different conversation.

Patrick Miller: Okay, so let's focus on the self- defense thing because I want to make sure I understand your position. So, someone comes up to you with a gun, and they're pointing it at you. And they're saying," Keith, I want to kill you." And you have a gun and you can shoot back and kill him. You're saying you should not shoot back and kill him?

Keith Simon: Well this-

Patrick Miller: No one else is threatened. Just you. You guys are in the middle of the woods. There's no one else around. There's no possibility of anyone else being harmed.

Keith Simon: This sounds like something you'd find on an SAT question. So, I think Christians can have different interpretations of what Jesus means when he says to turn the other cheek. I don't know if that's limitless. I don't know if that is in all circumstances.

Patrick Miller: I guess you're being generous to other people, but I'm asking you, what do you think? Because it's hard for me to move the conversation forward, if I don't have a clear articulate... you asked me hard questions. I try to give you honest answers, even-

Patrick Miller: A clear articu-... you asked me hard questions. I tried to give you honest answers, even when I found them difficult to say.

Keith Simon: Personally, I would not feel comfortable using force or violence in that situation.

Patrick Miller: No, I'm not asking... That's great. For you personally, that's great. I'm asking-

Keith Simon: You asked for me personally.

Patrick Miller: In other words, either say it is unethical for a Christian to defend themselves with violence, or it is ethical. I wouldn't do it, but it is ethical for someone else to do it.

Keith Simon: Well, that's a little bit of nuance here, brother. One is that I would not do it, because I don't think you should do that. The way I read the scripture is that we should suffer harm instead of retaliating. However, I understand there are different interpretations of those passages, and so I'm open to those. But what do I think is right? I think it's right to suffer harm and not retaliate.

Patrick Miller: Okay. We're on the same page here. So let's go, I think we're on the same page here. Here's what's really happening. You want to be able to sit in a room with someone who doesn't hold your view and just smile and nod, and be okay with it and not have to push back. And you want to be able to sit in my room and be okay and say,"Well, I didn't actually go there, but"-

Keith Simon: I'm very comfortable in the gray on all this stuff. I'm really comfortable to say it's messy and I'm probably never going to be in the situation you just described.

Patrick Miller: So let's go to the passage at hand. So Matthew 5: 38 is what we've been talking about. And I know this is going to feel a little silly. The right way, if I wanted to have an unjust war is I would go to your weakest position and start there and just start trying to attack it. I really want to get though, into the passage. So I'm going to read it, because I don't think we've read it in this episode. This is what Jesus said:" You have heard that it was said,'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist the one who is evil, but if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other, also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well." And he keeps just going on to give other examples of how to not resist people. And then Verse 43 says," You have heard that it was said,'you shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father, who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust." So here's my question. Let's go back to the initial passage where Jesus is quoting from the Old Testament. And he says," An eye for an eye and a truth for tooth." Now here's my question for you, Keith. When Jesus or Paul quote the Old Testament, what are you supposed to do?

Keith Simon: When Jesus and Paul quote the Old Testament, you should go back in the old Testament, find the passage that they're quoting, and look at the context. And what you're going to find in this situation is that this is called the lex talionis. Is that right private school?

Patrick Miller: Using your Latin. I'm so glad.

Keith Simon: Is that right? Did I pronounce that correctly?

Patrick Miller: I don't know. I don't actually know Latin. I don't think you pronounced it correctly, but just keep going.

Keith Simon: And my understanding is that this passage of scripture in the Old Testament was designed to limit the amount of punishment that could be afforded. In other words, it was not a way to maximize punishment, but to limit it by saying," Hey, if someone does this to you, here is what is a fair, right, and just response or punishment to that."

Patrick Miller: Yeah, I think you're totally right. You and I would both agree a revolutionary moment in human history, where we had this idea that force should be proportional. Because in other ancient cultures, if you were wealthy or powerful, you could use disproportion of force against those who were lower than you on the social hierarchy. And so we'd agree on that, but let's go to the passage. Because I think you nailed it. You should go to the passage and read the actual passage and see what it says. So let's flip to Leviticus 24: 17 through 20. Keith, why don't you give it a read?

Keith Simon: Anyone who takes the life of a human being is to put to death. Anyone who takes the life of someone's animal must make restitution- life for life. Anyone who injures their neighbor is to be injured in the same manner. Fracture for fracture. Eye for eye. Tooth for tooth. The one who has inflicted the injury must suffer the same injury. Whoever kills an animal must make restitution. But whoever kills a human being is to be put to death. You are to have the same law for the foreigner and the native born. I am the Lord, your God.

Patrick Miller: Okay, great. So we have this interesting passage, right? And Jesus pulls out the eye for eye and tooth for tooth. But in context, there's a lot more that happens there. It's like it's injury for injury, eye for eye, tooth for tooth life for life, right?

Keith Simon: I liked fracture for fracture.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. Fracture for fracture. It's kind of a funny- like" You broke my arm, get over here."

Keith Simon: I'm going to fracture your arm.

Patrick Miller: Okay. So let me just ask a few questions. Is this passage primarily about self- defense?

Keith Simon: No.

Patrick Miller: Alright. What do you think it's about?

Keith Simon: I think it's about justice in the context of the theocracy of Israel. In other words, here's how God's people in Israel, this nation, should try to handle punishment against those people who commit wrongs against their neighbor.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. So it's saying in our community, how do we handle violence? So when someone plucks out an eye or someone breaks an arm or someone takes your life, how do you respond? And the principle that's laid out in the old Testament, what you just said, lex talionis- life for life, eye for eye tooth for tooth. Proportional justice. And this is how we do it as a community. So there's no personal vengeance here. So if you take out my eyeball, I don't get to just take a knife and take out your eyeball. I have to go to the proper authorities, because this is how we're going to do things as a collective, as a community. Would you agree with that?

Keith Simon: Yeah, it makes sense.

Patrick Miller: So it includes self- defense, self- defense would be in here in some sense, right? But it's not really talking about self- defense directly. There's different passages we could go to in the old Testament, they would say," What do you do when the home intruder comes in?" Correct?

Keith Simon: I think this is designed to be, like you said, how civil authorities meet out punishment in the context of a community, not one person enacting vengeance or vigilante justice against someone who hurt them.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, okay. So I think we're in perfect agreement on this. So the question then is when we go back to Matthew 5-

Keith Simon: Makes me nervous that we're in perfect agreement, because it tells me I'm getting set up.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, no, I know. When you go back to Matthew 5, Jesus quotes a section. Remember, it's like a hyperlink. It takes you back to the whole passage. And so he's quoting a section that's saying," How do we deal with violence in our community? How do we deal with it specifically in the theocracy of Israel?" And we know because of the passage that this isn't just, eye for eye violence, this is life for life violence, all the way to fracture to fracture violence. So Jesus is saying," All violence is included in this conversation." If we do the hyperlink thing, you'd have to agree. Would you agree with me on that?

