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June 11, 2006


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Joe, I think that the questions you raise have to do with the difference between 'pacifism' and 'passive-ism'. They are frequently confused with one another, but I don't think they are the same thing.

I think John Yoder was right to phrase this issue in terms of love for one's enemies. Love can never be passive. Love always looks for ways to take the initiative. Love might even have been busy looking for creative ways of making the road from Jerusalem to Jericho a less dangerous route...


I like the distinction in the phrasing, Tim. One thing that a few of us have been chatting about is "what is appropriate intervention (by force if necessary)?", and thrown into the mix are a few who say that intervention by force is never appropriate.

Of course the question can have a small, local scope or an international scope.


Please don't misunderstand me, Joe. I'm not backing down from my basic Anabaptist nonviolence position! I'm 'just sayin' that I think that's not the end of the story. I think true love of enemies doesn't wait for the enemies to strike, but goes out to them with the love of God long before they strike.

I also think that the questions 'Should a secular state respond to violence with violence?' and 'Should followers of Jesus participate in war?' are two totally different questions. We only confuse them because of fifteen centuries of Christendom.


I hope I didn't misrepresent your position, Tim. I haven't really delved into this sort of question very much, so this is really just an opening volley into that whole area of thought and action. I'm intrigued by several figures in the gospels - the soldiers who come to John the Baptist, the "faithful" centurion.

I do see varying answers to the questions. When your two questions are collapsed into one, it could also be the case that Christians are part of a secular state, and engage in militaristic actions.

Prevention is always best, but when prevention fails... how does a Christian respond? I am intrigued not just because of the "theory" side of it, but also because I served in a parish with a good number of military folks. I think I'll just let this one stew for a while...


Fair enough. I recognise that faithful Christians disagree on this one (and I've moved on it, too!).

steve the z

This would be a great topic for sol cafe to work thru as well, I personally come from a mennonite family that has questioned pacifism directly, and made some definite choices. So this would be worth talking and praying thru, I believe.


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  • Copyright Rev. Joseph Walker, St Timothy's Anglican Church

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