Wednesday, August 16, 2006

On Christian Rhetoric and Christian Action

Back in September, while New Orleans recovered from Hurricane Katrina, the nation watched in horror as news reports flowed in of armed gangs roaming the city, looting at will and murdering citizens -- even firing on National Guard troops. The reports were substantially overblown, but while they were still considered valid, I looked around at my gang-ruled barrio and speculated about life in the aftermath of a Katrina-level disaster. I concluded:

I need to buy a gun and to learn how to use it.

This common-sense statement earned me a lot of blowback from commentors. At the time, the reaction deeply irritated me -- not because I thought that they were wrong or rude, but that their outrage was totally disingenuous and insincere. Throughout the history of civilization, including Christian civilization, using force to defend oneself from violence has been the completely accepted norm. Such tradition does not alone justify my decision, but it should protect me from showy displays of feigned outrage, as though my decision was a completely weird and unreasonable conclusion. For example, one commenter named George wrote:

I thought this was a rational faith and politics site - buy guns - my God have you ever read the bible and Jesus? How about Martin Luther KIng? George

John Wilks, too, tore into me good and hard in the comments and on his own blog (although I can't track down his lengthiest post on the subject; John did you take down a post?). Again, the sheer insincerity of the critiques bothered me. But that was because I did not at the time understand Christian pacifism. Christian pacifism isn't about doing particular things, but saying particular things. To the Christian pacifistic movement, one's actual behaviors are unimportant because, as Hauerwas has argued over his career, the purpose of the Church is to proclaim the Kingdom of God, not to actually create it. This low ecclesiology sees heckling as the primary mission of the Church.

Now one can take from the New Testament the understanding that the Christian shouldn't ever use force to defend oneself; turn the other cheek, yada, yada, yada. One can create a Just War Theory, but Occam's Razor suggests that Jesus was proposing an absolute pacifism, both with his words and his actions. So when I advocate the use of force for, well, anything, I'm probably just flat-out disobedient to Christ. At the Last Judgment, he can explain it to me and judge me accordingly.

The difficulty is that none of us are pacifists, including and especially those who claim to be pacifists. My view is premised on this supposition: that there is no moral distinction between:
1. committing an act of violence myself
2. hiring a third party to commit the act of violence on my behalf (e.g. a police force or army)
3. taking full advantage of a third party committing the act of violence on my behalf

John Wilks said that by drawing this distinction, I was creating a "false dilemma":

You are presenting a false dilemma. You assume that anyone who as a Christian is committed to non-violence must be a pacifist as you define pacifism (or as this dictionary or that speaker of whatever.)

Well, if there's a definition of pacifism that doesn't require pacifistic behavior but just pacifistic rhetoric, I can sign on the dotted line. John's definition of Christian pacifism apparently involves many corollaries which allow for the protection of one's family members' lives, but not property and the use of police force, but not one's own personal force. How these many escape clauses can be exegeted from Scripture, I do not know. But to his credit, John's rhetorical gymnastics permit him to be ostensibly obedient to the pacifistic commands of Christ without any actual cost. John merely shifts force over to the "state" side of the moral ledger, permitting him to make use of its protections but assume no responsibility for its actions. A tax lawyer couldn't have done a better job.

John also disapproves of my willingness to use force to defend not just my life, but my property. Jesus said, "Give him your cloak also..." etc. Okay. But the problem is, once you pay the Danegeld, your never get rid of the Dane. Give the to thief the Sudentenland, and next he'll take Czechoslovakia. Give him your stereo, and he'll come back for your food. Give him your food, he'll come back for your life. Eventually, the crocodile will eat you, regardless of your attempts to appease it. So handing over my stereo but saying "Go no further" doesn't work.

But pacifism isn't concerned with ends, but means. The consequences of decisions are less important than the means used to reach those ends, if any at all. The result is that pacifism often cannot inform public debate. I've seen this when talking with Dave Warnock, who in June considered the nightmare of Dafur and the need for concern from churches. I responded that I saw a lot of Christians deeply concerned about Dafur, but there was a limit to what we could do to save these people as "churches typically don't have armies." To this, Dave responded:

You know me well enough to know that I don't think armies are the solution to any problem. if armies were the solution then the Garden of Gethsemene would have been a very different place.

After some back and forth, I then asked the obvious question:

How can we stop the genocide in Sudan with other than military force?

Dave never answered. His pacifism prevented him from proposing a military solution, and therefore prevented him from proposing any solution. But then again, his post was entitled "Being Activists...", so perhaps his point wasn't to solve a problem, to be an activist about a problem.

