Saturday, May 15, 2010

Best of the week entry 3

Comes from Matt Stone on a blog that I stumbled across. I would probably disagree with quite a bit of what Matt writes but I like his thought process. His post Apocalypse of Peace looks at the idea of pacifism as expressed in Revelation which seems pretty counter-intuitive. Isn't Revelation a book about the war of the Lamb and armies and retributive justice? Well yes, but...

This may come as a surprise to some critics of pacifism. Isn't the Revelation of John one of the most violent books of the Bible? Why do some pacifists emphasize it so much then? Isn't that counter productive? It's certainly counter intuitive!


The answer comes in discerning between different streams of pacifism. Just as pro-military Christianity may be differentiated into "just war", "blank check" and other streams according to the degree they rely on secular wisdom, so anti-military Christianity may be differentiated into "absolutist", "apocalyptic" and other streams according to the degree they rely on universal principals.

Absolute pacifism, more typical of liberals, tends to gloss over the authority of the Old Testament in its search for a universal ethic applicable to everyone, everywhere, everywhen. Apocalyptic pacifism, more typical of Anabaptists, takes a different route, emphasizing the covenant transforming revelation (Greek: apocalypse) of Jesus. Absolute pacifism espouses timeless teaching, apocalyptic pacifism espouses time asymmetric, kingdom coming teaching.

I found this perspective interesting in light of the prevailing culture in the church that sees nothing wrong with Christians supporting and participating in the drawing of the sword, as long as we are on the "right" side. I know this is a highly charged issue among American Christians but I also believe that reading Revelation should reassure us that when we are called to non-resistance and sacrifice, even martyrdom, that we do so not out of cowardice but out of confidence that the only one who judges perfectly and righteously will set dispense justice over the evil-doer. Punishing the unrighteous is not our calling as Christians.

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1 comment:

Matt Stone said...

Thanks for you comments Arthur. Agreement not necessary to engage with my blog, just a willingness to dialogue. I am sure we agree on the most important thing though: that Jesus is Lord.