God's Politics

God's Politics


Jim Wallis: Benedict on War

posted by God's Politics

While Pope Benedict XVI has been criticized for some of his recent statements, here’s a short speech he delivered on Sunday before the midday Angelus that is well worth reading. Noting that he is on vacation, he said, “I feel all the more intensely the impact of the sorrow of the news that comes to me about bloody altercations and episodes of violence that are occurring in so many parts of the world.” The Pope went on:



War, with the mourning and destruction it brings, has always been rightly considered a calamity that contrasts with God’s plan. He created everything for existence and, in particular, wants to make a family of the human race. In this moment it is not possible for me to not return to a significant date in history: August 1, 1917—almost exactly 90 years ago—my venerable predecessor, Benedict XV, published his celebrated “Nota Alle Potenze Belligeranti” (Note to the Warring Powers), asking them to put an end to the First World War (cf. ASS 9 [1917], 417-420).

As that huge conflict raged, the Pope had the courage to affirm that it was a “useless bloodbath.” This expression of his left a mark on history. It was a justified remark given the concrete situation in that summer of 1917, especially on the front here in this part of northern Italy. But those words, “useless bloodbath,” have a larger, prophetic application to other conflicts that have destroyed countless human lives.


He concluded his remarks:



From this place of peace here in the north of Italy, where one feels even more vitally how unacceptable the “useless bloodbaths” are, I renew the call to follow with tenacity the way of law, to firmly renounce the arms race, to reject in general the temptation to face new situations with old systems.



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Moderatelad

posted July 25, 2007 at 11:24 am


OK –
Being that WWI was caused because the world leaders at that time were at odds and all it took was an assasin to murder a member of a Royal family and all of Europe went crazy…it was a useless blood bath. The way WWI ended layed the foundation for WWII and because those that were to assure that Germany was not ‘re-arming’ and did not do their job. (sounds a lot like the UN inspectors and Iraq…) It allowed a nut to come to power and become the greatest threat to world peace in centuries.
Now we are at war with an ideology that is not bound by territorial borders and they are willing to kill us as well as members of their own religion to achieve their objective. We can sing ‘They will know we are Christians…’ till the Lord’s return and they will still be out there murdering innocent people all around the world. This is not what anyone wanted to happen in the new millieum, not even Bush. (same to you)
There is so much good that could be done if all the leaders of the world would just be at peace with the world and do business that allows all to prosper. But there are too many little countries with nuts running them that have dreams of world domination that someone has to keep them in check, or at least has the ability to keep them in check.
You need to be ‘able’ to wage war to ‘keep’ the peace.
You have to ‘trust’ but you must ‘verify’.
Walk ‘softly’ – but carry a big ‘stick’.
Saddly the UN and former admin. of the US failed not only US but the world, and so we are where we are today. Dare I say ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’. I really do not care what some of you think of me and you have stated it well in the past. I do mourn those that have paid the ultimate price for freedom of the Iraqi people and ultimately the safety of the world. That is why – since I am too old to service in the armed forces and was denyed because of health history. I give generously to organizations like Sean Hannity’s that is raising money to that the children of our service personnel will have financial assistance for their college education. In some way they will know that others did not forget their parents service and did put their money where their mouth was to help them.
Sorry Wallis – you really missed the mark on this one.
Let the fight begin –
.



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Ngchen

posted July 25, 2007 at 11:52 am


Moderatelad wrote:
Saddly the UN and former admin. of the US failed not only US but the world, and so we are where we are today. Dare I say ‘an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure’.
War is terrible, but yes it’s true it’s not the worst possible thing. The jihadists hate anything other than their medieval dreamworld. However, dare I ask what he means by “prevention?” What about the politically incorrect question, “why didn’t the terrorists strike Sweden/Mexico?” Might it have to do with those countries not sticking their noses into the rest of the world for often selfish motives?
Also, the current war in Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism, with the possible exception of being the poster-child for terrorist recruiting. It’s not hard for a jihadi recruiter to use Iraq as “proof” of imperialistic motives (aka aggressive war), and to rally nationalist sentiment to their cause.



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Another nonymous

posted July 25, 2007 at 12:00 pm


Having just finished reading Walter Wink’s “Engaging the Powers” on Don’s recommendation, I would like to suggest that Mod and anybody with similar beliefs also read it from cover to cover. I am *not* saying that you have to agree with the book or Wink’s point of view. However, you will find that he uses an astonishing range of arguments, including a powerful vindication of prayer and its efficacy, to illustrate his contention that non-violence is the way of God. If you haven’t read it, you simply don’t know what the arguments are.



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Moderatelad

posted July 25, 2007 at 12:05 pm


Posted by: Ngchen | July 25, 2007 11:52 AM
“prevention?”
It could have been the ‘UN Sanctions’ but they were totally gutsless and therefore worthless.
Sweden and Mexico – just wait – their turn is coming. Terrorist are no respector of any country. Why did the terrorists strick the Disco on the Indonesian island of Bali, a country that is Islamic? Killing many Indonesians as well as those from other countries.
You have the Iraq Al Quida and Al Quida and they are related. There is even rumors that there are Al Quida groups in the US – not surprized.
Have a great day –
.



