Friday, April 14, 2006

FRIDAY: CONFRONTING THE POWERS part 1


HIS CRUCIFIXION
The cross was an instrument of political
terrorism. In this view of the cross crucifixion
is understood as an act used by imperial Rome to
terrorize the populace against any kind of revolt or
resistance against the empire. Jesus was a victim of
the power, violence, and terrorism of the state.
From this perspective the violence of the cross is
not viewed so much as a symbol of redemption as it
is a symbol of violent political power that continues
to claim victims. Redemption comes through those
who resist the violence and terrorism of the state
and seek to liberate its victims, as did Jesus. (by Leo Hartsborn)


HIS DEATH ON THE CROSS
The cross reveals the ultimate nonviolent
example of Jesus. This view of the cross is
centered in the nonviolent response of Jesus as an
example to follow. The crucifixion is the culmination
of Jesus’ nonviolent teachings and lifestyle.
Jesus endured the cross rather than avoid it
through violent resistance. Jesus serves as an example
to follow that can transform how we deal with
violence. (by Leo Harsborn)





check out via crucis for more reflections...

3 comments:

Jonathan said...

Thanks for drawing our attention to Christian nonviolence as a witness to the cross of Christ.

M Lewis said...

St P - Interesting thoughts, but I don't think I would put it just that way.

The Roman governor bears the final human responsibility for the decision to execute Jesus, and Rome eventually became the beast from the abyss for early Christian believers. Still, the state is not the sole – or even primary – locus of evil in the New Testament, even in the gospels.

I wonder, is the violence of the state used to set the innocent free the same as the violence of the state used to murder dissenters?

Is the violence of the state used to defend the innocent inherently worse than the violence of non-state actors who target the innocent?

Yes, there is a version of nationalism that can turn into state-focused idolatry. However, a reading of the New Testament that demonizes of political structures per se is equally erroneous. While we live in this world, there is still a need for the imperfect justice that the state ought to provide. And if love of neighbor sometimes demands the use of force by the state, it is wrong for Christians to abandon that responsibility to unbelievers.

St.Phransus said...

I wonder, is the violence of the state used to set the innocent free the same as the violence of the state used to murder dissenters?

Is the violence of the state used to defend the innocent inherently worse than the violence of non-state actors who target the innocent?

My first thought is that the intention of using violence used to defend the innocent is RARELY the FULL reason for using force. I don't think many can disagree that usually there are self interests involved- so in my opinion it's questionable that "defending the innocent or oppressed" by force is justifiable.

However, for me that's not really the point. As a Christian I'm more concerned that the Church be the "alternative community" that models to the nations what it means to live in peace with self, neighbor and world. We, by our example are to be a "city on hill" that although are citizens in a country, part of a nation, neighbors in the world also pledge allegiance to God through Christ first and all else second. As a community that means that we don't participate in certain practices that are incompatible with the rest of the world. Violence is one of those. Jesus is very specific when he talks about violence and how his followers are to follow.

So does that mean that the nations shouldn't participate in violence- ABSOLUTELY. But do they- sure. But what about Christians- THEY DO, BUT IF WE FOLLOW THE ONE WE PROFESS TO FOLLOW WE WOULDN'T.

I think we sell God and God's vision of shalom short by participating in a culture of violence. By participating in violence and not confroting those who use violence we are basically either saying, "God is a neutered God unable to keep God's promises to His creation." OR "God uses us to achieve his peace in the world. And although Jesus told us to love our enemy, and to turn our cheek when struck, his teachings do not matter any longer."

If that's the case then I suppose all of Jesus' teachings don't matter any longer to us as long as it supports the good of both humanity and a certain nations interests.

Thanks for the stimulating feedback.