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Christians and War: Three Viewpoints. Holy War A crusade of Good against Evil Just (justifiable) War Limited war that is tragic but necessary for the cause of justice, freedom, and peace Pacifism Nonviolent love. Christians and War: Three Viewpoints. Common Ground

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Christians and War:Three Viewpoints

  • Holy War

    • A crusade of Good against Evil

  • Just (justifiable) War

    • Limited war that is tragic but necessary for the cause of justice, freedom, and peace

  • Pacifism

    • Nonviolent love


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Christians and War:Three Viewpoints

  • Common Ground

    • Holy War and Just War = God occasionally calls His people to kill enemies

    • Just War and Pacifism = Initial instinct against violence

    • Holy War and Pacifism = Clear biblical examples


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Christians and War:Three Viewpoints

  • Common Ground

    • All three agree that nothing is worth living for that is not worth dying for

    • All three agree that courage is necessary if one wishes to follow God faithfully

    • All three value sacrifice

    • All three believe that Christians should love their enemies


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Christians and War:Three Viewpoints

  • Christian responses to war are not about “positions”

  • No Christian has a stake in defending any “position” in and of itself

  • Christian responses to war are about faithful discipleship


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PACIFISM

  • Nonviolent (adjective) love (verb)

  • Primary example

    • Sermon on the Mount

    • Jesus’ cross

  • History

    • NT times—Constantine = all Christians

    • Constantine—Present = Clergy, “Peace” Churches


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PACIFISM

  • The Theory

    • Jesus’ continued witness was the way of the cross

    • The Church continues Jesus’ ministry by witnessing to the world the way of the cross

    • Evil is a “power” both material and spiritual that is not defeated by violence

    • The cross is God’s way of defeating the “powers”

    • Therefore, the cross is the Church’s way of defeating the “powers”: There is divine power in living as we were created to live


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PACIFISM

  • Scriptural Justification

    • You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. –Matthew 5:43-44

    • Jesus told his disciples, ‘If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.’ –Mark 8:34


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PACIFISM

  • Scriptural Justification

    • As he [Jesus] is, so are we in this world. –1 John 4:17

    • To this you have been called: because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, you should follow in his steps. . . . When he was abused, he did not return abuse; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he entrusted himself to the one who judges justly. –1 Peter 2:21, 23


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PACIFISM

  • Scriptural Justification

    • Our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh. —Ephesians 6:12

    • Bless those who persecute you . . . Live in harmony with all . . . Do not repay evil for evil . . . Beloved, never avenge yourselves. —Romans 12:14—19

    • God proves his love for us in this: while we were still sinners Christ died for us. . . . While we were enemies, we were reconciled to God. —Romans 5:8, 10

    • God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, has given us the ministry of reconciliation. —2 Corinthians 5:18


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PACIFISM

  • Strengths of Pacifism

    • Consistent with the overwhelming witness of the New Testament

    • Pacifism “imitates” (Eph. 5:1) and “follows in the footsteps” of (1 Peter 2:21) Jesus

    • Demonstrates faith in “things unseen” (Heb. 1:1)


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PACIFISM

  • I say to you, ‘Love your enemies.’ —Jesus

    • Love is an empty term until it is defined in the life, death, and resurrection of Christ. To love is to love as Christ loves: sacrificially.


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PACIFISM

  • Christ is agape; self-giving, nonviolent love. At the cross this nonviolence found its ultimate revelation in the uncomplaining and forgiving death of the innocent at the hands of the guilty. This death reveals how God deals with evil; here is the only valid starting point for Christian pacifism. The cross is the extreme demonstration that agape seeks neither effectiveness nor justice and is willing to suffer any loss or seeming defeat for the sake of obedience. But the cross is not defeat. Christ’s obedience unto death was crowned by the miracle of the resurrection and the exaltation at the right hand of God. —John Yoder, Peace without Eschatology?


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PACIFISM

  • In Response to Holy War and Just War

    • Who is the “we” in war?

    • Do National ties trump Christian ties?

    • There is not a single example of a Christian asked to or permitted to use violence in the Bible


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PACIFISM

  • In Response to Holy War

    • Along with sin came the need for sacrifice

    • A sinful world pays for its sins through sacrifice

    • With the advent of Jesus a final/ultimate sacrifice was offered

    • Jesus is a once and for all sacrifice (he was the last person who had to be put to death as a sacrifice for sin)


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PACIFISM

  • In Response to Just War

    • Killing to protect the innocent: no NT example

      • God Himself allows evil to work in this world

      • Jesus did not allow Peter to protect the innocent

      • No one rushed in to protect Stephen

    • Soldiers in the NT: God’s word reaches even the unlikeliest people

      • “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you” (Matt. 21:31).


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PACIFISM

  • In Response to Just War

    • State “responsibility”: modern reading taken out of context

      • Romans 13 refers to pagan rule: rulers such as Nero

      • God “orders” these governments so that they serve God’s purposes in spite of themselves

      • There is no indication that God blesses the State any more than God blessed Babylon who was also “God’s servant” (cf. Jeremiah 25:9)


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PACIFISM

  • In Response to War with Iraq

    • “I believe unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant.” —Martin Luther King, Jr., Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech

    • To be Christian is to be nonviolent

    • Christians cannot support war


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Christians and War:Three Viewpoints

  • Holy War: Christians fight because God commands them to fight

  • Just War: Christians fight to secure justice, freedom, and peace for the innocent

  • Pacifism: Christian refuse to believe the myth of redemptive violence exactly because they believe the cross is the grain of the universe


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