Friday, November 12, 2010

Christians, War, and Violence

In 1970, John Howard Yoder described the need for an open and vigorous discussion between the views he calls "chastened pacifism" and "chastened non-pacifism."

He describes "chastened pacifism" as a pacifism "which differs from the 'classical humanistic' pacifism... in its awareness of the problems of sin and the state." "Chastened non-pacifism" on the other hand is the "position of those Christian thinkers who, although they advocate, at least as a possibility, an eventual Christian participation in war, concede an element of truth in Christian pacifism." (14-15)

Yoder further summarizes Barth:

"Barth begins with a resounding insistence that there is no realm in which the Christian duty to return good for evil, to turn the other cheek, to go a second mile, does not apply... Both Jesus (Mt. 5:38-42) and Paul (1 Cor. 6; Rom. 12) speak of the conscious and intentional abandon of one's legitimate rights and of self out of love. Barth says, 'These Gospel words belong to those of which it is said that they shall not pass away. They express precisely not just a well-intentioned exaggeration of some sort of humaneness or a special rule for good and especially good Christians. They express rather the command of God which is relevant and binding for all men, in the basic sense of that command and in the sense which until further notice must be taken as final.' (CD 430)"

(Karl Barth and the Problem of War, John Howard Yoder, 33)

No comments: