A Righteous Vengeance

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I was initially surprised, in the days following the attacks on 9/11, at some public figures allowing that it was wrong to merely seek revenge on Osama Bin Laden and Al Qaeda. But when I thought about it, I realized there are some fundamental misunderstandings on the nature of vengeance and the responsibilities of both governments and individuals.

The title of this message very well could be “Vengeance for Dummies”, borrowing from the popular series on computer programs designed to make them simple and understandable. “Dummy”, as used in this context, is not a put down. People buy the “dummy” books in their millions. It is simply an acknowledgment of ignorance. So, lets clarify the issues and deal with some misunderstandings—and turn dummies into knowledgeable people. First, we speak English, so let’s be sure we know what we are talking about in our own tongue. Some definitions:

Vengeance: The infliction of injury, harm, humiliation, or the like in return for an injury or other offense received; revenge. Revenge: As a verb denotes the act of vengeance; as a noun, it is the act of revenging. Avenge: to take vengeance, or exact satisfaction for. A related word—Retribution: requital according to merits or deserts, especially for evil. Punishment: The infliction of pain, loss, confinement, or death as a penalty for some offense or fault. Justice in the related sense: the administering of deserved punishment or reward. It should be clear enough that these ideas are all closely related. And it happens that they are closely related in the Bible as well. So where is the problem? Well, we find our first bump on the road in Romans, chapter 12…


Ronald L. Dart

Ronald L. Dart (1934–2016) — People around the world have come to appreciate his easy style, non-combative approach to explaining the Bible, and the personal, almost one-on-one method of explaining what’s going on in the world in the light of the Bible. After retiring from teaching and church administration in 1995 he started Christian Educational Ministries and the Born to Win radio program.

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