Saturday, April 23, 2005


According to our United Methodist Social Principles:

"We believe war is incompatible with the teachings and example of Christ. We therefore reject war as an instrument of national foreign policy, to be employed only as a last resort in the prevention of such evils as genocide, brutal suppression of human rights, and unprovoked international aggression."

I've had time to digest some thoughts and get a bit of a handle on how I feel about the issue of war and peace and the Christian's response. I realize from my previous post concerning this, and from the conversations that come out of that post that this may not be a reasonable argument, or at least maybe I approached it wrong (which I believe many Christians often do when it comes to social issues).

Do I believe that war is wrong? Quite simply- yes.

Why do I believe that war is wrong? I believe that Jesus taught against violence- to the extent that he lived the teaching out by going to the cross, AND, I am a follower of THE WAY of Jesus.

Do I think that a nation ought not use violence to settle disputes? Quite simply- yes.
As a Christian, I cannot condone the use of violence because it does not follow the teachings of Christ and the way he paved for HIS followers.

Do I expect a nation to follow THE WAY of Jesus? I expect THE CHURCH to follow the WAY of Jesus; to embody the teachings and ways of Jesus. I'm not sure it is realistic to actually expect a country/nation to abstain from war. Afterall, a country is much more than the Polis called "Church". For those outside of the Church it is impossible to understand the ethical commands of Jesus and to embody those teachings.

So maybe, just maybe, my expectations and hopes lie not with nations being non-violent, but just THE CHURCH. How can one expect nations to learn to play nicely with one another if there's not an example. Christians have an example because Christ taught and lived out his ideas. Maybe the world would have an example if all CHRISTIANS laid down their arms, walked away from military service, quit arguing and began listening to one another's disagreements, and welcomed "the other/stranger".

I know that some will disagree heavily with my statement that maybe Christians ought not serve in the military. But I remind you that the early church was pacifist. Prior to A.D. 170-80 there are no records of soldiers in the Roman army.

But if The Church takes seriously that It is the social embodiment of Christ then how do we live that out? I know that my "Just War" friends will say that God works through war (even if it is an undesirable action) to bring about the most good.

But let me entertain the notion that God calls God's people not:
1. to be the winners
2. to "make the kingdom happen" by all means necessary
3. to choose the option that makes the most sense

But God calls God's people to:
1. Be the Church
2. Live out the teachings of Christ in a real way
3. Love mercy
4. Seek Justice
5. Be the Church
6. Be the Church

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