The two kinds of enemy of every
The enemies of God
The prevention of Christian
preaching in Turkey
The situation of Christians in
Islamic countries / Book Udo Ulfkotte 00, 2008-10-07
Loving one’s enemies
Did the Lord forgive his murderers
on the cross? / Commentary, Theo Markwitz 00, 2008-11-07
Are Christians obliged to love their
enemies? Part 1, Discourse
Are Christians obliged to love their
enemies? Part 2, Discourse
752 – The Catholic view of the question
In Discourse 752, Part 2 of the present topic, Dr. John
Waterfield of the Swiss translation agency Royal Line (Dr. Monika von Sury), who
has been a translator of my works for many years and describes himself (though
haling from Protestant Great Britain) as a "passionate Catholic",
supplied the following commentary to my interpretation of the parable of the
(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)
John Waterfield: And then you write in your explanation
of the parable of the Good Samaritan:
“And this is just the point at which Our Lord
engages with the issue, by making it plain through this parable that we do not
have to spend a lot of time searching around and wondering who our neighbor is
- the neighbor we are supposed to love as ourselves - because this neighbor
gives us direct evidence of his identity through his compassion and
willingness to help us. So the Lord did not answer this question just for the
benefit of the lawyers of Israel of his own time - the answer is equally
relevant to us today. If we want to recognize our neighbors, we must look
among the people who have shown us love and compassion. These then we should
love in return - and love them as we love ourselves. This is what the Lord
says, and it is also the most obvious thing in the world and taken by all
reasonable persons as such. How is it then that some people see this view as
May I quote here Matthew 5, 43-48:
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 in order that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you? Do not even the tax-gatherers do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what do you do more than others? Do not even Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
I think that completely contradicts your interpretation of the Good Samaritan story. I have been told that Margaret Thatcher shared your opinion - but would you want to be in that kind of company?!
These two texts above – namely, the Lord’s statements from
the Sermon on the Mount, and my interpretation of the parable of the Good
Samaritan – in no way contradict one another. After all, the Lord doesn’t
say here that we should hate our neighbor, otherwise yes, this would be in
contradiction with what he says in the parable quoted below (Lk 10,27-28). Here
the lawyer cites the Law as saying, “You shall love the LORD your God (...)
and your neighbor as yourself,” and the Lord says to him, “You have answered
correctly; do this and you will live.” So this means that we should love them
both – both our neighbor, and also our enemy! But the failure to understand
the real meaning of this parable is apparently based on the short-term memory of
some readers. These 13 verses evidently exceed the limits of their attentiveness
threshold, so that by the end they have already forgotten the starting point of
Here now, for all readers who have not yet read the first part of this Discourse, is the parable of the Good Samaritan, so that they can better understand the background to these statements
But wishing to justify himself, the lawyer said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
Lk 10,25 And a lawyer stood up and put Him to the
test, saying, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?"
10,26 And He said to him, "What is written in the Law? How does it read to
you?" 10,27 And he answered, "You shall love the LORD your God with
all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all
your mind, and your neighbor as yourself." 10,28 And He said to
him, "You have answered correctly; Do this and you will live." 10,29 But
wishing to justify himself, he said to Jesus, "And who is my neighbor?"
10,30 Jesus replied and said, "A man was going down from Jerusalem to
Jericho, and fell among robbers, and they stripped him and beat him, and went
away leaving him half dead. 10,31 "And by chance a priest was going down on
that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. 10,32
"Likewise a Levite also, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by
on the other side. 10,33 "But a Samaritan, who was on a journey, came upon
him; and when he saw him, he felt compassion, 10,34 and came to him and bandaged
up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast,
and brought him to an inn and took care of him. 10,35 "On the next day he
took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of
him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.’ 10,36
"Which of these three do you think proved
to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’ hands?"
10,37 And he said, "The one who showed mercy
toward him." Then Jesus said to him, "Go and do
the same." Lk 10,25-37;
The trigger for this parable of our Lord’s was of course the
question of the lawyer, who asks the Lord in Lk 10,29, “And who is my
neighbor?” Then the Lord tells the well-known parable of the man who was
attacked, robbed and left lying, severely injured, on the road. By contrast with
a priest and a Levite, who went by the man without paying him any heed, a man
from Samaria stops and gives him help .And when the Lord has finished his
relation of the parable, he asks the lawyer in Lk 10,36: “Which of these three
do you think proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell into the robbers’
hands?” And the lawyer answers, consistently enough, “The one who showed
mercy toward him” – confirming that for the man who was robbed, the helpful
Samaritan was his neighbor.
But unfortunately this very obvious state of affairs has been turned back to front on countless occasions in the past, with people asserting that it was not the merciful Samaritan who was the neighbor of the man who had been robbed, but rather that the man who was robbed was the neighbor of the Samaritan. This incorrect interpretation becomes problematic when we reflect on the consequences. Scripture says that we must love our neighbor as ourselves. And here, now, it makes a massive difference whether we are obliged to show this kind of love to those who have shown mercy toward us, as the parable states, or whether (according to the mistaken common opinion) we must love everyone in the world who is in need. Christian love of one’s neighbor, then, according to Scripture, is love shown to those people who have shown themselves merciful toward us.
Love of our neighbor.
Like the incorrect interpretation of the "least
of my brothers" in Mat 25,40, the complete reversal of the biblical concept of
"love of our neighbor" by churches, preachers and aid organizations is one of the
biggest deceptions, practiced with a view to stimulating compassion in credulous
contemporaries and accumulating funds from donations with minimum effort.
So that is what this parable of the Lord Jesus tells us. And it also says – if some one comes to you personally or you meet them personally and they ask you personally for your help or you see that they are personally in need of help, then, as a correctly believing Christian, you should personally help them. And they should then love you (based on Mt 22,39) personally out of gratitude, in the same way as they love themselves.
Now this is something quite different from those charity campaigns
for refugees whom we never get to know, and who do not have any idea who has helped
them. And in this context most of the money is not spent on the refugees themselves,
but goes to the salaries, logistical operations and other expenses of these "aid
In the biblical passage from the Sermon on the Mount quoted by
John Waterfield above, what is in principle at stake, after all, is whether the
“neighbor” we are supposed to love is just any random person, or a brother
in Christ. This finds expression in the last part of this quotation in
particular, in Mt 5,46-47:
For if you love those who love you, what reward
do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only
your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles
do the same?
In the following passage (Mt 18,15-17), the Lord then tells us how we should behave toward our brother when he sins:
If he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector
Mt 18,15 "If your brother sins, go and
show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your
brother. 18,16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more
with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every act may be
confirmed. 18,17 "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and
if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a
tax collector. Mt 18,15-17
Here the Lord is speaking of a "brother", and he does
so repeatedly. And if this brother is not prepared to listen to the church and
renounce his sin, then he should be to us "as a Gentile and a tax
collector". But a Gentile or a tax collector is one of the heathen.
The apostle John also explains, in his second letter, how these statements of the Lord’s are to be understood, when he writes:
If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not give him a greeting.
2Jn 1,9 Anyone who goes too far and does not abide
in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the
teaching, he has both the Father and the Son. 1,10 If anyone comes to you
and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house, and do not
give him a greeting; 1,11 for the one who gives him a greeting
participates in his evil deeds. 2Jn 1,9-11;
So if someone does not bring the teaching of Christ – whether
he is a brother or a Gentile – then we should not receive him into our house
or give him a greeting, because otherwise we would be participating in his evil
Here we can see that we must always examine the commandments of the New Testament – and especially those found in the Sermon on the Mount – extremely scrupulously, in order to see whether they really apply to all human beings of this world – as e.g. the Catholic church, and undoubtedly all the godless, and aid organizations as well (consider the refugee issue!) would like to claim – or only to our brothers in the faith.
A realistic comparison will help us, here again, to realize the truth:
The Sermon on the Mount
If the commandment of Jesus “Whoever forces you to go
one mile, go with him two” (Mt 5:41) were to apply not just among
correctly believing Christians but to all people in the entire world, then
every Christian, when compelled by another person to rob a bank, would be
obliged to help him rob two banks.
But the parable of the Good Samaritan does not just tell us
something about love of one’s neighbor – it also (and this is very much to
the point) tells us something about our enemies. We have here two groups of
enemies: on the one hand the thieves who attacked the man, robbed him and left
him half dead on the road, and on the other, the priest and the Levite, both men
of God, whose sacred obligation it should have been to help this man. One after
another, they reached the place where the man was lying, and when they saw him,
they both switched quickly to the other side of the road and passed him by.
These, perhaps, are the two kinds of enemy which every human being has: open enemies, generally brutal and without remorse, and the other class of hidden enemies, who are malicious and devious. We can defend ourselves against the first, and if we have enough clout – whether in physical, rhetorical or social/political terms – we can succeed in keeping them off; but with the second class of enemy we are usually powerless until such time as they have been unmasked, and then it is often too late. We experience such cases, of course, practically every day in our own times, with the Islamic suicide bombers, who have been persuaded by false teachers that they are martyrs and will go to heaven. In fact they end up in hell.
And here, incidentally, we can also see a parallel with the Crusades, which are so frequently advanced by these Islamists as a justification for their own jihad or holy war against the non-Islamic infidel. The very first crusade was launched by Pope Urban II in the year 1095, at the Roman Catholic Council of Clermont in France, calling for the reconquest of Palestine from the Muslims. In a highly dramatic address, Urban proclaimed to the assembled throng the necessity of freeing the holy places from the Muslims, and the audience responded with enthusiasm. He finally ended his sermon with the words Deus lo vult! (“It is the will of God!”) – words which subsequently became the slogan of the crusades.