Keith Simon: Well, I agree. I think I see where you're going and now I understand why you're wrong, but go ahead.

Patrick Miller: Now, here's the other thing I want to ask. Are there any other old Testament passages that talk about self- defense?

Keith Simon: Oh, I'm sure there are, but I don't have them memorized.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. So there's plenty of old Testament passages. In fact, we brought one up in our Bible thing. Now, here's my main question. If Jesus' focus here was exclusive or limited to self- defense, don't you think he would've gone to one of the self- defense passages and said," Hey, you have heard it said,'When an intruder comes into your house in the middle of the night and the sun's not up, you can attack him back.' But I tell you do not even resist him." That would be his way of telling you," Hey, in a case of self- defense, don't resist this guy."

Keith Simon: Maybe. I mean, I think you could get in lots of situations where you say," Oh, Jesus could have done this. He could have referred to that passage." So I don't exactly know what your point is, but maybe he could have done that. But-

Patrick Miller: I'm just bringing this up to ask a question to say, why did Jesus pick the- because again, we have Latin phrases around this, because this is such an important passage. Why did Jesus pick the singular passage in the old Testament, which deals with how communities deal with violence? Why did he pick that one? All kinds of violence, from murder down to fracture for fracture. Why did he pick that passage? What do you think he wanted to talk about?

Keith Simon: I think in the context that people were living in, there was this kind of tit- for- tat. You know, that you do this and I do this to you. You do this, I do this. And so the lex talionis, the passage, we just read, it limited the kinds of justice that a person could inflict on those who hurt them. And so I think what Jesus is doing is saying we shouldn't be in this tit- for- tat relationship, that we just respond in kind to those who hurt us.

Patrick Miller: We're really rolling in great agreement here. If Jesus takes a passage that was written for the community of Israel, by how they deal with violence, and they had this tit for tat thing, life for life, tooth for tooth, eye for eye, he comes along and he's not rejecting the law, right? He says," You've heard it said," but he lays that out as the floor, the bare minimum requirement. This is what he does with adultery, right? This is in context where he does the exact same thing. He says," You've heard it said,'Do not commit adultery,' but I tell you don't lust." He says," You've heard it said,'Don't murder', but I tell you don't even say a hateful or angry word at a friend." So he's taking these basic principles and he's expanding them. Now, why is he doing that? You love to say that Jesus is doing this to give people their personal individual ethics, which I have resisted from top to bottom. And this passage does as well, because it's all in the second person, plural. It's all y'all passages. Okay? So this passage is saying" Y'all don't resist the evil person."

Keith Simon: I've never heard you say y'all.

Patrick Miller: Well, it's the only way I can do it. Now here's my point. He picked a passage about how communities deal with violence, because he's telling his followers in his kingdom," How do people in our community deal with violence?" And he knew that you had hyperlink and know that he wasn't just talking about eyes for eyes. He was talking about life for life. And so he is asking a very specific question: When my life is threatened or when really the life of anyone else, because this is a community passage. This is not-

Keith Simon: Oh wow, we just made a big jump there.

Patrick Miller: Nope. Because if he wanted to talk to individual self- defense, he could have gone to one of the self- defense passages. But we've already agreed that the original, this was your words, was about the theocracy of Israel. It was about what was happening inside of the community. And we agreed that when anytime Jesus or Paul quote a context, they're telling you to go back to that context and let it inform the present. And because we know that Jesus is presenting himself as the new Moses and these are the rules for the community, it sounds to me like what he's giving is a community rule about how the community deals with violence. He could have, by the way, very easily individualized this. And yet, both in his vocabulary and in the passage he chose, he picks community.

Keith Simon: So if I understand it right, you are going to take this passage and you are going to say, it's always wrong for a Jesus follower to use force against someone who is harming other people. That's what you think this passage leads you to believe.

Patrick Miller: I think this passage leads us to believe that Jesus saw the life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, which we just read in Leviticus, and he said," In my community, we're going to do better than that. In my community, we won't even resist the evil person. We will lose our life," this goes to the Revelation 12 and all kinds of other passages," We will lose our life for the sake of the kingdom and for the sake of others." In other words, he says specifically, I mean, this is quoting him," Do not resist the one who is evil." That is a specific command. And then he goes into violent examples, talking about people slapping each other. And again, we go to Luke and other places to find all different kinds, examples of this. So my point is, if we read Jesus in the context of Leviticus, and we read the words that Jesus said, how do you get to the point that you say it's okay to resist an evil person by killing them?

Keith Simon: Because I believe that this is directed to an individual Jesus follower, who-

Patrick Miller: Y'all. Y'all.

Keith Simon: No, it doesn't say y'all in Matthew.

Patrick Miller: It is y'all in Matthew. It says" Y'all have heard it was said." I looked it up this morning. I did my Greek work. I know that's hard for you to believe, I was ready for this, right? Y'all have heard it said. And then in 39 he says," And I say to y'all, do not resist the one who is evil." This is a community ethic. And it's taken from a community ethic and Leviticus. Stop individualizing it.

Keith Simon: I think the command is written about receiving personal insults. So we've already talked about this before. There's no need to go into too much detail. But when he says that you are struck on the right cheek, that was a right- handed person, backhanding a person. So they could strike that person on the right cheek. And this was a trading of insults. Now, I do think that a Christian should not resist evil, should accept that they will endure harm, and not retaliate. Love their enemy, pray for those who persecute them. Suffer injustice. But I don't think that means that government can't step in and use force on behalf of those who are vulnerable or to establish justice. I don't see that the Sermon on the Mount is written to governments, because to say it is to ignore other passages in which the government is commanded to use force. Now that's going to lead us into all these different rabbit trails, right? And if people have been listening, they can predict what you're going to say next. And that is yes, governments do that. But Christians shouldn't be involved in those governments, or at least not in a way that puts them where they're having to use force in that way.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, that's exactly right. But what I'm trying to do is remember I view violence on a scale of four things: self- defense, neighbor- defense, policing, and military. So there's four different levels. I'm bracketing out for a second, police and military. I'm not trying to make a point about what the state can and can't do. So I grant everything you just said. Great. Yes, absolutely.

Keith Simon: So you're just telling me that it is to wrong to use force on behalf of another person. Neighbor- defense.

Patrick Miller: I'm asking both for self- defense, which I think we're in agreement on, although you think there's a lot of gray there and I'm maybe less gray there. But yes, let's move into neighbor- defense. So I guess that this is the question I want to ask: At what point does Jesus' command, to not resist an evil person, at what point in violence does that command no longer apply? When's the break point? Like when do I get to say" You know what? Now we've crossed the line where I no longer have to listen to Jesus."

Keith Simon: When it's on behalf of someone else in order to enact justice. To protect someone else, to love my neighbor.

Patrick Miller: Okay. So a home intruder comes in, and the home intruder says to your wife-

Keith Simon: This is where we're going. You're going to bring this up? After I resisted?

