Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed


Why I am a pacifist

posted by xscot mcknight

The following is a slightly-adapted set of questions I used for a discussion with two others at Willow Creek Community Church’s TruthQuest event last spring. My responsibility was to take the pacifist side. I took the tack of asking questions, and I include here the outline I used that night. Some of the questions are more penetrating than others, but together they ask (for me) the right questions. This is an outline, not a full discussion. In light of my last post on the Sermon on the Mount, I thought it might be time to put this issue on the table.
The Christian, the State, and War
I will offer a series of ten questions below, but first the big overarching question:
How does a Christian relate to the State? What is the relationship of the Church and the State?
“State” means the “governmental system”
Respect for each Christian view; the number of Christians who have died on each side. Three big views.
1. The Roman and Reformed View: Progressive Realization of Christianity
Image: Leaven in a lump of bread
Merging of the Supreme Court and the Church
Constantine and Jonathan Edwards
2. The Lutheran View: Two Realms/Kingdoms
Image: parallel train tracks which Christians must daily cross
Supreme Court and the Church in two different locations
3. The Anabaptist (Pacifist) View: Sectarian
Image: candles growing in number
The Church is God’s concern
Menno Simons (Mennonites) and John Howard Yoder
Let me return then to the flipside of the overarching question: how does the Christian relate to the State?
The Fundamental Issue: Realpolitik vs. Christo-politik (Kingdom of God)
Dare the Christian “compromise” his/her views in the “public square”?
Is it ever morally justifiable for a Christian to reduce his or her moral stands in the public square in order to gain a public hearing?
Is God’s will for the “Church only” or also for the “State”?
Is the Torah to replace the US Constitution?
Does “life in this world”/ “public square” require compromise?
Ten Questions from the Pacifist Side
Before I get to my ten basic questions that, if answered one way, will lead to pacifism, let me suggest you read Karen Spears Zacharias, Hero Mama [you can find it through Amazon on the bright green button to your right]. For a variety of reasons, this book stunned me with what happens when daddys die in war. When it gets down to the bottom, we are dealing with humans taking the lives of other humans. The rhetoric of war enables us to transform the language from death to other things, but the Christian will never forget the role death plays in war.
Pacifism and Its Challenging Questions for the Evangelical Christian
A long, long Christian history; 2d Century AD; Reformation “Anabaptists”
Not just an individual view: a “communal” ethic
Varieties of “pacifism” (Yoder, Nevertheless, 17 “kinds”)
Fundamental theology: God is creator; Jesus is redeemer; Jesus is Lord; the mission of the Church is to “evangelize” the world; the final goal of God is shalom that is characterized as “love for God” and “love of others”.
The Church is universal and not a “nation-state”.
Socio-political stance: Christians are to be good “citizens” without ever compromising their Christian faith.
1. What is Justice and Who defines it?
US Constitution (JS Mill: happiness, freedom, and rights)
Justice: retributive, reparative, restorative
or
The Will of God (Scripture) and the Telos of God
2. What does Scripture say?
Conviction of a “Christocentric” and “Kingdom” hermeneutic on how to put the whole Bible together: it climaxes in Jesus Christ. Israel is de-nationalized and therefore the “military” apparatus is stripped.
Context: either “fight” or “flight”; anti-Zealots; anti-docility.
Jesus offers a “Third Way”: cruciform love that absorbs and transforms violence into reconciliation.
Luke 4:16-30 as the starting point (with Matt. 11:2-6): a kingdom vision.
Concerned with shalom and justice
Role of Sermon on Mount for Christian Ethics
Hence: Matthew 5:38-42; 5:43-48
1. Do not “resist” means “do not use violence against evil”.
2. “Right cheek” is the absorption of humiliation.
3. “Second mile” is a kindness that provokes wonder.
4. “Enemy love” is central to Jesus, and surely re: Rome.
5. Paul (Rom 12:17, 19, 21) and Peter (1 Pt. 3:9)
The “Jesus creed”
Self-denial and martyrdom: Mark 8:28-34
The “Cross” is not just an act of God for forgiveness but the “paradigm” of Christian existence.
The “sword” of Luke 22:49, 50 and John 18:36!
“Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matt. 5:9)
Romans 13; Colossians 2; and 1 Peter 2; the Lamb of Revelation
We have “respect” for the rule of systemic laws, but not they are not the final authority of the Christian.
Romans 13 condemns “armed/violent resistance”.
Romans 13 (ought to be) and Revelation 13 (ought not to be)
Longstanding question: “What would Jesus do?”
3. What does the Cross say for how God deals with Violence? Or, how can the gospel and violence co-exist?
Theologians now speak of the “crucified God” and a “cruciform God” and mean by that this: after the Cross, God is revealed to us as a God who embraces us through the Cross and can only be known properly through that Cross.
The theory of “mimetic rivalry”: R. Girard
Cross as the “absorption” of violence and its conversion
How does “forgiveness” subvert “justice”?
4. How can Evangelism of the World and War co-exist?
5. To whom does a Christian “swear ultimate allegiance”, to Caesar (the State) or to Jesus Christ (and the Kingdom of God)?
Matthew 22:21: “Give to Caesar what is Caesar’s…”
Matthew 17:24-27: “the sons are free”
6. A Practical reality: How can a Christian “put to death” in the name of “Caesar” a non-Christian who needs to be evangelized and whose death would lead that person to hell? Or, how can a Christian “put to death” in the name of “Caesar” a believer when that believer’s allegiance ought to be more to “Christ and his Church” than to “Caesar”?
7. How did the earliest Christians relate to the Roman military?
The general consensus is that Christians avoided the military, and that it was not until Constantine that the Christian enlisted in the military (though this is disputed today). (Little evidence prior to 170-180 AD.)
8. How can (so many) Evangelicals believe in the “progressive” decay of the State and, at the same time, in the Roman/Reformed view of the Church “leaven” in the society which claims a “progressive” improvement?
Often a challenge to the dispensationalist
9. How can a “nuclear” war, or a war with modern technology, ever be “just”? Or, slightly differently, How can violence bring about a good?
Leads some to what his called “nuclear” pacifism.
10. Is it consistent for a Christian to “demonize”rhetorically “enemy combatants”? Or, put a little less forcefully, How should Christians speak of the opponents?
The crucial role “rhetoric” plays in public discourse about war and its justification: we need to avoid “demonizing” the Other.
Resources
R.C. Clouse, War: Four Christian Views (Downers Grove: IVP, 1981)
J.H. Yoder, The Politics of Jesus (2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1994)
W. Wink, Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2003)