Altogether there were seven crusades to Palestine – all of them instigated by the Catholic Popes in the years from 1096 to 1291. In the course of them, more than 22 million people were killed. The Popes also promised all the crusaders that they would go to heaven. In actual fact, neither the crusaders nor these Popes will ever see the light of heaven – like the Islamic suicide bombers and their false teachers, they will end up in hell.
The pattern of friend and foe that we have pointed out in the parable of the Good Samaritan above reappears in the death of our Lord Jesus Christ. The open enemies here are the Romans. And the Lord’s certainly had sufficient firepower on his side to defend himself. After all, he reproved Peter for cutting off the ear of the high priest’s slave when they came to arrest him – “Or do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?” (Mt 26,53). And the Lord also told Pilate that it was not the Romans who were really guilty.
You would have no authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.
Jn 19,10 So Pilate *said to Him, "You do not
speak to me? Do You not know that I have authority to release You, and I have
authority to crucify You?" 19,11 Jesus answered, "You would have no
authority over Me, unless it had been given you from above; for this reason
he who delivered Me to you has the greater sin." Jn 19,10-11;
So the truly guilty parties were those who handed him over to the Romans – the High Priest Caiaphas and the members of the Sanhedrin, who found Jesus of Nazareth worthy of death and delivered him to the Romans to be crucified. These were the other enemies of the Lord, the insidious ones. They suborned two witnesses to give false testimony, but were then too cowardly to carry out the sentence of death themselves and so got the Romans involved. The Lord also refers to them as a brood of vipers and sons of the devil, who will not be able to flee from the wrath to come.
You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father.
Jn 8,43 "Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.8,44 "You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. Jn 8,43-44;
You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?
Mt 3,7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers, who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?" Mt 3, 7;
You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good?
Mt 12,34 "You brood of vipers, how can you, being evil, speak what is good? For the mouth speaks out of that which fills the heart. 12,35 "The good man brings out of his good treasure what is good; and the evil man brings out of his evil treasure what is evil. Mt 12,34-35;
Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?
Mt 23,32 Fill ye up then the measure of your
fathers.23,33 Ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the
damnation of hell? Mt 23,32-33;
The figure of the neighbor in the parable of the Good Samaritan
– namely, the man from Samaria himself – also reappears in the Passion of
our Lord, being represented by Joseph of Arimathea. In the same way as the
Samaritan looks after the man who has been robbed and cares for him, so Joseph
of Arimathea, after the death of Jesus, has him taken down from the cross and
lays him to rest in a crypt of his own which has not yet been used.
(See also Discourse 87: “The
Besides these two kinds of enemies of every human being, we as
Christians moreover have to deal with enemies who are not our personal enemies,
but the enemies of God.
Certainly the scriptural statements from the Sermon on the Mount
cited by John Waterfield above are fertile ground for discussion and divergent
interpretations. As there have been repeated inquiries, here at Immanuel.at, as
to how these words of the Sermon on the Mount should be interpreted, we would
like to try at this point to analyze these difficult passages further. The goal
of this analysis should be to investigate the biblical background to these
sayings of the Lord, in order to come to a proper understanding of the matter.
We had better start with the last sentence in Mt 5,48:
Mt 5,48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as
your Father which is in heaven is perfect. Mt 5,48;
As we have already shown in Discourse 752, the repeated use of
the word “perfect” (Greek teleios) cannot have the identical meaning
in all cases. Human beings can never be perfect as God is perfect, otherwise
obviously they would be God themselves. So clearly it is not a matter here of
the equation of properties, but rather of the comparison of the mode of action.
Just as God in heaven, in his omnipotence and omniscience, acts perfectly in his
divine way, so we Christians here on earth, even with our limited abilities, are
expected to be “perfect” in a human way. So when it is said of God in Mt
5,45, “For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain
on the righteous and the unrighteous,” we as Christians too should love our
friends and our enemies alike.
It must be said however, that the fact that God here evidently makes no distinction between the good and the evil has frequently led to the conclusion that God does not distinguish between good and evil. This leads then to the most extravagant interpretations, up to the point where we find it asserted that God in his “infinite” love forgives all human beings in the same way – whether they have accepted the Christian faith or not – and that members of idol-worshiping religions and spirit cults have an “implicit” faith in Jesus Christ, and so will be saved just like correctly believing Christians.
The infinite and unconditional love of God.
If the love of God were to be infinite and unconditional,
this God would have to forgive all human beings of all ages (infinite
time!!) all their sins, without any conversion or repentance on their part
(unconditionally!!). There would then no longer be any need of a redeeming
sacrifice – and Jesus Christ would not have had to die on the cross.
John Waterfield wrote to me to this effect in the discussion
referred to above:
“They may have been Buddhists or animists or
Hindus; they may be people who simply tried to do the will of God as they
understood it, or just to live a good life according to their lights. They may
not have known God and they may never have chosen Christ consciously, but their
human goodness will be counted to them as righteousness. In effect, their lives
will show that they have implicit faith in Christ; and Our Lord will know them
and reward them for it.” J. Waterfield
(See also Discourse 78: “The
doctrine of the Catholic church and the Bible ‒ a debate.”)
Now any Christian whose faith is based on the Bible knows that
this is absolutely untrue, but people often fail to come up with the right
scriptural evidence for refuting such assertions. Seeing that we are trying
here, based on these sayings of our Lord’s about loving one’s enemies, to
find and recognize the right way of acting for us human beings, we can take this
opportunity of checking at once whether any support for these absurd claims can
be found in Scripture. And in order not to appear one-sided, we will refer to
passages both from the Old Testament and from the New.
So let us take a look first of all at Exodus. This has to do with Israel’s leaving Egypt: starting from Ex 10:27, Moses asks Pharaoh for the last time whether he will consent to the people of Israel’s emigration. After Pharaoh rejects this final request, God announces to Moses the ten plagues which he is going to bring upon Egypt (Ex 11:1-10). All the firstborn in Egypt are to be killed, from the firstborn of Pharaoh to the firstborn of the meanest female slave. Only the houses of the Israelites are spared by the avenging angel, because they have smeared the blood of the sacrificial lamb, sacrificed the evening before, on their doorposts (this is a prophecy of the redeeming sacrifice of our Lord, the “Lamb of God”, for our sins). – And on the following morning, God caused the sun to rise on the evil and the good once more. But none of the firstborn in the whole land of Egypt could see it, because they were all dead.
Let us take another passage from the Old Testament. In the First Book of Kings we have the story (in 1Kin 18:21-40) of the prophet Elijah and the 450 prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel. The people of Israel had again fallen away from its God, and had gone running to the idol Baal (Ex 34,13-14) and his prophets (a prophecy of the Catholic church with its idols “Mary” and the “saints”, who are worshiped and prayed to). And now in order to prove that the LORD is the true God, Elijah tells the people to slaughter two oxen. Both he and the prophets of Baal will cut an ox to pieces and place them on the wood, but not set fire to it. Then the prophets of Baal will call on their God, and Elijah will call on the LORD, each asking for fire to be lit under their sacrificial animal.
So first the 450 prophets of Baal call on their god from morning till midday, but nothing happens. Then Elijah mocks them, and gives the people further orders, telling them to pour 12 pitchers of water over the flesh of his slaughtered ox. And then he prays to the God of Israel, and “the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.” Then Elijah orders the people to seize the prophets of Baal – “and Elijah brought them down to the brook Kishon, and slew them there.” – And on the following morning God caused the sun to rise on the evil and the good once more. But the 450 prophets of Baal could not see it, because they were dead.
This brings us to the New Testament, and to an incident which happened in the lifetime of the Lord Jesus. When he had driven out the demon who was possessing the dumb man, the scribes from Jerusalem were saying that he was Beelzebul, the ruler of the demons (in other words, Satan).
He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons.
Mk 3,20 And He came home, and the multitude
*gathered again, to such an extent that they could not even eat a meal.
3,21 And when His own people heard of this, they went out to take custody of Him; for they were saying, "He has lost His senses." 3,22 And the scribes who came down from Jerusalem were saying, "He is possessed by Beelzebul," and "He casts out the demons by the ruler of the demons." Mk 3,20-22;
But the Lord prophesied to them that because of their unbelief their city would be left desolate.
Behold, your house is being left to you desolate!
Mt 23,37 "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills
the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather
your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and
you were unwilling.
23,38 "Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! Mt 23,37-38;
This prophecy was then fulfilled some 40 years later, in 70 AD,
when Titus and his Roman troops captured Jerusalem, destroying the city and the
temple completely, killing a great part of the population and expelling the rest
of the Israelites from their land. And on the following morning God caused the
sun to rise on the evil and the good once more. But the slain Israelites could
not see it, because they were dead.
Let us move on to the end of the Bible, to the Revelation of John. Here we have the judgments of the trumpets, and when the sixth trumpet sounds in Rev 9,13-21, “the four angels, who had been prepared for the hour and day and month and year, were released, so that they would kill a third of mankind.” The numbers of the armies of horsemen who now advance are two hundred million – “and out of their mouths proceed fire and smoke and brimstone. A third of mankind (by today’s statistics, around 2 billion people, FH) was killed by these three plagues, by the fire and the smoke and the brimstone which proceeded out of their mouths.” - And on the following morning God causes the sun to rise on the evil and the good once more. But some two billion people will not see it, because they will be dead.
