taking the words of Jesus seriously

I want to be a non-violent resister because as a Red Letter Christian I am committed to taking seriously what Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount. There’s no way to read through chapters five through seven in Matthew without recognizing that Jesus called his followers to reject violence, “turn the other cheek, ” and do good to those who would do us evil. Jesus told us that we are to love our enemies, and that probably means we shouldn’t kill them.
As I remind my fellow Red Letter Christians to be peacemakers, even as Jesus proposed in Matthew 5:9, I do so with some ambivalence. Realizing that the freedom to be a pacifist, or in my case a non-violent resister, was earned for me and for other likeminded Red Letter Christians by brave men and women who both fought and, in many instances, died in order to provide that freedom. In short, I have a sense of gratitude that there have been and still are men and women in uniform who did what needed to be done so that I could live out my commitment to being a conscientious objector and not serve in the military.
It is far too easy for me, living in the security of the United States, to say that “war is not the answer” because I live thousands of miles from those places where ISIS is about to take over villages and cities–where I know its hooded terrorists will rape, murder, and kidnap innocent victims.
I wonder how many others like myself, who declare themselves to be non-violent resisters in a cavalier manner such as mine, would remain non-violent in response to ISIS threats if ISIS was knocking on the doors of the places where we live.
Yes! I am still committed to non-violent resistance in the face of those who, as the scriptures say, would persecute me in spite of my innocence or “for righteousness sake.”
So it is that I stand for non-violent resistance with a troubled heart and mind, and I hope you can understand why.

About The Author


Tony Campolo is Professor of Sociology at Eastern University, and was formerly on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania. For 40 years, he founded and led the Evangelical Association for the Promotion of Education, an organization that created and supported programs serving needy communities in the Third World as well as in “at risk” neighborhoods across North America. More recently, Dr. Campolo has provided leadership for the Red Letter Christians movement. He blogs regularly at his own website. Tony and his wife Peggy live near Philadelphia, and have two children and four grandchildren.

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