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Moderatelad

posted July 25, 2007 at 12:17 pm


Posted by: Another nonymous | July 25, 2007 12:00 PM
I will put that one on the list to read just as soon as I finish ‘God Politics’. I am purchasing a treadmill so that I can read while I walk – otherwise the book puts me to sleep.
I agree – peace is the way of God, not sure that non-violence = peace. Many times peace is won after the violent one is deminished.
Having looked on several sites as well as some of the history books in the local library. There has never been a time that somewhere in the world a war has not been going on. I believe that Islam has been at odds with so much of the world since Mohammad created the religion and all they understand is war.
As Corrie ten Boom said in the movie The Hiding Place, ‘there will only be peace in the Kingdom of our Lord’.
Even so – Lord, come quickly.
Have a great day!
.



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Professor James P. Cooney

posted July 25, 2007 at 12:25 pm


Pope Benedict XVI reminds us also of the strong condemnation of the US intention to invade Irag that was expressed by his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, before his death.
It is time for Pope Benedict to exercise his teaching authority and speak more forcefully and clearly in condemning specific wars, especially the groundless American led war in Iraq — one that is in clear violation of age-old principles governing a just war.
America has a system of volunteer military service.
Catholic men and women who choose to join America’s armed forces and agree to fight a war that is unjust and immoral should be advised that they do so in violation of the counsel of the popes and the teachings of he Church.
Those who voluntarily side with militarists at a time when reputable moral and religious counselors condemn war are clearly wrong in their actions — no matter what side they are on.
It is time to stop protecting young American Catholics from this reality and the urge them to put faithfulness to conscience and the teachings of the Church ahead of misplaced patriotism, however sincerely felt.



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Eric

posted July 25, 2007 at 12:26 pm


Moderatelad – Why do you have to start the comments off with a comment that sounds like it’s merely meant to get people irritated and start a whole new comment thread on the Iraq War?
Is there really anything that objectionable in the Pope’s statement? He’s basically saying that war, for the most part, is destructive and disrupts the lives of millions of people around the world. It is truly “a calamity that contrasts with God’s plan.” It should never be desired. That doesn’t mean it’s not sometimes neccessary to solve disagreements, but it’s still destructive in so many ways and should be avoided whenever possible.



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kevin s.

posted July 25, 2007 at 12:36 pm


“I will put that one on the list to read just as soon as I finish ‘God Politics’. I am purchasing a treadmill so that I can read while I walk – otherwise the book puts me to sleep.”
“God’s Politics” is pretty boring (and repetitive). I have been sufficiently unimpressed by Walter Wink (on a host of issues, from war to sexuality) to put his book wll toward the bottom of the to-read list. Just because somebody holds an opinion about the Bible doesn’t mean that opinion has merit.
Also, Modlad has a point. Militant Islam is actively oppressing Buddhists in Indonesia, and terrorizing countries around the world. Was Theo Van Gogh sticking his nose in business where he didn’t belong? I do not adhere to the notion that Islamic terrorism results from a socio-political dispute.



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Another nonymous

posted July 25, 2007 at 12:50 pm


“Just because somebody holds an opinion about the Bible doesn’t mean that opinion has merit.”
Of course not; that’s why you should read the book. I think it’s fair to say that Wink takes the Bible as seriously as divine revelation as any author I have ever read.



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Eric

posted July 25, 2007 at 12:56 pm


Prof. Cooney – So is the Pope supposed to evaluate every military conflict around the world and decide whether or not it is appropriate for Catholics to take up arms in each particular case or are you advising him to just do this in the case of Iraq?



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kevin s.

posted July 25, 2007 at 12:57 pm


“Wink takes the Bible as seriously as divine revelation as any author I have ever read.”
I can’t agree with this statement about someone who dismisses the teachings of Paul outright because he didn’t understand modern sexual psychology. In every instance, I have seen Wink find a take a position (usually a liberal political position) and work backwards.
Which isn’t to say that nobody should read his book, just to say that I do not see a compelling reason to do so at the expense of better books.



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SuzyW

posted July 25, 2007 at 1:08 pm


It is most difficult to understand, although I will accept, that fellow humans have a need for aggressive acts of violence (fight) when disagreements or others’ aggression causes fear in them. Isn’t that what war is? (on a much larger scale) The most powerful and most difficult war is our individual war within…..fighting not to fight back and to keep peaceful when confronted by fear. Can we not give medals for this? Can we not recognize this? The outcome is no worse. If this is persisted by many, the strength of this, in the short run may seem defeated, and in the longrun will be shameless. Do others out there understand this? I see it as the ultimate most difficult and bravest stance, and wonder if any see this and are brave enough…..to stand without a weapon.
SuzyW



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neuro_nurse

posted July 25, 2007 at 1:09 pm


“God’s Politics” is pretty boring (and repetitive).”
Then may I recommend Jimmy Carter’s book “Our Endangered Values.” For the most part, it makes the same points as “God’s Politics,” but is much more concise (i.e., half as long) and better written.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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carl copas

posted July 25, 2007 at 1:15 pm


moderatelad: “Even so – Lord, come quickly.”
Amen brother.



