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 One True Image of God: God’s Self-Portrait, Part 4

This point is emphasized throughout the New Testament because, if we don’t get this, we are left to our own imaginations about God, and we’ll draw from a multitude of different sources to construct a mental picture of God that will, to one degree or another, fall short of the beauty of the true God…

Is there Archeological Support for the Reliability of the Gospels?

One of the many tests historians typically submit documents to in accessing their historical reliability concerns the extent to which archeology supports or undermines the historic claims the document makes. So we need to investigate the extent to which archeology confirms, or refutes, aspects of the Gospels. Before we address this question, however, a preliminary…

Smack Talk on the Idolatry of the Family

Ben Ponder doesn’t pull any punches in his article Idolatry of the Family. He argues that, contrary to some evangelical claims, “Jesus didn’t die on a God-forsaken cross to preserve your horn-rimmed vision of 1950s Americana.” Can a marriage or a family become an idol? Ben thinks so. What do you think? From the article:…

Thankful for the Passion of God

The classical view of God has held that God is impassible, meaning he is above pathos (passion or emotions). The main reason the church came to this view was that, following the Hellenistic philosophical tradition, they associated emotions with change while believing God was above all change (immutable). Moreover, experiencing emotions implies that one is affected by…

God and Our Political Platforms

Rachel Held Evans posted a blog today on the stir created when Democrats booed the passing of “an amendment to the party platform reinstating language that identified Jerusalem as the rightful capital of Israel and that referred to people’s “God-given potential” in its preamble.” Of course this fed into the belief that if you’re a…

Getting Honest about the Dark Side of the Bible

 Eddy Van 3000 via Compfight While most of the Bible exhibits a “God-breathed” quality, reflecting a magnificently beautiful God that is consistent with God’s definitive revelation on the cross, we must honestly acknowledge that some depictions of God in Scripture are simply horrific. They are included in what is sometimes called “the dark side of…