Monday, July 07, 2008

War and justice

“In the context of war, the definition of faith is forged: faith is the casting of one’s destiny on God who spoke the word of promise. Faith is less a cerebral process than it is a life/death commitment based on an unshakable confidence in the veracity of Yahweh’s word (consider David’s words before approaching Goliath, 1 Sam 17:45) and purpose. Wars in the Bible address humans who are slow to hear and even slower to believe, to instruct them on the meaning of faith...

“The message of these God-directed wars for Israel is not that war is the divinely sanctioned means for setting matters right. The kerygma of the Yahweh wars expresses a different message: pithy, down-to-earth experiences to illustrate what we abstractly call “incarnation” or define as faith.

“Wars sanctioned by the Lord Yahweh, with the destruction they brought, must be appraised in light of who God is—namely, a God of holiness. This holiness is expressed by a justice that is both hard edged and compassionate. This means that evil is resisted and destroyed through hard justice; it also means that God enters the fray of violence as an overture to the incarnation and pedagogically makes clear what is meant by trusting him. Christians, remembering the asymmetry that exists between themselves and God, do well to leave the righting of wrongs to God. Believers do, however, have a mandate to work toward justice, understood as honorable relationships, but they may not establish it coercively. Their responsibility is quite the opposite. Believers cannot participate in precipitating violence. Their calling is to absorb violence.”—Martens, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 50

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