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Another nonymous

posted July 25, 2007 at 1:16 pm


“Which isn’t to say that nobody should read his book, just to say that I do not see a compelling reason to do so at the expense of better books.”
Dare I say, then, that if you read “God’s Politics” you should definitely read “Engaging the Powers?” I think you’ll find that a lot of what the former has to say about war and non-violence is taken from Wink and watered down for audiences who do not have the evangelical commitment to engage his arguments at the level at which he presents them. In fact, I was surprised at the extent to which “Powers” has been visibly appropriated by many other Christian writers I’d already read (e.g. Philip Yancey). Why not go to the source?



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neuro_nurse

posted July 25, 2007 at 1:33 pm


“So is the Pope supposed to evaluate every military conflict around the world and decide whether or not it is appropriate for Catholics to take up arms in each particular case[…]?”
I would say, “why not?”, but I don’t believe that’s the point Professor Cooney is making.
“Those who voluntarily side with militarists at a time when reputable moral and religious counselors condemn war are clearly wrong in their actions — no matter what side they are on.”
One need only read the posts on God’s Politics to see that there are people who have adapted their theology to suit their support for this war. (I’m donning my flak jacket now)
I suspect there are a lot of right-leaning American Catholics who are at odds with both the pope and the USCCB on Iraq.
There have been a number of times I have been perplexed by this pope’s actions. I have read a couple of books he wrote before becoming pope and his first encyclical, all of which I thought were beautiful and sensitive.
I am disappointed that practically every mention of Benedict’s first encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est” I have heard in the press has mentioned nothing more than the two sentences is all of the 25 pages of that document that specified that marriage is between a man and a woman.
Seek peace and pursue it.



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Anonymous

posted July 25, 2007 at 1:35 pm


Moderatelad – Why do you have to start the comments off with a comment that sounds like it’s merely meant to get people irritated and start a whole new comment thread on the Iraq War?
I have been ‘moderate’ with some of my writings and more ‘bold’ with others. Either time someone will blast or label at will – so I write with fire in the heart and ice on the brain to keep my composure. I am still looking for middle groud but not finding much.
I pray every Monday for our millitary personnel that they will be safe and that we will be successful in securing freedom for the people of Iraq. (oh yeh – got blasted big-time for praying – you figure)
Blessings –
.



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jerry

posted July 25, 2007 at 1:46 pm


professor cooney. why not make more rules and then you can drive more young prople out of the church.



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Moderatelad

posted July 25, 2007 at 2:08 pm


Look – I am not Catholic and therefore the Pope is just a ‘religious leader in the Christian Church’ – period. (yes I have issues with the Catholic faith – but that is not the topic now and I really do not want to get into it) I like this Pope and I really like the former. I listen to other leaders in the Prod. / Evangelical church more closely than the Pope. There are several that I know hate war but understand that this is a different time and that it is the ‘end times’. I think – and I hate saying this – that war and conflict around the world will be more the norm than the exception. (wars and rumors of wars thing) I know that my ‘Stay Home with Sojo’ upset more than a few people in the past. (and I did appologize to some) But I do not think that we are going to have an option. I believe that we will be going to the aid of countries in Europe and Asia because of Al Quida and other groups like them. In the future, the world will be dealing with leaders and groups that will make UBL look like a choir-boy. The UN and US policies of the 90’s made this groups believe that they could take over the world because they saw us as weak and immoral.
Blessings on all –
.



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kevin s.

posted July 25, 2007 at 2:13 pm


“Dare I say, then, that if you read “God’s Politics” you should definitely read “Engaging the Powers?” I think you’ll find that a lot of what the former has to say about war and non-violence is taken from Wink and watered down for audiences who do not have the evangelical commitment to engage his arguments at the level at which he presents them”
Fair enough.
“One need only read the posts on God’s Politics to see that there are people who have adapted their theology to suit their support for this war. ”
Not I, said the fly. I consider violation of a UN mandate to disarm to plausibly be considered an act of war from one who has already actively engaged in same. Of course, if Wallis’ theology trickles down from Wink (and indeed it does), the Wallis certainy disregarded his theology in acknowledging the need for Saddams ouster.
Of course, I am not a Papist, so Ratzinger can decree as he chooses :)
“I am disappointed that practically every mention of Benedict’s first encyclical, “Deus Caritas Est” I have heard in the press has mentioned nothing more than the two sentences is all of the 25 pages of that document that specified that marriage is between a man and a woman.”
Of course, all the news was simply conservative evangelicals rushing to agree. After all, it’s the only issue we care about, while the other side of the coin has bigger fish to fry. Strange that there would be so many articles about religious groups being entirely in agreement, though. (end of off-topic sarcasm).



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Russell

posted July 25, 2007 at 5:11 pm


“War, with the mourning and destruction it brings, has always been rightly considered a calamity that contrasts with God’s plan.”
I am definitely against war, especially pre-emptive wars, however, to say that it is against God’s plan is ridiculous. If war was against God’s plan then there would be no such thing as war. The Bible shows us that war was definitely in God’s plan with the Old Testament Hebrews, he guided them into battle. Even Jesus informs us that there will always be wars and that war is a thing that must happen(Matthew 24:6; Mark 13:7). God is in control and to say that war is not in God’s plan is heretical. The fact is that nothing that happens in this world is “useless” it is all a part of God’s plan.