Finally let us consider another event from Revelation, which is known, to some degree, even to people of the world – though with completely wrong connotations: the Battle of Armageddon. Starting with Rev 19,19, the beast from the sea (who first appears in Rev 13), together with the false prophet and the worldly rulers allied with him, go to war against the Son of God and the entire heavenly host. And then we read in Rev 19,20-21:
And the beast was seized, and with him the false prophet, these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with brimstone
Rev 19,20 And the beast was seized, and with him
the false prophet who performed the signs in his presence, by which he
deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped
his image; these two were thrown alive into the lake of fire which burns with
brimstone. 19,21 And the rest were killed with the sword which came from
the mouth of Him who sat upon the horse, and all the birds were filled with
their flesh. Rev 19,20-21;
(See also discourse 86: “The
first and the second Antichrist"”)
So the two leaders of the worldly hosts will be thrown alive
into the lake of fire, and their entire army will be slain. So depending on how
we interpret the 10 kings, who have sent this host with all its soldiers, either
we have to do here with the soldiers of 10 nations, or – if we take the number
10 as symbolizing a global totality – all the armies and soldiers of this
world. - And on the following morning God causes the sun to rise on the evil and
the good once more. But none of the soldiers of this world will see it because
they will be dead.
As people who know the Bible are undoubtedly well aware, these are just a few examples of God’s dealings with those human beings who have made themselves his enemies. So it is not as if God forgives his enemies, let alone loves them. They all receive the punishment they deserve. – So we can conclude that while it is true that God causes his sun to rise every day on the evil and the good, all the same, quite independently of this, they are subject to the dictates of his absolute justice, and so of course God makes a distinction between good and evil. And when our Lord tells us, in Mt 5,44, to love our enemies, he certainly does not mean that we should love the enemies of God. If God in his justice punishes his enemies and throws them into the eternal fire, we, as the sons of our Father, can hardly be expected put ourselves in the opposite camp by loving them.
Why then do you ask me, since the LORD has departed from you and has become your adversary?
1Sam 28,16 And Samuel said, "Why then do
you ask me, since the LORD has departed from you and has become your adversary?
Here now it would perhaps make sense, based on the biblical
events referred to above, to draw up a tentative list of specifications
indicating how we can recognize the enemies of God whom we are not obliged to
o Pharaoh and the Egyptians wanted to prevent
Israel from complying with God’s order to leave Egypt. So all human beings who
prevent Christians from fulfilling the mandate of Jesus Christ in Mk 16,15: “Go
into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation”, are enemies of God
and we do not have to love them (this includes e.g. Israelis and Muslims, in
whatever country they may be, who prevent Christians from proclaiming the
o The prophets of Baal stigmatized the God of
Israel as a false God and Elijah as a false prophet. So all people today who
stigmatize the LORD as a false God and worship other gods and idols are enemies
of God and are undeserving of our love.
o The scribes of Israel decried our Lord Jesus
Christ as Beelzebul and the chief of the demons. So all human beings who scorn
true Christianity and grieve the Spirit of God are enemies of God, and do not
come under the injunction of our Lord to love our enemies.
o People in the Last Days blaspheme against God
and do not do penance for their evil deeds. So today as well, all blasphemers of
God and unrepentant persons are enemies of God and should not be loved by us.
o In the Battle of Armageddon the godless of the
entire world rise up and fight against God. Therefore today as well, all those
who deny God, who lift themselves up against God and his Son Jesus Christ, are
enemies of God, and to love them would be tantamount to a betrayal of our
All these are enemies of God, not our personal enemies – and
the latter certainly do come under the commandment to love our enemies, and will
be discussed at the end of this Discourse. First, though, in order to add a bit
of realism to the biblical background, we would like to illustrate the theme
with a few examples drawn from happenings in our own time.
Preventing Christians from proclaiming the gospel is very widespread – in Turkey, for example. Tilman Geske, a 46-year-old Protestant Christian who had moved to the Turkish city of Malatya in 2003, with his wife Susanne and three children, in order to do missionary work, was murdered by five Turks with 160 stab wounds on 19 April 2007. There had already been numerous protests from the Turkish neighbors against this Christian family, and shortly before they had been directly threatened. Here the Lord gives us a very clear guideline as to how we are to behave:
Even the dust of your city which clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against you.
Lk 10,10 "But whatever city you enter and
they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, 10,11 ‘Even
the dust of your city which clings to our feet, we wipe off in protest against
you; yet be sure of this, that the kingdom of God has come near.’ 10,12
"I say to you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom, than for
that city. Lk 10,10-12;
This missionary would have been able to recognize without any
doubt, in the course of his work, that he was not welcome in the city, and
should have left it without delay and “wiped the dust off his feet”. But he
did not do this. Unfortunately, neither was his wife sufficiently aware of her
responsibility to her three children, and after the murder of her husband, she
didn’t follow this counsel of the Lord’s either. On the contrary – she
publicly forgave the murderers of her husband on Turkish television, justifying
this on the grounds that Jesus forgave his tormentors on the cross by saying,
“Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.”
But as we saw at the outset of this Discourse, in saying this the Lord meant that the Roman soldiers – by contrast with the High Priest Caiaphas and the entire Sanhedrin – did not know that they were crucifying the Son of God. They only had the job of carrying out the judgment of the Jewish council, the death sentence, and therefore did not know what they were doing. But Tilman Geske was not the Son of God, and the 160 stab wounds are a sad proof of the fact that these Muslims were very well aware of what they were doing. This comes out in their confession, where they acknowledged that they had “acted in the interest of the fatherland and the faith, and wanted to teach the enemies of the faith a lesson.”
These Turks, then cannot be compared with the Romans at the crucifixion of Jesus, but rather with the Jewish scribes who condemned the Lord to death because he said he was the Son of God. And these Jews the Lord certainly did not forgive. Quite on the contrary, he told them to their face that they were the sons of the devil (Jn 8:44) and that they would not be able to flee from the wrath to come (Mt 3:7). As we see, it is frequently problematic when Christians, for whatever reason, quote unreflectively biblical verses which they just know from having skimmed over them, without knowing what these sayings really mean.
If we now examine the Scripture in order to see, for example, what the Lord did in a genuinely comparable situation, we find a quite different attitude in evidence. When the Lord taught in the synagogue of his home town Nazareth, the Jews began to have their doubts, and said, “’Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at Him.”
And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching.
Mk 6,1 And He went out from there, and He *came into His home town; and His disciples *followed Him. 6,12 And when the Sabbath had come, He began to teach in the synagogue; and the many listeners were astonished, saying, "Where did this man get these things, and what is this wisdom given to Him, and such miracles as these performed by His hands? 6,13 "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, and brother of James, and Joses, and Judas, and Simon? Are not His sisters here with us?" And they took offense at Him. 6,14 And Jesus said to them, "A prophet is not without honor except in his home town and among his own relatives and in his own household." 6,15 And He could do no miracle there except that He laid His hands upon a few sick people and healed them. 6,16 And He wondered at their unbelief. And He was going around the villages teaching. Mk 6, 1- 6;
And they rose up and led Him to the brow of the hill, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way.
Luc 4,27 "And there were many lepers in Israel
in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only
Naaman the Syrian." 4,28 And all in the synagogue were filled with rage as
they heard these things; 4,29 and they rose up and cast Him out of the city,
and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order
to throw Him down the cliff. 4,30 But passing through their midst, He
went His way. Luc 4,27-30;
We see here that when the Lord was faced with disbelief among his listeners, or if they wanted to attack him, he simply turned around and went away and left them there. Paul acted in the same way in similar situations. When he proved to the Jews of Damascus that Jesus was the Christ, they wanted to kill him. They even kept watch day and night on the city walls, so that he might not escape them. But his disciples lowered him down from the wall in a basket, and so he was able to get away. And again in Greece the Jews laid a plot against him, and so he decided to go back through Macedonia rather than through Syria.
And they were also watching the gates so that they might put him to death; but his disciples took him by night, and let him down the wall.
Acts 9,22 But Saul kept increasing in strength and confounding the Jews who lived at Damascus by proving that this Jesus is the Christ. 9,23 And when many days had elapsed, the Jews plotted together to do away with him, 9,24 but their plot became known to Saul. And they were also watching the gates day and night so that they might put him to death; 9,25 but his disciples took him by night, and let him down through an opening in the wall, lowering him in a large basket. Acts 9,22-25;
And when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as he was about to set sail for Syria, he determined to return through Macedonia.
Acts 20,1 And after the uproar had ceased, Paul
sent for the disciples and when he had exhorted them and taken his leave of
them, he departed to go to Macedonia. 20,2 And when he had gone through those
districts and had given them much exhortation, he came to Greece. 20,3 And there
he spent three months, and when a plot was formed against him by the Jews as
he was about to set sail for Syria, he determined to return through Macedonia.
Acts 20, 1- 3;
So if Paul had not left these cities at the first opportunity, his opponents would undoubtedly have seized him and put him to death. If some missionaries in our own time behave very differently, there are two possible explanations for it. Either these brethren do not know the Scripture (especially Lk 10,10-12 above). But then they shouldn’t be missionaries. Or else they do know the Scripture, but choose to disregard it out of misplaced personal ambition. In that case they present a life-threatening hazard – for themselves, their families and other missionaries – and are even less fitted for missionary work. You get the impression that these people think they are obliged to convert all unbelievers themselves. But this is fundamentally wrong. The Lord’s mandate does not say, “Convert the unbelievers” (that would rather be the way Islam and the Muslims would talk) – on the contrary, the Lord tells us to “Preach the gospel.”
Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.