Patrick Miller: -has a gun, has a gun, and says, Hey, I'm going to shoot your wife." Now you have the chance to shoot him back. What do you do?

Keith Simon: Well, I think when it comes to your family, that's a hard call. We live in a messy, broken, fallen world. I wish things like that didn't happen. I could be sympathetic to someone who said," I need to protect my spouse in this situation and use force to do that." I also though, would probably say," Hey, as far as me and my family, we're in this thing together." And so I'm not sure whether your own personal family falls into the neighbor, the someone else, or if it falls into kind of you and your personal convictions, it seems like a gray area to me.

Patrick Miller: So let me make it less gray. You have a gun, but the intruder doesn't. The intruder's just walking in with this fist. He's broken into your house. Now, there's no doubt. This is a big guy maybe, or may- it doesn't matter. He, if he wanted to, he could probably strangle your wife, murder your wife.

Keith Simon: He wouldn't take much to overpower me. I'm not the manliest of men.

Patrick Miller: So you've got a gun. He doesn't, he's just in there barehanded, ready to go. Do you shoot him?

Keith Simon: What should I do? Or what would I do?

Patrick Miller: What should you do? I'm just asking at what point-

Keith Simon: I know what I would do, is that- yes, I would shoot the person. But whether I should do that or not is a harder question.

Patrick Miller: Well, so why is this a challenging question?

Keith Simon: Because in some sense, I think that when it's your family, my wife and I are the same conviction. Is that more like me protecting another person, neighbor- defense? Or is it more like me in self- defense? And that's what I can't quite tease-

Patrick Miller: Okay, that's fair.

Keith Simon: -out right now. I understand that neighbor- defense, I would do it to bring about justice and peace. I think you should use the least amount of force necessary to accomplish that. But when it comes to your wife and your kids, your family, it seems like they're so close to you.

Patrick Miller: Okay, so let's change it, right? Because, I'm just going to name what I'm getting at here, is in any of these real life moments, you have to make judgment calls. It's just a fact, right? Even if the guy has a gun, I have to decide," Is this person really going to shoot my wife? Or are they not?" If the guy doesn't have a gun, but I've got a gun, I have to decide," Is this person really going to try to beat my wife to death? Or is he not going to do it? He's saying he will, who knows, but I don't know." So we have to make judgment calls in the moment. So let's do the neighbor- defense. You see a strange man crawling through a window into your neighbor's house and you've got a gun, and you know that that neighbor's asleep and there's nothing they can do. In your world, you go in with a gun and shoot the guy.

Keith Simon: Well, no, that wouldn't be my first response. It might end up with me shooting the guy. But that wouldn't be what I would try to do. I might try to chase him through the window that he's climbing through.

Patrick Miller: So you chase him into the window. And he says," I'm going to kill all these people." What do you do?

Keith Simon: Well, again, I wouldn't immediately shoot them. I would see, what's he do? I would point the gun at him and tell him to stop. But if he's going over there with a knife and starting to put it against the person's throat, then yes. At some point at the last moment, as the last resort, which by the way is a Just War tenant, as the last resort, I would probably do it. Yes.

Patrick Miller: Okay. So, here's all I'm trying to highlight. Obviously we have a difference of opinion here. Two things. Thing number one is it does not matter, in any given situation of violence, there are subjective judgment calls. You have to decide at some point, right? For you, it's like you have to have the knife against the neck. For someone else who I've talked to in the past, it might be you just walked into my house. That's all it takes. You're present. So you have to evaluate at which point does Jesus' command, to not resist evil, when does it break down?

Keith Simon: No, I don't think that's right.

Patrick Miller: Yes you do.

Keith Simon: I don't- okay. I'm not saying that what you're saying is wrong. I agree with a lot of it, but I don't think it's the issue of saying," When does Jesus' command, to not resist violence, no longer go into effect"-

Patrick Miller: Yes, it is.

Keith Simon: -I think what it is saying is, in what context are we living in.

Patrick Miller: Yes, it's a first order, second order question.

Keith Simon: And does this apply? Was Jesus thinking of your neighbor with a knife to their neck when he said this, or something similar in his context, was that what his point was here? Or was his point to say," Hey look, we as Christians don't retaliate against those who hurt us. We suffer injustice instead of trying to defend ourselves, because we always want to be people who love our enemy, not those who are trying to get justice against them."

Patrick Miller: Absolutely. And so this is a first order, second order thing. And what you're saying is that in context, the command to not resist your enemies, it becomes a second order command, which is less important in the moment than a first order command, which is to do justice. To preserve life. You'd say, look, that's a higher level command. And so I'm going to go with that over this.

Keith Simon: Jesus' words don't stop being meaningful to the person in that situation. They just say, they no longer apply.

Patrick Miller: Well, it's not that they no longer apply, it's that they would be a secondary thing. This is my point. It's like, you are saying that at some point I have to make this objective call of when I transition from," I'm not going to use violent means to resist this person" to" Now, this person has done something, which now tells me I have to use violent means because this is the only way that I'm going to get justice." In other words, when does Jesus command go from first order suddenly to second order? And I'm not critiquing you for it. I'm not saying-

Keith Simon: I understand you're not critiquing.

Patrick Miller: -because you are resisting evil by using violence, but you're saying in this instance, it's okay.

Keith Simon: Here's what I don't think we're on the same page on, is that I'm saying that the context has changed. I'm not saying that it's just a matter of me saying," Okay, I am now permitted by Jesus to resist violence." I'm saying that the time that he gave this command no longer applies to the situation that you have given. Now there's another command by God, that He gave to governments in order to establish a just society. And that we need to be thinking through that framework, not through the framework that you've given of what I would consider more individual ethics within the Kingdom.

Patrick Miller: Well, I mean, bringing in the government is difficult because you as a guy with a gun, are not a government agent who is acting on behalf of the government to execute justice. Now it's a legal thing to do.

Keith Simon: I was going to say, it is a legal thing to.

Patrick Miller: So I'm not saying it's illegal. My broader point here is that Jesus goes to the old Testament, finds the old Testament's quintessential passage about how you deal with violence, which is proportionality. That's the key in the old Testament. And he takes it to the new Testament. He says," Here's how you deal with violence." And all kinds of violence, I mean, he gives all different kinds of examples and he says," Here's how we deal with it. We don't resist." My only point here is, and I'm agreeing with you, that context changes what's first order and what's second order. And I'm just trying to highlight, this is all I want you to admit, not that you're wrong. I just want to highlight the fact that it's subjective. That at some point you flip the switch from," I'm in this context that Jesus is talking about, context, where I'm just resisting a person without using violence, to now in a different context where it's appropriate to use violence." But you have to make the judgment call. No one else gets to make it for you.