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Anonymous

posted July 25, 2007 at 6:38 pm


“God is in control and to say that war is not in God’s plan is heretical. The fact is that nothing that happens in this world is “useless” it is all a part of God’s plan.” Russell
God certainly has the ability to use tragic events for His purpose, as I have witnessed in my own life, but God is certainly not the author of evil.
Humans have free will and the freedom to do good or evil.
Peace.



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christian

posted July 26, 2007 at 12:31 am


You found Gods Politics boring?? I will pray for you that you also dont find the Bible boring also. If you read the book with an open Christian mind you will find that it is an awesome book with great insights. I believe that Wallis may be one of the Prophets of our time.



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kevin s.

posted July 26, 2007 at 3:20 am


“You found Gods Politics boring??”
Absolutely. I’m not the only one.
“I will pray for you that you also dont find the Bible boring also.”
No you won’t. But you needn’t worry.
“If you read the book with an open Christian mind”
I did.
“you will find that it is an awesome book with great insights.”
His exegesis is abysmal. He lost me at Bush = anti-Christ.
“I believe that Wallis may be one of the Prophets of our time.”
You are wrong in your belief.



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Isa

posted July 26, 2007 at 8:27 am


The Bible may be instructive and contain great insights; one must remember that it was written long after Jesus’ life. Written by men. In the context of the hebrew culture of men’s dominance. Translated sometimes not too acurately.
There is one particular advice made by Jesus (supposing): “Let those who have eyes see and those who have ears listen”. Meaning to me: the Great Truth is out there for everyone willing to see and learn.
Having said this, I confess I am deeply religious but also attentive to scientific developments. Science and religion complement different aspects of reality, of the laws of the universe. Then, for me, God’s plan may be guessed at. I dare not say this or that is in God’s plan. That war is … Heavens, it is people who wage wars. God’s war is against evil. Different things.
Jesus, as the Son, cured illnesses, offered consolation for those suffering, preached understanding and tolerance.
The suffering and sacrifice of children cannnot be part of His plan. It is a consequence of man’s freedom of choice. In the Bible (“The Grat Book”, one finds constantly that everyone is accountable for his/her doings.
If we asked of every political decision this kind of accountability, may be the world would be a better place – otherwise we suffer the consequences of the decisions of a few who are supposed to represent our interests and act in our name. Are we accountable for that?
“Blessed are the meek…”



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Eric

posted July 26, 2007 at 9:08 am


Neuro – what was the point Cooney was making then?



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kevin s.

posted July 26, 2007 at 10:44 am


“Translated sometimes not too acurately.”
By whom? Of which translations do you speak? If some are inaccurate, others are not. Simply read the latter.
If you are simply saying that the original texts are unreliable because they were written by men, I am going to disagree with you. They were written close enough to Christ’s lifetime that their was plenty of accountability from those whose parents had been there (if they were not their themselves). It’s not as though Jesus died, everybody stopped believing for awhile, and then the gospel writers made stuff up afterward.
“Jesus, as the Son… preached understanding and tolerance.”
Did he? He said that he came as a sword to divide families. Doesn’t sound very tolerant to me.
“If we asked of every political decision this kind of accountability, may be the world would be a better place – otherwise we suffer the consequences of the decisions of a few who are supposed to represent our interests and act in our name”
Unfortunately, we suffer consequences of Muslim radicals if our leaders do not act in our name.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 26, 2007 at 11:15 am


“I believe that Wallis may be one of the Prophets of our time.”
You are wrong in your belief.
It’s too soon to tell, Kevin — as someone who has prophetic giftings, I can tell you first-hand that prophets are often unappreciated until years or even generations later and that, in their time, they receive a lot of crap.
Unfortunately, we suffer consequences of Muslim radicals if our leaders do not act in our name.
You’ll have to excuse me if I’m not that worried about “Muslim radicals” — God Himself will take care of them and preserve His people. As things stand now, our present emphasis on simply destroying them only makes them stronger.



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james

posted July 26, 2007 at 1:29 pm


I have a question , What did Jesus mean in Matthew 5 38-39 resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite you on the right cheek , turn to him the other also? Do you think he said it just to have something cute to say ? If you read the rest of Matthew 5 40- 48 it seems he meant what he said. Maybe he,s calling us to a higher calling .Not to be like every one else but true children of God . I know this is hard and goes against human nature , but thats the point of it all. is it not.



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kevin s.

posted July 26, 2007 at 1:53 pm


“Do you think he said it just to have something cute to say ?”
Was he speaking to national leaders? If America is attacked, it won’t be our leaders dying in buildings. They are acting on our behalf. There is no scriptural requirement for nations to be pacifistic.



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Eric

posted July 26, 2007 at 2:00 pm


James – Christ meant what he said. When someone wrongs me, instead of returning that wrong or seeking vengence I should forgive that person. I firmly believe this is how God wants us to act, despite the fact I don’t always live up to that standard.
But you can’t apply this verse to those are entrusted by society to protect us from those who wish to do us harm, whether it’s your local cop, the FBI, the military, or prosecutors. These are the people who make it possible for you and I to turn the other cheek. Obviously, this isn’t a blank check to them to act as they please, but simply quoting Matthew doesn’t address these responsibilities.



