Tuesday, October 10, 2006

More pacifism

I'm a bit slow on things these days. Blame it on trying to get too many things done—the AAR/SBL/ASOR order forms and quantities, the new catalogs in time to get them in your hands before AAR/SBL, my in-laws moving to Winona Lake/Warsaw in 3 weeks, the list goes on. Anyway, this post has been up since Saturday, but I only found out about it today, and then only because Jim Eisenbraun mentioned it to me in conversation... OK, enough introduction.

Ben Witherington has an excellent post on the Amish community in PA and their willingness to forgive.

This friends is real Christianity. Christians do not retaliate. They do not seek revenge, for the Bible says that vengeance should be left in the hands of the Lord. In fact they do quite the opposite. They offer forgiveness even to their tormentors. They seek peace at the least and reconciliation at the most with those who revile them, harm them, kill them...

Somewhere out there, there is someone who is muttering about meekness being weakness. There is someone out there suggesting that violence is the way to answer and silence senseless violence. There is someone simply ignoring the words of Jesus that those who live by the sword die by the sword.

As I've said before, I don't usually read Witherington's blog, but this post definitely is worth reading.

On a related note, Ben Myers is letting Kim do another guest blog on pacifism. Check it out here. A brief excerpt, but you really should read the whole thing.

Second, opponents of pacifism are also surprisingly – or perhaps I should say unsurprisingly – quiet about the pacifist church of the first three centuries. Did the church get it wrong? Or is it that the changing circumstances of the church under empire, and then under nations, changed everything? But if so, why? What does Constantinople – or Washington – have to do with Jerusalem? If Christians were pacifist under pagan rule, why should they abandon pacifism under Christian rule? Indeed, what constitutes “Christian rule”? Is not the very idea that a Christian ruler/government may wield the sword an oxymoron? This is certainly a question that needs to be answered rather than begged.


Dr. Joseph Ray Cathey said...


This is much too difficult for me. It presses my soul to the point of breaking.

jps said...

And that is the point. Christianity is a supernatural thing, not a natural thing. There is no way that anyone, apart from the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit, can do anything in the Sermon on the Mount. It has to be God. That is why the New Testament/Early Church was so powerful, they knew it had to be God. And they let it be God.

We are all practicing Pelagians to the extent that we try to live the Christian life on our own strength.


Ted M. Gossard said...

JPS (James),

Thanks for sharing this.

There are hard questions that if looked at, I notice can simply be pushed aside. Or even abnormally poor thinking can occur, such as a couple I judge to be so:

Christ is going to come back with in his army in judgment. So how can we say Christians participating in military violence is wrong?

If we're to follow Christ in this, then that means we shouldn't marry?

But when people really stop and seriously consider it, then they know there really is a quandary here, and difficulty in answering, to be sure.