More recently, I outlined at Connexions what I thought was the most practical and reasonable plan for peace between Israel and its neighbors. It was a bit bloody, as it required actions like killing terrorists. Dave found this plan "totally unacceptable". In response, I asked:

Okay, what's your idea for ending the Palestinian mass psychosis which has made them obsessed with wiping Israel off the face of the earth? If there's a better one, I'd like to know it.

Again, Dave never answered the question. This is a common clashing point in pacifist/Just War debates: pacifism can heckle, but not inform the full spectrum of public policy debates. As Mitchell Lewis (himself a professional killbot) put it eloquently:

Anybody can be a loud, hostile critic of our social structures and civic leaders. What happens when the world says (as it did with Constantine), "OK, you think you're so smart, why don't you take the reigns of society awhile." It ain't as easy as it looks.

Indeed not. But pacifists are not fond of exploring the consequences of their perspectives being translated into foreign policy or otherwise think that the resulting consequences are irrelevant to discussions on the validity of pacifism. For a few weeks, I've been chasing Tony Mitchell around the room with the practical consequences of his views in a couple of comment threads over at his blog. Tony took the absolutist view that war is always wrong -- not sometimes, not most of the time, but always wrong. My strategy in this debate was to hold up a particular war as necessary because a pacifistic response would have had catastrophic consequences, and therefore war could not always be wrong. The war I chose was the war launched by the US government in the Spring of 1861 against the newly-independent Confederate States of America. The American Civil War as an optional war. The US could have allowed the CSA to peacefully secede and that would end the military conflict before it began. The downsides would have been (1) a permanently divided America and (2) probably decades before the manumission of black slaves in the Confederacy.

Now if Tony's pacifistic perspective -- that war is always wrong -- had been implemented by the US government in the Spring of 1861, those two downsides would have taken place. This leads to my central question in the thread: In the balance, was the war therefore worth the 2% of the US population that died in the next four years?

Tony had dodged the question, arguing that (a) we shouldn't allow problems like slavery to develop in the first place and (b) the practical implications of enacting pacifism are irrelevant to determining its value.

Sure, it would nice if slavery had never developed in America, nor North and South divided over a long period of time, but how does this perspective offer advice to the Lincoln White House in the Spring of 1861? Likewise it would be nice if Nazism had never developed in Germany, but how does this perspective advise the Allied governments in the Fall of 1939? If pacifism cannot be anything more than a wagging finger saying "I told you so!", then how is the world a better place because of its voice? If absolute pacifism is untranslatable into foreign policy, then why bother listening to it?

But Tony denies that there are any lessons of history to be learned about war. He says that I'm living in the past by speculating about how past events would be different if political actors had been pacifists. This is Tony's way of avoiding inconvenient facts, like that the US government chose well not to permit the CSA to secede and that the Allies in WWII chose well not to lay down their arms and respond in a pacifistic manner to the Nazi hordes.

But again, pacifism is more about saying the right things than doing them. It's a Christianism that is concerned with one's outward appearance to the world God instead of solving problems and making the world a better place. It is a castrated ecclesiology that heckles, rather than contributes; a perspective that whines about problems but offers no solutions. It is a voice crying out in the wilderness, "Waaaaah!"

Cry me a river, pacifists. When the wolf is at the door, I'll grab a shotgun. And you know what? You will, too.

UPDATE: Dr. Joseph Cathey has a hard question for pacifists.

100 comments:

Anonymous said...

John
Very good post. If pacificism had been the policy of the US govt the last century we would all be speaking either German, Japanese or Russian. If it was the policy today, we would all be bowing down to Allah. I think that in order to be a real pacificist, one must also be willing to be oppressed or a martyr. When the evil bad guys come marching down your street with tanks rounding up your neighbors and family, I think pacificism will be a theory that will be quickly rejected by many.

The Bass Player's Wife said...

Ok, now you have done it. I have to THINK, and I don't like to think on Wednesdays.

Anyway, thank you for your eloquence.

Anonymous said...

John,

A most excellent post! I loved reading this.

I have had similiar argument with the "gooey Agape, love, love love" Christians who argue that "there can't be a literal Hell since God and Christ love everybody way too much to condemn anyone to that kind of eternal torment".

Then you ask these same folks, "where is Hilter right now? where is Stalin? where is mohammed atta? ".

"oh, they are definately not in Heaven....they have to be in Hell."

Great Post. I am going to have to save this one!!!

Anonymous said...

Smashing!

Anonymous said...