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 26, 2007 at 2:38 pm


I have a question, What did Jesus mean in Matthew 5:38-39 resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also? Do you think he said it just to have something cute to say?
That is often misunderstood because, in that context, it actually is referring to subversion of Roman law to cause shame to the person doing the act. When you slapped someone on the right cheek (that is, backhanded if the person is right-handed) that was a sign of subservience; on the other hand, if you slapped someone on the left it was a sign of equality. “Giving someone your tunic” and “going the second mile” have similar connotations.



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 26, 2007 at 5:19 pm


Good question
I have a question, What did Jesus mean in Matthew 5:38-39 resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also? Do you think he said it just to have something cute to say?
I know some people think this was a goal , but I think your right Rick , this is for all of us all the time and its how we should live .
But I do have a different view with governments , I believe Jesus was talking to indivuduals . and I think this is where this organization and others that promote Chrisinaity ito government sometimes loose perspective . , This country and government is not a Christian nation . Example do we want the police officer allowing some one breaking and entering to get away with it based on this ? The folks dying in Darfur to go on and we not do anything about it ? Hussein was out of compliance with the accepted grounds for closing the last war , just as Germany was after World War 1 . In hind sight Bibically would it had been wrong to go into Germany and force compliance begore Hitler built up his war machine . I don;t believe our Motives were wrong , just the strategy used .
I am open to understanding in this . I have always had a hard time forgiving and not loosing my witness in spirtual or passionate differences . Had a good teaching on Christ and him advocating not to take the offence , was ridiculed by a non Christian for it , which showed me how hard that is to put in practice , but it does not mean we are not to try . And eventually live that way .



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Adam Penner

posted July 26, 2007 at 6:26 pm


Is anyone here reading current biblical studies/ethics texts? In the past century (thank you Yoder,Hays, et. al) the overwhelming majority of scholars agree to a pervasively non-violent New Testament message. Kevin and Moderate, if you are aware of the obviously divergent mandatees of the Church and state, then fine. But if you assume that since corporal violence is simply a more effective (which is highly doubful, but even if it were) means of establishing peace that followers of Christ should tacitly approve/participate in violence, you are severly distracted from the gospel message. Followers of Christ (in almost every circumstance imagineable, especially this war in Iraq) cannot willingly and justifiably fight this world’s fight, for our alliegance is to Christ and His Kingdom.



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Another nonymous

posted July 26, 2007 at 6:53 pm


Adam and Rick – I’m with you. Mick – Re. “Resist not evil:” Wink translates it “Do not mirror evil.” His (very persuasive) argument is that every society and every person in history who has opposed evil violently has eventually become, in large part, what it, he or she was opposing.



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Anonymous

posted July 26, 2007 at 7:55 pm


Mick — To take it even further, the cultural mindset of the Middle East was, and still is, so collectively minded that implementing consistent “Biblical principles” into civil law in individualistic Western society, especially in America, would result in full-scale revolt. And especially from “conservatives.”
Followers of Christ (in almost every circumstance imagineable, especially this war in Iraq) cannot willingly and justifiably fight this world’s fight, for our alliegance is to Christ and His Kingdom.
I personally agree with you, but does that mean that the numerous Christian military personnel now in the Middle East right now are disobeying God? I wouldn’t go that far.



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Bill Samuel

posted July 26, 2007 at 9:32 pm


Again, I am pleased to see Benedict speaking strongly against war. The very name he chose as Pope was meant to indicate the priority he gives to Christ’s call to peace. It is no accident he is citing the last Pope Benedict here. It is that Pope’s bold peace stance that this Pope seeks to emulate. And he appointed a Secretary of State who, in his first address to the diplomatic corps, hailed conscientious objectors.
The Catholic Church is moving back towards the position of the church before Constantine. Would that more of the church would do so.
Jim Wallis has been closer to the temporizing position of the U.S. Catholic bishops than to the prophetic calls to peace of recent Catholic popes. Because his stance against the Iraq War has not been rooted in work overall against the American military imperialist framework, it appears to be just a political stance not a Christian prophetic one.
The U.S. budget includes nearly a trillion dollars for military-related purposes. Yet Wallis ran a budget campaign last year that never even mentioned military spending! When he cherry picked three candidates for his Presidential debate, he chose only candidates whose campaign platforms favor a larger military, and this stance was not seriously challenged.
The Historic Peace Churches have valiantly been trying to hold up the banner of the Prince of Peace in this country (see the Friends Committee on National Legislation). But this position should not be limited to three small denominations. It is the heritage of the Christian church as a whole, based on convictions which were unchallenged in the church before the time of Constantine (see The Jesus Gospel Web site page on the teachings of the early church.
I hope the strong position of the Vatican will serve to strengthen the peace position of the American Catholic bishops. And I hope more will join me in keeping the pressure on Jim Wallis and Sojourners to programmatically reflect the Christian call to peace, not just opposition to a single war.



