Brian, I forgot to get back to you about the Old Testament War thing. I remembered today when I was reading this at John Campea's sight. He pretty much states it like I see it (OT part at the end):
My final thoughts on Christians and killing and war
Ok I've had a lot of people email me asking what I specifically think about war and killing. Here's an outline.
1) There are 2 separate kingdoms. The kingdom of the world, and the new Kingdom of God that Jesus instituted. Christians are to live by Kingdom principals and NOT worldly principals. (John 18:36)
2) Christians should not judge World leaders. They live in a different kingdom than we do. We should not expect them to live by Jesus' kingdom principals. (Romans 13)
3) The West (U.S., Canada, England, ect.) IS NOT the Kingdom of God.
4) The West (U.S., Canada, England, ect.) IS NOT a new version of the Old Testament Israel.
5) The Kingdom of God transcends all worldly boarders and transcends ethnicity.
6) As Christians, our citizenship is Heaven and not the U.S. or Canada. Therefore, our allegiance to God's Kingdom principals MUST take priority over our "national" loyalties.
7) Jesus taught that the second most important command in the entire Bible was to "Love your neighbor as you love yourself". (Mark 12:30-31)
8) Jesus taught that our enemies are our neighbors. (Luke 10:25-37)
9) Jesus commanded that we "Love our enemies" (Matthew 5:43-46)
10) Jesus taught that loving your enemies means being willing to lay down your life for them. (John 13:34), (Romans 5:8)
11) Jesus taught that loving your enemies mean doing good to them when they hate us, praying for them when they persecute us and blessing them when they curse us. (Luke 6:27-30)
12) Jesus commanded that we should do to our enemies, as we would have our enemies do to us. (Luke 6:31)
13) Since I can't imagine myself ever WANTING my enemy to kill me, I cannot kill him if I am to be obedient to the command of Christ. (Luke 6:31)
14) Jesus commanded that if someone strikes me, I should offer him my other cheek as well. This command takes away my "right" to retaliate. If I am to be obedient to the command of Christ, I cannot strike them back. (Matt 5:39)
15) The Bible commands us not to even curse any human beings, because all humans bear God's image. If I cannot even curse them, what makes me think its ok to kill them? (James 3:9-10)
16) There is evil in the world. The Bible commands us to overcome evil with GOOD, not with more evil. (Romans 12:19-21)
17) The Saddams of this world are evil. However, the Bible teaches that all human beings are evil. Yes, that includes you and me (It's a good thing Christ died for us!) (Mark 10:18)
18) God uses worldly secular leaders to carry out certain things, such as punishing lawbreakers. (Romans 13:4)
19) The Bible makes it CLEAR that this is not the responsibility of those who live in the Kingdom of God, nor do we have the right to. (Romans 12:19-21)
20) To summarize, If I (as a Christ follower) were to ever kill an enemy, I would be violating multiple CLEAR commands of Christ, my supposed King:
a) To love my neighbor
b) To love my enemy
c) To do to my enemy as I would have them do to me
d) To do good to them that hate me
etc? etc? etc?
Just a quick wrap up thought here. Some people understandably feel some confusion over all the war in the Old Testament. A few things to keep in mind: 1) Jesus brought the new Kingdom of God. He is now the ultimate and complete revelation of God. Jesus completes and supercedes the Old Testament. 2) Israel was a Theocracy literally ruled by God, unlike any nation on the earth today. 3) In all the wars, the Old Testament made it clear that God himself was the warrior. Always going into battle short handed so the glory would belong to God. I don't see any other nations utilizing this particular strategy anymore. I.E. if the West really thought God was on their side, why send 250,000 troops to fight instead of just 5,000?
Jesus followers don't kill people because Jesus CLEARLY taught that in the new Kingdom of God it isn't done.
I would add that part of the clarity that John is talking about comes when Christ goes into the bit about "you have heard it said 'an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" but I tell you love your enemies...". He is taking a command right out of the OT law and giving a new "rule". Pretty clear indicator of the new way that has come. It's echoed in Christ's opening statement at the beginning of Mark, "At last the time has come!" he announced. "The Kingdom of God is near! Turn from your sins and believe this Good News!". Oooh. Gives me chills.