Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Pacifism


Pacifism, I have really been struggling with this one lately. When I read the teachings of Christ, this seems to be at the core of Jesus’ teachings. Turn the other cheek type of thing.

I have been reading a lot of church history these days, and it is interesting to see that the early church, first 3 centuries of Christians were all pacifists. The church did not allow Christians to partake in military service. Christians never fought back if they were attacked. As many know hundreds upon thousands of Christians were persecuted and literally slaughtered without even putting up a fight at this time in history.

This all dramatically changed with the conversion of Constantine and the emergence of a Christianized Roman Empire. If everyone was a Christian it made it hard to build an army to protect the empire if everyone was a pacifist. This eventually resulted in Augustine’s writing Just War. He details when war is appropriate and when it is not.

However, I am wondering if Christians have strayed from the teachings of Christ, which never condones violence. I am not asking about the legitimacy of military, or even a government. I think governments have a certain right from God to defend themselves and go to war. I am wondering, what is the role of the Church and pacifism? Is there ever a time to defend or attack as Christians? We as Christians are called to peace. Peter was chastised for picking up the sword in the garden of Gethsemane, and Jesus harsh words are those who live by the sword will die by the sword. Is not our fight against powers and principalities, entities of the spiritual world? We are people called to peace.

If my wife is being attacked do I step in and fight? Can a Christian in good conscience enlist in military service – kill in the name of a government? Is not my responsibility to the values of the Kingdom before the values of my government? If I am unwilling to serve my government with military service should I enjoy the rights extended to me by that government? Should Christians take up arms against violence, or respond with some sort of creative passive resistance? What are your thoughts?

3 comments:

mjonthemove said...

I know that CS Lewis was a soldier in a World War.

It is interesting that neither Christ nor Paul ever told Christians to band together and oppose something. NEVER! They said nothing about the Roman men taking young boys as sex slaves in the Roman empire, nothing. The closest thing that comes to mind is Christ taking Jews to task by cleaning out the temple.

It's weird to me how Christians today always want to stand up and fight for what they believe in. It's almost a marriage of American culture with Christianity. It's not our place. If we do that to do that, I think that's fine, but if we do it AS CHRISTIANS, I don't believe it's biblical.

As Christians, we are not called to bad together and protect the sanctity of anything. We are called to love the unlovely witht the love of Christ, to serve the unworthy, and to answer injustice with grace, tact, hope, and love.

That is almost the antithesis of our American culture. Craziness.
have a good day, jp.

peace,
m.j.

Kenuchfleck said...

I have ups and downs with this as well.

I find it interesting that Jesus told Peter to put his sword away and not throw his sword away. What if taking care of orphans meant protecting them from the evils of a deranged pervert, or if that situation ever present itself should I step back, pray for the victims souls and let evil men give the luckless speedy entry into heaven.... And why does a shepherd bother with carrying a staff if he's supposed to let the wolf just take whatever he wants

young joel said...

Read "War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning" by Chris Hedges. He's a Harvard Divinity School educated Journalist.