By Keith Sharp
I appreciate Brother Sasser’s honest and sincere objections to my position. Although we disagree, if my position is correct, our differences are in the realm of liberty. Thus, I will not “brand” Brother Sasser, nor do I fell any bitterness whatsoever toward him. The purpose of this article is to answer his objections. I will do this by making a few general observations and by answering specific arguments.
Brother Sasser charges me with “emotional appeals and excuses.” I leave it to the reader and to the Lord to judge these subjective charges.
He further brands my argumentation as “bringing forth such carnal appeals for our own vengeance.” I fail to comprehend how Brother Sasser logically came to such a conclusion. I specifically stated:
`Resist not evil’ is an absolute prohibition against personal vengeance or even an attitude of resentment as the result of wrong suffered.
When a Christian suffers wrong, he should not `vow to get even’ or seethe in resentment. He should do good to the evil-doer and leave vengeance to the Lord (Rom. 12:17-21).
But Christ does command us not to seek personal vengeance for wrongs suffered.
Is there something in those statements that seems to indicate I espouse personal vengeance?
The truth is, Brother Sasser and I agree on the subject of personal vengeance. We agree on the right of the civil state to exist. We even agree it is God’s instrument for vengeance. We disagree over the Christian’s right to participate in civil government and his right to self-defense.
Because Brother Sasser believes the one who executes the police power of the state exacts personal vengeance, he charges that I believe in personal vengeance. This is a low blow. I specifically disavowed belief in such personal vengeance. I further deny this is the consequence of my position. A police officer who sought to `get even” for a wrong suffered would be rightfully dismissed from the force.
When Brother Sasser admitted, “Civil government has as both its right and responsibility the administration of justice,” he logically surrendered his position. May the Christian not engage in that which is right? Does God have one law of vengeance for the alien and another for the Christian? Is it right for a sinner to be a soldier or policeman but wrong for a Christian? I wonder how Brother Sasser would apply this line of reasoning to divorce and remarriage.
Brother Sasser’s position becomes yet more difficult when he affirms, “civil powers are ordained of God and can be used for our protection” but denies we can help provide that protection. Is it right for Christians to reap the benefits of God-ordained good provided by the sacrificial service of sinners, yet wrong for us to provide that same admittedly good service?
Brother Sasser claims I gave no Scripture that would allow a Christian to personally be a part of this civil government, police, army, etc., and take the steps of vengeance himself. I have a number of verses which pointedly prove this very position. These scriptures were used in logical arguments that present by necessary implication the very proof Brother Sasser demands. I pointed out that, since civil government acts in a righteous capacity in rendering punitive justice (Rom. 13:3, 4), Christians may take part in this process. To deny this, one must take the position that saints may not participate in that which is righteous. I gave examples of Paul appealing to the use of the armed power of the state (Acts 22:22-29; 23:12-24; 25:19-24) and argued that, if it is right to appeal for the use of armed might, it is right to be a part of that armed power, for fellowship of a work is tantamount to participation in that deed (2 Jn. 10, 11).
Brother Sasser ignored the force of these scriptural arguments and demanded specific authority. Such is pure sophistry. I would like to hear him defend the class arrangement for teaching the Bible in debate! I wonder what he would say when his opponent demanded, “When are your classes mentioned in the Bible?”
Brother Sasser noted Brother Bryan Vinson, Sr.’s question, “If a vicious criminal broke into your house and attacked your wife, would you come to her help?” I notice he did not answer the question.
He concludes, “If we are transformed in our minds and bodies and are in harmony with the Lord we will not worry too much about such trivial things.” Brother Sasser, your wife and children may be trivial to you, but mine are not to me! I have the God-given responsibility to provide for them (1 Tim. 5:8). Surely life, safety and protection are provisions they need, and I intend to supply them.
The conclusions reached in my former article stand unscathed. Thank you, Brother Sasser, for taking the time and thought to review the material and to offer your sincere objections. I hope we can be one in these matters.
Truth Magazine XXIII: 46, pp. 746-747
November 22, 1979