http://www.plowcreek.org/bible_pacifism.htm



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neal w.

posted November 22, 2005 at 1:23 am


Thank you for these thought-provoking questions. It’s odd for me that living in the Bible belt means often facing scorn in religious circles for my pacifist beliefs. Maybe that’s true nation-wide, but if the life of Jesus, particularly the cross, is the defining moment of our faith, then I’m surprised at the controversy.



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Shawn

posted November 22, 2005 at 3:28 am


I take the Roman/Reformed/Just War view of this issue as it makes the most moral sense to me and seems most in keeping with the witness of the Bible and the Church. I should also say that I have been heavily influenced by ‘The Virtue of War’ by Alexander Webster and Darell Cole, a brief explanation of which can be read here:
http://www.reginaorthodoxpress.com/viofwaalfwea.html
For what its worth I will give a brief overview of why I take the side that I do.
Boiled down the basic issue here is justice and how we define it, and how we understand God’s application of justice.
Jesus demands, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Mathew 5:44-45), and “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. ‘But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink'” (Romans 12:14-20).
The question here is whether these demands forbid the use of force when in the performance of duty to God ordained government. I dont think so.
As John Piper says”
“God wills that human justice hold sway among governments, and between citizens and civil authority. He does not prescribe that governments always turn the other cheek. The government “does not bear the sword for nothing.” Police have the God-given right to use force to restrain evil and bring law-breakers to justice. And legitimate states have the God-given right to restrain life-threatening aggression and bring criminals to justice. If these truths are known, this God-ordained exercise of divine prerogative would glorify the justice of God who mercifully ordains that the flood of sin and misery be restrained in the earth.”
http://www.desiringgod.org/library/fresh_words/2001/091201.html
Piper deals with the whole issue of Just War and offers a critique of pacifism here. his words are better than anything I could say on the matter.
http://www.desiringgod.org/library/theological_qa/sept11/war.html