Keith Simon: Yes, I do admit everything that you just said that you have to make a judgment call. I don't think it's super hard, but maybe you do. I think that the reason it's not super hard though, is because now you're doing it on behalf of someone else. And you're doing it as a last resort. You're using proportional violence. You're doing all that you can to bring about justice. But I think it's the way you love your neighbor. I mean, don't you think that you have to love your neighbor by protecting their rights, their life, their property?

Patrick Miller: I disagree. I think that there are lots of forms of nonviolent resistance that I could do, which we actually agree on. You're saying," Look, I'm going to try other things before I go there". So we're actually, again, this is where like, we're in a lot of agreement. Now, again, my pushback here is I just go back to the example of the apostles and the early disciples. They had all kinds of opportunities to resist the violence that was done to them. And they continually reject the option. They're not using violence to bring the Kingdom. We've already differentiated. They're not saying," Hey, we're going to take swords and go fight for Jesus." But they do choose again and again, not to resist the authorities or not to resist the mobs or to not resist the individuals who come at them with violence. They reject that as an option. Now, I could have done that. If I was there with Stephen, I could have said,"You know what, I wouldn't defend myself, but I'm going to defend that guy." And we know there were Christians there. None of them did it, not a single person stepped up and said," I'm going to do it." And I think there's a reason for that.

Keith Simon: Yeah. I mean, I think that bringing the Stephen example up is a really good one. And I wonder what Jesus would want them to do. Why didn't they respond? Is it because the numbers were overwhelming and there was no point? Or was it because they really were convicted by Jesus' teaching in the Sermon on the Mount, and they thought," It's wrong for me to try to defend Stephen?"

Patrick Miller: Here's my last little thing while we're talking about self- defense and neighbor- defense as a topic, then we'll shift over to the Just War thing, because I never get to make up the theoretical situation. I'm sorry, I'm having fun right now, because I finally get to do it.

Keith Simon: I'm not having fun.

Patrick Miller: Your neighbor, about to get killed by a guy. This is not a real- life situation, but just theoretically run with me here.

Keith Simon: Sure.

Patrick Miller: You know that the person lying in the bed who's about to get shot, killed, is beyond a shadow of a doubt, a Christian who will be resurrected. And you know that you're a Christian, who's going to be resurrected. And you know that the guy who's pulling that trigger will not be resurrected.

Keith Simon: Is not a believer.

Patrick Miller: He's not a believer. But if he had more life to live, he might come to really regret the decision he made, shooting that person lying in the bed. He might come to realize his falling, when that family forgives him and says," We still love you. And we can show generosity and grace toward you, despite the fact that you took someone that we love dearly." And that would be the thing that would lead him to salvation, to have eternal life. Now you have a choice. You can stop him from killing that person lying in the bed and send him to Hell, or you can not pull the trigger, let him kill the Christian who's lying in the bed, and live out the rest of his life and come to know Jesus. What do you do?

Keith Simon: Well, boy, in that situation, I guess I'm pretty good friends with the person lying in the bed-

Patrick Miller: It's your neighbor, I don't know how you get along with your neighbors.

Keith Simon: -so perhaps we are on, perhaps we are on the same page as far as Faith issues. And maybe in that situation, I would let the guy kill my neighbor in order for him to come to Faith. But in most situations that you're in, what you don't know is what happens if you don't shoot this guy. Remember I'm going to try to use the least amount of force possible. So if possible, I'm not going to try to kill him.

Patrick Miller: You're going to shoot him in the butt.

Keith Simon: Whatever, a bullet in a butt. But I don't know what happens if I don't intervene. Does he go on a killing spree and murder 10 more people? What does he do? So I only know what happens if I intervene and try to prevent him from doing this. But maybe he goes and, just to go along with your hypothetical, maybe he goes on a killing spree and kills 100 people who are all now going to go to Hell. But if he hadn't killed them, then maybe all those people would have met Jesus and been forgiven in their sins. So-

Patrick Miller: I bring up this hypothetical example, not because I think it's realistic. I mean, again, I'm the guy who's constantly brought into these on unrealistic, hypothetical examples. However, I just want to highlight the subjectivism here, that there are a lot of things we don't know in these moments, that we have to make a call. And if we knew all the information, we might make all different kinds of calls, but of course we don't get to know that info. And so it's all left up to us in the moment, adrenaline pumping, to figure out what's the right thing to do here.

Keith Simon: So maybe you should be know what the right thing to do is before you end up in that situation, the best you can.

Patrick Miller: But my point is every situation's different. You might have a neighbor well, and one you don't know, every situation is going to be different. There's no way to fully prepare. Unless you're in my camp, who's making a radical stance of," I would not kill the person." It's really hard. You're going to have to make the judgment call.

Keith Simon: Well remember, I don't want to kill the person either. I want to do everything I can to not do it. But if he's going to go on a shooting spree of killing all these little kids, then yes, I'm willing to kill him if I must in order to prevent that from happening. Because I think justice is worth fighting for.

Patrick Miller: I want to move for a second to Just War. We explored Just War in a previous episode, where you laid out the various principles associated with it. Now, my first question for you, and I know this, is that Just War theory doesn't actually come from Christian thought. It comes from Pagan thinkers like Aristotle and Cicero. Cicero was a famous rhetorician whose main goal with Just War was ostensibly to be able to rhetorically defend what wars he liked, and attack what wars he disliked. So it was a useful theory for him, not so much an actual ethical theory that he lived on.

Keith Simon: Some people who weren't Christians were using Just War, kind of like what we would do, and to try to prevent war as much as possible. Prevent harm. But some used it to justify their militarism.

Patrick Miller: Absolutely. It's kind of a" both and" thing. You don't need the Bible for Just War theory, correct?

Keith Simon: Sure. You can have some form of Just War theory without the Bible. Just like you can have some form of inalienable human rights apart from the Bible. The Bible supports it, and you need biblical thinking to get there, but the writers of our constitution and the Declaration of Independence, didn't need careful biblical thought in order to come to their conclusions that every human being has rights.

Patrick Miller: You did a little slight of hand there. You used the example of human dignity. And then you admitted the fact that the framers of the constitution, the enlightenment thinkers, they took this notion from the Bible. In other words, the Bible came to it first and then they came to it second, and they stripped it of the Bible in many ways. They kind of explain it in a humanitarian way, but that's different than what we're talking about. Just War existed before any Christians began to use it as a theory to guide their practice, correct?

Keith Simon: I'm positive that we could find people who aren't Christians who have advocated for human dignity and human rights, apart from the Bible, not using any Christian thinking at all.

Patrick Miller: I agree that there are going to be people who advocate for it. I would have some serious questions about whether the entire concept of human dignity, individual inalienable rights, if that comes anywhere outside of the Christian tradition.

Keith Simon: Well I agree, but I guess I would say also that I think in order to have a fully formed Just War theory, in order for it to make sense in its fullness and richness, you need the Bible.

Patrick Miller: Okay. So just out of curiosity, what do you need the Bible for? What didn't the Pagans have that the Bible finally gave us?

