Christian Murder

I was trying to think if it was possible to have a Christian murder and I think that culturally it is possible but conceptually it is not.  Of course, Christians can and have murdered but that is not the way of Christ.  Murder is by definition an evil thing and so it is not Christian.

I want to ask if Christian music, television, education, churches, worship, etc should be defined by those who perform these things or whether there is something deeper to be considered in the content.  If it is the content, as I believe, can it be possible to find ‘Christian’ content in ‘secular’ locations?



About Plymothian

I teach at Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. My interests include education, biblical studies, and spiritual formation. I have been married to Kelli since 1998 and we have two children, Daryl and Amelia. For recreation I like to run, play soccer, play board games, read and travel.
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6 Responses to Christian Murder

  1. rookie1987 says:

    Murder is a point of view a lot of times. The thing is that as you said coneptually it would not work. So I guess explaining it the way I understand it. There is no such thing as a Christian murder where God considers it a murder and it being right. Now there can be a Christian murder where God does not consider it a murder but people do.
    In all things it shouldn’t be those who do or are observing that define if something is Christian or right. Our standard always needs to be God because otherwise our foundation is shaky at best and relative to differing opinions. It needs to be deeper and what is pleasing to God. Is there things pleasing to God in “secular” locations you bet.
    I would say that you are using the term Christian in this post to mean pure and right before God? If I’m mistaken please correct. I ask because the word Christian has many meanings now. I wrote with the term I used above as how I interperated “Christian”.
    Salt and Light

  2. Anonymous says:

    ….still thinking about this one….where does that brilliant mind of yours come up with all this stuff? Like I’ve said before…you amaze me!
    God bless you!

  3. I am going to avoid your questions and pose my own. I want to challenge your use of the word “Christian” as a label that we can add to things.
    You admit that a person who is a Christian can commit murder. Christians can also lie. Further, the fact that a Christian lies does not contitute or create the existence of a “Christian lie” (just as a Christian who murders does not commit a “Christian murder”).
    However, when a Christian breathes, does he or she take a “Christian breath”? Such is not “evil,” nor is it opposed to the “way of Christ.” Therefore there is nothing contradictory or inherently wrong about saying that there can exist such a thing as a “Christian breath.” When a Christian rides a bike, does he or she create a state of affairs that we could call “Christian riding”? (Again, this is not contradictory, as would be murder or lying.)
    My own view is that we call murder murder, regardless of who performs the action. And we call breathing breathing, regardless of who breathes. And bike riding is simply bike riding. What if a runner is running a race for a “Christian” cause? What if the runner is racing for the glory of God, or as an act of worship? Is the runner’s running thereby “Christian running”? No, running is running.
    When a Christian plays music, does he or she play “Christian music”? I say no. S/he plays music. Music is simply music. But what if that music has lyrics that support or identify with Christ’s teachings? Then it is still  merely music. After all, what other kinds of music is completely defined by its content? Isn’t music defined by its style? And when a Christian hosts a radio program that discusses biblical truths, is it a “Christian program”? I say no. A radio program is a radio program.
    In other words, I want to hypothesize that there is no such thing as “Christian music,” “Christian radio,” “Christian television,” a “Christian movie,” or even “Christian worship.” (And as Kierkegaard has forcefully shown, there is no such thing as a “Christian country” either.)
    Why would we call worship by the name of “Christian worship”? If it is true worshp, it is worship. And worship is simply worship. But if it is somehow “false worship,” then it is merely idolatry.
    Another approach would be the good old reductio ad absurdum: If we decide to append the label “Christian” to things or activities such as worship, music, or radio, then we wind up in the absurd position of having the possibility of “Christian Christians”! That is, when a person follows Christ (as Lord, Master, Teacher) we call that person a Christian. But when this person acts in accordance with the way of Christ (that is, when the *content* of what s/he is doing at any given moment is particularly “Christian”), we would have to call him or her a “Christian Christian.” (And conversely, if a Christian does tell a lie, at that moment he or she is quite the “unChristian Christian.”) So, to finish off this tidy little argument, I would say that since it the premise (i.e., that we can append the label “Christian” to activities or things) leads to an absurd conclusion (i.e., that we wind up with Christian Christians), we should not accept the premise.
    However, I am in fact torn on this issue. For things like music and television and movies, I find the label “Christian,” when attached to them, either nonsensical or superfluous (even potentially harmful). However, there are a few instances that I am reluctant to give up. For instance, “Christian faith” makes sense to me, as does having a “Christian creed.”
    And so I wonder if I can be consistent in allowing some things to admit of being “Christian” while others cannot. But even if that is an option, how would one go about determining the cases where that label can and cannot be used? Arbitrariness and preference can’t hold sway here. (Perhaps I can say that “Christian radio” is nonsensical in virtue of the fact that radio cannot be “Christ-like.” However, it does make sense to speak of a truly Christ-like faith… But again, how do we determine the things that admit to being “Christ-like”?)
    As I said, I’m torn in two directions. Labels in general do help us tremendously. Indeed, when we add “Christian” to something like music or worship, the other person almost always understands our meaning. And such is, after all, the purpose of language and of words – to convey meaning. Therefore, in a loose sense (i.e., merely on a practical or pragmatic level), it makes sense and is understandable to talk about Christian music. It can even helpful. However, I believe (for now) that it is strictly a false or nonsensical way of speaking (at least in regard to the majority of things people typically call “Christian” or “secular”). I also believe it can be harmful insofar as it builds a fictional wall between “us” and “them,” between sacred and secular.
    I’m open to revising this hypothesis, so let me know if what I’ve said makes sense or needs to be thrown out. I’m not completely convinced I’m right on this, but I haven’t seen a completely agreeable conclusion yet…