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ted gossard

posted November 22, 2005 at 9:53 am


Scot, I much appreciate your questions and thoughts. It is honestly not easy for me to reconcile that with Shawn’s (and Piper’s) thoughts. They seem to carry some weight Biblically as well.
I have known what I would call John Howard Yoder type of anabaptists. What I have found difficult to swallow from them is their very political activist bend that would have states put down arms (contra Rom 13, it seems to me). Yet your thoughts on nuclear and modern day warfare needing to be considered when thinking of “just war” theory do speak strongly to me as well.
Mennonites I’ve known look at Romans 13 as God speaking about “the state” he ordains, no less. But the end of Romans 12 looks at what we are to be as God’s people, not taking revenge on evil doers ourselves. So they read that strictly as “they” and “us”.
I just can’t picture Jesus taking up arms. There will always be plenty in this world who are willing to do that.
And I see the Bible as saying that Jesus is to be our example, in spite of the fact that he is God as well as human. That we are to walk in his steps….
I want to study your thoughts and this whole issue more.



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ted gossard

posted November 22, 2005 at 10:03 am


I would think that “just war” theory would carry weight for us as Jesus’ kingdom people, not really for the kingdoms of this world.
Yet we are “the salt of the earth and “the light of the world”. So in some measure surely we can be an influence toward shalom. And surely we should be! If we really do what Jesus says we are.
Just some thinking out loud.



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ted gossard

posted November 22, 2005 at 10:04 am


…toward shalom in this present world, or for this present world. (I should have said)



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Chris Jones

posted November 22, 2005 at 10:39 am


A weakness in Piper’s comments is when he discusses “legitimate government”. What criteria do we use to judge that? Paul’s governmental context is the Roman government under Nero. A far cry from a just (as far as we in a democratic society define ‘just’) government.
The point is that I do not think we know how God is using governments in this world. He used the Assyrians, the Babylonians, Saddam, the Taliban, Hitler and the US government to restaint evil BUT those governments have also been guilty of many acts of evil (the Holocaust, slavery in the US, the A-Bomb, killing the Kurds, persecuting Christians, allowing the 12 billion dollar a year porno industry to flourish,etc….).
Government is a messy business. As Yoder has noted, to participate causes one to compromise one’s Christian faith. The question is not if, but which ones.
We as Christians in the US ,should not be asking what should the US do about ????? but what should we the church be doing about ????. The concern here is where do we get our identity. One problem I have with miliatry pariticipation is that when one puts on a uniform one pledges allegiance to a country and enters into a form of tribalism. One puts oneself in the position of having to kill a brother or sister in Christ. We allow the country we are part of to define who our enemy is. And we allow the government to determine and not the Lord when the command to love has ended.



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Chris Jones

posted November 22, 2005 at 10:57 am


“Government is a messy business. As Yoder has noted, to participate causes one to compromise one’s Christian faith. The question is not if, but which ones.”
By “which ones”, I meant which commands.



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ted gossard

posted November 22, 2005 at 11:05 am


“We as Christians in the US ,should not be asking what should the US do about ????? but what should we the church be doing about ????. ”
Yes Chris! I couldn’t agree with you more on that statement.



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myles

posted November 22, 2005 at 12:21 pm


the problem with just-war theory is that it can no longer be practiced. in a day when non-combattants and soldiers could be identified, perhaps. but not in a day when “collateral damage” is a necessary part of war. Dr. McKnight is exactly right when he points to the biblical witness concerning killing in the name of Caeasar. However, how Christians in the patristic period related to the military is a little cloudier, i think. to be sure, the conciliar tradition is filled with anathemas for priests being soldiers, but remember that it is warrior-emperors calling these councils.
I’m all for calling nations to put down their arms. Fear breeds fear; violence breeds violence, and not just in slogan, but in reality. I don’t find it surprising at all that the countries developing nuclear weapons programs are in the more violent areas of the world, with the exception of North Korea.