As much as I'm sure we'd often be in very different places when it comes to the where, the when, and the how of force, I'm actually with you on this. Good post.

wolske said...

A very interesting post -- can we extend this to WTO protestors and their like? How about every American that complains about illegal immigration but directly and indirectly benefits from it's impact on the economy? It's much easier to complain about Mexican construction workers than to actually make an effort to buy a house that was not built by immigrants.

I haven't read your site beyond this post, so I don't know your view on immigrants. But thanks for giving us something to think about.

Anonymous said...

John, There is a certain practicality to your thinking. Religion by nature is not practical because it is not dealing with this world but the spiritual. Now you might say than how can we follow Christ. Well as individuals we should always strive to follow to the best of our understanding. Societies goals are different though, the goals of society is self presevation. That's why pacifism on a national basis can never work. When a need arises for force society dictates doing what's best for for the group.

Oloryn said...

Keith: re the 'sloppy agape' types - While scripture does indeed say "God is Love", I find it interesting to note that the constant chant around the throne of God isn't "Loving, Loving, Loving is the Lord" (Rev 4:8).

Bob: I'm not sure I'll agree about religion not being practical. I'll agree that we often make it impractical. But that's us, not God. I've come to the point where one of the things I use to gauge insights is that a real insight often gives a glimpse of the sheer practicality of the Father.

Eight Iron said...

John -

I add my kudos.

It strikes me that this issue is something like pure opposition to capital punishment. I can find it in Scripture (John 8), but my arguments usually unravel over the extreme cases, i.e. Timothy McVeigh, Charles Manson, etc. Likewise, pacifism looks great on paper, until as you say, the "wolf" is at the door.

- Greg

Mark said...

John,

You really need to get out of your shell and post something more provocative. :>)

Seriously, I find it curious that most of the comments here are favorable. Usually when you write a post like this, your blog looks like a battlefield. What gives? Are your detractors quietly gathering their ammo? Or was your argument so brilliant that it completely disarmed them?

John said...

I dare not answer that question.

Richard Johnson said...

John,

The development of my pascifist self is still in the workings. I hope by the end of my high school career at a Jesuit Catholic High School, I will have written enough papers on the subject to fully create an alternative argument to one such as yours.

I will say this, however. War, violence, and destruction should not be our first choice, but rather our last. If we, as citizens, decide to take the law into our own hands and, as the law is in Florida, shoot anyone whom we feel threatens us, then we have not given these people the oppurtunity to fulfil their lives as God's creation.

Here's the thing, and this paragraph will pertain mostly to the death penalty, the destruction of human life is morally wrong - bar none. I don't care if the life you are destroying is a small child, a soldier, or Adolf Hitler. Each life, no matter how far detatched from God they may have brought themselves, always has that possibility, that chance, for redemption and forgiveness. If we remove that from a person, and decide that we, a mere equal to them, have the right or power to end their life, then we have overstepped our God-given boundaries. When Cain killed Abel, Cain was punished by God. Yet, God did not kill him.

You have given a couple of examples when war has "worked" (the Civil War and WWII), but you gave no examples of when peace worked. What about the two most famous examples of massive change brought on by peace? Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King both made extraordinary and revolutionary change without the firing of a single bullet. These men of peace, were truly men of peace, and yet they died at the hands of people like you who feel that we need to take justice into our own hands and end someone's life because we feel threatened by them. Whenever I listen to commentators on this subject they always bring up World War II and the Civil War as examples that we must make war our policy in dealing with foreign matters. But, I ask you, perhaps these are the exceptions and not the rule? I wish to investigate further what differentiates them from other wars and if the idea of "just war" is really applicable.

Our first response should never be war. However, I do hear your considerations in regards to issues such as genocide, in which case war or perhaps more appropriately "peace-making forces(?)" are required. In the future, I would like to hear more commentators from both sides and understand how I can formulate an argument like yours. I know war is wrong; now, I need to be able to explain why.

Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God. - Jesus

Richard Johnson said...

"If it was the policy today, we would all be bowing down to Allah." - Craig

Sir, I must disagree with you on the harshest terms possible and implore you to re-think your statement.

Allah is the Arabic word for "God." Allah is the God of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mary, and all the prophets recognized in Judaism, which are in turn all recognized in Christianity, which in turn are all recognized in Islam. We follow the same God! You as a Christian are already bowing down to Allah! Allah is God, litteraly! Indeed, if you've ever spoken to a Arabic-speaking Christian (though, I doubt in your bigotry you'd want to), in their CHRISTIAN services, guess what they call God? Allah! That's right!

