For now I want to wrap up my thoughts on Christian Pacifism and move on. I’ve spent a lot of time here lately because I feel it’s a key concept to my life’s mission and where I want to go but I don’t want to belabour the point anymore. I have more to say on a lot more topics and this blog was never intended to become a long winded sermon. Thanks for hanging in the there with me none the less.
When I started this series of posts back on April 16 (“It’s All There in Black and White”) I fully expected a lot of you to disagree with me. What surprised me was that the most vigorous disagreement did not come from my fellow Christians.
Let’s be clear here, I am calling Western Christians who have been raised on Just War theory and Church sponsored violence to abandon almost 1700 years of doctrine and embrace a radical application of the words Jesus actually spoke. I thought this was radical stuff, so the relative silence I heard tells me that maybe, just maybe, 9 years after 9/11 Western Christians are finally getting tired of Just War rhetoric and are ready to consider that there might be a third way. If that is indeed that the case, bravo!
I did get a lot of feedback though and as I said the most vigorous disagreement I received came not from Christians but from people of other faiths and some with no particular religious affiliation at all. At first I was surprised by this until I considered the words of the late John Howard Yoder, former professor of Theology at Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and Notre Dame;
I do not know what I would do if some insane or criminal person were to attack my wife or child, sister or mother. But I know that what I should do would be illuminated by what God my Father did when his “only begotten Son” was being threatened. Or by what Abraham, my father in the faith was ready to sacrifice out of obedience; he was ready to give up his son because he believed in the resurrection.
You see the bottom line is that Pacifism doesn’t make sense without the resurrection of Jesus. If you don’t believe in Jesus’ resurrection or that we have eternal souls then a pacifist response is irrational and in the case of defending a weaker party, even immoral, as one fellow blogger put it.
Belief in resurrection does not end with “good” people going to heaven. The hard fact is that belief in resurrection also means that “bad” people go to hell. When Jesus laid down his life for us he was modeling pacifism in the extreme. He could have easily called down an army of angels to defend Himself whipping every Roman soldier or Pharisee from the face of the earth. Why didn’t He?
I believe Jesus refrained from violence because preserving human life, regardless of our sinful nature is more important than anything. Jesus had mercy on his oppressors because he loved them enough to give them every possible opportunity to repent and go to heaven. The bible tells us that at least one Roman soldier who observed Jesus death did just that. [Matthew 27:54]
There are no degrees of Sin. We live in a sinful world and we all fall short at one time or another. It is through the resurrection that we are all saved from eternity in hell. We all need Jesus to be merciful because if he wasn’t we’d all be dead already. It’s our job as Christ followers to emulate Him in every way possible and that includes laying down our own lives rather than taking a life.
This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. [Romans 3:22-25a]