Keith Simon: Well, I think part of it is that the government is a servant of God, and that the government had God- given authority, and was sanctioned by God to carry out certain actions in the world.

Patrick Miller: That's fair. Here's what I find really interesting about Just War. The Bible does actually talk about how wars should be fought. So the Old Testament has a lot of passages that talk about how Israel should do the wars. We've already discussed this. There's the rules for the Canaanite Warfare, which is one set, and seems very time- bracketed, like this is how we do one specific kind of war at one time in history. But then there's general rules for war that seem to apply to all of Israel's wars.

Keith Simon: But even what you just said, it admits that God sent believers to war, and that God commanded them to kill people.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. I'm not disagreeing with that. Now, my point is if we want to go to the Bible as a ethical source for warfare, we probably shouldn't go to the Canaanite passages, reason being, we aren't the Israelites. There is no nation which has been called by God to go to warfare explicitly in the manner that Joshua did.

Keith Simon: Correct.

Patrick Miller: So if we go to those other passages that talk about how Israel should do war, there's a few things they say. They argue in Israel for no standing or professional army, it's entirely voluntary. They set serious limits on advanced armaments, especially for central leaders. They have limited training. They're told to trust in Yahweh, and prayer, and worship. There's limits on environmental destruction. And so Preston Sprinkle, an author who we've both read, this is what he says:" if America, for instance, used the Bible to shape its warfare policy, that policy would look like this. Enlistment would be volunteer- only," which it is,"and the military would not be funded by taxation. America would not stockpile superior weapons. No tanks, drones, F- 22s, and of course nuclear weapons. And it would make sure its victories were determined by God's miraculous intervention, not by military might. Rather than outnumbering the enemy, America would deliberately fight outmanned and under- gunned. Perhaps soldiers would use muskets or maybe just swords. There would be no training, no bootcamp, no preparation other than fasting, praying, and singing worship songs." Now I think in a lot of ways, Preston pressing his argument about as far as you possibly can. But my question is when we get to Just War, the things that the Bible actually says about not having a standing war army, about warnings, about having superior armaments. These things about having limited training, all of these things, which are in the old Testament, they don't even appear in Just War theory. What we use the old Testament to do is say," Hey, God sent people to war. Therefore, we can go to war." But then we ignore the actual passages that talk about how you do warfare.

Keith Simon: So much to say there, I respect both you and Preston's-

Patrick Miller: warfare.

Keith Simon: There's so much to say there. I respect both you and Preston Sprinkle, but this doesn't quite make sense to me. In the Old Testament, you have a theocracy where the people are supposed to trust God. God is their king. We've both admitted that when you move into the New Testament, that the relationship between God and specific nations changes. Therefore, to go back into the Old Testament and see how you lived in a theocracy and then apply that directly to us seems a bit forced.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, let's throw out the praying and worshiping for God's victory. Let's toss those out. Hey, if crosstalk.

Keith Simon: Well, no, we would toss it all.

Patrick Miller: No, no, no. We wouldn't, because there are other things...

Keith Simon: In other words, we would toss out the limited armaments.

Patrick Miller: Why would you toss those out?

Keith Simon: Because, again, Israel is a theocracy in which they are a nation that is supposed to trust God for their defense. That is different than what God has established post Christ.

Patrick Miller: Great. I'm in agreement with you. So let's go ahead and throw out the entire Old Testament theology of violence, because all of that violence which you used to defend a just war, if you want to now-

Keith Simon: I didn't use it to defend a just war.

Patrick Miller: No, no, no. No, I'm crosstalk.

Keith Simon: All I said was is that if God can command people to kill in the Old Testament, then it must not be-

Patrick Miller: Because it's a...

Keith Simon: But hang on a second. It must not be ethically wrong, because God doesn't sin. God doesn't do wrong. That's a different issue than how do we do it. This goes to the character and nature of God. God did not sin. I know we agree on that. And therefore, it is not always wrong to kill.

Patrick Miller: You are paying fast and loose for a single reason here. You that it's a theocracy. In other words, things worked differently in Israel. One of the ways it works differently is that God spoke directly to Israel about their foreign policy. Ergo, when God tells people to kill other people, when he tells them to do that, it is an act of his justice and judgment because he's the one who commanded it. There are things God can do and God can do through other people explicitly through his theocracy that individuals may not do who are not a part of a theocracy, because God has not told the United States of America or the Taliban or whoever," You now are my agent, and I have given you specific commands to go to war on my behalf," because they aren't a theocracy.

Keith Simon: No, but you had said in our last episode that God used the pagan nations to enact his justice.

Patrick Miller: I agree.

Keith Simon: He didn't give them specific instructions. And yet, they went to war, and God said he used their waring to bring about his justice.

Patrick Miller: Yes.

Keith Simon: Now, we live in the time of the New Testament where God has sanctioned governments, called them his servants. That was written at the time of Nero and Rome, so it wasn't as if these were Christian governments. And he has told them that they have certain powers. So it seems completely different than the theocracy in where they're supposed to trust God.

Patrick Miller: You are leaving out the other half, which is that God continually holds those same nations accountable for the violence they do in his hands.

Keith Simon: And God will hold nations today accountable for their violence.

Patrick Miller: Great. So if they...

Keith Simon: And some of it may be good, and some of it may be bad.

Patrick Miller: So the question for then again, as Christians, has to come down to our ethics, right? Am I allowed to participate in what this nation is doing? Now, my broader point here is people play super fast and loose with the Old Testament warfare passages, because here's what they do. And you just have to admit it. They either say," See, God sent people to war. So war's okay. It's great." And then when you say," Well, let's look at the other passages about war in the Old Testament and what they say." Then," Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Those ones don't count." I'm not going to play fast and lose. I'm going to be very honest. God sent people to war. God limited war in Israel. God did this because he is God and can call specific people in the specific time to do things. He called the people of Israel to do something which he does not call people in the New Testament to do. He called them to go to war explicitly. He does not call us to go to war explicitly. So my view is incredibly coherent with the New Testament's teaching.

Keith Simon: Well, I don't even remember. It seems so long ago when I laid out my position, but I don't believe that I said that America or any nation today should fight as the Israelites fought. I have no never tried to say that because God called them to go to war and kill, that therefore that's the same thing as God calling America to go to war. I've never said America is in place of Israel. What I did say is that there's a difference between killing and murder, and that what we find in the Old Testament and the New Testament is that killing in and of itself is not wrong, that it can be just. Now, what we have in the New Testament is a divine sanctioned government. And therefore, I think that the real question you have is, can Christians participate in divinely sanctioned governments or not? And I think what you're trying to do is say that Christians can participate at all these different levels, but not in the act of waring or using force or violence.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, that's right.

Keith Simon: And because they are established by God, and because they are given God- given responsibilities, and because we are citizens of two kingdoms, both the Kingdom of Earth and the Kingdom of Heaven, I don't see why Christians can't and shouldn't participate in those.