Mk 16,15 And He said to them, "Go into all
the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16,16 "He who has
believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall
be condemned. Mk 16,15-16;
Here it is a matter of proclaiming the gospel throughout the
unbelieving created world. And we can recognize, in this connection, two
important things. First of all, we should preach the gospel. No
question here of any kind of accompanying interludes in the form of music, dance
or theater or other kinds of “tools for conversion”. We should just preach
the gospel – nothing else. This should, however, be the complete picture –
starting from the lost condition of human beings in their sinfulness, going on
to the salvation by grace through the redeeming sacrifice of our Lord on the
cross, and ending with the glory of our eternal life with God if we accept this
offer of God’s. As well as eternal damnation for those who turn down the favor
– that should not be left out either.
And we find it written in the above passage, in Mt 16,16: “he who has believed”. – In other words, who has come to believe through the preaching of the gospel. So it hasn’t been any kind of external trappings which have induced people to believe, it is just the content of the sermon – the Word of God together with the Spirit of God. When the Spirit touches someone through the sermon, they have the basic conditions for becoming believers. But not all whom the Spirit touches do come to believe. It’s the same as with love: even if a man and a woman have real love for one another in their hearts, it still remains their own entirely personal decision whether they pledge their faith at the altar or not. Conversion is similar: even if a person is touched by the Holy Spirit and feels love for his or her God, it still remains a wholly personal decision whether they follow this call or not.
However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, "LORD, how has believed our report?"
Rom 10,14 15 And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? as it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring glad tidings of good things" 10,16 However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, "LORD, how has believed our report?" Rom 10,14-16;
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.
Rom 10,17 So faith comes from hearing, and
hearing by the word of Christ. Rom 10,17;
And only when these people have come to believe through their
own free decision should we baptize them and make them disciples, and they will
be saved (Mk 16,16; Mt 28,19). A conversion which does not result from a
completely free will is not a conversion. At the time of the conquest of South
America by the Spanish Conquistadors, the Catholic monks forced the Catholic
faith on the native Indios on pain of death. The consequence was that for
centuries, and right up to the present day, this people has prayed to its false
gods and its false spirits on the altar at home after Sunday Mass – now
transformed into the Catholic “saints”.
So it is a fatal error when some preachers and missionaries suppose that they must bring their listeners to the faith at all costs and at any price. Someone whom the Holy Spirit does not illuminate is not going to be converted even by the best preacher. And not even all those who are impelled by Holy Spirit will actually go on to convert. But unfortunately it is just this kind of preacher who sometimes tries to put people under pressure, and so actually succeeds in “converting” some unstable characters against their own will. And often too it is missionaries like this who stay in a place notwithstanding, even if no one is listening to them any longer. They interfere with God’s work, and only succeed in getting on people’s nerves. In this way they damage Christianity, degrade the gospel – making it a cut-price offer – and put themselves and their families at risk.
Just this week too, on 10.20.2008, sadly a woman from a South African aid organization was shot by the Taliban on the public street in Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, because she was engaged in Christian missionary work. As if there were not enough poor and unconverted people in the slums of South Africa who need help, and to whom the gospel should be preached! – Here again the woman, according to the Taliban’s statements, had been “shadowed for a long time, and has now finally been punished”. The fact that she was in Afghanistan – a country which even after eight years of international occupation is already half controlled by the Taliban, who as fanatical Islamists are known to intend death to all Christian missionaries, and the fact that she had already been shadowed for a long time, should have been enough to convince this woman of the advisability of quitting the country as soon as possible.
And kill them wherever you find them… for such is the recompense of disbelievers.
Koran - Sura 2:191-192 “And kill them1)
wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you
out. For encouraging apostasy is worse than killing. And fight not with them at
the holy mosque, unless they first fight you there. But if they attack you, then
kill them, for such is the recompense of disbelievers.”
1) The “People of the Book” = Jews and Christians.
They wish that you reject faith, as they have rejected faith... Take hold of them and kill them wherever you find them.
Koran - Sura 4:89 “They wish that you reject faith, as they have rejected faith, and thus that you all become equal (to them). So take not friends from them, till they emigrate in the Way of Allah. But if they turn away from Islam, then take hold of them and kill them wherever you find them.”
Kill the idol-worshipers wherever you find them, and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush.
Koran - Sura 9:5 “When the sacred months
have passed, then kill the idol-worshipers2) wherever you find them,
and capture them and besiege them, and prepare for them each and every ambush.”
2) The Christians. Because of the Catholic cult of Mary, Mohammed believed that the Christians worshiped three gods: God the Father, “;God the Mother” and God the Son.
So if missionaries in such situations ignore the heedful
warnings of our Lord, go against his command to leave the city and stay –
along with their wives and children – in houses and cities where they are not
just seen as unwanted, but are actually threatened, they are not martyrs but
suicides! And anyone who supports these people, and does not urgently warn them
against remaining where they are also, shares responsibility for the
consequences. The Christian foreign mission should not be a suicide mission!
The two German Evangelical female bible students murdered in Yemen in June this year are likewise regarded as heroic martyrs. Their friends write that they “envy these two who have died because they worked for the Kingdom of God, fell honorably and are now with Jesus.” Quite apart from the fact that no one is with Jesus at present, in view of the fact that all the dead are still sleeping in the Kingdom of the Dead (1Thess 4:16), these people are the last to deserve the title of martyr, and should rather be seen as suicides. And here it doesn’t make any difference whether someone kills another human being, or himself or herself – in the eyes of God they are still murderers.
(See also Discourse 56: “Are
Christians who have died already in heaven?”)
But even in Catholic circles, there have been repeated reports
lately about Catholic missionaries being abducted and killed when working
abroad. The Head of the Pontifical Mission Societies (Missio) in Austria,
Monsignor Leo Maasburg, confirms that “Some sisters pray for martyrdom.
This is the highest form of witness for them.” In his opinion, the death of a
martyr is “the sacrifice of one’s own life for humanity – without
violence, and without blowing oneself and other people up”. At the same time
he stresses: “I mustn’t place anybody under an obligation to be a hero or to
seek martyrdom,” – so differentiating himself from the Islamic Koran
teachers, who send their students all over the world as suicide bombers.
And here we have to ask ourselves why we are trying to convert Muslims in their home countries in the first place, when we already have millions of them here with us, in our own countries?! The Islamization of the Central European population has already assumed alarming dimensions (see the book by Udo Ulfkotte, “SOS Abendland” [“SOS Occident”], which came out recently). They are building their mosques and houses of prayer here, and are even persuading some of our young people to join their faith. Here it would be high time to start a “foreign mission” at home!
But why does this not happen? Are people afraid of getting into conflict with European antidiscrimination legislation, by explaining, say, that the Muslims have a false understanding of God just as the homosexuals have a false understanding of marriage? In both cases it would be a waste of time. The Muslims see themselves as the descendants of Ishmael, the first son of Abraham. But the God of Abraham and Ishmael, their forefathers, was not the Allah of the Koran – which was copied from the Bible by Mohammed, the founder of Islam in 632 AD, in other words some 600 years after the establishment of the Old Testament canon and around 400 years after that of the New, and adapted to his own requirements.
Thus Mohammed for example inverts the biblical statement that God blessed not Ishmael, the first son of Abraham, born to the bondwoman Hagar, but the second son born to his proper wife Sarah, the free woman (Gen 21,12) – the Koran designates Ishmael as the son chosen by God and heir of the blessing (Sura 2:141). Ishmael’s mother Hagar is also made out to be the first wife of Abraham and not the slave of Sarah, as the Bible tells us. And in the Sunnah of the Prophet even the circumcision of women and girls (!!) is – by contrast with the Bible – made obligatory for Muslims. – So the God of Abraham and Ishmael is not the Allah invented by Mohammed, but is Yahweh, the God of the Bible. This would be one possible approach for showing Muslims their biblical roots, and making it plain to them what God they are actually expected to submit themselves to (Arabic muslim = one who submits).
But here unfortunately we keep coming up with the “Interreligious Ecumenism” of the Catholic church, which – rather than bringing the false religions the one true message of Christianity – instead prefers to describe all these religions (Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, animism, voodoo, shamanism etc. etc.) as valid paths having equal value. Going against the unambiguous statements of the Lord in Jn 14,6 that he is the only Way and the only Truth, Catholicism declares “that our religion, like any other, is a gate through which we keep on going to the last” (Father David Steindl-Rast, an Austrian/American Benedictine, at the Interreligious Dialog in Waldzell, 2007). That may perhaps be true of the Catholic religion, but certainly not of biblical Christian faith. But regrettably the godless world today equates Christianity automatically with the Catholic church.
(See also Discourse 91: “Interreligious
Ecumenism: Are the Religions Merely Different Paths to Salvation??”)
So it appears that we prefer missionizing abroad, even though we
would have our work cut out back home. Does missionary work abroad seem a so
much more attractive prospect to Christian activists? Is the desire to convert
unbelievers really the most important thing here? – It just is not acceptable
that we send out our best people, it may well be, on Christian mission to
countries with a pro-Islamic legal framework, while Islam is right on our
doorstep at home, and as a result of the high birth rate the Muslim proportion
of the population is increasing all the time.
␆ Number of missionaries per country
o More than 50% Muslim population
In his book mentioned earlier, Udo Ulfkotte writes:
“Christians in Turkey are not allowed to train
priests or build churches – and they can’t even eat what they like. While we
in Germany, as in all other European countries, are labeling more and more
products with Islamic halal certificates – confirming to Muslims that
the animals, in conformity with the Koran, have had their throats cut while
fully conscious before being processed – in Istanbul the last Christian
butcher sheds tears in vain.”
So while Christians in Turkey cannot train priests or build
churches, here in our own country the training of Islamic ministers is not
questioned, and the building of mosques is even advocated and declared to be a right.