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kevin s.

posted July 27, 2007 at 2:39 am


“In the past century (thank you Yoder,Hays, et. al) the overwhelming majority of scholars agree to a pervasively non-violent New Testament message.”
I would hazard to say that the majority of scholars deny that Christ was risen from the dead. So what?
“Kevin and Moderate, if you are aware of the obviously divergent mandatees of the Church and state, then fine.”
Cool.
“But if you assume that since corporal violence is simply a more effective (which is highly doubful, but even if it were) means of establishing peace that followers of Christ should tacitly approve/participate in violence, you are severly distracted from the gospel message.”
This depends entirely on context. I am not suggesting that Christians must support this or that war effort, but rather that we may support a war effort. I do not find arguments to the contrary to be so compelling.
“Followers of Christ (in almost every circumstance imagineable, especially this war in Iraq) cannot willingly and justifiably fight this world’s fight, for our alliegance is to Christ and His Kingdom.”
What do you mean by “almost every circumstance imaginable?” What do you mean by “the world’s fight?”



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 27, 2007 at 6:04 am


Mick — To take it even further, the cultural mindset of the Middle East was, and still is, so collectively minded that implementing consistent “Biblical principles” into civil law in individualistic Western society, especially in America, would result in full-scale revolt. And especially from “conservatives
I don’t get this nonsense , I am conservative as they come. So we stop the state mandated tax dollar support of abortion and I will be part of a revolt . Besides being anon, and a drive by post , it is most disheartening because some excellent points were being made .



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 27, 2007 at 8:57 am


I don’t get this nonsense, I am conservative as they come. So we stop the state mandated tax dollar support of abortion and I will be part of a revolt.
Mick — That was my post — I simply forgot to sign it — and I stand by what I said. Abortion was not really a “conservative” issue when it was “re-legalized” nationwide in 1973, BTW (Ronald Reagan signed a bill legalizing abortion in, I think, 1966, when he was governor of California), and is not addressed directly in Scripture.
The reason I put it that way is because modern conservatives have generally focused upon individual achievement and effort regardless of background or history.



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kevin s.

posted July 27, 2007 at 2:51 pm


“(Ronald Reagan signed a bill legalizing abortion in, I think, 1966, when he was governor of California),”
The bill legalized abortion when there was a direct threat to the health of the mother, and this was before “threat to the health of the mother” was understood to be code for “whenever the mother feels like having an abortion”.
“and is not addressed directly in Scripture.”
It doesn’t have to be. It remains a scourge.



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 27, 2007 at 4:05 pm


Mick — That was my post — I simply forgot to sign it — and I stand by what I said. Abortion was not really a “conservative” issue when it was “re-legalized
First Rick it was always legal , in some states it was not . In the state I live in , they support partial birth abortion . Over turning Roe V Wade will no effect here , maybe in the mid west and some other states . Those states where abortion is considered wrong are populated by Bible Believing people . Ever consider you may be compromising ?
Abortion has been an issue for a long time among all Bible believers and non . Use to be the time that abortion was considered wrong in our early American History was when the baby kicked . I guess the example possibly was when Elizabeth had her baby kick when it was in Mary’s presence .
I think science has brought greater focus and re action on the pro life movement . Also the numbers of abortion , in 1973 I think many people were just a sleep at the switch . There were some people saying back then that one day we will be killing our elderly
At the time I was not a Bible believer , I don’t even remember the Ruling . I was 18 . Not concerned .
I just have a real mis understanding with someone who has read the Bible as you have , know that life is a gift , God formed us in the womb , he is no respecter of persons , and yet you claim you have no problem with abortion , or you have no problems joining with political agents that promote that industry to achieve your goals of justice ?



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 27, 2007 at 5:04 pm


Those states where abortion is considered wrong are populated by Bible Believing people. Ever consider you may be compromising?
I have no idea what you mean. Besides, you have your history wrong: Abortion in truth was a big problem at the turn of the last century, particularly in larger cities where men would “use” women, similar to today. But the churches got involved, teaching that men should respect women and women respect themselves (this was, of course, before “women’s liberation”), and they also started homes for unwed mothers. Eventually anti-abortion laws would make their way through state legislatures, and by 1900 abortion was illegal in every state.
I just have a real mis understanding with someone who has read the Bible as you have, know that life is a gift, God formed us in the womb, he is no respecter of persons, and yet you claim you have no problem with abortion, or you have no problems joining with political agents that promote that industry to achieve your goals of justice?
I never said, and would never say, that I support abortion rights — I do not. However, I have never believed in isolating abortion as particularly heinous vis-a-vis other abridgements of the sanctity of human life, such as unnecessary war, economic injustice, the environment or racism. To me, these are all “pro-life” issues that need to be addressed as one.



