When Christ disarmed Peter in the garden, he disarmed all Christians and cursed the works of the sword for ever after. ~ Tertullian
I’d never heard of Dave Daubenmire before this week. All I know is he’s a former football coach-turned-evangelist who has gained some notoriety for his televised rant about the need for “a more violent Christianity.”
Explaining that “the Bible is full of violence,” Daubenmire went on to say that “the only thing that is going to save Western civilization is a more aggressive, a more violent Christianity.”
To illustrate this point, he referred to President Trump’s behavior at a NATO summit where he shoved the Prime Minister of Montenegro aside so that he could stand in front of the group of assembled leaders. Christianity should be like that, Daubenmire explained,
“[President Trump] is large and in charge. Look at him. They’re all little puppies. Ain’t nobody barking at him … He’s walking in authority. He walked to the front and center and they all know it, too, man. He just spanked them all. The Lord is showing us a picture of the authority we should be walking in.”
Get that? The Lord is showing Christians how to behave through Donald Trump’s aggressive, discourteous example.
But Daubenmire wasn’t done yet. Warming to his subject, he then cited Republican congressional candidate Greg Gianforte’s vicious assault on a reporter as another example for the church to follow. Gianforte was charged with misdemeanor assault after he body slammed Ben Jacobs from The Guardian and broke his glasses, while shouting, “Get the hell out of here!”
The reporter had been asking the candidate whether or not he supported the American Health Care Act.
Dealing with punks like that is A-Okay by Dave Daubenmire who said,
“People are sick and tired of it. They’re saying, ‘Yes, a fighter! Go, dude, go!’ … Who won? The dude that took the other dude to the ground.”
Gianforte later apologized for his actions, but Daubenmire still thinks the body slamming politician is a great example of the kind of violent Christianity we need.
I’m not going to reflect on the level of commitment to Jesus demonstrated by Donald Trump or Greg Gianforte, but when I’m looking around for examples of Christlike behavior I don’t think they’re on top of my must-watch list.
Who could read the Gospel accounts of Christ’s life and think that body slamming someone who annoys you is an example of how to live like Jesus? What’s happening when a self-proclaimed evangelist/preacher can “teach” that the New Testament endorses violence as a means to advancing the gospel in the world? Daubenmire even had the temerity to quote Matthew 11:12 completely out of context to justify his position.
This week Brian McLaren wrote that he believes we are facing a dangerous moment for Christianity. Referring to Daubenmire’s Scripture-twisting endorsement of violence, Brian said,
“Daubenmire’s glorification of the word ‘violence’, as any responsible commentary will make clear, reverses the meaning of Matthew 11:12, and it marks one of the most flagrant, blatant calls to violent Christian extremism by a public figure. Christians are constantly asking Muslims to reject “violent Islamic extremism.” It now remains to be seen how many Christians will speak out against this call to violent Christian extremism.
How about you?
Are you willing to denounce all Christian violence, and speak out against preachers who call the church to aggressive posturing and acts of force in Jesus’ name?
Someone told me this week that I shouldn’t get so worked up about Daubenmire. “He’s a failed football coach,” he said. “Toxic masculinity is his stock in trade.”
But it’s too easy to dismiss Daubenmire’s rant as an isolated incident by a light-weight American preacher. It’s my fear that Daubenmire is the tip of the iceberg, that there’s a growing movement within the church that has no interest in what the Bible actually teaches about non-violence and who believes insolence, aggression and force are all attributes of the Christlike believer.
And this isn’t simply an American problem. Look at the relationship Christianity has to violence around the world. Take the top five countries ranked by percentage who are Christians:
- Democratic Republic of the Congo (63,150,000 Christians; 95.7 percent of population).
- Mexico (107,780,000; 95 percent).
- Philippines (86,790,000; 93.1 percent).
- Brazil (175,770,000; 90.2 percent).
- United States (246,780,000; 79.5 percent).
Now consider the levels of violence in those countries. The Congo has been embroiled in a bloody civil war, and is one of the most dangerous nations in the world, especially for women due to the high occurrence of rape. Mexico has been engaged in a drug war for years, where homicide rates are sky-high. In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has sparked over 1,400 vigilante killings with his vocal support for the extrajudicial murder of drug users and other criminals. And the United States has the highest murder rate of developed countries in the world.
We don’t need voices calling on Christians to be more violent.
We need a movement of Christians committed to following the Prince of Peace, the one who taught his followers not to resist an evil person, but to turn the other cheek, to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, do good to those who hate us, and pray for those who spitefully us use and persecute us. (Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44).
We need Christians who agree with Paul’s words in Roman 13:11 that “Love does no harm to a neighbor.”
And with John’s words in 1John 4:16: “God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them.”