Patrick Miller: I think this is a really interesting topic. One of my major critiques of just war which I just don't think gets enough air time is simply that what you have advocates of just war saying is this, the Bible has divinely sanctioned violence, and then it creates an entire system about what that just violence looks like without any recourse to how God talks about just violence in the Old Testament. Completely ignores it. So it throws out one half, keeps the other half. And I think everything you said is coherent, that God has established a state, and that he works through the state to do these things. And you're right. My whole thing here is whether or not we should participate. Here's my next question. Has there ever been a just war? Has there ever been a war which met all seven of the categories of just war?

Keith Simon: Well, this is a question that I expected. And I'm pretty sure the answer is probably no, but I want to say a couple things. One is that it's all subjective. One of the problems with just war theory is that you can talk yourself into any war being just or proportional or as last resort. And ultimately, all these nations are given that responsibility. Divinely sanctioned by God, leaders put in place. And they will be held accountable to God for their choices. Do I think that there are any perfectly just wars? Well, no, we live in a Genesis 3 world, a fallen world where we don't even trust our own motives, or at least we shouldn't, and where we don't have all the information that we need to even make that decision. So no, I can't imagine that any war in this world meets all seven just war criteria, or even one maybe.

Patrick Miller: That's a go to my next question. There's a guy on Twitter. His name is Adam Shields. He tweeted at me. He said," There's lots of internal limiting principles in just war theory that just don't seem to actually limit things in most practice." Now, I think the point he was trying to make here is that a lot of these things are principles that when you get onto the field are really hard to live. Let's go to the example of noncombatant. The idea in just war is that you should avoid killing noncombatants. Now, there's an acceptance that, yes, there are always going to be noncombatants killed and war. So my question is, how do you personally think states should evaluate the destruction of noncombatants? How many noncombatants can die before it counts? And before we do this, let's just remember, by all statistics, one third of the people who died in World War I were noncombatants. That increased in World War II. It increased in Vietnam. Two thirds of the people who died in Vietnam were noncombatants. Now, today we have things like drone strikes, which you brought up in other contexts said," See, these things are awesome." Now, of course the CIA loves to tell us-

Keith Simon: There are awesome.

Patrick Miller: The CIA loves to tell us that these things kill no civilians. Now, you and I both know-

Keith Simon: Of course they do.

Patrick Miller: Of course they do, right? And it's really hard to know how many civilians they kill, but you've got insane statistics coming out of places like Pakistan saying that they're killing nine civilians for every one person, which seems like it's wrong, and you've got us saying none. So I've done a lot of looking into this. One of the fairest things I've seen, and it does seem really fair, puts the number at about 10%. So if you want to kill, let's say, 10 terrorists, the numbers work out like this. You want to kill 10... Or let's do 20, because that'll make this easier. You're going to end up killing one noncombatant and one child. For every 20 terrorists you get, you're going to kill one child and you're going to kill one noncombatant.

Keith Simon: So the child isn't the noncombatant? You're saying that crosstalk noncombatant?

Patrick Miller: I'm saying one child who's a noncombatant and an adult noncombatant.

Keith Simon: Okay. That makes sense.

Patrick Miller: That's that's how the numbers work out, because children are all over the place.

Keith Simon: Sure.

Patrick Miller: So I guess my question is, knowing that we have actually killed more noncombatants in the last century than any other time before, and knowing that even our most precise method is still killing noncombatants, how do you evaluate that? How do you know when you've killed too many?

Keith Simon: So let's start with this. Just war theory says that you should not target noncombatants, right? It doesn't say that noncombatants won't die. It just says you don't target them. So I think if we're targeting noncombatants, then we have violated one of these just war principles, and I think that's wrong.

Patrick Miller: Can we get rational for a second and say if there's a combatant who's in a house full of noncombatants, if I'm targeting just the combatant and accidentally kill some noncombatants, that's okay?

Keith Simon: Well, it might be. Now, here's what you have to factor in. Who's in that house? Let's say that you had an opportunity to kill Hitler before he did all the damage that he did, but you are going to kill however many noncombatants you want to put in that house with him. Would that have been the right thing to do? You would've saved, what, six- plus million Jews. You would've saved countless others. Tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of soldiers. Would that have been the right thing to do? Would that have been a way to love your neighbor and bring about a just and ordered peace by killing Hitler? crosstalk.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, but to kill Hitler you have to... Let's just put it into the numbers with a drone. You have to kill a baby.

Keith Simon: Mm- hmm( affirmative).

Patrick Miller: And you have to kill a noncombatant.

Keith Simon: Mm- hmm(affirmative).

Patrick Miller: That's the cost of killing Hitler.

Keith Simon: I'd do it.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. See, I-

Keith Simon: I'd not even hesitate. I can't imagine why you would hesitate, because you're-

Patrick Miller: No, no, no. So I'm going to ask you at what point does it become," Yeah, that's too much. I won't kill Hitler." Does it take three babies, four babies, or five babies, 10, 20?

Keith Simon: I don't know. How many babies did Hitler kill?

Patrick Miller: No, no, no. How-

Keith Simon: How many babies did Hitler kill?

Patrick Miller: No, that's beside the point.

Keith Simon: I don't want to be utilitarian and put babies on one side and babies on the other side.

Patrick Miller: That's what you just did.

Keith Simon: What I'm saying is that if you're a government and you have the opportunity to take out Osama bin Laden before 9/ 11, if you have the opportunity to do that, I mean, you have to do it.

Patrick Miller: How many babies would you have to kill?

Keith Simon: Well, remember the goal is not to target babies or anyone else.

Patrick Miller: I know, but I-

Keith Simon: The goal is to target the individual.

Patrick Miller: But see, this is highlighting... And you've already said it a ton of times. This is highlighting the subjectivism of this, right?

Keith Simon: Yeah.

Patrick Miller: In other words, the subjectivism is multi- layered. One layer is how bad is this bad guy, right?

Keith Simon: Well, it seems like what you're upset with is that God gave this power to human governments who are subjective, who are sinful, who have incomplete information. And you wish he hadn't given them that responsibility, and you don't like the consequences of God giving them that responsibility. But the reality is that he has. I don't know what to tell other than they have to make decisions in this broken, fallen world.

Patrick Miller: Let me change the story. You're living in an apartment building with all your kids, right? And let's say they're young at this point. They're all under the age of 12. So you got babies there, you've got-

Keith Simon: Hang on. I'm living in an apartment building with a bunch of kids under the age of 12? This is hell.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. This is New York City, right? Yeah. So that's happening. And living next to you is a drug cartel leader who in the future is going to end up killing tens of thousands of people through his leadership, just immense amounts of people for his own wealth and his own reputation. And at this point, he's just kind of a middle rung guy, but the government of Mexico knows that he's living in that little apartment right next to you. So they send a missile, a drone, and they execute this guy. In the process though, they kill all of your children. You're left behind. And you know, because I'm giving you future goggles right now, right? That this guy's going to kill tens of thousands of people. You're saying," I'm really glad the Mexican government just sent that drone to blow up that guy."