In a declaration published at the end of the Full Plenary Assembly of the
Bishops’ Conference of the Catholic Church in Germany, we find it stated that:
“Without any doubt religious freedom entails that Muslims have a right to
build fitting mosques.” Unfortunately these gentlemen of the Catholic
spirituality do nothing – apart from unctuous encouragement – to bring about
the recognition of Christians in Islamic countries.
But what these Catholic bishops – and probably Mr. Ulfkotte as well – are unaware of, is the fact that Christianity does not need either special priests or church buildings. True biblical Christianity does not know any “anointed” priests, so they do not need to be trained either. By contrast with the Catholic religion, the Christian religion knows only the Universal Priesthood of all believers (1Ptr 2,9). So there is no clerical hierarchy – no priests, no bishops or cardinals and certainly not a Pope. With these hierarchies, the Catholic church imitated the worldly kingdoms of emperors and kings, meddled in world politics and oppressed and enslaved their own faithful. These Catholic (both Roman Catholic and Orthodox) “dignitaries” who according to Scripture should be not bearing dignities, but bearing burdens for their brethren in the faith (bishop = overseer, 1Tim 3,1-7), continue presenting themselves like kings and emperors today and so bring Christianity into disrepute.
The above picture shows the former Palestinian President Yasser
Arafat, now dead, at the Christmas midnight mass at the Greek Orthodox
church in Bethlehem. Let us suppose we had the opportunity of showing this
picture to the apostle Paul in the first century, and telling him that one of
the two persons shown, 2000 years in the future, would describe himself as being
a follower of Jesus Christ, while the other is the leader of a people whose
religion persecutes Christians in many countries of the world.
On looking at the picture, Paul would perhaps think of the Lord’s parable of the rich man clothed in purple and pomp and the poor beggar Lazarus (along with other sayings of the Lord’s about the scribes and Pharisees), and he would most probably take the simply dressed man with the friendly smile to be the Christian, and the other person decked in gold and purple, with the jeweled double crown, as the opponent of Christianity. And that should actually make us Christians blush for shame – or better perhaps, with indignation!
But neither are church buildings necessary, according to the biblical Christian faith, so there is no need to build them either. The LORD already tells the prophet Isaiah in Isa 66,1:
‘What kind of house will you build for me?’ says the Lord
Acts 7,48 "However, the Most High does not
dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says: 7,49 ‘Heaven is
my throne, and earth is the footstool of my feet; what kind of house will you
build for me?’ says the Lord; ‘Or what place is there for my repose?
7,50 ‘Was it not my hand which made all these things?’ Acts 7,48-50;
People often ask, in this connection, where in that case they are expected to pray – but this just shows that the questioner is unfamiliar with Scripture. These are the people who think they could lure God into a church, and the bigger and more beautiful the church is (just look at the Catholic church’s basilica St. Peter’s in Rome), the more likely God is to be found there. In actual fact it is not God they are seeking in this way – they are only aiming to satisfy their own need for personal power and aggrandizement. And it is just people like this against whom the Lord in fact warns us:
And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues, in order to be seen by men.
Mt 6,5 "And when you pray, you are not to
be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on
the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they
have their reward in full. Mt 6, 5;
As the Lord here tells us, we should not pray in public, or in
synagogues (churches) either, where we will be seen by other people. First of
all because in most cases the aim is just to satisfy vanity, and the prayer is
degraded into an artificial rhetorical exercise. This kind of lip-service gets
its reward from human beings and not from God.
But even more important is the Lord’s statement here that we can have absolutely no effect with such public prayers – even if we were to keep on praying (as happens in some quarters) for hours at a time and all through the night. The reason why such prayers are ineffective is because God will not hear us in this place. God is not to be found in public places! Nor is God to be looked for in the meeting halls of Christian congregations. God does not need to be looked for, because he is already here. He is in us, in our spirit, and we always have the possibility of talking to him, if we turn to Him in spirit and in prayer. And that is going to be much easier in the solitude of our own room than in any kind of meeting or assembly wherever it may be.
God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.
Jn 4,24 "God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth." Jn 4,24,
But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret.
Mt 6,6 "But you, when you pray, go into
your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in
secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. 6,7 "And
when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for
they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 6,8
"Therefore do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need, before
you ask Him. Mt 6, 6- 8;
Gottfried Daniel Pomacher, an Awakening preacher in
Wuppertal, took a similar view when he said:
“Christianity does not consist in words but rather
in the power of the Holy Spirit in the believer. The pillars of the temple are
not those who attract the admiration of their hearers with their public
utterances of ’Lord, Lord’, but rather those who - at home, in the stillness
of their own room, and without any audience - address their prayers to the Lord:
these are the ones who really support the congregation.”
So biblical Christianity not only does not need church buildings
– these buildings are actually an obstacle to the true faith. We can see this
in the Catholic church, with its worship of idols – the Catholic Mary, and the
Catholic “saints”, prayer addressed to whom is equivalent to a cult of the
dead, which is an abomination to God (Isa 8,19). But even in official
Evangelical and Protestant churches, where contrary to the commands of Scripture
homosexual couples are blessed, and in some cases even joined in wedlock, we can
recognize that they have fallen away from the biblical Christian faith.
And now you might think that the brethren in Evangelical congregations would be grateful to their forefathers for having declined to build churches and so having obviated these dangers. But as we see and hear daily, building operations in congregations are already making a comeback. Based on the argument that more space is needed for the many new conversions, bigger and bigger houses are being purchased or built, more and more spaces are being created – even when in some cases this goes far beyond the capacity of the congregation’s budget. Of course it is not the leaders of the congregation who have to foot the bill for these projects, which are generally prompted by their ambition, but the brethren who have let themselves be persuaded to fork out. And when you look at some of these “newly converted” close up, you will often find that it has not been money well spent.
To come back now to the Christians in Turkey referred to by Mr. Ulfkotte above, who suffer persecution because they are trying to train priests and build churches – we have to tell them that they are just risking their lives quite unnecessarily and heedlessly. According to Scripture they do not need any special priests, because they are all, as correctly believing Christians, a nation of priests in the universal priesthood of all believers (1Ptr 2,9). Nor do they need churches, so long as they have just one room where they can pray undisturbed (Mt 6,6). And if they want to come together, they can do it in their private houses or apartments, just as Paul did – or for that matter, in regions with a temperate climate, even meet in the open air as in the time of the Lord.
And that doesn’t just apply to Turkey! In this age of loudspeakers and video screens, a sermon or evangelization mission can be given in the open air on practically any terrain and on any scale of magnitude – from the fairground to the football field to the giant stadium – practically without any loss of quality for the audience. In biblical Christianity we do not need any church buildings with images and candles, with bells and priests, who have been anointed by a human hierarchy rather than by the Holy Spirit and who don surplices to carry on their hocus-pocus (a parodistic term derived from the Latin hoc est corpus meum – this is my body – which the priest pronounces in the Catholic church over the pretended transformation of the host into the body of Christ).
Not the form, but the content is the important thing! What is the use of the most beautiful church, if neither God nor the Holy Spirit can be found in it? These will be found in our daily prayer in our own quiet room, and we can celebrate the Lord’s Supper once a week with Christian brethren, in the family circle or outside it.
(See also Discourse 92: “The
Lord’s Supper: A Memorial Meal or a transubstantiation?”)
(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)
Media fairytales keep trying to convince us that Christians
are welcome members of society in Islamic countries. With the appearance of
the documentary book Der Niedergang des orientalischen Christentums unter
dem Islam [The Downfall of Oriental Christianity under Islam] by Bat Yeor
in 2002, if not before, this claim has been unmasked as Islamist propaganda.
And all over Europe we see demonstrations month by month – for example, from
the family members of Coptic Christians, who beg western journalists for media
support because their Christian families are subjected to regular attacks by
Muslims. The Austrian broadcasting station ORF reported on 17 July 2008, for
example: “Around 200 Austrian Copts made a silent march through Vienna’s
city center on Friday to draw attention to the plight of the Coptic Christians
in Egypt. More and more Copts there are being attacked and murdered.” The
Copts had written on their posters, “Stop the murder of Christians in Egypt”
– but apart from the ORF, it seems that all other European journalists found
this to be a rather unsavory theme – seeing that Islam, after all, is
supposed to mean “peace”.
Taken from the book “SOS Abendland - Die schleichende Islamisierung Europas” [“SOS Occident – The Creeping Islamization of Europe”] by Udo Ulfkotte, p.18.
Here we have to do not just with missionaries coming from
Christian countries, and who are in a position to go back there, but with
Christians who are citizens of a country with an Islamic majority. But they too
are subject – if they are correctly believing Christians – to the injunction
of the Lord’s quoted earlier (Lk 10,11): “Even the dust of your city which
clings to our feet we wipe off in protest against you.” And Paul too urges, in
2Cor 6,17: “Therefore, COME OUT FROM THEIR MIDST AND BE SEPARATE, says the
The fate of the Christians in Egypt is an illustration of what we could expect in Europe if the mass immigration of Muslims, and droves of refugees coming to be absorbed in European states, should result in the Muslim population’s achieving a political majority in government.In view of these people’s tendencies to produce large families, this would be a quite probable outcome in 20 to 30 years’ time.
But it is also completely incomprehensible how it comes about that while perhaps millions of Muslims flock to Europe from so many Islamic countries all over the world, in order to find a better life here (even though in many places they are unwelcome and are even ostracized), the Christians in the same countries of origin, who are evidently at risk of their lives and would be welcomed with open arms in Europe, prefer to get themselves killed rather than obeying this command of the Lord’s. And this too applies not just to Egypt, but to all other Islamic states as well.
