Pacifism may portray various meanings to different people. One common meaning of this terminology is the ability to settle disputes without engaging in real war. To pacify primarily means making peace. However, the terse questions still remain unanswered. Is it possible for a Christian to remain pacifist in the contemporary world? Can conflict be avoided at any point in life in spite of being a Christian?
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Can we employ force to stop an intruder from interfering with us? When we use violence as Christians in regards to certain issues, does it reflect the authentic position of God? What about the will of God in mankind when the latter is faced with difficult moments? These are some of the questions that ought to be explored even as we investigate the subject of Christian pacifism.
If indeed the act of being a pacifist is Godly, then Christians are definitely compelled to understand that it cannot be addressed as a separate entity from other values of Christianity. For example, pacifism ought to be explained alongside other aspects of Christianity such as trusting in God, rejecting the pleasures of this world, and love for one another.
We all appreciate the fact Christian pacifism is a true value of Godliness. However, the point of diversion comes when the very Christians are faced with challenges that may demand violence to resolve. Even in the life of an ordinary Christian, greed and lust for worldly possessions may lead to sin.
Hedges observes that “there are always people willing to commit unspeakable human atrocity in exchange for a little power and privilege” (88). If the latter is true, then it implies that human nature if full of violent acts aimed at seeking the best opportunities for survival.
At a personal level in the life of a Christian, engaging in war or acts of violence in order to resolve emerging conflicts is not part of the biblical doctrine. Christians are called to be peace makers (according to the beatitudes). Even in instances when we are wronged, we are supposed to not merely forgive those who offend us. We should also pray for them so that they may come to know the truth.
In fact, Christians should ‘turn the other cheek’ to be slapped by an intruder without turning to violence or retaliation. From this perspective, it is vivid that Christians should not engage in war (Lon 84). According to Hedges, “the enduring attraction of war…can give us what we long for in life.
It can give us purpose, meaning, a reason for living” (3). The latter appears to be rather contrary to the biblical principles as comprehended by Christians. In the physical world of a Christian, any form of violence cannot offer any meaning or purpose in life. On the other hand, if the above statement by Hedges is understood in the spiritual realm, then it can make great sense to any serious minded Christian.
Spiritual war gives reason for living as a Christian. Christians continually fight in the spiritual world with the principalities of darkness. They do so through Christian practices such as prayer, fasting, meditation, purification of oneself, and even worshiping God in the spirit. When this Christian perspective is embraced, then any form of physical war is not within the will of God for mankind.
The writing by Hedges do not address spiritual war as mentioned in the previous paragraph. It speaks of physical war in practicality. All the same, the author still stands against any form of war as noted down when he comments that “in the beginning war looks and feels like love. But unlike love, it gives nothing in return but an ever-deepening dependence, like all narcotics, on the road to self-destruction” (162).
Hedges adds that “it destroys the outside world until it is hard to live outside war’s grip” (162). Hence, there is no doubt that violence is dangerous even in the physical world. If that is the case, why should Christians engage in war in order to resolve the challenges facing them?
If war is detestable in the physical world, why should christens serving God in the spiritual realms engage in violent resolution to problems? Christians should embrace pacifism at all costs so that they can remain true to their faith in God.
Perhaps, it is not spiritually profitable to listen to radical schools of thought in regards to Christian pacifism. For instance, there are those who may be tempted to argue that even God promised victory against nations that would be hostile to Israel. Well, we have witnessed Israel going into physical war with Palestine several times. Besides, Israelites have commanded victory over rival nations since the Old Testament times.
Hedges in his book asserts that the “the moral certitude of the state in wartime is a kind of fundamentalism…has come increasingly to color the modern world of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam” (428).
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From this outset, it is clear that the contemporary world has largely adopted the ideals of fundamentalism as the expense of pursuing peace. Even the world’s major religions are following the same suit.
During the Old Testament times, God spoke to his people directly and would command them whether to make war or peace. The modern day Christians are supposed to be guided by the Holy Spirit and not physical desires (Lon 92).
In conclusion, it is spiritually logical for Christians to maintain sanity by being pacifists. From the above deliberations, it is vivid that even physical war is unhealthy to any nation irrespective of its global status. Christians are called to be peace makers since “blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God” (Mathew 5:9).
Hedges, Chris. War is a Force that Gives Us Meaning. New York: Perseus Books Group, 2002. Print.
Lon, Edward Le Roy. Facing Terrorism: Responding as Christians. Louisville: Knox Press, 2004. Print.