I'm guessing this wouldn't preach well to the Religious Right crowd....well, it probably wouldn't preach well to the Religious Left crowd either? Jesus opens up something wholly other. Ellul's way of describing things is such a mind bender...and I love it. It just stretches the mind. This is one such example: But to be overcome by evil does not mean that he who is overcome is weaker, inferior, beaten, eliminated; no, it means that he is led to play evil's game-to respond by using evil's means, to do evil.
"The whole meaning of the violence of love is contained in Paul's word that evil is to be overcome with good (Romans -12: 17-21) - This is a generalization of the Sermon on the Mount.** And it is important for us to understand that this sermon shows what the violence of love is. Paul says, "Do not let yourself be overcome by evil." This then is a fight-and not only spiritual, for Paul and the whole Bible are very realistic and see that evil is constantly incarnated. But to be overcome by evil does not mean that he who is overcome is weaker, inferior, beaten, eliminated; no, it means that he is led to play evil's game-to respond by using evil's means, to do evil.
That is what it means to be overcome by evil, to respond to violence by violence. Paul bids us overcome evil with good, and this, too, is the imagery of contest. We are not to bend or yield before evil, nor to act like cowards or impotent weaklings: we are to overcome, to surmount evil, to go beyond it, to stand on a terrain that evil cannot reach, use weapons that evil cannot turn back on us, seek a victory that evil can never attain!
Choosing different means, seeking another kind of victory, renouncing the marks of victory-this is the only possible way of breaking the chain of violence, of rupturing the circle of fear and hate. I would have all Christians take to heart this word of Gandhi's: "Do not fear. He who fears, hates; he who hates, kills. Break your sword and throw it away, and fear will not touch you. I have been delivered from desire and from fear so that I know the power of God." These words show that the way Christ appointed is open to all, that the victory of good over evil benefits not only Christians but non-Christians also. In other words, that if the Christian knows that the fight of faith promises this victory' it is not only his victory but others' too. If he sees that the others are obsessed by violence and can find no other way, he has to play another card with them and for them.
How is it that, in the midst of the racial struggle going on in the United States today, so many white Christians leave to black Christians the appanage of nonviolence? Why do they not take the way of repentance and conciliation in the face of black violence, repentance for the violences the whites committed in the past? Why, in the face of the black violence they provoked, do they not now seek peace at any price? It is only by love that is total, without defense, without reservation, love that does not calculate or bargain, that the white Christian will overcome the evil of revolution, arson, and looting. I make bold to say this even though I am not in the United States; I have lived through similar situations elsewhere.
Neither exaltation of power nor the search for vengeance will ever solve any human situation. In accepting death, Jesus Christ showed us the only possible way. We may refuse to take it. But we must realize that when we refuse we are left with one alternative-increasing the sum of evil in the world. And we ought to be honest and renounce all pretensions to the Christian faith. Surely we shall not use the suffering of the others whose side we take as an excuse for evading the only way that is open for faith. And if vengeance must be exacted, if a judgment, a condemnation must be pronounced, they are the Lord's alone. This holds on the social as well as on the individual level. To pretend to end exploitation by force is to eliminate the exploiter by violence, to exercise the judgment that is God's to exercise. For as we have seen throughout this investigation, there can be no use of violence without hate, without judgment, without abomination. Violence and revolution-let them continue! But without the presence and justification of Christians. This does not mean, however, that Christians are permitted to execrate or judge those who do take part in violence and revolution."
Jacques Ellul from his little (in size) but powerfully profound book VIOLENCE