Here are three ways Christians can respond to the threat posed by extremist groups on both the right and left.
First, Christians are called to love our enemies and pray for those who would persecute us (Matt. 5:44). Those associated with both Antifa and alt-right often consider orthodox Christians to their enemy. They may seek persecute us directly because of our skin color or because they consider our faith-based views a political threat. Whatever their reasons, we have a duty to love and pray for them. We should pray in particular that they will renounce violence and come to know Jesus, so they will discover the only true peace and freedom is to be found in Christ.
Second, while Christians may share Antifa’s opposition to white nationalism or share the Proud Boys’ disdain for rioters who threaten peace and order, we must not share either group’s use of violence as “preemptive self-defense.” Christians sometimes disagree on when, if ever, the use of force in self-defense is biblically permissible. But no Christian should adopt the view that it is an act of self-defense to preemptively use violence to shut down speech merely because we find the content to be repugnant. Nor it is a legitimate use of self-defense to physically attack people who are participating in a peaceful public assembly, however reprehensible their cause.
Third, Christians should oppose giving radical extremists on both the left and right a heckler’s veto. This occurs when an individual’s right to speak or assemble is curtailed or restricted by the government in order to prevent a reacting party’s behavior.
The government has an obligation to protect the constitutional rights of all citizens, even those with unpopular views. We should not tolerate the government giving groups like Antifa or Proud Boys a heckler’s veto, for we may soon find they use it to prevent Christians from exercising our rights to share the gospel.