Friday, June 15, 2007

The New Testament and Pacifism

I've been really challenged since about last January trying to figure out my stance on pacifism. I agree with Hauerwas that all Christians are pacifists to some extent, but where one draws the line is how they differ. I used to think that killing for your country was okay, because that's not murder. But, as William Cavanaugh puts it, killing for a nation-state is as arbitrary as killing for the telephone company. He has a really great article, Killing for the Telephone Company: Why the Nation-State is not the keeper of Common Good.

Some verses I'm wrestling with are:
Romans 12:14 - Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
Romans 12:17a - Never pay back evil for evil to anyone...
Matthew 5:44 - But I say to you, love your neighbor and pray for those who persecute you.
Matthew 19:19b - Love your neighbor as you love yourself...

Now, those are just a few of the verses I'm trying to look over. The question in my mind is: what makes someone not my neighbor? Why is an Iraqi not my neighbor? And can I really fulfill the commandments to love if I'm shooting at someone? What would the early church have looked like if they fought back?

Practically, I think about "What if I get married and someone breaks in? Can I defend my wife?" If not, I'd say I'd rather not get married.

1 comment:

J. Ted Blakley said...

Might I recommend two books by Glen H. Stassen, both entitled "Just Peacemaking". The older one is written by him and is primarily an exposition on the Sermon on the Mount; the second one is edited by him and has the subtitle of "Ten Practices to Abolish War." What I have found helpful in Stassen's work is his argument that there is another alternative to Just War theory and Pacifism, which he has termed Just Peacemaking. He makes a lot out of the Sermon on the Mount, its triadic structure (vs. a dualistic structure), and what he calls transformative initiatives. On this issue in particular he has an article in the Journal of Biblical Literature, which might be the best place to start. Glen H. Stassen, "The Fourteen Triads of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:21-7:12)," JBL 122 (2003): 267-308.