  4. rookie1987 says:

     17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. Colossians 3:17
    I would say that motive plays a part in when things can be labeled Christian. A radio station or music, or biking or running for personal gain doesn’t sound Christian to me. But if you look at more of Colossians 3 and the Bible as a whole what is Christian is shown. I would venture to say that if your motive for something fits within these and you are not screwed up in your perception that you could label that action or thing as Christian. Of course this is not going to have an airtight meaning due to the fact that it is a label that is man made and interpreted by man which kind of speaks of it having flaws then.
    Salt and Light

  5. I am not speaking about radio, music, or biking merely for personal gain. I am including radio, music, and biking for God’s glory, the advancement of His kingdom, and in the manner of Jesus himself. I just don’t see how the motive with which one performs these actions changes the action itself.
    It is true that we are to do every action as a Christian. We must be permeated with Christ and his word as we go about everything we do (Col. 3:16, the verse prior to the one you quote). Thus it is true that our motive is crucial as we go about our various actions. As I act insofar as I am led by the Spirit, I am a true Christian (or rather, I am truly a son of God; Rom 8:14). However, that only means that *I* am a Christian as I sing, or as I run, or as I worship. It does not therefore constitute Christian singing or Christian worship. I am the Christian; the thing or action is not.
    As a relevant side-note: I’ve only found 3 instances of the word “Christian” in the Bible (twice in Acts and once in 1 Peter), and all 3 times it is used to describe a person who is a disciple of Christ. (Now, we naturally have many words that we legitimately use even though they are not found in the Bible or used in the Bible in the same way; but it remains that the Bible never uses “Christian” to describe any action or thing.) In other words, I would say the Bible does not show what we can label “Christian,” but it shows us who Christians ought to be and what Christians ought to do.
    (And as for Colossians 3, it can perhaps help me make my point more clearly. We are told to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. My point is that if we can indiscriminately add the label “Christian” to anything done for God’s glory, then we would have to speak of “Christian kindness” and “Christian humility” insofar as we were kind or humble in a Christ-like manner and out of godly motives. But my hypothesis is that we, as Christians, are to practice kindness. Not Christian kindness, but kindness itself. We, as Christians, are to be gentle and possess gentleness. Not Christian gentleness, but gentleness itself.)

  6. rookie1987 says:

    you are a bit stuck on one point of view. Christian is an adjective. Ok so I’m going to focus on kindness for a second. If a person is kind and kills another quickly rather then torture them that is kindness…. I for one would rather have Christian kindness then just kindness. My point being that the word Christian is modifiying the word. Christian is a label that sets things into a category. Christian is something that I feel is abused a bit in its use. oh and if you want less extreme examples I can give those to you about kindness. gentleness as well. Col. 3 if u look at what I said about it again might be good.
    Salt and Light
    PS language changes. Word use changes. Things aren’t going to be neat and clean. In reality unless you are reading the Bible in it’s original language none of the words were actually written in the Bible if you want to be technical about it.

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