Pacifism Part 2: Pro-Pacifism
A few posts ago, I wrote an post on pacifism. I am really “up in the air” on this one, so I am flipping back and forth. In the last post, I wrote a strongly “just-war” post, to vent all of my reasonings for that side. This time, I have written something which supports all of my pacifistic leanings.
I have decided to pretend that I hear two magical voices in my head, one named “Alter” (he is “just-war” all the way!) and one named “Ego” (he’s a pacifist).
Please post lots of smart stuff, to help me figgure out where I should land!!
Thank you for your thoughts. I especially appreciated the compactness, clarity and bluntness of your thoughts: in many ways which will become clear, it is very helpful that you did not try to soft-pedal you opinions for my benefit.
I hope you will not be offended if I write with equal bluntness’
If you will allow me to be frank, I believe that the problem with your thinking, Alter is that you are far too short-sighted and earthly-minded. You care far too much about the survival of your nation, doing your own part, and – it must be said – working to maintain a good reputation (for yourself, for God, and for His church) than you should be. Please consider for a moment what kind of a bind this thinking would have placed you in were you alive in the pre-war Germany. Many countless Christians found themselves, when all was said and done, with a massive amount of guilt on their heads, because of espousing just such theology.
You describe the Christians on earth as a ‘tumor,’ as defined by, ‘an exclusive bubble of people who: Are willing to receive many of the benefits of society, But are unwilling to pay back into society or fully integrate into it, on this important issue.’
Your metaphor is extremely helpful first by clearly indicating the bias in your thinking, and second in pointing out a fundamental aspect of the Christian community. First, let us talk about your bias.
I would like to bring a Scriptural metaphor into the mix, to aid our discussion: it is the one recorded in Daniel 2. In this metaphor, all of the nations are represented by a massive, impressive statue. While grand in its own way, a rock (God, probably also including His church) rolls towards the statue, shatters it to bits and grows into a mountain which takes over the whole earth.
I want you to notice a fundamental similarity between both of these metaphors: in both cases, the state and the church find themselves fundamentally opposed to each other. In both, the state is destroyed and the church is triumphant. There is a significant difference, however: in your metaphor, you have made the church the ‘bad-guys,’ and also implied that its success would kill the very body which gave them life.
Doesn’t this thinking betray your short-sighted bias’ True, a pacifistic nation would die, short of miraculous intervention – but since when was the Church dependent on the state for life’
More than short-sighted, you are earthly-minded. From God’s perspective, all of the nations are in the wrong, since they are standing in the way of His rule. Only once they have been removed may He set up His kingdom. Yes, this includes the US, Canada, the West, and every other government on earth.
This leads to discussion of a fundamental aspect of Christian community: segregation. As Christians, we must be ‘in the world, but not of it.’ We must live in the tension of associating with and influencing our sinful neighbours (1 Cor. 5:9-10), while also remaining aloof from their influence on us (1 Cor. 15:33). We must be like spicy bits of salt, or brilliant points of light (Mat. 5:13-16) among a crooked and sinful generation (Phil. 2:14-16), with the explicit purpose of grating on people’s nerves, surprising them, and causing them (either now or at the judgment) to glorify God on our behalf. If we compromise our purity, we are worthless. (Mat 5:13, Jam. 1:27).
This purity will at times make us good citizens, and good neighbours: after all, who would not want someone living next to them who has purposed to live a quiet and industrious life (1 Thess. 4:11), pouring their heart-and-soul into every task they begin (Ecc. 9:10), and doing their best to exemplify the best ideals of society (Rom. 12:17)’ On certain other issues, however, there will be a distinct break with social conventions.
Christians are not first members of their nations, but first followers of Jesus. Since all the nations are in a sense in opposition to Christ, this position puts us in the position of being traitors or infiltrators on foreign soil. If we make ourselves friends of this world, we make ourselves enemies of God (Jam. 4:4): if we try to serve both the God of love and the world-systems which are based on money, we will find the task impossible (Luke 16:13). Any agreement between us and out neighbours is purely incidental: conflict is inevitable. It just so happens that the issue of war and coercive force is a flash-point between the kingdom of peace and the kingdom of greed.
I know this is a hard pill for you to swallow, Alter, and I recognize that many of your objections come from valid concerns. You genuinely do not want to put stumbling blocks in the way of people who desire to come to faith.
There is a fundamental offense to the gospel, though, Alter, which you cannot mess with: that message is simply ‘Jesus is Lord.’
In my thinking, following Jesus in a whole-hearted manner will lead necessarily towards pacifism.
I am enjoying the dialogue!