ACCTS

 

 

This Journal is sponsored by the Assn. for Christian Conferences, Teaching and Service.

ISSN: 2354-8315 (Online)

 


st-augustine

Saint Augustine
Jesus and Pacifism
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Article Index
Jesus and Pacifism
Personal Non-retaliation, Not Pacifism
Blessed Are the Peacemakers
Turn the Other Cheek
Live by the Sword, Die by the Sword
Two Kingdoms - The Strong Man
Jesus and the Roman Centurion -- Conclusion
Endnotes
All Pages

By Reverend Wylie W. Johnson, D.Min., M.Div., M.S.S.; Chaplain (Colonel), U.S. Army Reserve (Retired), Senior Pastor of Springfield Baptist Church, Springfield, Pennsylvania, and until  his retirement this summer the Command Chaplain for the U.S. Army Military Intelligence Readiness Command.

The critical question for the Christian regarding service in the armed forces is: “Did Jesus Christ teach a lifestyle of pacifism?” Pacifism, generally defined, is the belief that violence is never (or seldom) justified, war and killing are always unacceptable, and that non-violent means must always be pursued in the resolution of conflicts. By this standard, Jesus the Messiah did not teach pacifism. Jesus taught a lifestyle of dependence upon God, personal non-retaliation against fellow human beings, and love for one‘s neighbor requiring robust participation in human society.

A determined minority through the ages has made the persistent claim that Jesus the Messiah taught pacifism as the Christian lifestyle. Their emphasis is upon peace, non-violence, peace-making and radical Christian love as an alternative lifestyle. These are worthy ideals, and the rest of the Christian communion has much to learn from the pacifist point of view. That lifestyle, however, leaves the rest of the Christian communion (and others) to do the difficult work of ordering society and enforcing the peace. —excerpts from this paper

Was Jesus a Pacifist?

Some Christians through the ages have wondered why Jesus the Messiah never openly condemned killing in all of its forms. Why didn‘t Christ, who continually spoke of life and death, condemn the profession of arms, capital punishment, racism, oppression of the poor, official corruption and slavery among the other social ills of his day? Plainly, Jesus the Messiah was not focused upon political considerations.1 If he had been, we would have received a qualitatively different Gospel. Jesus came to establish of the Kingdom of God in individual human hearts. When we come to the issue of pacifism, we must understand the Savior’s life, message and work fully in in the context of the entire scripture.

The critical question for the Christian regarding service in a nation’s armed forces is: “Did Jesus Christ teach a lifestyle of pacifism?” Pacifism, generally defined, is the belief that violence is never (or seldom) justified, war and killing are always unacceptable, and that non-violent means must always be pursued in the resolution of conflicts. By this standard, Jesus the Messiah did not teach pacifism. Jesus taught a lifestyle of dependence upon God, personal non-retaliation against fellow human beings, and love for one‘s neighbor requiring a robust participation in human society.

Throughout this paper a conservative-evangelical hermeneutic is employed. Interpretation of Scripture cannot and must not happen in a historical, philological or textual vacuum. Basic to a conservative-evangelical hermeneutic is the understanding that both the concrete and abstract concepts of Scripture are narrated to us in human language through the ongoing divine-human relationship rooted in time-space history.2 The Bible is interpreted as a unified whole, divinely revealed and composed by a variety of human authors. The person and work of the Redeemer-Messiah is the major theme of Scripture that weaves the scripture into a unified whole. This conservative-evangelical hermeneutic in no way disregards neither recent academic discussion on how biblical literature was composed, nor overlooks its various theological themes. However, the Bible is approached as a unity that is internally consistent.3 Approaching the Scripture in this manner demands that the interpreter explore the meaning of Jesus Christ‘s life and work within the entire scope of Scripture.



Last Updated on Monday, 25 March 2013 18:17