Sunday, March 11, 2007

Pacifism: The Case for Christian Non-Violence- Lee Camp

See this link:

It's providence that this subject was touched upon this morning in my Church's Bible class. The teacher was curious if anyone would be put off. But, I think it was handled near perfectly. The prayer delivered at the end was particularly potent. Of course I would enjoy a full on, put-it-all-on-the-table discussion of the subject- but that is not what is needed in that setting and thus would not glorify. I suspect the topic may come back around. Tact will be everything. In the articles in the link below there are some great points. I was particularly taken by the last article of the four where Camp says:

"...Thus any argument for Christian non-violence must always embody the utmost love for those who articulate a divergent viewpoint; if so-called "pacifists" speak in such a way that they only foster enmity, then they have failed from the start."

and also:

"So any dialog between "Pacifists" and the "Just War Tradition" (JWT) ought to begin with what these two viewpoints held in common. At the theoretical level, there are fundamental differences between the two, but a great deal of pragmatic agreement also exists between them. For example, the JWT proclaims that vengeance is an illegitimate intention for warfare, and that the means of warfare must be sharply limited. (For example, nuclear warfare, or economic sanctions that result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children, are immoral according to the JWT, because these practices do not respect the "immunity of the innocent.") If taken seriously, the JWT will often lead Christians to refuse to fight in particular wars.

All such objections flow not from "Pacifism" but from the JWT. For all of these things, the Pacifist ought to deeply respect the Christian Just Warrior. However, the fact that, historically, few JWT adherents make the kind of moral judgments required by their tradition indicates that a great number of Christians are not, actually, adherents to the JWT; instead, many Christians turn out to be nationalists, who arrogantly profess, "it’s my country, right or wrong." To say "if you don’t love it, leave it"—this is acceptable rhetoric for neither the Just Warrior nor the Pacifist. And so the Pacifist encourages the Just Warrior to have the courage of his convictions, and speak boldly to such concerns."

Anyhow, you can read the articles for yourself.


Anonymous said...

I appreciate your encouraging words.
As you heard this morning, others also see the obvious clarity of Jesus’ and the Father’s joint sacrifice and call to the Lord’s disciples to do likewise.
I did not show you the copy of the commercially published lesson that I was working from.
You did however get the class handout, which is quite revealing.
If you look at the “Test”, shown below, you will find the issues absent, which we discussed in bible our study.
In fact the published lesson seemed almost frenetic, as the author clearly saw the implications, and he cited passages that underscored our Lord’s call for disciples to be like Him, but then would turn on the head of a dime and run away from the radical idea of “being like Jesus”.
Note the Test from the handout.
Take the Test
How are you doing in the following elements of John’s test as he reveals it
in today’s text? Give yourself an A, B, C, D, or F on the following:
____ Reveling in your status as a child of God.
____ Waiting excitedly for Jesus’ return to see him as he is.
____ Loving the brothers and sisters, all of them!
____ Sharing material possessions with those in need.
____ Setting your heart at rest because you know your status with Jesus.
____ Obeying God’s commands and pleasing him.
____ Sensing the presence of his Spirit in your life.
____ Being willing to lay down your life for fellow believers, if necessary

Do you see the last question? The author of the lesson has interpreted the term “brother” to mean only “fellow believers”. And then he adds the caveat “if necessary,” as if he thought it needed to be made clear, that suicide is not wise.
Who would die for a friend or family member ‘if it is unnecessary’? That is a silly stipulation.
However, the fact is that, that silly stipulation tends to soften the author’s distortion of the words of John, and even more importantly it distorts the words of Jesus from Matthew 5,
43 “You have heard that the law of Moses says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy.
44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you!

I take the decision every time I teach, to pray about the lesson, even before I open the scriptures. My goal is to glorify Jesus. I have told you this before, but, when I fail to pray, I fail “PERIOD”.
The issue of using “commercially produced bible aides” creates an even more imperative “imperative”, for disciples of Jesus, because, as lessons are made for commercial purposes, the “radical” nature of Jesus call, to the hearts of men and women, will be compromised.

There is NO way that the “world”, which we talked about this morning, will allow the commercial success of Jesus’ radical sacrifice. This event and all similar events, by disciples of Him, will necessarily compromise the “the mighty prince of the power of the air. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God.” Ephesians 2:2

I don’t mind using the material, but I have a responsibility to cull out the toxic ideas that are slowly pushed into the minds and hearts of our fellow brothers in Christ.
As you know, from our personal studies, I had been, when still young, slowly poisoned by God fearing, and dear brothers & sisters in the Lord, who had not considered the implications of the worldly philosophies that they had accepted and then further spread in the course of personal bible studies with young hearts and minds.

Our class this morning had the benefit of a very perceptive heart that saw the full implications of bearing ones cross daily, as well as another very perceptive heart that saw the Light at the end of the tomb.

I have learned to live by the nuances of our Creator and God, and one of these nuances appears in this issue too. My answer to the person that saw the implications to police officers and soldiers was an example of that nuance.
I made a distinct point of the difference between faith of Jesus’ Church and ritual of the world’s religions.
The difference is in the faith of Jesus, which stands over, above and opposed to the rituals of mankind.
”Faith” trusts, while “Religion” proscribes.

I cannot apply a rule, law, list or tradition to this issue, which God Himself has not established.

The hope may have been that I should give a simple to follow formula, so that all members of the class could just make a check next to a new item on “their list”. However, I know of only one command that Jesus gave to the disciples, “So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” Jn13:34ff

You may say “one cannot both kill another and show love at the same time.” I would agree generally, but I can’t imagine all potential possibilities, therefore I am not prepared to create a new “Law” for God, and this is why I answered the question in the way that I did.

The world might say that I “copped-out”, by refusing to give the class a new item for the “required” list. But, I will not bow to the world’s intimidations. I have not the power to create law for our God’s terms of grace; therefore I will continue to defer to His authority, even while I appeal to the example of our King Jesus, the Messiah.

God bless,

Scott Starr said...

All very perceptive. I am hoping the thread of conversation re-appears. It is a big deal. You are on the money in saying that there is NO way that Jesus' radical new perceptions will ever be commercially or socially acceptable. Visit the thread on Christian Zionism to get an idea how ingrained certain ideas are into the mainstream weltanshaung HERE.

Scott Starr said...

For reference- our lesson covered this set of verses as well- this was the world in the sense we were discussing:

1st john 2:15-17

Do Not Love the World
15 Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. 16 For everything in the world—the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does—comes not from the Father but from the world. 17The world and its desires pass away, but the man who does the will of God lives forever.

we discussed the distinction between being instructed to love our neighbors and brothers and even our enemies and yet not to love the World....

So then we discussed what the world must mean...