Thursday, March 24, 2005
This is the first of hopefully a few rambling on war as it relates to the world and the Church. What has sparked this rambling? Maybe it's the fact that we have entered into year 3 of the War with Iraq/The War on Terrorism, maybe it's the fact that I consider myself an adherent to Non-Violence but wonder how one can adhere to that way of life and live in the 21st century, maybe it's that I led a Prayers for Peace Candlelight Vigil on Sunday evening and the Tennessan (our local newspaper) quoted it as a Protest Event (that bothers me but I'm not sure why). All this is moving around in my head right now. So I'll write about these issues a little at a time and hopefully through process- both mine along with your contributing thoughts we might come to some "idea" of how the Church ought to respond to violence and war.
MY TRADITION SAYS
"We deplore war and urge the peaceful settlement of all disputes among nations. From the beginning, the Christian conscience has struggled with the harsh realities of violence and war, for these evils clearly frustrate God's loving purposes for humankind." -The United Methodist Social Principles
My tradition does say that we deplore war and urge the peaceful settlement of all disputes among nations. I agree with this statement. And I believe that war is wrong and immoral. I also know that I have Christian friends, methodist in fact, who also deplore war and urge the peaceful settlement of all disputes among nations- BUT they also think that war is inevitable and sometimes the only way to settle world conflicts and injustice.
So the question I am dealing with- what makes my IDEA that war is incompatible under any circumstance with Christianity valid?
Ok, many will disagree with me on this because I know that this will not fit the conservative or liberal side of politics northe conservative/liberal church agenda either.
I believe first and foremost that the role of the Church is: to BE the Church. For me, this means that we are to be THE COMMUNITY that lives out "God's loving purposes for humankind." We are to be that body of people who incarnate God's hopes for all creation. Does this mean that war happens? Yes, because the world doesn't understand what it means to live under "God's rule". The world takes matters into it's own hands, but the Church can live a different way- with hope that God will work things out in God's way.
I know there are some folks who believe that involvement in war for a "good cause" is one way God works things out- that those troops fighting for a good cause are instruments of God's justice in the world. I think that is a very naive way of viewing God and war- it's a Crusader/Constintinian mentality. War is between nations; it's never really good versus evil; there are always multiple motives behind war. Let's be realistic.
But if the Church concerns itself with BEING the Church, then our role in the world is simply to be an example of how one can get along with others in the midst of conflict (wow, did you hear that Liberal and Conservative Methodist Friends?). Also, if the Church concerns itself with BEING the Church and we as Christians are trying to live out God's "telos"/purpose/end for the world where peace is part of the framework, then it might just mean that Christians might want to question whether or not military service is moral.
These are my thoughts for now. More to come.