You’re Not a Pacifist Are You?

War and Peace

 Jayel Aheram via Compfight

Brian Zahnd wrote a great piece the other day on this topic. He contends that when he is asked this question, it often has the same flavor of the question, “You’re not a pornographer are you?” Why is this question so contentious among believers? Brian has some interesting ideas about it. And it might interest you to know that he does not call himself a pacifist. You should really check it out.

From Brian’s post:

But I actually don’t claim the label of pacifist, and for this reason: pacifism is a political position on violence; it’s a position one could adopt apart from Jesus Christ — as for example the great writer and humanist Kurt Vonnegut did. But I am not a political pacifist. What I am is a Christian. And as a Christian we can talk about how Christ informs humanity on the subject of violence.

In my long and winding journey I’ve come to understand that to live gently in a violent world is part of the counterculture of following Christ. This is not something I would ever have arrived at on my own. I am not by nature a gentle person. For most of my life I have viewed violence with a kind of affection. In my youth I got in plenty of fights. I enjoyed violent movies. Cowboy justice held a romantic appeal. As a pastor I supported nearly all (if not literally all) of America’s military adventures. If my views on violence have changed — and they have — the blame falls squarely on Jesus! It’s not like I just woke up one day and said, “Hey, I think I’ll adopt a position of Christian nonviolence just for the fun of it. I bet that will be popular!” No, that’s not what happened. What happened was once the red, white, and blue varnish was removed from Jesus and I learned to read the gospels free of a star-spangled interpretation, I discovered that my Lord and Savior had a lot of things to say about peace that I had been missing. I was as surprised as anyone! But once you’ve seen the truth you can’t un-know what you know and be true to yourself. So let’s talk about it.

Related Reading

The Cruciform Center Part 4: How Revelation Reveals a Cruciform God

I’ve been arguing that, while everything Jesus did and taught revealed God, the character of the God he reveals is most perfectly expressed by his loving sacrifice on the cross.  Our theology and our reading of Scripture should therefore not merely be “Christocentric”: it should be “crucicentric.” My claim, which I will attempt to demonstrate…

How can you believe Matthew’s report about the Jewish cover up of the resurrection?

Question: In Matthew it’s reported that Jewish authorities tried to cover up the resurrection of Jesus by saying the disciples stole the body while the guards were sleeping. I don’t buy it. How would Matthew know about this story, since it was a secret conversation the authorities had with the guards? And how could they…

Tags: ,

Sermon Clip: Brain Reign

In this short clip, Greg Boyd discusses the 3 parts to who we are to help understand the brains role. What does role does the mind, body, and spirit play in who we are? In the full sermon we look at the New Testament teaching on reigning over the relational brain. Understanding how God wired…

Memorial Day

For Memorial Day, we thought we would repost Greg’s thoughts from 2007. In this post, Greg expresses his conflicted feelings over this holiday and gives a brief defense of Christian pacifism.  *** Hope you all had a happy Memorial Day. (Isn’t that something of a misnomer — a happy time remembering people killed in war?) Memorial Day…

The Cross Reveals God’s Love

The central way Christ functions as the perfect image and exact representation of God is by dying on the cross. While Christ’s entire life manifests the true God, Christ came primarily to die. It was his death that defeated the devil and freed us from bondage. The one who does what is sinful is of…

How should Christians respond to Near Death Experiences?

In a recent Q and A session about the book of Revelation, Greg Boyd and Paul Eddy answer a question on How Christians should respond to claims of Near Death Experiences. You can view the entire Q and A HERE.