Pastoral Musings from Rain City

it's about 'what is church?' it's about whether 'emergent' is the latest Christian trend or something more substantial. it's musing on what it means to live the city, in America, in community, intergenerationally, at this time in history...

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Too early for sword melting?

This past Sunday (10-03-05), in Isaiah 2, I was discussing the picture of humanity's future painted by God; nations joining hands and streaming together up the mountain of God, drawn together by their passion to know Him and His Law. It is this love for God, and submission to His rule that will finally be the source of peace on earth, as foretold by the angels on that holy night so long ago.

But in the meantime there's the reality of wars and rumors of wars. This reality, foretold by Christ, has spawned several different ways of thinking about war and non-violence among Christ's church. One school of thought sanctions participation in war and world powers because "Jesus predicted war." Obviously, another school refuses participation in any war because of a commitment to embody, in some small measure, the reality of Christ's future reign - a reign of peace - right now. My own understanding is that neither position can be upheld consistently, as both positions have inherent dangers. Elevating either pacifism or nationalism and military might seem to run amok of some scriptures. Thus it seems that we are once again driven back to the primacy of relationship with the King - believing that our ethic must be derived from obedience to His heart as it is revealed during any given situation. My own sense is that such a position will often lead one towards the ethic Jesus spoke of in the sermon on the mount, but that Christians may also, at times, carry the mantle of just war, or the curbing of evil, in obedience to a particular calling in the police or military. After all, the one person who 'got it' during the crucifixion, and really understood who Jesus was, was the soldier.

I am alarmed that many of the discussions of these important ethical issue are framed in wholly pragmatic terms, arguing the merits of pacifism or militarism as isolated ideologies. Such thinking elevates the ethic, whichever is chosen, to a place above the Author of the ethic. And the only name for that is idolatry. Tough issues? I think so... and I don't see them going away any time soon. What are your thoughts?


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