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ted gossard

posted November 22, 2005 at 1:00 pm


Myles, doesn’t N Korea keep the “peace” with a strong military, and even at the expense of their people, particularly the poor?
1 Pe 1 says that “God’s elect” to whom Peter was writing were “exiles scattered”. Then is named the provinces in which they lived. I can’t help but think that what is meant ultimately at least is all of God’s people, not just Jews to whom this was true ever since the destruction of the united Israel and the southern kingdom Judah.
Banishment from one’s own country and captivity in a foreign land is in a definition at the back of my Bible for “Exile”.
We surely need to think in terms of being exiles in whatever country we live (out of place in a true sense) belonging to another kingdom/country.



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Bethie

posted November 22, 2005 at 1:32 pm


What if there really is no “Other”? What if we are all “One”? My Savior Jesus Christ said, “Love your
brother as YOURSELF.” (because he IS you) Where then is the “enemy”?



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ted gossard

posted November 22, 2005 at 2:25 pm


Bethie, than Jesus is mistaken when he talks about enemies (loving them) and those who hate his brothers and sisters.



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john alan turner

posted November 22, 2005 at 4:18 pm


Personally, I’m less concerned with where a person lands on the spectrum from “Realists” to “Just War” to Pacifists” and more concerned with how they got there and how they treat others who happen to arrive at a different place.



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safried2002

posted November 22, 2005 at 6:18 pm


The practice of using the early church’s example is important, but just because the early church took a certain stance doesn’t mean that they were right.
Difficult issue all around. I am impressed once again with the tone here in not demonizing someone of a different view.
I tend toward being what I call a Bonhoeffer pacifist.



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Broken Messenger

posted November 22, 2005 at 7:24 pm


C.S. Lewis was not a pacifist and yet is championed and hailed by the Emergent community. I have yet to see an honest reconciliation here (that is, why Lewis was wrong)or an admission that Lewis is at odds to many who champion much of his writings about so much in the faith but seem silent concerning this particular view. Thoughts?
Brad



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Scot McKnight

posted November 22, 2005 at 10:08 pm


The issue of justice is the crucial question for me: and that, for me, is resolved when we ask how we define justice. I have a paper on this and I have a link to it in the sidebar (I don’t know how to get links down here, but many of you do).
Here’s my take: far too many define “justice” by appealing to our modern sense of either constitution or to the belief in human rights. Now I like both, but “justice” in the Bible is defined, not by US Constitution or by rights, but by God’s will as revealed in Jesus Christ. Which means, the kingdom of God — or some terms along this line.
Now, the issue is “how do we best work for the Kingdom of God?” I cannot believe that God’s will is best achieved by military violence. I’m all for restraint, and all for kidnapping creeps like Hussein and others (he’s not the only one after all), and I’m all for doing whatever we can — but to use violence as militaries do is contrary to how the will of God is achieved by God himself — through the absorption of violence on the Cross.



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john alan turner

posted November 22, 2005 at 11:49 pm


I’ve been talking about this for a week over at my site (crass commercial message there). I was raised a pacifist, but I’ve found myself moving more towards the “Just War” camp as I get older.
I understand the argument you make about God absorbing violence rather than repaying it in kind, but doesn’t God himself promise to mete out justice in a rather violent way to those who abuse the helpless? And doesn’t he rebuke those who refuse to lift a finger to help those who are being abused?
Is the problem with violence itself — or with the way militaries use violence?