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Todd Ray

posted July 28, 2007 at 9:21 am


Professor Cooney has it right. Blanket condemnations of war are easy and useless. Counseling the individual who wishes to follow Christ, that is where the rubber meets the road. That the Vatican can offer a “Ten Commandments of Driving”, yet sits in silence and allows the individual Christian to decide for him/herself the moral rightness of supporting a war effort, is ludicrous.
This Iraq war is a marvelous teaching moment for Christian leaders. It begs for debate to expose the flaws of Just War Theory. It begs for condemnation for its violation of Just War premises. And in the end, it begs for a brave Church leadership to unequivocally state that participation in war by those who claim to follow the Prince of Peace is always wrong.
The early Church survived violent oppression and did not compromise the authentic gospel message of non-violent love of friends and enemies. The compromise came when the Church and the State joined missions for mutual preservation, and it became necessary for Christians to kill the enemies of their State. This compromise allows us now to rationalize the Sermon on the Mount as applying to individual conduct, but not to guide our individual conduct in supporting the State’s war effort. We do not even question the morality of bombing civilian non-combatants (does it really matter if it is intentional or “collateral”?) by an individual Christian warrior, because this act is done in the context of the State’s war.
Sadly, I believe most Christians who join the military never ponder this moral question of their personal contribution to war. Even more sad is the fact that the Church does not actively challenge them to ponder the moral question. Does anyone doubt that here in America, we are Americans first, when it comes to war, and Christians a distant second?
Christ was not ambiguous in his call to non-violence. His message was stunningly clear. He made no exceptions to sanction violence by anyone, for any purpose, whether to confront evil or promote good. He showed us how to do it, and commanded us to love as He loved. It is our problem that we do not have the faith to trust His way, and trust His power, to prevail in the face of violent and oppressive evil. And so we go on, Christian in name, but openly rejecting a most fundamental principle of our faith in Him.
Spare me the lecture on how the warriors are the ones making the sacrifices that assure me the liberty to post my self-righteous comments here. Christ did not say “blessed are the soldiers, for they preserve your Freedom, and your right to follow Me.” I am a Christian first.



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 28, 2007 at 4:21 pm


To me, these are all “pro-life” issues that need to be addressed as one.
Interesting , and thanks for that explanation . Never did understand .



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 28, 2007 at 4:47 pm


Rick
Eventually anti-abortion laws would make their way through state legislatures, and by 1900 abortion was illegal in every state.
http://womenshistory.about.com/od/abortionuslegal/a/abortion.htm
Interesting , Thanks . Did a little research , look like in the 1820’s the movement to outlaw it started after 4 months . I believe that is because a Mother could feel a baby kicking by then . Science has made it much more controversal . The most I can do as a Christian is support Ministries that support women , and children, kids in trouble and such .
I believe we almost agree in your idea of justice being a key aspect of a better outcome for the unborn .



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Doug

posted July 29, 2007 at 2:00 pm


I feel sorry for the people on this site who say they are christians but buy into the lies spread on this site. How can any christian say that this war against Islam is wrong.? The reason is simple, they do not the bible and what Jesus really teaches. By supporting Democrats you are playing right into the hands of the people who want to kill you. You can not negotiate with evil. You can tell yourself that the democratic party is the more moral party but you are only fooling yourselves. The Dems are for every immoral thing that the God we believe in condems. Read your Bible people. We can disagree on how to help the poor or on Global warming but on things such as abortion, homosexuality or the fighting of the greastest evil in our time(Islam) there is no negotiating. By taking the side of Iraq in this war (and make no mistake you are) you are basically siding with the Devil. Harsh? The truth is harsh. We in America are soft. We as christians in Americans are soft. Don’t think the devil does not know it. In the last days he will come as a peacemaker and decieve many. Please do not be decieved. Read your bible and know what it says so you can stand against the lies of the enemy. By reading this site (the articles and the comments)I fear many already are. wake up people before it is to late!



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Rick Nowlin

posted July 29, 2007 at 6:07 pm


By supporting Democrats you are playing right into the hands of the people who want to kill you. You can not negotiate with evil.
That depends on what you consider evil. Frankly, I think Satan’s pulled a fast one on you because you focus on Islam so much — because that’s a diabolical smokescreen to ignore the justice and reconciliation the Gospel calls for and for which Jesus died.



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Don

posted July 29, 2007 at 9:14 pm


“By taking the side of Iraq in this war (and make no mistake you are) you are basically siding with the Devil.”
Huh????
I thought we were supposed to be fighting in Iraq on the side of the Iraqi people, not against them. I know, that statement is dripping with irony, but be that as it may, it was the purported reason for our outing Saddam Hussein.
So whose side are we fighting on in Iraq anyway? How can we know who the “enemy” is? And what does Jesus say we are supposed to do to our enemies anyway? My Bible says we are supposed to pray for them. I think that even means Muslims, Doug.
I suppose praying for our enemies would make us soft. Right, Doug? Hmmm…
Peace,



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kevin s.

posted July 30, 2007 at 11:41 am


“I thought we were supposed to be fighting in Iraq on the side of the Iraqi people, not against them. I know, that statement is dripping with irony”
Doug’s comment aside, why is this dripping with irony? Do you think we are not attempting to protect Iraqi citizens? Whether or not we are successful, and regardless of perceived motives, the reason we are over there is to try to bring stability to the area.



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Don

posted July 30, 2007 at 12:00 pm


“…the reason we are over there is to try to bring stability to the area.”
Please don’t make me laugh. Maybe we, in our arrogant foolishness, thought we were going to bring stability, but have we in fact? At this stage, it it even possible?
And more importantly, weren’t their voices out there telling us that invading Iraq would destabilize the region? Voices that our administration in theiir foolish, arrogant “wisdom” chose to ignore?
D



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Mick Sheldon

posted July 30, 2007 at 1:29 pm


D Said
weren’t their voices out there telling us that invading Iraq would destabilize the region?
Did not Colin Powell say you break it you own it . Or something to that effect . I remember those voices , they were quiet actually and they also blended in with some voices that stated the same thing about Afganstan , and a host of other messages that would sound like a Cindy Sheenan and Moveon.org Debate among themselves .
No we did not plan , hindsight is something not to brag about however . I was actually one of those voices . I never thought to blame America , I always blamed the terrorists and those folks like Hussein that put the world in the position of what you do about folks like that . Do you leave them alone and wait till they attack , what do you do when they do attack or just allow them to use their resources for boot camps for their war against western civilization , warts and all .
I don’t agree with Doug , but Don the way you answer , you fail o solve with the problem . In fact the left does not see the problem , at least Doug does . President Clinton did , his handling of it perhaps not strong enough , but he did use tactical attacks when he thought the enemy was going too far .



