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Bishop Emmanuel, Retaliation, and Self-Defence

“…we have allowed ordinary Australians to basically be left without any defence when it comes to crime and criminals.”


The good news is, Bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel is in good condition after the Islamic terror attack, and he has already released a message to his community. More on that in a moment. But let me mention a few other things. We see much of the leftist agenda already being played out here, including the idiotic belief being promoted that anyone who stands up for Christian teachings is, in fact, the bad guy here.

Attacking the victim

Much of the lamestream media went on the attack, not condemning the assailant, but condemning the Bishop for somehow provoking the attack! ‘His views on, Islam, homosexuality, vaccines and even Trump are simply unacceptable, so he really got what he deserved’ the media outlets are effectively saying. See more on this from my friend Rod Lampard.

And of course already various radical Islamists have been calling the attacker a hero, singing his praises and holding him up as a great example for all Muslims to follow. In my previous piece, I noted how radically different Islam is from Christianity in this regard.

Indeed, the picture I have chosen for this article perfectly encapsulates the major differences between Islam and Christianity. The attacker, with a sword (knife) in hand versus the Christian with a cross in his hand. The two could not be more different.

Retaliation, versus self-defence

In the message the Bishop just recently released, he urged his followers not to resort to retaliation and violence. He said in part: “A piece of advice to our beloved faithfuls, I need you to act Christ-like. The Lord Jesus never taught us to fight, the Lord Jesus never taught us to retaliate, the Lord Jesus never said to us ‘an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth’.”

Now all of this is sage advice. Tensions are running high there right now, with two major knife attacks occurring in a few days. And western Sydney is the main Muslim population hotspot in the country. Given how beloved the Bishop is, it is natural for some of his followers in the heat of the moment to want to exact revenge of some sort.

But that is not the way to proceed. The mob scenes outside the church on Monday night I have already addressed in my previous article, saying they were not the path to be taken. Yet that did not stop the usual atheist trolls from sending in comments claiming I said nothing about that! The reading skills of these God-haters are just as bad as their thinking skills.

While Islam has always been spread by the edge of the sword, Christianity is spread by sharing the good news of what Jesus did for lost sinners at Calvary. That is how we share the Christian faith. So attacking police, trashing police cars and preventing emergency workers from helping out is not the way for believers to proceed. And in his brief message the Bishop called out those very things, urging calm and urging prayer for his attacker.

But let me look at bit more at the matter of self-defence, and how it is NOT the same as personal revenge or retaliation. In my earlier article, I included a link to a piece I did on these matters over a decade ago. It is still worth looking at.

In addition, I have written on this matter of an ‘eye for an eye’. Known as the lex talionis, I discussed how Jesus did not actually reject this Old Testament principle, but the wrongful use of it. In a two-part piece, I discussed both the Old and the New Testament understanding of this – and here.

In the first piece, I spoke of how this principle actually prevented blood-lust and personal vengeance. Among others, I quoted Old Testament scholar Douglas Stuart and his remarks on Exodus 21:22-25. He said this:

The goal of the laws that use the wording “life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth,” is that the penalty imposed for causing physical injury must be appropriate to the nature of the injury. In other words, a mere monetary penalty (a fine) cannot be considered adequate justice when someone has been permanently maimed by a person in a manner that clearly demands a punishment. This kind of law represents an advance on the non-Israelite biblical-era laws, which routinely provided for fines as satisfying the legal requirement of justice in the case of a superior person’s permanently injuring an inferior person. By contrast to the laws of pagan nations, the law governing God’s chosen people Israel required real equity at law and forbade people with money being able to buy their way out of criminal penalties.