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Shawn

posted November 22, 2005 at 11:52 pm


Brad,
On the C.S. Lewis issue I dont think we have to take people in that kind of absolute either/or fashion. EC is a broad movement, or at least hopefully will be, and should be broad enough to include those of us who come down on the Just War side. But apart from that, its possible to appreciate others even if we disagree with them on a specific issue. I would not bother to read Scot’s blog or his books if I decided that because we disagree over this one issue he therfore has nothing of value to say to me.
To all: The issue of compromise has been brought up with regards to serving the state. The problem I have with this line of reasoning is that it could be applied to virtually any involvement with the “world” at all. Some people would argue that every time I use my car I’m compromising, by hurting the environment. Some would argue that Christians should not be doctors because the medical industry practices abortion amongst other morally dubious things. The same would be true of being in the police or a teacher at a state school, or even a factory worker for that matter.
So if we take this kind of “no compromise” seriously then surely we must withdraw from the world totally.
And even if we do that it does not really solve the problem of compromise completely. For example, why did so many Anabaptists, Mennonites and Amish come to the US? Because they were free to practice their faith. Why were they free to practice their faith? Because someone else was prepared to fight for that freedom and pay for it in blood.
So I guess my point is that the very act of living in this world involves compromise and grey areas, and until the Eschaton it always will.
Thats why I dont think Christ gave us detailed laws and systems for living out what he taught. He gave us a small set of principles, boiled down to love of God and love of neighbour, and how exactly we work out the living of them is up to us to decide for ourselves. Thats why I dont see this particular issue as being about who is right or wrong. I dont know who is. I may be totally wrong.
But I expect that when the sheep are divided from the goats there will be both pacifists and just war advocates amongst the sheep.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 23, 2005 at 12:11 am


Shawn,
Undoubtedly there will be just war and pacifists and some crusaders (which is what Iraq is).
On compromise — the issue is how far to go. Many “pacifists” have willingly helped with mercy work in the military (chaplains, medics, etc) and I see that as compatible with the kingdom vision of Jesus.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 23, 2005 at 12:35 am


John Alan,
The issue of God’s use of violence is not without great moment in this debate, and I think Boersma’s book on the atonement has this one by the neck and has it right.
The issue, though, is not that God uses violence, but that God has set up the Cross as our paradigm. The Cross is a revolutionary orientation, and Jesus’ own entire work was a Cruciform existence that shapes our identity.



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tatiana

posted November 23, 2005 at 10:43 am


“Bethie, than Jesus is mistaken when he talks about enemies (loving them) and those who hate his brothers and sisters.”
I think this is the point. If enemies were just enemies, it still wouldn’t make sense to love them. Jesus calls us to love because we are all created as one… one humanity, one family under the banner of our Creator. Knowing we are sinful people, how can I ever justify my existence as somehow above any one else’s? When I realize that I am inherently tied to all my brothers and sisters, I know that I must love them because we are all equal, all sinners, all broken.
The problem is that as Christians we have this self-righteous arrogance that always leads us to divide everything, to categorize, to decide who is good and who is bad. The good news is (ha)… WE’RE ALL BAD. We are all in desperate need of redemption which God has already poured out, freeing us to love one another even in the depths of our brokenness.
How can the reality of love ever be reconciled with the reality of violence? It just… cannot.



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ted gossard

posted November 23, 2005 at 10:54 am


Tatiana, If you go to Bethie’s website, I think you’ll agree that she is coming from a different point of view entirely than you or I.
I agree with what you’re saying. “Enemies” as Jesus himself called them are still broken eikons and therefore share with us in that sacred awfulness (you might say). So in that way, we are all brothers and sisters together.
However when you read the gospels you have to note that Jesus makes distinctions himself. For example when he pointed to his disciples and said, “Here are my brothers, my sisters and my mother. For whoever does the will of my Father is such” (my paraphrase).
I think what you may be getting at is that we’re to love all the same without categorizing them in that love. Something like that? At the same time, as Jesus said, we must be wise as serpents while being harmless as doves- and in that context he mentions those who would harm his disciples. (Matthew 10)