So it would be a great deal more helpful, instead of sending missionaries to these countries to convert Muslims who do not want to be converted to the Christian faith, to take the opposite course – to bring the Christians being persecuted in these countries (like the 250 Christian families who, according to UNHCR reports, have had to flee from the city of Mossul in northern Iraq in the last two weeks [October 2008], because their houses were being blown up and 13 people had already been killed) to Europe, and give them a new, and Christian, homeland with us.
The second illustrative example in the listing of God’s
enemies above (the story of the prophets of Baal, who call the LORD a false God
and worship other gods as idols) likewise applies to Islam. But it also of
course applies to all other religions which reject the God of the Bible. And we
see from John Waterfield, referred to earlier, even “passionate” Catholics
like him – who incidentally themselves worship an idol in the Catholic “Mary”
and practice a cult of the dead with their dead “saints” – are among those
people who find “much value” in the worship of strange gods. As he says
“I am speaking from a personal point of view here,
as I also have friends who are followers of other paths - I know quite a few
Buddhists - and I can see much of value in their spiritual practice. I am sure
that in the hereafter Jesus will accept it as having been done in his name, even
if they did not know that they were doing it in his name.”
This statement is astonishing in two senses. First of all it is alleged that these unbelievers do not know what they are doing. And on the other hand, a remedy could clearly have been found for this situation – if the Catholic speaker had thought to proclaim the gospel to these people and enlighten them. But it appears that he didn’t do that either. Instead, he finds “much of value” in these “other paths”, even though the Lord tells us that there is only one way.
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me
Jn 14,6 Jesus *said to him, "I am the way,
and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. Jn
Now if John Waterfield, in his comments quoted earlier, appeals
to love of one’s enemies, it is surely very surprising that he himself is
clearly not prepared to show this kind of love to his own friends. Instead of
proclaiming to these Buddhists, who in their false religion are lost for ever,
the truth of our Lord Jesus Christ, and offering them salvation in the redeeming
sacrifice of the Lord, he lets them go to perdition and even himself describes
their false paths as being “of much value”. This kind of attitude is not at
all uncommon – and not just among Catholics. People urge love of one’s
enemies on the other person, but are themselves hardly willing to show the love
ordained by Scripture to their neighbors – to those persons who have shown
mercy to us.
And Paul too warns us against such friends who walk in false paths and do not worship the God of the Bible:
Do not be bound together with unbelievers;
2Cor 6,14 Do not be bound together with
unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or
what fellowship has light with darkness? 6,15 Or what harmony has Christ with
Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 6,16 Or what
agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living
God; just as God said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I
will be their God, and they shall be My people. 6,17 "Therefore, come
out from their midst and be separate," says the Lord. "And do not
touch what is unclean; And I will welcome you. 6,18 "And I will be a
father to you, And you shall be sons and daughters to Me," Says the
Lord Almighty. 2Cor 6,14-18;
A third example of the enemies of God can be seen in the scribes of Israel who stigmatized the Lord as Beelzebul, condemned him to death and handed him over to the Romans for crucifixion. The reason for this was the confirmation by the Lord that he was the Son of God.
Then the high priest tore his robes, saying, "He has blasphemed! He is deserving of death!"
Mt 26,63 But Jesus kept silent. And the high priest
said to Him, "I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether
You are the Christ (Messiah), the Son of God." 26,64 Jesus *said to
him, "You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you,
hereafter you shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of Power, and
coming on the clouds of heaven." 26,65 Then the high priest tore his
robes, saying, "He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of
witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; 26,66 what do you
think?" They answered and said, "He is deserving of death!"
So they denounced him as a blasphemer and impostor. And that is just what the Israelites do to this day. Seeing that the Jews reject Jesus Christ as the Son of God, he is still regarded by them today as a blasphemer and impostor because he claimed to be the Son of God.
Unless you believe that I am He (the Messiah) , you shall die in your sins.
Jn 8,22 Therefore the Jews were saying, "Surely He will not kill Himself, will He, since He says, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come’?" 8,23 And He was saying to them, "You are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. 8,24 "I said therefore to you, that you shall die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins." Jn 8,22-24;
He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him.
Jn 5,22 "For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son, 5,23 in order that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent Him. Jn 5,22-23;
Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.
1Jn 2,22 Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ? This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son. 2,23 Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also. 1Jn 2,22-23;
He who has the Son has the life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have the life.
1Jn 5,10 The one who believes in the Son of God has
the witness in himself; the one who does not believe God has made Him a liar,
because he has not believed in the witness that God has borne concerning His
Son. 5,11 And the witness is this, that God has given us eternal life, and
this life is in His Son. 5,12 He who has the Son has the life; he who
does not have the Son of God does not have the life. 1Jn 5,10-12;
Along with many other scriptural indications, the above
prophecies too are a demonstration that today’s Israel, which still does not
believe in its Messiah, the Son of God, has no connection with its God and so is
– in the double sense of the world – God-less. Except in cases where they
have converted to Jesus Christ, they have all been without forgiveness for two
thousand years and have died in their sins, and therefore have not been saved.
The foundation of the state Israel in the year 1948, which the Zionists
constantly proclaim, falsely, to have been the “Gathering of Israel”
prophesied in Scripture, was a campaign by the Zionists and their leader Theodor
Herzl. It was he, and not God, who brought the Jews to Israel.
(See also Discourse 08: “The
gathering of Israel: already since 1948, or not to happen until the Last Days?”)
I am bringing them from the north country, And I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth.
Jer 31,6 "For there shall be a day when
watchmen On the hills of Ephraim shall call out, ‘Arise, and let us go up to
Zion, To the LORD our God.’" 31,7 For thus says the LORD, "Sing
aloud with gladness for Jacob, And shout among the chiefs of the nations;
Proclaim, give praise, and say, ‘The LORD, saved His people, The
remnant of Israel.’ 31,8 "Behold, I am bringing them from the
north country, And I will gather them from the remote parts of the earth,
Among them the blind and the lame, The woman with child and she who is in labor
with child, together; A great company, they shall return here. Jer 31, 6- 8;
As in the time of Moses, when the Israelites were reluctant to
wait for him to come down from the mountain and so made themselves a golden
calf, so too the Israelites of our own day would not wait for the time of their
God, and returned to their land without God’s leadership. But seeing that all
these prophecies of the gathering of Israel by its God must be fulfilled, they
will have to dispersed once again, so that God can gather them again in his own
time from the ends of the earth, after which they will be finally able to live
in peace and quiet in their own land in the Millennial Kingdom of Peace of their
(See also Chapter 09: “The
return home of the redeemed.”)
Israel in the light of the Bible.
It is God's will that we should listen to his Son (Mt 17:5). This same Son of God has told us that anyone who rejects him rejects God as well (1Jn 2:23; Lk 10:16; Jn 5:22-23. 15:23). The people of Israel today deny the Son of God and abuse him as an impostor and blasphemer. As a result of this denial of the Son, Israel has also rejected the Father and so is a God-less people. (Jn 8:24)
The "Friends of Israel" in the Christian congregations are thus selling their birthright as Disciples of Christ for the lentil stew of a vicarious agent of godless impostors. - For Israel there is no spiritual conversion to their God, and no return to their homeland willed by God, unless they convert to Jesus Christ!! (Mt 23:38-39; Gal 5:4) - (See also Discourse 111)
By contrast with the Jews of today, who naturally deny their
God-lessness, the Catholic nun Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother
Teresa, recognized this state with great accuracy in the last thirty years of
her life, and even described it very accurately in her secret jottings. She
“since 49 or 50 this terrible sense of loss - this
untold darkness … The place of God in my soul is blank. – There is no God in
me. - When the emptiness and longing is so great - I just long & long for
God … He is not there … Sometimes I just hear my own heart cry out - ”My
God“ and nothing else comes.”
(From the book, Come be My Light: The Private Writings of the “Saint of Calcutta,” Doubleday Publishers)
The reason for the God-lessness of the “Saint of Calcutta” – as in the case of the Jews – is her lack of faith in Jesus Christ. Although the Catholic church always claims that it sees it as being its task “to preserve the authentic doctrine of Christ”, it is in the Catholic church above all that the doctrine of Christ is falsified in the most reprehensible way, and the majority of Catholics are led astray in the most literal sense. So whereas Scripture tells us that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and human beings:
For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus,
1Tim 2,5 For there is one God, and one mediator
also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 2,6 who gave Himself as a
ransom for all, the testimony borne at the proper time. 1Tim 2, 5- 6;
- in the Catholic church Jesus Christ, as the sole mediator
between God and human beings, has been replaced by the Catholic idol “Mary”.
The Marian apparitions of the Catholic church (e.g. 1977 in Rome) urge
“You must use me as a holy
and unique means to come to God and to bring souls to me” 
Where these souls will finally end up is obvious.
The apparitions of Mary in Medjugorje also proclaim the well-known message in a series of public messages from 1981 until the 1990s:
“I am the Mediatrix between you
and God.” 
The consequence of an erroneous doctrine of this kind is however prophesied to us by the Lord in Jh 14,6:
No one comes to the Father, but through Me.
Jn 14,6 Jesus said to him, "I am the way,
and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me".
Jn 14, 6;
(See also Discourse 52: “Can
the actions of Mary avert the prophecies of the Bible for the end-time?”)
And so, to conclude, all human beings who do not have Jesus
Christ as a mediator between themselves and God – whether they are real
deniers of God, Jews who deny the divine Sonship of Jesus Christ or Catholics
who claim to “preserve the authentic doctrine of Christ” but do not follow
its consequences – are without access to God and so are literally God-less.