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Anonymous

posted July 30, 2007 at 1:32 pm


Todd said Spare me the lecture on how the warriors are the ones making the sacrifices that assure me the liberty to post my self-righteous comments here.
Todd I would say the folks who were slaughtered on the beaches of Normandy were Peace Makers. They were blessed . Many of them were Christians , and they died and are in heaven now, just so you could have the choice of condemning them .
Love In Christ ,



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kevin s.

posted July 30, 2007 at 4:32 pm


“Please don’t make me laugh. Maybe we, in our arrogant foolishness, thought we were going to bring stability, but have we in fact? At this stage, it it even possible?”
You switched gears here, though you did pose an interesting question. Is stability possible? Is it only possbile through dictatorship? If so, why is that? Can we engage such a level of cynicism in dictating future policies? How would this attitude effect our actions in, say, Darfur?
“And more importantly, weren’t their voices out there telling us that invading Iraq would destabilize the region? Voices that our administration in theiir foolish, arrogant “wisdom” chose to ignore?”
There was disagreement as to whether the region would continue to be stable after Saddam’s ouster. I would argue that such an outcome was not inevitable, but that our attempt to treat Iraq like another Afghanistan set us up for failure. Nonetheless, many (including the author of this blog) advocated the removal of Saddam.
“Christ was not ambiguous in his call to non-violence.”
So unambiguous was Christ that he made no such call.



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Don

posted July 30, 2007 at 7:25 pm


“There was disagreement as to whether the region would continue to be stable after Saddam’s ouster. I would argue that such an outcome was not inevitable, but that our attempt to treat Iraq like another Afghanistan set us up for failure. Nonetheless, many (including the author of this blog) advocated the removal of Saddam.”
Indeed he did. And that’s the point I think you and others like Mick Sheldon may have forgotten. We’ll never know whether nonviolent means to remove Saddam could have worked because they were never tried. I wonder how unstable the situation in Iraq would be if we had succeeded in ousting Hussein by such nonviolent means as those the author of this blog had proposed.
And Mr. Sheldon, I don’t consider this a left vs. right issue. To me it was a just war vs. unjust war issue.
Later,



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kevin s.

posted July 31, 2007 at 12:37 am


“We’ll never know whether nonviolent means to remove Saddam could have worked because they were never tried. ”
1) This is completely untrue.
2) Wallis suggested we remove him from power by use of an international police force. That would have been plenty violent.



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Don

posted July 31, 2007 at 6:52 am


I guess it depends on what one means by “violent,” doesn’t it? An international police force may or may not have engaged in violence to remove Saddam Hussein. It would have depended on whether the kind of international pressure Mr. Wallis had proposed would have caused Saddam to step down on his own (or caused others in his inner circle to tell him he had to leave). It was certainly possible that it might have worked–one of Tony Blair’s ministers even said as much.
And compared to what we see in Iraq now, even if the international police force had needed to use force, the level of violence might have been much smaller and more contained.
But as I said, we’ll never know if this method might have worked because we never tried it.
Peace!



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Todd Ray

posted August 1, 2007 at 5:52 am


It has always seemed to me that we compartmentalize our faith when it comes to committing to follow the non-violent Jesus. The Church and the individual Christian alike allow for this grand exception that says that, although the soldiers of the enemy State are children of God, Jesus would allow us to kill them in a thousand horrific and ordinary ways to pursue our State’s cause. We ignore the separate, individual’s acts of war, such as planting land-mines, from the noble cause of the State. In the United States we uphold “Freedom” as the most noble good, for which, in the defense of, there is almost no atrocity against our fellow man we would not find allowable in the exercise of war.
Our Amish and Quaker brothers (and a few others) do not flee from this profound and challenging call. They make no exception, refuse to be seduced, manipulated, or shamed into lending their hands and minds to the enterprise of killing other children of God, no matter how evil their leaders.
I do not condemn those who serve, and die, in the business of killing others. I am profoundly sad and troubled that the leaders of the Church, the faith, have been co-opted by the government-states, and silently allow Christians to unquestioningly join the war effort. I do not condemn anyone. I pray. I pray for George Bush and Osama Bin Laden, and all who believe in the power of violence as a force of good in the world. I wish that we did so, as a community, on Sunday morning. But, no. Never do we pray for the enemy, for Bin Laden, for anyone who persecutes us.
It amazes me that some still want Jesus to be a sword-wielding opponent of evil, over-thrower of evil men and evil governments. He had the chance to do that. Why did he not lead us in that way? Why did he offer us this crazy, naive stuff about loving our enemies? I can only conclude that Jesus’ way is not our way, and Jesus’ way makes no exception for violence as a force for good.
Todd Ray



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