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Chris Jones

posted November 23, 2005 at 11:24 am


Shawn,
Good points about compromise. It really takes discernment and I think the Spirit has been given to us for that. I do think being a doctor and being a soldier is a bit different. When you sign up to be a soldier, your job entails doing something against what it means to follow Jesus (my belief not yours). However, the doctor does not have to. However, I do not live with the false assumption that we can keep ourselves ‘pure’ from this world. Even my Amish brothers and sisters must now participate in the US economic system in order to keep their farms. However, I do believe that we can act prophetically within the system to witness to the Kingdom. And I think refusing to take up arms is one way.
Your historical assessment of why Mennonites could practice their faith is a bit wrong. The forbearers of the movement did come here to escape persecution but that was not provided by others fighting wars. They came here in 1683, way before the US existed and had an organized military. Fleeing evil and persecution is what Jesus instructed his followers to do when Rome came crashing down on Jerusalem.
I do not need the miliatry to follow Jesus.
However, before I sound too spiritual I want to make a point. I pray that I am cultivating a spiritual life that would really love my enemy if I found that the US was collapsing around me or if my life was really threatened. To be truthful, all this talk about loving the enemies that threaten my life for folks like me who live in Suburbia is really theoretical. I just pray that I really do believe “to die is gain”.
The spiritual payoff for stressing and teaching that Jesus wants us to love those that can kill us and hate us is that it relativises the petty things that we let upset us. In other words, if Jesus expects me to love those who want to kill me, for sure he wants me to love those that irk me.
Finally, from where I sit within the Mennonite movement, I realize that it becomes easy for us during this time of war to talk about peace among the nations and neglect the fact that we have a hard time living at peace among ourselves as a movement. It’s easy looking out there vs. looking inside.
Looking forward to meeting up with you in the sheep pen.



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ted gossard

posted November 23, 2005 at 12:55 pm


“sacred awfulness” puts the emphasis on the wrong place I think. I meant no emphasis there at all but only that there is something terribly wrong with us who are no less than the created eikons of God.



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Kevin

posted November 23, 2005 at 1:56 pm


What is Justice and Who defines it?
I agree that this is the key question. Everything else flows from it. This question does not have any easy answers, and mine is neither easy nor fully rounded.
There are 2 justices here. There is America’s and God’s, and America’s is not spiritual – it never was meant by God to be so. God’s justice takes precendence, and when the two are in conflict, God’s justice wins (in the long haul). That is what it means for God to give a sword to Rome, and to America. He gives them the right to define justice, and enforce their definition.
In my mind you have 2 different responsibilities. You have a spiritual and a physical responsibility. When attacked for the Kingdom of Christ, you must turn the other cheek. When attacked for your goods and services, you MUST not turn the other cheek.
America has no spiritual responsibility. America is a physical nation, and I want her to do her job with my family’s welfare. I served happily in the army (happily because nobody was shooting when I was in.) God did not place America here to spread the Kingdom of God. He put her here to quiet the playing field long enough that Christians could spread that message. He did the same with Alexander the Great, and with Rome following.
America would have done evil as a nation in the world to not help stop Hitler and then Stalin. (The kidnapping solution is beyond consideration. It is simply not executable.) I believe that to let that evil take over the world would have been a violation of our sacred duty.
If America is spreading mayhem, I cannot serve in the military. If America is securing peace, though, I believe I am doing a small part of God’s will.



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ted gossard

posted November 23, 2005 at 2:37 pm


Kevin, If America’s justice was never meant to be spiritual on what basis does God judge nations, as in the Old Testament prophets? Isn’t his standard of judgment his moral will/ his kingdom?
Maybe you mean that the state’s responsibility from God is different than the individual’s? That they are judged according to the roles they have? The individual as a cracked eikon of God, in need of grace. And the state as functioning to administer justice in a fallen and as of yet unrenewed world.
Pacifists for me don’t answer the question as to what legitimate role the state has versus evildoers in this world. That is, they don’t answer it in a way that makes sense to me with reference to Romans 13.



