Thursday, October 26, 2006

Three Models of Christian Violence/Three Models of Church Membership

One of the top professors here at Asbury/Orlando is Dr. Hugo Magallanes -- one of those rare teachers who takes positive delight in people disagreeing with him. I used to think that he was a liberal, but now I suspect that he'll just take the opposite position of whatever you take in order to force you to defend your perspective. Anyway, I have Christian Ethics with him this semester and today we talked about homosexuality and church membership. In the UMC, this is hot issue, and the Methoblogosphere was hoppin' with it back when the Judicial Council handed down the Ed Johnson case decision.

A few class sessions ago, we discussed the three schools of Christian thought on violence and war:

1. Pacifism: there is a separation between the values of the Christian community and the values of the world; the former must never be compromised under any circumstances. Violence is utterly contrary to Christ.

2. Just War: living within the world entails certain responsibilities, such as to prevent, terminate, or deter harm to others under certain criteria.

3. Crusade: the world is divided in between the Good and the Evil (no neutrals) and evil must be totally destroyed; no rest until it is annihilated.

Today, he compared this model with three views on homosexuality and church membership that were being voiced in the classroom:

1. Pacifism: accept all people -- including unrepentant practicing homosexuals -- with unconditional love and no demands on sanctification.

2. Just War: accept all people -- including unrepentant homosexuals -- into church membership, but insist upon sanctification.

3. Crusade: reject all practicing sinners, including unrepentant homosexuals.

It's an interesting comparison.


Jonathan said...

I don't particularly like the comparison. One of the things about Christian pacifism (at least the Hauerwasian variety) is that it demands a strong doctrine of sanctification. According to this view, one of the ways God sanctifies us is by making us nonviolent. The suggestion that pacifism is about accepting everyone without making any demands on them is based more on the 19th Century (early 20th century) Liberal Protestant Pacifism, and not the Christological pacifism of a Hauerwas or Yoder.

John said...

That's a good point, Jonathan. Classical Christian pacifism (e.g. Menno Simmons) is nothing if not demanding upon the adherent. I'm won't go so far as to extend that the Hauerwasian pacifism, however.

Allan R. Bevere said...

I do not care for the comparison either, and I would extend that kind of strong sanctification to Hauerwas' view. He is noted for saying that the reason more Christians do not embrace pacifism is that they are unwilling to live in the kind of community required for pacifism to be sustained.

John said...

I think that the model stands not on the demand of sanctification, but the willigness to use resistance.

It is, I would agree, an incomplete analogy.

John Meunier said...

Am I right in reading this? The analogy seems to be based on comparing acceptance of evil with acceptance of homosexuality?

Pacificists accept both without resistance, etc.

I don't think most pacificists would understand their position as acceptance without resistance, but rather as resistance without the sin of violence.

I'm just not understanding the basis for the analogy.

Dan Trabue said...

I agree with the consensus here that it's a poor analogy. The anabaptists who are among the leaders in pacifism are also the same group that practices shunning - the kicking out of the unrepentant. The limited definition of pacifism as "accepting all people with nothing required on their part," sounds like no pacifists I know.

Some new agers, perhaps, but not Christian pacifists.

Today's pacifists (and other Just Peacemakers - a fourth category Dr. Hugo left off) have certainly not quietly accepted Bush's warring, have they?

Sally said...

I don't like the comparrison at all- it comes over as self-righteous bullshit... and passifism is not the roll over and play dead option...and is this analogy based on comparing acceptance of evil with acceptance of homosexuality?

If so I think we have a lot of thinking to do!

Andy B. said...

I think there is another, very important perspective that is left out of the list. It would fit in between pacifism and just war, not rejecting war outright and never considering it to be "just," but considering it an tragically unavoidable evil in some circumstances.
As for the analogy, it blows.

John said...

That's an interesting idea, Andy, although I'm inclined to think that it is included within classical Just War. Does Just War, as you understand it, see war as a net positive?

Dan Trabue said...

That's what I was referring to as Just Peace. See Glen Stassen's book Just Peacemaking for more.

Here's a bit about it:

Just Peacemakers are not necessarily pacifists. Their emphasis though is on working towards making peace (naturally enough), thinking that whereas war should be a last resort, it is not usually.

Just War Theorists range in opinion, from what I've read. I think most serious Just War Theorists would agree with pacifists and Just Peacemakers that war is an evil. They just think it a sometimes horribly necessary evil.

Dan Trabue said...

Then, there are those firmly from the JWT tradition - such as the last two popes - who are questioning whether or not Just War Theory is even possible anymore.