Saturday, April 12, 2008

Nonviolence Continued

I have been away from blogging for a while. This has been mostly due to a busy schedule. The bad news is I think my schedule will get busier in the near future.

I have been continuing my thinking on the issue of nonviolence. I have been looking at it from both a scriptural and historical perspective. There can be no quesition that for the first 300 years of its existence, the Church taught exclusively the tradition of nonviolence in keeping with the teaching of our Lord and His apostles. During that time, the Church was being persecuted. Believers were being slaughtered. It was the age of the martyrs. And yet, the Church was making a much bigger impact than perhaps anytime since. Could there be a relationship?

I love reading about the early Church. Sure, they had their problems. Things weren't perfect. They never are. But overall the life of the Church was a lot more vibrant than it is today. They lived holier, and were more courageous in their evangelism than we are. Nonviolence was a vital part of the practice of their faith. It bore witness to the love of Christ. It won the hearts of many of its enemies. I wish it were still the prevailing view.

Since that time we have adopted the idea of the just war. The fruit of this teaching is borne out in the great atrocities of the Church's history such as the Inquisition and the Crusades. We have the misfortune of reading through centuries of Christian killing Christian in the name of nationalism disguised as "a just war". Frankly, if the tenets of a just war were subjected to the decisions of bishops, theologians, and doctors of the Church, virtually no war that has been fought could qualify. Yet, in spite of that, virtually every war has been declared just by those propagating it. How consistent is that?

Fortunately, the Spirit is at work raising up a number of voices speaking out against this misdirection. We are being called back to that older tradition of nonviolence which is more faithful to the teaching and example of our Lord. Perhaps as we again give it due consideration, we will understand the often stated and misunderstood phrase, "Peace to you". We are called by the Prince of Peace to peace with God which naturally leads to peace with others. We walk with our feet dressed out in the preparation of peace to bring peace to the nations. This is the Gospel. What place does war or violence have in it?

None, I tell you. Absolutely none!!!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Certainly food for thought.