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Kevin

posted November 23, 2005 at 7:20 pm


If America’s justice was never meant to be spiritual on what basis does God judge nations, as in the Old Testament prophets?
My point is that America is not Israel in 1000 BC. God established Israel, so there is a reasonable expectation that Israel’s justice should be God’s. Men established America, so the connection between God’s justice and America’s does not exist.
America will be judged for her actions similarly to Rome. America had a tremendous revelation given to her, and will be accountable for that revelation. So did Rome, and so will Rome. Neither Rome’s nor America’s justice is God’s, but it is ordained by God per Rom 13.
I think most of these discussions arise because we have sainted America. Many fewer people would ask these questions in Rome, because many fewer Christians had any say in the Roman government.



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Kevin

posted November 23, 2005 at 7:33 pm


This book stunned me with what happens when daddys die in war.
I’m all for calling nations to put down their arms. Fear breeds fear; violence breeds violence, and not just in slogan, but in reality.
Yes, war is tragic. But what would the world be without it? Unless the good fight the evil, the evil simply triumphs. Would Stalin have stopped had NATO not stood at his doorstep with superior firepower? Would the Philistines have stopped had the Lord not raised up judges with armies to stop them? God stopped all of these scourges against mankind. He stopped them by placing good, determined men in their paths with swords. Some of them did not go home, and that is tragic.
The argument from pathos misses the point, because there is greater tragedy in not resisting.



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lukas McKnight

posted November 23, 2005 at 8:07 pm


We just got to NY after a 10 hour drive, nearly all of which was through snow or rain.
As for defining “justice,” some believe in a two-tiered approach: one for God’s people and one for a government, State, etc.. That is similar to the Lutheran approach. The reason I appeal to my more complete essay in the sidebar is because it takes some argument to work this out, but in essence I believe in one true sense of justice. As a Christian, I affirm justice to be the will of God as revealed in Jesus Christ — anything less (US Const or otherwise) is still less. Whenever God’s justice and a State justice conflict, it is the obligation of the Christian to follow the dictates of God’s justice.
Justice is God’s will that makes things right in order to create Shalom. I could go on, and I know some of us differ, but because justice is so central to this issue, I thought I’d put this back on the table.



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lukas McKnight

posted November 23, 2005 at 8:09 pm


Kevin,
I just got back into this conversation after a long drive, and I’m not sure whom you are quoting.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 23, 2005 at 9:55 pm


Last comments were by Scot McKnight, not Lukas.



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Kevin

posted November 24, 2005 at 12:59 pm


I was having computer trouble last night, and could not “find” things on the page. I had to paste everything out to notepad, yada, yada. I would rather have that trouble than your 10 hour car ride, though! Glad you made it safely.
I was quoting first your original post, and second myles. I also referenced your idea of kidnapping Hussein and others.
Your kidnapping suggestion seems to be very telling to me. You want to have the benefit of violence, without the violence of it. The fact is that Hussein could not be kidnapped – period, full stop. If he could have been kidnapped, though, it could not have been done without violence. There is a tremendous benefit to removing the murderers of the world. It is commanded in Deuteronomy, in fact. This cannot be done without violence. Even Ecclesiastes clearly states there is a time for war, and so the discussion turns to when that time comes.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 24, 2005 at 2:25 pm


Kevin,
At least on this issue, we are not defining violence the same way. Restraint, etc, are capable of compatibility with a pacifist position — short of death (which is the issue).
I hope you are not defending Iraq as a Just War theory war, which it wasn’t. Crusader War theory, pure and simple. Big difference, too.



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Shawn

posted November 25, 2005 at 1:24 am


Darrell Cole amongst others have done a good job of showing that the Iraq action does in fact conform to Just War theory. Again, for the open minded who are willing to be challenged, read ‘The Virtue of War’ by Cole and Webster, which as well as making the case for Just War shows that the war on terror and the Iraqi phase of this war do conform to JW standards.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 25, 2005 at 7:55 am


Shawn,
Thanks for this. I’ve heard of this book, and I’ll look at it, but I’ve been more influenced in my perception of this war by the writers of Commentary (e.g., Norman Podhoretz). The military historian I debated one night came right out and admitted that Iraq transcended Just War theory.