Keith Simon: Well, of course I'm not glad, but I understand the calculus that they went through to get there, and I understand why they did it. Now, let's remember that just war is more than this. So this means that they also tried everything else they could to prevent him from going forth and enacting his murderous spree.

Patrick Miller: Yep. All of those qualifiers.

Keith Simon: So they did all this, but this was a last resort. And if the last resort was to kill him to bring about justice, and that there were people like me and my kids who died, then yeah, it sucks to live in a broken, sinful, fallen world. I mean, but welcome to it. What other world are you going to live in?

Patrick Miller: Yeah. No, I-

Keith Simon: Because here's the thing in your situation. They didn't send the drone strike. I didn't die. My kids didn't die in that apartment building. But this guy went on his rampage and killed all the people that you were just referring to. Now, do you feel good about that? I mean, no, nobody's going to feel good about the consequences of living in this world.

Patrick Miller: Now, let's just say for a second that you aren't alone. That there's lots of families living in the same neighborhood. All poor, can't move out of it, and they have similar things happen. And they begin to hate the government of Mexico, because they love their neighbors and they see the way that we can't get out of where we're at, but we're dying one by one by one here with these other guys who we don't want to necessarily anything to do with. But again, people live where they live. There's not a lot that you can do. So would they be right then, in turn, if they got their hands on a drone to take that drone and shoot a missile at the guy who's been shooting missiles at them and killing their family? Why? Because they love their neighbors, and this is a form of neighbor defense. We have to protect our neighbors from the violence of the Mexican government.

Keith Simon: Look, your point is that violence breeds violence, and I get it. Right?

Patrick Miller: My point is incoherence. My point is subjectivity. At what point does this game end?

Keith Simon: Well, remember, God did not give every individual the right to figure this out. Governments have been put into place by God. And whether you like them or not, the presidents or the kings or whoever rules, or whatever it's called, the prime ministers are put there by God.

Patrick Miller: Yeah.

Keith Simon: They have a system around them of people that give them information. Oftentimes, bad information, probably misinformation. But they take all that into account, and then they make decisions. You know what? I hate that system, but guess what? It's the one God instituted.

Patrick Miller: It's the best of the worst systems?

Keith Simon: God calls them his servant. They're doing his will in some sense. It's hard for us to comprehend. I get it. It's messy. I wish it didn't happen that way, but I don't know what to tell you.

Patrick Miller: And on one level, I actually agree with you. This is how nations act, and God is going to use the nations to bring justice to the nations for both what they did to bring the justice and what happens afterwards. So that person who grew up in the neighborhood where all their family members and people they saw got killed, ends up becoming president of the country one day and decides they're going to send a missile over there to defend their people, yeah, we can understand how this happens. Now, here's the deal. If we go through... Because we just don't have time to do this, but you already admitted it. We could go through every single one of the seven categories of just war, and we could show that each one of them is highly subjective.

Keith Simon: Highly subjective. I completely agree. And it's probably one of the weakest things, I think, about the just war theory. That any government, any leader can rationalize how the war that he or she wants to commit is just, is a last resort, is proportional, isn't targeting noncombatants. And we know that's just not true, at least not from where we sit. It doesn't look true. So I agree, it's highly subjective. I don't know what to tell you, though. It is what it is.

Patrick Miller: And I think it is the weakest point. This is where I've been leading this whole time. Let's go back to self- defense. Let's go back to neighbor defense. From top to bottom, if you want to be a proponent of violence, you have to admit that every step of the way there is a high level of subjectivity which is involved. There's never clear cut situations.

Keith Simon: Some more than others. But yes, that's never as perfectly clear as you'd like. You can never trust-

Patrick Miller: Even what's happening in Ukraine right now. You could go to Russians who could use just war theory to justify what they're doing in Ukraine.

Keith Simon: Human beings can rationalize anything you want. Our motives aren't trustworthy oftentimes, and our knowledge is very limited.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. And it seems to me that when we're in highly subjective situations, we tend to align ourselves to our self- interest. We tend to align ourselves to our national interest.

Keith Simon: True.

Patrick Miller: We tend to align ourselves to our community interest.

Keith Simon: Mm-hmm(affirmative).

Patrick Miller: And we tend to diminish the perspectives and views of those who stand on the other side of us.

Keith Simon: I hope all this goes back to being really angry at Adam and Eve for eating the fruit.

Patrick Miller: Well, no, I'm just beginning all this.

Keith Simon: I bet it does somehow.

Patrick Miller: Three weeks ago an interview came out on this podcast with Clayton Echard of The Bachelor. Right? You interviewed him, didn't you? It was a fun interview, and you were gentle.

Keith Simon: I did. I have no idea where this is going.

Patrick Miller: You were gentle with him. You were nice with him, but you pushed back at some points. You were being a good pastor. I really enjoyed the interview. I think people should listen to it. But one of the things you pushed back on is that he had this motto. Do you remember his motto?

Keith Simon: Follow your heart.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, follow your heart. And you pushed back on him because you said," Look, following your heart has led you to tell multiple women at the same time that you love them, has led you to tell multiple women,'I want to sleep with you.' It seems like following your heart is getting you into a lot of trouble, so are you sure that following your heart is a good motto?" And he kind of didn't know how to answer the question.

Keith Simon: No, he didn't know how. But, yeah. crosstalk.

Patrick Miller: Yeah, and then you asked him a question. Then you asked him a question. You said," Don't you think Jesus cares about what you do with your body?"

Keith Simon: Yeah. I asked him," Do you think Jesus cares who you sleep with?"

Patrick Miller: Yeah. And he, again, just kind of waffled. He said," Well, I've done it before. It's complicated." Genesis 3 world and all of this. He didn't actually say Genesis 3 world. I wish he had said that. That'd be funny. But he was kind of a realist. I mean, he was like," Look, you kind of got to try it before you buy it. I want to make sure we've got good sexual compatibility before we get married, and so I know you and I disagree. Yeah, Jesus cares about that, but let's just be practical. This is the world we live in. This is how we have to figure out." That was his answer to the question. Would you agree?

Keith Simon: Close enough.

