Friday, February 16, 2007

CHRISTIANITY: NONVIOLENT FOR ITS FIRST 284 YEARS

NONVIOLENT AND ANTIMILITARISTIC. "The early Christians are the earliest known group that renounced warfare in all its forms and rejected all its institutions. This small and original group was devoted to antimilitarism, another concept, like nonviolence, that has no positive word. This antimiliarism was never expressed by Jesus , who, in fact, did not much address the issue of warfare, though he did renounce the violent overthrow of the Romans."

IGNORING THE OBVIOUS. "Warmongering Christian fundamentalists have always clung to the absence of a specific stand on warfare, ignoring the obvious, which is that the wholesale institutionalized slaughter of fellow human beings is clearly a violation of the precise and literal teachings of Jesus . In the days of the great Western debate on slavery, slave owners used a similar argument--that Jesus had not said anything about slavery. But obviously the buying and selling of human beings would not constitute treating others as you would have them treat you."

-- Mark Kurlansky in Nonviolence: Twenty-five Lessons from the History of a Dangerous Idea (Modern Library, Random House, 2006). This book, a Christmas gift from my niece, was one of several books I read from while traveling through India. I am enjoying it as a good, insightful read.

A few questions:

1. Why do you think so many Christians cling to non-biblical and unchristian justifications for war, war violence, and militarism as if they were Biblical and Christian?

2. Do you think Kurlansky is in the ballpark on his assessment that pro-war Christians have "overlooked the obvious" regarding Jesus' teaching (some would say "commands") on violence, enemies, and war?

3. Have you ever read Augustine's "Just War" justifications? If not, Google them and read them. If so, do you really think his treatment of the Scriptures on this is credible? Did he not--and later Thomas Aquinas--disregard the whole weight and thrust of Jesus' teaching on violence, enemies, war, and the Christian's relationship to the state in favor of a few misappropriated verses?

4. What do you think is a more appropriate Christian response to the violence of war and participation in military and the military-industrial complex?

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