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john alan turner

posted November 26, 2005 at 4:37 pm


I think we’re getting hung up on the false notion that Just War, Pacifist, Realist, Crusader War, etc. are fixed positions with no “wiggle room” or variation within each camp. I think it may be helpful to view these positions on a spectrum and understand that there are Pacifists who may have Just War leanings (like Scot’s understanding that violence may be used for restraint) and Just War advocates who have Pacifist leanings (like me).
Scot, I do agree with you that what we’re involved in with Iraq right now does not conform to Just War theory. Pre-emptive strike is not compatible with Just War.



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Scot McKnight

posted November 26, 2005 at 4:42 pm


John,
Thanks for this; good clarification of the need for a spectrum.



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Karen Spears Zacharias

posted November 29, 2005 at 1:11 pm


Scot:
I have just returned from the Miami Book Fair and am taking the time to catch up on the blog posts. I knew the question of when is sacrifice worth it would be asked. Miami is a city filled with folks who value freedom in a passionate way. Freedoms they exercise. They read. They vote. And they think for themselves. Living under Castro as they did and as their families still do, they believe that freedom is something worth fighting for. So I was anticipating the remark of one Cuban man: “Sorry for your father’s death. But when do you think such a sacrifice is worth it? Or do you?”
Sitting next to me was my friend and fellow author Mirta Ojito, author of Findina Manana, an excellent book about her family’s move to the US during the 1980s boatlift. I know how precious Mirta’s freedom is to her. She was rescued from the waters by a Vietnam veteran. So that binds us even more.
But my answer was this: “Is it freedom if it is forced upon you? Doesn’t freedom have to be something you yourself are willing to die for?”
And of course the bigger issue is this: The war in Iraq was never about freedom.
It was sold to this nation on the basis of fear. We went to war because we were told that there were weapons of mass destruction that Saddam intended to use against us.That morphed into revenge for 9-11. When that water pail began to leak, then, and only then did the rhetoric take on this chest-beating bravado of providing freedom for all people. On Veterans Day I heard a mother of a soldier killed in action state that we have a moral obligation to bring freedom to all the oppressed people in the world. Well, where do we start? The streets of LA, Chicago, or the Sudan? What about China? And there’s still all those people in Cuba. We don’t have the manpower to take on every dictator. So where does our obligation end? And what sort of freedom do we owe others? Financial? Physical? Emotional? Spiritual?
As the daughter of a soldier killed in action, I can’t help but consider that while my father was out reportedly “freeing” the Vietnamese, his sacrifice propelled our family into a bondage that we could not escape without the Grace of God.
I read yesterday that the actor Bruce Willis intends to make a movie that will glorify the sacrifices of the Deuce Four unit in Iraq. I met Willis last month at the Deuce Four Military Ball in Tacoma. My nephew, David, named for my father, was part of that unit. They just returned from Mosul. I gave Willis a copy of HERO MAMA in hopes that he would read it and consider the cost of war on a family. Instead of reading something that might change his chestbeating war cries, Willis will make a movie that continues to perpetuate the myth that war is about men on the battlefield. When in truth, the real war takes place behind closed doors in America’s suburbs as spouses and children struggle to cope with their grief and war’s choatic aftermath.
We must remember that true and undefiled religion is to care for widows and children during their time of distress. That doesn’t mean the first six weeks. That means the years of loneliness and hardship that always follows a soldier’s death.
My friend Destre lost his father when he was 5. Destre sums it up this way: You think it’s only one person dying but if that person is part of your family, it’s really frustrating.
I’m not willing to say a soldier’s death is never worth the cost. But I am saying that this war in Iraq, like the one in Vietnam, was ill-conceived, and a shameful, immoral war. That doesn’t diminsh the value of the soldiers who have given their lives & limbs. They answered a call to duty with honor and devotion. But the question remains whether that call should have ever been placed.



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Josh Buck

posted March 24, 2009 at 2:51 pm


This is interesting stuff. I am in process with this all on a different blog. Might help.
http://faithandforce.blogspot.com/



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