What would Jesus do? Waterboard? Absurd. Judging by how Sam Lukes (letter Jan. 18) interprets the Bible, I would almost expect him to be missing an eye or a hand if he takes Jesus’ words literally. (Matthew 5:29-30).
One cannot pick and choose “proof” texts by interpreting some words literally (and out of context), some metaphorically, and ignoring others. Lukes’ conclusion has everything to do with culture and politics and nothing to do with Jesus’ life or teaching.
Interpreting Luke 22:36, 38 as advising Jesus’ followers to arm themselves is ludicrous, given his counsel against taking up the sword. (Matthew 26:52).
When Jesus said he came to bring not peace but a sword, he was speaking metaphorically of urgent priorities. Neither did he advocate dividing “genuine Christians” from others, (especially since there were no “Christians” then) and had harsh words for those judging others. Revelation 2:27 has absolutely nothing to do with “commanding the attention of [the] lawless…”
Lukes cites Matthew 18:6 not an endorsement of a particular punishment but a typically Semitic hyperbolic warning — and not for “unrepentant, incorrigible lawbreakers” but those who put stumbling blocks in the path of the easily led, Mr. Lukes’ own error.