And in the second piece I noted what Jesus taught about this. While some think he advocated complete pacifism, others see things rather differently. I shared what Gordon Wenham said about texts like Leviticus 24 in relation to the Sermon on the Mount:

In context Jesus’ remarks are a criticism of interpretations of the OT current in his day. These interpretations aimed to take the sting out of OT ethics. For instance it was said, “Murder was forbidden, but it does not matter being angry.” Jesus said that while murder may be the worst consequence of anger, even anger is sinful (5:21ff). Further it was said, “adultery was wrong, but divorce was all right.” Jesus said that remarriage after divorce could be adultery by another name (Matt. 5:27–32). The context of vv. 38–42, therefore, makes it improbable that Jesus was rejecting the lex talionis as such. What seems more probable is that Jesus is attacking those who turn this legal principle into a maxim for personal conduct. Christ’s followers are not to live on a tit-for-tat basis. Total selfless love like that of Christ must characterize their attitude to others. “Give to him who begs from you, and do not refuse him who would borrow from you” (v. 42). It is unlikely that our Lord’s remarks were intended to encourage judges to let offenders off scot-free. The NT recognizes that human judges must mete out punishments appropriate to the offense (Acts 25:11; Rom. 13:4; 1 Pet. 2:14, 20) and declares that it is on this basis that God will judge mankind (Luke 12:47–48; 1 Cor. 3:8ff).

For those wanting more on the Sermon on the Mount, and the place of the use of force in protecting the innocent, see a piece such as this.

Australians and self-defence

The ability of ordinary Australians to protect themselves is almost non-existent. The reply that we should just leave things to the police is great advice if you live in some non-existent ideal world. But we do not. The average time for police to arrive at things like violent home invasions may be around 20 minutes.

Even if it were just five minutes, if the folks at Good Shepherd church just sat there and did nothing to protect the Bishop, waiting for police to eventually arrive, he more than likely would have been killed. Rod Lampard again has been helpful on these matters.

I mentioned in my earlier piece that even something like pepper spray could be quite helpful, but most Australian states have banned that. So that leaves most of us quite defenceless. In the case of the Bondi attacker, a woman with a firearm (a police officer) did finally bring down the criminal. But before she did, far too many innocent people were wounded and killed.

In the case of the church knife attack, a number of able-bodied men were able to quickly leap to the Bishop’s defence and subdue the Islamists. But again, in something like a home invasion (cases of which seem to be skyrocketing around the country), ordinary Australians are just not that fortunate.

We read of horrific and bloody attacks, with blood-soaked homes and terrified victims. One recent case I read of involved a woman waking up to find five men in her home. Imagine that! Many other cases involve gangs of youths armed with knives, machetes and other weapons, wreaking havoc in our homes as they terrify the victims – sometimes killing them – and steal so many valuables.

But even if the police can be called, by the time they finally do arrive, the damage has already been done. Now that I live alone, I think about this almost nightly, and pray for God’s protection. But at least if there is a household of people, perhaps one person can call the police while the others try to deal with the attackers.

And as I said in my other piece, the only ones who obey things like gun control laws are the innocent victims. Criminals do not pay the slightest notice to such laws. And the truth is, those cities with the strictest gun control laws in America tend to also have the highest crime rates, including gun crime. Oh, and they all happen to be Democrat-controlled cities. Just think Chicago, Washington D.C., or Detroit for example. And the number of mass shootings that have been PREVENTED in the US by law-abiding citizens with firearms can also be mentioned.

But all that is the stuff of another article to present the pros and cons on. The simple point I am making here is we have allowed ordinary Australians to basically be left without any defence when it comes to crime and criminals. I for one am thankful that the members of the Good Shepherd church sprang into immediate action (and the use of force) to help save the Bishop’s life.

Again, that has nothing to do with retaliation, violence, and personal revenge, but everything to do with protecting the innocent and seeing justice upheld – at least until police can show up and deal with the situation. And that matters – greatly.

But please keep praying for the full recovery of Bishop Emmanuel. And like him, keep praying for his attacker, that he leaves the violent political religion of Islam and comes to know the truth of the love of Christ and the Christian gospel.

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