Patrick Miller: Yeah. So to him, sexual ethics are highly subjective, right? There's things that he would certainly say you shouldn't do. He would draw some lines in the sand, but they're highly subjective. He doesn't know there's much wrong with sleeping with multiple women and telling them that he loves them. You and I would of course disagree with that. We think Jesus has some very clear standards about how you live your sex life. One of the things that terrifies me about our view of violence in the church today is that we have become... Because we already live in a highly self- expressive culture, a highly individualistic culture where following your heart is the meme. It's the norm. It's what everybody does. We have become self- expressive self defenders. When it comes into the moment of what I do to protect myself or my neighbor, the only thing that matters is my own subjective view. In other words, it's up to me to follow my heart to decide in the moment what I should do with this violence. And I think we could even press it further. We become self- expressive militarists. The only thing that matters is my nation's interest and whether my nation can justify whether this thing is right or wrong. And of course, there will be exceptions to the rule of people who are trying not to be selfish or trying not to live out a follow- your- heart narrative when it comes to violence. What I find so fascinating is that we're living in a cultural moment that says follow your heart, express yourself in your sexuality. And I would argue that Christians have done the exact same thing with war. We are living in a self- expressive, highly subjective reality where were saying just follow your own heart when it comes to war. And if it's this subjective, if I can literally take any war and make it into a just war in some way, I can figure out a way to rhetorically do it, if I can in any situation find a way to justify. Yeah, he didn't have a gun. I had a gun. Yeah, he is like a pipsqueak I probably could have stepped on kicked, but I'm defending myself. If there's a way for me to defend myself and to express myself in violence, then it's okay. It's justified. I think this should just make people ask profound and deep questions. Does Jesus care? Not just about what you do with your body, does he care about what you do with your gun? Does he care about what you do with your violence? Does he care about that? And I think the answer is yes, profoundly, and he's as clear about it as he is with sexual ethics.

Keith Simon: That was beautiful. I feel like I need to take a moment and wipe a tear from my eye. Here's the thing, I agree with about 97% of all that you just said. Yes, Jesus does care what you do with your gun. He cares what you do with your body. He cares about all of it. He's not a for militarism. Christians have gotten caught up in seeing military battle through are the eyes of the world and not taken into account how Jesus loves all these people, not taken into account how we need to love our enemy. I agree with all that. Christians unfortunately, and I count myself among them, have been too quick to cheer on the United States in battle and forgotten that they are citizens of God's kingdom first and foremost. I agree with all of it. But where I start to disagree with what you said is that you gave a great case for people not being able to use their own self expression, follow their own heart to use violence. Agreed. 100% agreed. But that's not how God established government. God established government so that it would have the proper authority to mete out punishment and force when necessary. So it sounds like what you're advocating for is something I would agree with, and that is that no one should run around and take the responsibility, kind of a vigilantism of take the responsibility to go out and exercise violence willy- nilly and accomplish their personal objectives. I agree, but God has sanctioned governments and given government certain responsibilities. And as citizens of two kingdoms, a citizen of say, in our case, United States and of God's kingdom, that we can participate in the working of government ordered and structured by God, called a servant of God, sanctioned by God to carry out his will. Yes, it's a messy world. Yes, I agree that anybody can rationalize a just war, but that doesn't mean it was just. Just because Vladimir Putin can figure out a way to call his war in Ukraine just, doesn't mean that it is. All these governments will give an account to God, and Christians will have to give an account to God for their own personal behavior. So I don't think you've made a case that governments can't effectively use force and that Christians can't participate in those governments.

Patrick Miller: Here's my closing thought. You give a closing thought after this. I'm really glad that I hold my position on violence, because when you get down to the brass tacks of how you think through violence both on a national scale and on a personal scale, it becomes absolutely evident that it is highly, highly subjective. And I frankly wouldn't know. I'm just being honest. I would not know how to determine whether or not the war I was involved in, or the personal self- defense or neighbor defense I was involved in was right or wrong, because there are no clear standards. There are no clear principles. They are often rhetorical and based in my subjectivity. And yet, let me say this, I'm also thankful for just war. So I'm going to contradict myself, because I do think that some of the principles of just war have been used and enshrined in various statements that nations have agreed upon and has, as a result, had a limiting effect on war. So I'm talking out both sides of my mouth when I'm saying," Look, I don't think these things really work, and yet, on the flip side, I do think wars would be worse without them." So at the end of the day, what do I hope someone's going to walk away from my argument? I highly doubt I've convinced anyone of my position, that they should be involved in government, just not be involved in violence in the government, or that they should not defend themselves with their neighbors with violence. Although, there's lots of other forms of resistance that you can engage in. Here's my hope, is that they're taking a step back in their self- expressivism, that they are taking a step back and asking," Is the reason why I believe in self- defense because really deep down I'm just one of these individualist, self- expressionists who thinks I should be able to do whatever I want to do to defend myself as I put myself first?" Same thing for neighbor defense or my family. I think these are valuable questions to ask. And if someone takes one step in my direction, I do think, especially on the self- defense, they're taking a step in the direction of Jesus. And that'd be my last challenge, is just go back and read Jesus's words about loving your enemies, about how you treat those who do evil to you. And just ask," Can I live consistently with those words and do a violent act?" Because if you don't answer that question before you're in the situation, you won't know what to do. You will simply go from your gut, and I don't know if that's a great place to be.

Keith Simon: Just war is trying to mediate between two extremes, militarism and pacifism. It's trying to mitigate against militarism by saying that we cannot go to war and use force and violence willy- nilly. We have to put some God- given limits on it. It's arguing against pacifism in that it is saying that sometimes in loving your neighbor, you must use force. Because advocates of just war are not just after peace, they're after justice. Remember that peace is a fruit of justice. Peace is not just the absence of conflict. God has established governments, and given them certain rights and responsibilities that he has not given individuals. I think that Christians can serve inside those governments in every capacity. Although, it is very messy. I will be the first to admit that in the Genesis 3 world in which we are all fallen, and in which our motives are suspect and our information is limited, that it's always easy to look back in hindsight and judge others. But I don't know what to do about that. That's the world that we live in. We can't just look at the consequences of what we did. We'd also have to look at the consequences that came because of our inaction. I can't live with myself knowing the Hitler killed millions of Jews, and millions of other people to be frank, and Christians can't be involved in that war. I think that's the way of loving your neighbor. I think that a way of bringing justice to this world sometimes mean having to enter into something you'd rather not do as a last resort, and that is to use force, even violent force to prevent evil from flourishing. Thanks for listening. If you found this podcast helpful, make sure to subscribe and leave a review.

Patrick Miller: And make sure it's at least five stars.

Keith Simon: Stop. No, just be honest. Reviews help other people find us.

Patrick Miller: Okay. Okay. At the very least, you can share today's episode, maybe put it on your social, your favorite text chain.

Keith Simon: And if you didn't like this episode. Awesome. Tell us why you disagree on Twitter @ truthovertribe_. We might even share your thoughts in an upcoming newsletter.


Today onΒ Truth Over Tribe, we're bringing you the final episode in ourΒ Just War vs. Non-ViolenceΒ 3-part series. If you haven't listened to the first two episodes, go back and listen now: The Biblical Theology of Violence + Should Christians Go To War?.

In this episode, we finally get the debate we've been waiting for! Keith and Patrick ask each other clarifying questions about their respective positions: Keith on defending just war and Patrick on non-violence. Which is closest to what the Bible actually says about war? Tune in now!

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