As Iron Sharpens Iron

An ongoing and online discussion between: an Orthodox informed Ecumaniac without a denominational home, an ordained Baptist youth pastor with an open mind, a Calvinist worship leader/seminarian with a staggering vocabulary and ability to make a point, and a cradle Catholic with a love/hate relationship to Rome.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pacifism and the Church

I've noted that among conservative, traditional churches (those which keep some semblance of Christianity), it seems that only the Roman Catholic Church has taken a real stand for peace. Sure, they have written about just war and such, but the general consensus seems to be avoid war whenever possible. I contrast this with the Orthodox (who have liturgical prayers blessing weapons and soldiers), Baptists, "Orthodox" Presbyterians and such who seem to see war as blessed by God. Conversely, those churches that play fast and loose with Christianity (ECUSA, ELCA, PCUSA, UMC) seem to be at the forefront of the peace movements.

I admit, it gives me pause to consider my own pacifist stance.


Blogger fra edwin said...

I am not a pacifist. I am not brave and faithful enough to be a pacifist. On the other hand, having sons has given me the perspective that I don't want to see their lives wasted on a unjust cause. I am solidly aligned with the Roman Catholic stance that the only justification for war is to create a JUST peace, where justice or peace is lacking.

My observations of other groups tends to lead me to believe that "fundementalists" seem to see things in terms of good and evil, right and wrong, friends and enemies, etc. This allows a dehumanization of the "infidel" or enemy. This allows one to think of the foe as an enemy of God, and as yourself as a holy Crusader - not as brothers who hope for peace.

I have found it impossible while looking at the broken and bleeding children in wars across this planet to believe any people are enemies of God. I am frightened of the Justice of God coming down on we who would kill his Children while claiming to fight in God's name against his enemies.

As for blessing soldiers and weapons - I am for it. If the soldiers at Abu Ghraib Prison had understood the sacred nature of their mission, then perhaps they would not have done such an unholy job of it. Nor do I object to a blessing of a weapon which asks God that it be an instrument of justice (rather than injustice or of revenge). Being a soldier can be very dehumanizing in itself. Anything we can do to keep our soldiers in union with man and God we should do.

5:12 PM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...


Do you really mean that you "are not brave and faithful enough" to be a pacifist, or are you just being nice? My pacifism is not exactly because I think I should do it, but because I think it's right. Put another way, I might fornicate but still not believe it to be right.

I like what you say in the middle two paragraphs.

Regarding blessing soldiers, you say that if they had been blessed the Abu Ghraib soldiers "would not have done such an unholy job of it." Does that mean, by the same token, that we should bless homosexual unions?

3:41 PM  
Blogger fra edwin said...

I'm not a particularly nice guy - I say what I mean. I feel that Christ would rather we turned the other cheek in all cases. He also said that soldiers should be content with their pay (not that they should lay down their arms). I feel that war and violence are evil. I am not brave enough or faithful enough to allow my family to be threatened by an aggressor without attempting to defend them aggressively.

As for your other question, I do not understand it. A reminder to soldiers that we are fighting with a just and lasting peace as a goal might prevent abuses such as happened at Abu Ghraib. A blessing is, among other things, such a reminder.

I don't understand you connecting this with homosexual unions. Are homosexuals in a committed relationship more prone to torturing their fellow humans than someone else? Again, I don't understand your question.

5:33 PM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...

What I mean is, you seemed to say that war was evil/wrong, but that if we blessed soldiers and weapons in battles they shouldn't be fighting, they would be more moral.

The reason I connected it to homosexual unions is some people who believe homosexuality to be morally wrong advocate blessing same-sex unions so that they'll at least be inspired to stay in the Church and remain monogamous.

9:25 AM  
Blogger fra edwin said...

Ah! That is clearer. I am saying that war is an evil. I am damn well sure Christ would rather that there be peace. However Christ did not forbid war:
Soldiers also asked him, "And what is it that we should do?" He told them, "Do not practice extortion, do not falsely accuse anyone, and be satisfied with your wages." Luke 3:14

Here Jesus reminds soldiers that there is a way of moral soldiery. The moral way of a soldier is to be fair, not rapacious nor vengeful. These reminders should be part of every blessing. An additional reminder should be that the point of war is not punishment, but rather peace.

It is possible that a "blessed" soldier will feel that a blessing gives him the holy authority to bring the Hammer of God unto the Ungodly - but I would hope not. That has been done far too often.

7:12 PM  
Anonymous scott said...

I read something I thought was interesting regarding war / fighting (to paraphrase awkwardly) "I can chose within myself to turn my other cheek to a blow, but I can't stand by and watch my brother get beaten. I will defend him. May God have mercy on me."

Agreed, Christ did not preach the removal of "evil" social structures (slavery, soldiering), but to be Holy in whatever place you find yourself. Tough subject.

6:23 PM  
Blogger The Poor Blogger said...

Ooooooh, that's a good point! Paul sent the slave back to his master, but that doesn't mean slavery is what God intended. THANKS!!!

7:27 PM  

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