>My Last Word on Pacifism (for now)

>Last time I signed off by promising to wrestle with the concept of Pacifism vs. Jihad. What I had intended to explore was how we reconcile the warrior God of the Old Testament with the kinder, gentler God revealed in the person of Jesus Christ. While I do intend to talk about that at some future date I don’t feel that I have had enough time to fully study and research this concept. Be patient, I’ll come back around to this theme eventually.

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]


  1. >I am having some major problems with this post. The examples that you gave in the previous post show a direct discourse with God. If we were to all become pacifists, then I am sure that Israel (God's chosen people) would not exist, unless by direct intervention by God.I feel that you are partially right by saying that we must emulate Jesus in every way possible. I cannot agree with laying down a life rather than taking a life. As a Christian , to let my family be slain without intervention, would be horrible to me. God's Grace covers situations like this, I believe. My understanding of the Word is such that had Adolph Hitler received Christ in his dying breathe he would likely be entitled to Heaven. Not a good example probably as he committed the ultimate sin by destroying himself, by which act repentence cannot happen.Interesting blog!

  2. >If my family is saved then letting them be slain while I try and witness to the oppressor is presicely what a Christian should do. I know my family is going to heaven, it's my job to help the oppressor get there too. If I die in the process that is my witness to him.

  3. >I would strongly recommend to read two books,Karen Armstrong's Muhammad: A Prophet of our time and also Martin Ling's Muhammad's Biographythe reason being, how peace can be achieved thru a very practical way of engaging until mischief makers and corruptions are brought to justice and equilibrium and until the rights of the least in the society are established is well demonstrated in the life of the Prophet Muhammad. Western mind still carry a very negative bias from post-crusade christian mindset which portrayed Muahmmad as a false prophet, but on a very humanistic ground reading his life provide tremendous light on a working model of pacifism and practical peace making methodology successfully implemented on earth.peace!

  4. >(Re: Comments by IanH)As if the Babylonian captivity, the Assyrian captivity, the destruction of Jerusalem and the end of temple worship, and the abandonment of animal sacrifices by so-called "Israel" were not enough, we still have people promoting the idea of a supposedly "chosen people" who can do no wrong, who cannot be corrected or chastized by another nation without that nation incurring God's wrath, who are protected by a divine blessing above all other nations by unconditional covenants with none other than God, a people who "own" a special land because it was given to Abraham and his descendents thousands of years ago, the idea that these blood-related descendants can somehow be identified after two thousand years, and that their property rights are in continuance although not one of them could possibly identify which parcel is "theirs," that their supposed birthright is somehow part of the Christian tradition, as if they two religions were anything alike at all … the nonsense of it all just goes on and on and on.

  5. >Let me give a few thoughts from Hindustan (India).. There is no one right way. What you advocate (call it pacifism or non-violence) was also the philosophy promoted by Lord Mahaveer (who started a new religion called Jainism) and by Mahatma Gandhi to name a few.Basically man acts and reacts based on his inner nature. Some people are naturally emotional and passionate and speak more with their actions. Some others are more peace loving and refined and intellectual and they prefer to discuss, argue, debate or even be passive.As long as all men use "values" as their anchor, any type of behaviour is acceptable. We also need men who fight injustice and defeat oppressors. Care should be taken, however, that they do not become oppressors once they have become victors.I will be happy to clarify this further and add more logic to this line of thinking to readers who want to discuss this further.cheers

  6. >You asked what do I know to be true. I know this to be true: So far as I can tell, all "truth" that is known by human beings is relative truth, that is, it is more or less likely to be true if compared to some absolute standard, but that absolute standard of holiness or correctness or perfection, or beauty or science, or whatever you wish call it, is ellusive so far as humans are concerned. There may be, probably is, a truth that is true whether or not anyone is ever able to grasp, understand, comprehend or know it, but as an individual I can only know what I can know.Knowing is different than having faith. I can have faith in something that I do not understand, I can have faith in a person or a God. That is different than knowing. Many people confuse "knowing" with just having a strong opinion. The two are not the same.In this life, I can have relative certainty, but not absolute certainty.Back to you.

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