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Ep. 94 A Case for Christian Pacifism

Bob gives a pragmatic case for pacifism, appealing to Christians who would like to take the Sermon on the Mount literally but are worried it would spell disaster.

Mentioned in the Episode and Other Links of Interest:

  • Bob Murphy Show ep. 19 on Rothbardian institutions becoming nonviolent.
  • One of Gene Sharp’s books on strategic nonviolence for effecting political change. #CommissionsEarned (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)
  • Bob’s Libertarian Papers journal article on private law and military defense.
  • The trailer for the movie Hacksaw Ridge (depicting the real-life story of Desmond Doss who was a pacifist medic in WW2).
  • Help support the Bob Murphy Show.

The audio production for this episode was provided by Podsworth Media.

About the author, Robert

Christian and economist, Chief Economist at infineo, and Senior Fellow with the Mises Institute.


  1. Jessica Green on 01/23/2020 at 7:18 PM

    Good episode Bob, very interesting. There are lots of nuance to understand in this topic. Pointing out the difference between violence and aggression was pretty helpful to my understanding. Pacifism wouldn’t be the same as just allowing someone to kill or hurt your family, as much as just not initiating aggressive behavior toward others, including deescalating or avoiding conflict that’s already being initiated instead of taking it as a reason to respond in kind.

    I think I understand.

  2. Not Bob on 01/23/2020 at 9:34 PM

    Coming around to your side more and more. I’m not a Christian, but it just seems pragmatic to contribute to an arms race of violence only as little as possible.

    Regarding the “that’s goofy it wouldn’t work” part: imagine a society in which nobody has doors installed in their houses. If anyone comes in they get shot. In this society, the first person to argue that we could just install doors and reduce the rate of break-ins by 90% would be laughed at. What, doors, how impractical, not shooting burglars would never work! Don’t you know burglars can’t simply OPEN YOUR DOORS and then you’d still have to shoot them?

    But having doors (not to speak of locks!) is a non-violent means of reducing the burglary problem drastically.

  3. Daniel Herkenhoff on 01/30/2020 at 11:50 AM

    Wonderful episode, as always Bob.

    One question though: what made me think about this question was the turning the other cheek part.

    Is it not the fact that we as a society turn the other cheek that the state is able to control us? After all, their are just a handful of people compared to all of us — the slaves.

    What am I missing here? Does the kind of aggression the state engage in make things a bit trickier for pacifist strategy? (I know about Gandhi and how many non violent action works, it is just that this thing hit me).

    By the way, I am not saying we need violent revolution or anything like that, but just that aren’t we doing something wrong — strategically— when we turn the other cheek to government?


  4. Steve on 02/04/2020 at 2:53 AM

    I don’t know, Bob. Jesus speaks more of stewardship than He does of pacifism. Seems to me you’ve addressed only the easy questions — those where the aggressor has at least a modicum of rationality. What about all those nutters walking into churches, schools, bars and shopping centers and opening fire? If God actually expects us to be good stewards of what has been entrusted to us, doesn’t that mean watching your wife and kids bleed out before you get shot in the head mean you failed to live up to what God expected of you?

    The upshot of which is that as I see it, if you don’t have the means of exercising proper stewardship when it’s needed, you have committed a grievous sin of omission. You can’t claim you had no idea that crazies shooting up churches was something you could not imagine; it’s been in the news from time to time. What answer is sufficient for complete failure in one of the most important matters God entrusted to you personally? I mean, other than, “Forgive me for failing You.”

  5. Marko on 02/17/2020 at 7:13 AM

    Would you be this kind of pacifist if you were atheist?

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