With that we come to the events of the Last Days. Here the real
blasphemers will be miserably destroyed, in their unwillingness to repent, in
their billions by the apocalyptic plagues. But of course we don’t need to wait
so long, when we already have more than enough blasphemers and deniers of God in
our own times. For example, a book that came out recently, “The God Illusion”
by Richard Dawkins, is one of the many attempts to present faith in God
as a mistake. When the author writes,
“For ages humanity has believed in a higher being,
so perpetuating an enormous mistake,”
he is certainly right in relation to all other religions and
gods. But the God of the Bible has given proof that he – and he alone – is
indeed the one and only God. If we look, for example, at the prophecies of the
Book of Daniel (the Book of Truth, Dan 11,1-45; 12,1-13), we can recognize a
detailed preview of the history of the ancient world for the next 600 years –
(See also Table 04: “What is
written in the Book of Truth (Dan 11,1-45: 12,1-13).”)
No other god – either of the Greeks, the Romans, or any god of other religions – has ever given rise to prophecies of this degree of accuracy. – A further example, showing that the God of the Bible receives continuing confirmation in our own times, is God’s decision after the Flood to subject humanity to an age limit. Whereas people could live to almost 1000 years of age before the Flood, after the Flood God set the length of human life at 120 years.
My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.
Gen 6,3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit
shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his
days shall be one hundred and twenty years." Gen 6, 3;
(See also Table 01: “Chronological
table from Adam to Jacob.”)
Research into the possible maximum age of human beings
established some 40 years ago that the chromosomes and their propagation are
crucial in this connection. Chromosomes are long, spindle-shaped structures made
up of DNA. Their propagation mechanism involves their losing, every time they
propagate, a part of their ends, known as a “telomere”. The total available
length of the telomeres thus determines the maximum possible age of every human
being. And this biological upper limit has been experimentally demonstrated by Leonard
Hayflick, a gerontologist and professor of anatomy at the University of
California in San Francisco. It comes to just 120 years! Since then this limit
has been known to science as the “Hayflick Limit.”
People have tried to discredit the prophecies of Daniel as inauthentic by seeing them as vaticinia ex eventu – as a “prophecy”, that is to say, which has been written and inserted only after the occurrence of the events to which it refers. But nobody is likely to assert that the above biblical text (Ex 6,3) was “completed” only in the sixties of the previous century, on the basis of the discoveries of modern gerontology. And so it can be stated without possibility of mistake that Hayflick, in the year 1965, found out and confirmed what God the Almighty had resolved in Ex 6,3 following the Flood.
And now, finally, to answer the concrete question about loving our enemies, let me just – for the sake of those readers who have only joined us here, and have not acquainted themselves with the first part of the subject – insert here the relevant statements from the earlier part of this Discourse.
There are interesting parallels, now, between what the Lord says
about our “neighbor” in the above passages (Lk 10,25-37 and Mt 5,43) and his
immediately following commandment in Mt 5,44 to “love your enemies”. In the
same way as biblical commentators for centuries, in complete contrast with the
statement made by the Lord, have understood the “neighbor” not as being the
Samaritan, the helper that is, but rather as the victim of the assault - so
treacherously accommodating the poor and the needy of the whole world under the
“umbrella” of this commandment - here too when it comes to love of our
enemies, people have preferred to simplify the situation rather than analyzing
it, and so have extended this Christian commandment to all the cheats, thieves
and murderers of the entire world, with the result that the injunction was
finally dismissed as utopian on the grounds that it could not possibly be
If we now try to get a view of the correct background for this statement of the Lord’s, we hit upon further parallels to love of our neighbor. Just as the latter relates not to the poor of the entire world, but only to those people who have personally stood by us and helped us in our lives, so love of our enemies likewise relates not to the whole world’s criminals but only to those people in our immediate environment who are hostile to us. And just as with love of our neighbor, so with love of our enemies too it follows of necessity that we must have a personal connection with the people in question. Only on this basis can we actually fulfill our obligation of loving them. And this also offers us a line of approach that enables us to understand the meaning of the Lord’s statement in Mt 5,44:
“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for
those who persecute you.”
Just as with other related commandments of the Lord, so this
injunction to love our enemies has been read superficially on repeated
occasions, and there has hardly been any attempt to get to the bottom of it. It
seems that there are very few people who want to know what is actually stated
and intended here - most prefer to launch off into symbolic interpretations on
the lines of “spiritual targets”, “government manifesto for the Kingdom of
God” and the like. So let us take a look at these commandments one at a time,
and analyze them in detail:
Mt 5,39 "But I say to you, do not resist an
evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him
also.. Mt 5,39;
Somebody who slaps me on the right cheek plainly cannot be
someone at a distance from me, out there in the wide world. As a fact of
experience, he has to be standing right next to me, or he would not be in a
position to slap me at all.
Mt 5,40 "If anyone wants to sue you and
take your shirt, let him have your coat also.“ Mt 5,40;
Even if someone takes me to court or actually wants to have the
shirt off my back, he must have personal contact with me and know me - and vice
Mt 5,41 "Whoever forces you to go one mile,
go with him two.” Mt 5,41;
Still more so if someone wants to force me to go a mile with him
- now that can hardly be possible, if he is situated at the other end of the
Mt 5,42 "Give to him who asks of you, and
do not turn away from him who wants to borrow from you“. Mt 5,42;
Likewise when someone asks something of me or wants to borrow
money from me - based on the spirit of these texts, he must know me personally.
With most of the letters of appeal of which there is such an abundance today,
the greater part of the charitable donation does not go to those who need it but
is hived off for organizational and management purposes, for logistics costs and
the salaries of the organization’s employees. What is left over for the
benefit of the poor is such a minute amount that it is no wonder if we are asked
to donate yet again, and even more next time round. A Christian whose faith is
based on the Bible who supports a Christian preacher, evangelist or missionary
whom he knows personally and whose faith he has examined along with the
associated ”fruits”, so that he has come to the conviction that this person
is working in the name of God and promulgating the truth of the Bible - he
himself is likewise carrying out God’s commission in supporting this preacher’s
activities. But many Christians act quite differently. They abandon
responsibility and hand over their money to unbelievers and hypocritical cheats,
who as a result are able to enrich themselves, live in luxurious villas and
drive classy cars (as do many preachers in the United States).
Mt 5,44 “love your enemies and pray for those
who persecute you”, Mt 5,43;
If I am to be able to love my enemy - a person, that is to say,
who does not love me - it follows that I must know him personally, and vice
versa. How can I be expected to know who is out there in Africa, India, Asia or
other parts of the globe who has something against me? And I must be personally
acquainted with those who persecute me, otherwise I couldn’t pray for them.
It is easy to see that all these commandments are based on the indispensable precondition that the persons involved should be personally known to me, and preferably close to me in geographical terms. The argument that we are living in the age of globalization today, so that geographical distances lose their meaning, no doubt has its points when it comes to trade, the money markets and communications generally. But it remains the case that we are best in a position to assess the spiritual and material poverty and neediness of our fellow human beings, and take steps to remedy it, if we know the people involved in person and are able to judge their problems and wants. But of course this is a much lengthier business, and a lot less impressive, than it is to spend five minutes in the publicity limelight praying for ”the world”.
The question voiced in the title of this Discourse - “Must Christians love their enemies?” - can therefore be answered with an absolutely definite affirmative. At the same time, there must be a pronounced emphasis on the “their”, as a critical factor. We do not find anything in the Bible to tell us that we should love the enemies of others, let alone people the world over. And even with some of our actual enemies, Scripture tells us to keep our distance from them and to have nothing to do with their activities.
Do not be bound together with unbelievers.
2Cor 6,14 Do not be bound together with
unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what
fellowship has light with darkness? 6,15 Or what harmony has Christ
with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? 2Cor
A brother who is an immoral person, or covetous, or an idolater - not even eat with such a one.
1Cor 5,9 I wrote you in my letter not to associate
with immoral people;5,10 I did not at all mean with the immoral people of this
world, or with the covetous and swindlers, or with idolaters, for then you would
have to go out of the world. 5,11 But actually, I wrote to you not to associate
with any so-called brother if he is an immoral person, or covetous, or an
idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler-not even to eat with such a
one. 5,12 For what have I to do with judging outsiders? Do you not judge
those who are within the church? 5,13 But those who are outside, God
judges. Remove the wicked man from among yourselves. 1Cor 5, 9-13;
A brother who sins and does not listen, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector.
Mt 18,15 "If your brother sins, go and show him his fault in private; if he listens to you, you have won your brother. 18,16 "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed. 18,17 "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, let him be to you as a Gentile and a tax collector. Mt 18,15-17;
Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God?
1Cor 6,9 Or do you not know that the unrighteous
will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived; neither
fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor homosexuals,
6,10 nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor
swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God. 1Cor 6, 9-10;
Therefore do not be partakers with them.
Eph 5,5 For this you know with certainty, that
no immoral or impure person or covetous man, who is an idolater, has an
inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God. 5,6 Let no one deceive you
with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon
the sons of disobedience. 5,7 Therefore do not be partakers with them;
Eph 5, 5- 7;
Do not give him a greeting; for the one who gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds..
2Jn 1,8 Watch yourselves, that you do not lose what
we have accomplished, but that you may receive a full reward. 1,9 Anyone who
goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have
God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.
1,10 If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive
him into your house, and do not give him a greeting; 1,11 for the one who
gives him a greeting participates in his evil deeds. 2Jn 1,8-11;
Their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone.
