Would God Condone Attempts to Root out Evil with the Sword?

by Philip Jonkers

An argument as to why God would not condone attempts of rooting out human evil using the proverbial sword.

First a reasonable definition of human evil must be agreed upon. An evil act is considered an act executed by a person or group of persons intentionally harming or otherwise disadvantaging another person or group of persons against the latter’s consent. As such, evil acts include acts of rape, murder, inflicting bodily or mental injury and exploitation.

Suppose that out of the entire human global population evil is decided to be confined to a subgroup of people who engage in acts of evil. By the fact that human beings are social beings, it’s only fair to assume that those evil people have family members and friends who may not be considered to be evil, i.e. people who do not engage in patently evil acts. If an exterminator were to go ahead and kill all the evil people, then a new group of victimized people would be catalyzed into existence whose members would naturally resent the exterminator. Consequently, that new group now in all likelihood grows to hate the exterminator.

If a representative of God were to be the exterminator, then he would rather understandably be received as someone who uses deadly violence as a means to restore peace and harmony. In other words, he would be interpreted as a tyrant who’s not afraid to inflict death unto people who meet the classification for evil. In addition, it’s to be expected that the new group is to become the new evil as its members become motivated to actively seek opposition to a God they perceive as being a tyrannical god of death. Therefore, the people of this new group probably will grow to hate God.

Now compare the actions of that representative of God with the God is Love principle of 1 John 4:8, only to find a contradiction. If indeed God is Love then it’s proper to assume that God wants to be loved rather than hated. In fact, the Bible is replete with encouragements to do just that.

Therefore maintaining the peace with the proverbial sword and at the same time abide to the divine attribute as mentioned in 1 John 4:8 is simply impossible. In addition, there is no such thing as a clean and permanent extraction of evil with violent means. Hence, the only reasonable alternative to overcome evil, one which is compatible with 1 John 4:8, is to resort to grace instead of coercion, mercy instead of revenge and the extension of love rather than the imposition of fear-driven violence.

Or, in the words of Jesus:

17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men. Romans 12:17

21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good. Romans 12:21