Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Christian Pacifism, etc

Originally uploaded by paynehollow
My friend and fellow church member, Michael, has a VERY interesting, well-written and powerful series going on Christian Pacifism. His latest entry is about the Sermon on the Mount, which can be found here, in two parts...

Part 1

Part 2

There are several more in this series and more to come. It is extremely thoughtful, informative, concise and well worth consideration. Check them out.

Also, sadly, our church lost one of our homeless friends in death last week. Richard, a gentleman who has lived on the streets for years - and who has been undergoing dialysis for the last thirteen years while homeless - passed into our Savior's arms at the early age of 58.

Our church friend, Adam, has written about his time being there during the last days of Richard's life at our church blog, here. It's a very strong and tender testimony and I thank God for Adam and his ministry with us, as well as for the life of Richard and the impact of his life upon ours.


Marshall Art said...

Wow. Michael says this is for a possible book. If so, I may get it from the library for some laughs. (I wouldn't spend YOUR money on it based on the two links presented here.)

In the first link, I think he takes liberties with the text in question. I also think he makes assumptions without support. For example, I have never heard of anyone referring to "righteousness" as found in the 3rd Beatitude as a self-centered thing. It doesn't even make sense that way. Why would Jesus bless those who are so self-centered? He even addresses that later when speaking of those who "act" good for show, such as giving alms, praying or fasting and making a show of it for the sake of how others might view them.

He also makes the usual accusations about wealthy people, as if once wealthy the need for God no longer appeals. This is very easy to say for those not wealthy. Chances are such people, should they exist among the wealthy (the odds may be good, but I'm not about to make such an assumption, particularly as a blanket statement), held that attitude before aquiring their wealth, or were raised by such people.

I think he's off about his "14 triads" in that they aren't consistent (hard to articulate this point here, bear with me). I look at them and see kind of a "which of the following doesn't go with the rest". For example, the first two listed are indeed examples of what he's trying to correct. "You've heard it said/ but I say..." In this, Christ is indeed adding burdens in that controlling one's thoughts is harder than controlling one's actions. But of course, the point is to develop a "Christian mind". For like Michael points out, Jesus got angry. But His was a righteous anger and this type of anger is not a bad thing necessarily. It's not necessarily hate or hateful anger, and that's the type of anger for which he made the comment.

I think he has #4 on the list totally wrong. Swearing and promising is to enter into a covenant of sorts. It's much more than simply giving your word to act. One cannot swear by anything BUT God, but to do so requires that the action be taken exactly as sworn. There's an OT story of a guy who was so happy about an event that occurred that he swore to sacrifice the first thing that wandered into his tent. He was thinking animal, but his daughter entered and because of his oath, he was bound to carry it out. (What a fix!) Failure to carry out that action so bound is not a false claim, just a failure. But such contracts, like the matrimonial vow, for example, is a promise to God to fulfill, not the other party.


Marshall Art said...


Subsequent triads aren't really triads at all. Giving alms and publicizing is one action in reality. The giving of alms and then blowing trumpets is for the purpose of drawing attention to one's self for the purpose of making others think one is pious and holy. In other words, unlike "you've heard it said..." these "triads" are "two-ads". My point is that he created these (or maybe his mentor did)these triads rather than found them. The whole exercise is unnecessary as a teaching tool. Each is sufficient as it is written in Scripture without such weak categorizing.

Finally, I think his idea of Christ's suggestions for dealing with evil, while interesting, also is suspect. “If your brother has something against you GO TO HIM and seek to be reconciled.” This is not a response to dealing with anger. This is a response to dealing with someone's anger with you. We are simply called upon to live without harboring hateful feelings toward anyone. But if a brother has something against me, it doesn't mean I'm angry. It means the brother is angry with me. Indeed, if I'm hacked at someone, he might not even know it! Michael has this totally wrong.

Indeed, this is even true between warring nations. For example, I do not think the common attitude is hate toward even the most radical Muslims. It happens, but I don't think it's common. What's common is the notion that diplomacy is a proven waste of time. It's been attempted for about 1400 years and has gotten no one anywhere. So, killing our enemies might not be a loving act (except toward those we are protecting), but it is not a hateful action, either. Their attitude toward us is indeed hateful and that's why we must protect ourselves. But since they hate our faith, trying to use our faith's teachings to persuade them will just get us killed. Happens all the time.

So, peacemakers sometimes need to be violent to make peace. One needs to be specific about the term. To make peace with an enemy is different from making peace. Making peace may requiring destroying the enemy, yet, those who do so are peacemakers and I believe they are blessed as well for the peace they've provided for all. If there's a chance to make peace with the enemy, that is, to settle differences in a manner acceptable to both sides, this is what should be done. This is always the first act of our nation and was before the second Gulf War began. Wise leaders understand when that becomes futile and taking out nasty despots brings peace that lasts.

One more thing. I don't know of any churches that teaches anyone to hate people of other nations, unless he's talking about Louis Farrakan. That's a slanderous thing to say. That's as ridiculous as the UCC TV ads that suggested other Christian churches block homosexuals from attending. Only non-repenting homosexuals get any such grief. (Unless he's talking about Fred Phelps who's nuts.)

Dan Trabue said...

You need to strive to understand the Bible the best you can, Marshall. If, after prayerful consideration and independent study, you disagree and think Michael's off, then stand by it.

It makes a great deal of biblical and logical sense to me.

On some of these notions - such as the triads - Michael is merely agreeing with others who've noted the same thing, fyi.

Marshall Art said...

"You need to strive to understand the Bible the best you can, Marshall." I have.

"If, after prayerful consideration and independent study, you disagree..." I do. "...and think Michael's off," I do. "...then stand by it." I have and shown why.

"It makes a great deal of biblical and logical sense to me." I'm not surprised.

"...Michael is merely agreeing with others who've noted the same thing..." FYI--I suggested as much in the first paragraph of my second comment.