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Location: Montgomery Area, Alabama, United States

Former BUFF driver; self-styled military historian; paid (a lot) to write about beating plowshares into swords; NOT Foamy the Squirrel, contrary to all appearances. Wesleyan Jihadi Name: Sibling Railgun of Reasoned Discourse

Monday, March 20, 2006

Christian Carnival CXIII

'm a little late in posting this Christian Carnival, but considering I posted nothing between editions XCI and CXII, I think I'm doing well.

An interesting pair of posts presents differing views of militancy and turning the other cheek within the chruch and without. Liberal blogger Mike at Waving or Drowning lays down this latest twist on an age-old argument of Christian pacifists:

You'll have to forgive my stubbornness on this one. I've spent the past week or so immersed in the pericope of The Great Commandment (pdf file), found in Matthew 22:34-40. Mark 12:28-34, and Luke 10: 25-28.

Luke's account, which is the most unique as well as my favorite, says this:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself."

Note that it does not say:

"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself, unless your neighbor threatens your existence, in which case you may retain the right to murder him."

Idealistic, you say? Absolutely! The Ideal is our goal and ultimate destination, and we need to start contributing to it's creation now.

Perhaps we are suggesting that Jesus was exhorting individuals, and that nation-states may, out of necessity, operate under different moral and ethical guidelines. We say while pre-meditated murder is out of the question for individuals, it is acceptable national policy.

This is hypocrisy, disguised as something else. And, while it may regrettably be the current reality, it should be resisted at every turn, and not endorsed, by followers of Christ.

I can't argue against him on grounds of personal theology; if this is how he chooses to honor God, then all power to him. I am not, however, a Christian pacifist myself because God also call us to justice, and that means, by definition, interfering in and impeding the affairs of the violent offenders. It think, even in the personal realm, much of the distinction lies in what we are supposed to to when we ourselves are attacked or defiled and what we are supposed to do when we see this done to others. God commands meekness in the face of attacks on ourselves. He seems to demand action in the case of injustice against others, however, and sometimes that action leads to acts of intervention, even including war. This is the underpinning of the thoery of just war and is the key to C.S. Lewis' remarkable logic in Why I Am Not A Pacifist, which he delivered in response to pacifist Christians who advocated a similar pacifism in the face of Nazi agggression. Lewis rightly points out that at the heart of such pacifism is a materialist belief that pain and death are the greatest evils. Lewis said, "I don't think that they are. I think the suppression of a higher religion by a lower, or even a higher secular culture by a lower, a much greater evil." I agree and I don't think there's been a more cut and dried instance of this than the war we're currently in, other than perhaps World War II. If an individual Christian chooses to give up violence in any form in order to honor God the way another might give up eating meat, then we must honor that sacrifice, but Christians as a body are called upon to oppose tyrrany and spread justice as a duty.

Rcksteroni at Brutally Honest takes mike to task, but not just for his pacifism -- rather, he objects to Mike's implicitly creating a litmus test for "true Christians," which is something we all do at times:

Was Jesus exemplifying loving neighbor as himself when he called the Pharisees hypocrites (over and over) and compared them to white-washed tombs? And was he loving neighbor as himself when he cleared the temple of money-changers? Was he loving when he directed his disciples to carry a sword? Does this sort of thing suggest that isolating the loving neighbor as self text as the defining characteristic of a Christ follower is a tad... limiting?

And didn't Jesus reserve his harshest criticism for those holier-than-thou religionists who attempted to constrain who would be seen to be a followers of God?

In Mike's pell mell rush to leave behind the so called fundamentalists he abhors, he becomes one.

And yet fails to see it. It's a troubling thing.

One could argue that loving your neighbor can be evidenced by the attempt to point out to said neighbor an aspect of his belief system that seems to have some logical flaws in it.

And seems to contain the perspective that Christ spoke loudly against.

Then again, I wouldn't know.

I fail the litmus test.

I suspect many do.

Me too, I'm afraid.


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