Rev 21,8 "But for the cowardly and
unbelieving and abominable and murderers and immoral persons and sorcerers and
idolaters and all liars, their part will be in the lake that burns with fire and
brimstone, which is the second death." Rev 21, 8;
The Sermon on the Mount
If the commandment of Jesus “Whoever forces you to go
one mile, go with him two” (Mt 5:41) were to apply not just among
correctly believing Christians but to all people in the entire world, then
every Christian, when compelled by another to rob a bank, would be obliged
to help him rob two banks.
In conclusion, let us consider a consequence of the Sermon on
the Mount which has hardly ever been pointed out. If we are enjoined to love our
enemies, for example, to turn the left cheek when the right has been slapped, to
go two miles when compelled rather than one, or to pray for those who persecute
us, it is a commandment of our God that we act in these ways. But if these
people prevent us from fulfilling this commandment of God by trying to kill us,
they are no longer our enemies but make themselves the enemies of God. So
murderers of Christians, in the nature of things, cannot fall in the category of
our enemies whom by the will of the Lord we are obliged to love.
So when the wife of the murdered German missionary Tilman Geske, referred to above, forgave the murderer of her husband, that is undoubtedly correct and in conformity with Scripture if this Muslim converts from his evil ways, repents his deed and asks first God, and then this woman for forgiveness. But if none of this happens – as was here the case – it is unbelievable arrogance, and a complete misunderstanding of Scripture, to think that we could forgive unrepentant murderers and deniers of God, whom God alone, in his absolute justice, can pass judgment on. Someone who forgives the sins of a confessedly impenitent sinner makes himself into an accomplice and shares in the guilt of his sins.
Do you judge those who are within the church. Those who are outside, God judges.
1Cor 5,11 But actually, I wrote to you not to
associate with any so-called brother if he should be an immoral person, or
covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or a swindler – not
even to eat with such a one. 5,12 For what have I to do with judging
outsiders? Do you not judge those who are within the church? 5,13 But
those who are outside, God judges. remove the wicked man from among
yourselves. 1Cor 5,11-13;
SO LET US JUDGE THOSE WHO ARE MEMBERS OF OUR OWN COMMUNITY. – GOD WILL JUDGE THOSE WHO ARE OUTSIDE IT.
(Texts enclosed in a black frame are quoted from visitors to the site or other authors.)
To refer to Tilman Geske as a suicide is not just irreverent,
it also indicates a complete ignorance of the dedication and activities of
this committed German missionary. (...) Incidentally, there is a worldly
proverb – you shouldn’t say bad things about the dead. But I suppose you
haven’t come across it. (...)
That Ms. Susanne Geske forgave the murderers of her husband, and so followed the example set by our Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, is a fact likewise confirmed by the stoning of Stephen, where this martyr too forgave his murderers.
Theodor Markwitz firstname.lastname@example.org
If in a war two enemy soldiers meet, and one draws a pistol
shoots a bullet into the other’s heart, he has undoubtedly killed him. Even if
the other does not fall down dead, because he is wearing a bullet-proof vest and
the bullet has bounced off his chest, the soldier who fired the shot indubitably
acted with intent to kill, and so is a murderer. Therefore, too, any human being
who deliberately and of his own free will repeatedly gets himself into a
life-threatening situation – whether in Formula 1 racing, stunt flying or for
that matter in an aggressive Christian mission to Islamic countries – is a
potential suicide to begin with, and if he then actually loses his life, an
And as the reports have shown, this was regrettably just the situation of the German missionary in Turkey – and incidentally, of the South African missionary sister in Afghanistan as well. This cannot and is not meant to diminish the services and successes of these missionaries in evangelization and conversion. Highlighting the circumstances in this way should, however, help to prevent further sacrifices of the kind; and above all it should alert the brothers in charge of the mission organizations, and encourage them to realize their responsibilities and the consequences of their actions. At a time when there is so much conversion work called for in relation to the Muslims in our own countries, the need will probably be felt of every missionary who is sent out into countries where Islam is dominant, and where it is highly likely that he may be killed.
As for the proverb you cite – you are quite correct, this is a worldly saying. And that is just the light in which it should be seen. This proverb is from the Latin and reads: de mortuis nil nisi bonum (“about the dead [speak] nothing but good). It comes originally from Greece, from Chileon of Sparta, who according to Plato was one of the Seven Sages. In the mythological world of the Greeks, human beings did not have either a resurrection or eternal life. According to biblical Christian faith, on the other hand, human beings – whether they are good or bad – have both. On bodily death they do lose their material, substantial body, but their spirit continues to exist in the realm of the dead (Mt 22:32), and when they are resurrected they will be reborn of the spirit (1Cor 15:44). Likewise none of the deeds of any human being, according to the Bible, are ever forgotten, but are recorded in books (Rev 20:12) and will be weighed in the judgment of God.
(See also discourse 22: “Is
there such a thing as the immortality of the soul?”)
So from a Christian point view, it is not the same as it was in
the Greek mythological world of antiquity, where human beings paid with their
death for all their evil deeds, and so you were supposed only to say good things
about them. On the contrary, their deeds are recorded, and all human beings at
the resurrection will come to life again and will have to answer for their deeds
before the judgment seat of God. So the God of the Bible is not a God of the
dead, but of the living; for all live to him (Lk 20,38). Thus there is not a
single indication, anywhere in the whole of Scripture, that one should speak any
differently about the dead than one does about the living – namely, the truth
and nothing but the truth. And if after our death people speak of our deeds –
either as a model for imitation, or as a warning to be kept in mind – perhaps
our errors, too, may make a contribution in helping the other brethren in Christ
to a better understanding of things.
Your pointing out, finally, that, like the Lord Jesus, Stephen too forgave his murderers their sins is just as much incorrect as is the statement of Tilman Geske’s wife that our Lord Jesus Christ forgave his murderers on the cross. If we look at these statements closely, we recognize that neither of the two – neither the Lord, nor Stephen – himself forgave these criminals their sin, but that they both prayed to God to forgive their murderers.
"Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing."
Lk 23,34 But Jesus was saying, "Father,
forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing." And they
cast lots, dividing up His garments among themselves. Lk 23,34;
Lord, do not hold this sin against them!"
Acts 7,59 And they went on stoning Stephen as he
called upon the Lord and said, "Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!" 7,60
And falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, "Lord,
do not hold this sin against them!" And having said this, he fell
asleep. Acts 7,59-60;
And that is just the point of the note in my commentary to this
effect earlier on. Unrepentant murderers like this can only be forgiven by God
in his omnipotence and absolute justice. As we can see, based on this model of
course not even Tilman Geske (let alone his wife!) would have been able to
forgive his murderers – he could only have prayed to the Father to forgive
If thieves, frauds or robbers commit offenses against our money and property, then it is up to us to forgive them. But if they do it to our neighbors, it would be far-fetched to suggest that we could forgive them for this. Here we do not have the authority to forgive – it is for the neighbor who has suffered the damage to do that. And since our life has been given us by God, and so does not lie in our hands but in God’s hand (“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?”, Mt 6,27), a murderer can only be forgiven by God and not by us. It makes no difference whether we have lost our life because we carelessly put it at risk, or whether another takes our life – it is God from whom this life is stolen. And as believing Christian, we have the responsibility before God to preserve life – both the life of other people, and our own.
"Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die.
Eze 18,2 "What do you mean by using this
proverb concerning the land of Israel saying, ‘The fathers eat the sour
grapes, But the children’s teeth are set on edge’? 18,3 "As I
live," declares the Lord GOD, "you are surely not going to use this
proverb in Israel anymore. 18,4 "Behold, all souls are Mine; the soul of
the father as well as the soul of the son is Mine. The soul who sins will die..
Eze 18, 2- 4;
Our Lord Jesus Christ tells us in the Lord’s Prayer that we
should ask the Father: “... And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven
our debtors”. This teaches us, first, that we must ask God for the
forgiveness of our sins, and that they are not "automatically"
forgiven by him. And then the Our Father goes on: “... as we also have
forgiven our debtors”. So we too should forgive those people who have incurred
guilt in relation to us and have sinned against us. But this is
not an automatic act, or just down to us either, but rather can take place –
as is the case with God in relation to us – only when they ask us for it,
based on the fundamental principle: “If you want forgiveness, you must ask to
(See also Discourse 18: “Forgiveness:
God’s and the Christian’s business?“)
To forgive guilt when the guilty parties have not once asked for
forgiveness – as the wife of the missionary murdered with 160 stab wounds in
Turkey did on Turkish television – is tantamount to answering a question that
has never been asked: it overshoots the mark and remains ineffective. The Lord
tells us in Mk 16,15: “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all
creation“. He did not say, “Go into all the world and get yourselves
slaughtered by the godless“!
Like love of our neighbor, forgiveness is another of those
commandments of the Lord which have been taught to people by the Catholic
church for centuries in a completely incorrect form. The Lord tells us in
Mt 18:21-22 that we must forgive our brother 490 times a day. And this has
been interpreted – and continues to be so – as meaning that a
Christian must forgive all other human beings for everything, always and
Must Christians love their enemies? Part 1
Must Christians love their enemies? -
Part 2: The Catholic view of the matter. / Reply Dr. John Waterfield 00,
 Erscheinungen und Botschaften der Gottesmutter Maria - Vollständige Dokumentation durch zwei Jahrtausende [Apparitions and Messages of Mary, the Mother of God - Complete Documentation through Two Thousand Years] by G. Hierzenberger and O. Nedomansky. Aschaffenburg: Pattloch/1993, p. 469.
i bd., p. 484