I absolutely hate it when I hear remarks that condemn "Allah" coming from Christians because Allah is our God, too, and you are in turn criticizing your God. You probably don't even realize it in your own ignorance.

John said...

I'll let Craig take care of the Allah error.

Richard -- my objective is not to say that war is always the answer. That position is as false as to say that pacifism is always the answer. Both war and pacifism are sometimes the solutions to different problems in different situations.

Gandhi's pacifism worked because he appealed to the moral character of the 20th Century British people. Against a more barbaric or savage nation, it would not have succeeded.

Even Martin Luther King recognized this distinction and said, "if your opponent has a conscience, then follow Gandhi. But if you enemy has no conscience, like Hitler, then follow Bonhoeffer." Sometimes we must be Bonhoeffers.

Dr. Joseph Ray Cathey said...

John,

Great post! Very well thought out and REAL. I know many pacifists that look good on paper but when their children or wives are threatned then they are just like the rest of us.

I find no justification for pacificism in the NT and I am doing a series on it over at my blog. Look for the first major post Friday of this week or Monday of next week.

Again, very well done!

Richard Johnson said...

Interesting suggestion. I've actually never viewed that way before.

However, aren't we all creatures of conscience?

Richard Johnson said...

Dr. Joseph,

Did you not read my Jesus quote,
"Blessed are the peacemakers; for they shall be called the children of God."

Is that enough or would you prefer more?

Mark said...

Allah is the God of Adam, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Mary, and all the prophets recognized in Judaism, which are in turn all recognized in Christianity, which in turn are all recognized in Islam.

Richard: Muslims, indeed, recognize Jesus as a prophet...but only one in a long line culminating in Mohammed, the supreme prophet. Muslims believe that assigning divinity to Jesus is shirk, or unforgivable blasphemy. In addition, Allah himself allows no partners or associates, thereby negating the Christian doctrine of Trinity--another notion that Muslims find repugnant.

Consequently, I as a Christian most assuredly do NOT worship Allah, but the triune God as revealed in the Bible.

Richard Johnson said...

I made this video:
http://politicswithrichard.blogspot.com/2006/08/fossoli-concentration-camp-video.html
to reflect on my recent visit to a Holocaust internment camp last month.

When I was there, I felt that we should stop all injustice and never fight again. But, these emotions, I suppose similar to those of absolute pascifists, I cannot bring about. However, though I may not be able to alone, I will continue to pursue a hope, a lifestyle, and moral convictions which will one day lead to a world in which it will be imopssible for such atrocities to be committed when we finally have full understanding and respect for not only our friends but our enemies.

"Love thine enemies. Pray for those who hurt you." - Jesus (again)

Richard Johnson said...

Mark, if you do not worship "Allah," then you do not worship "God" as Allah is the word for God. I am not asking you to follow him in the doctrinal teachings of Islam, but you must accept that he is the same God. I assume you do accept the fact that Christians worship the same God as Jews?

Also, Muslims accept Jesus as the Messiah. According to Islam, Jesus was God's most beloved messanger (which is a rank higher than a prophet in Islam). He was the one to lead the children of Israel before Muhammad who is not viewed as the "Supreme Prophet" but the "Last Prophet." The reason that Muslims do believe Jesus could have been God was Jesus died, and God does not die.

Mark said...

Richard,

We're getting far afield from the original pacifist post, but how can you separate Allah from Islamist doctrine? According to Muslims, Allah is wholly One. So how can you say that Christians worship Allah (a monad) when we believe that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit (triune)?

Richard Johnson said...

There is one God - in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Dr. Tony said...

First, I don't think I ever dodged the questions that you posed. Rather, I pointed out the consequences of what the wars you selected brought to civilization.

Second, I am not ignoring that we have fought wars. Concerning the Civil War, I pointed out that both sides wanted the war as badly as the other. But what I said and what I will continue to say is that we have seen the causes of war and we continue to push for war. Are we ever going to learn that death, destruction, and despair are never the answer?

I used to have a political cartoon in which there was a single soldier, dirty and bloodied from the war, standing alone in the middle of the battlefield. Nothing else, no trees, no animals, nothing remained besides this single soldier. The caption was "I think I won." As the last person standing he did, but what did he win.

What shall we win if there are people in the world who are hungry, cold, sick, and oppressed. Will we, as Christians, helped them, or will we find some sort of rationalization to justify keeping the sick, cold, hungry, and oppressed.

My point, when I started this, was we should seek an alternative. I find the alternative in Christ. I cannot say that others do that.

Mark said...

Yea! The detractors have finally come out!

Mark said...

BTW, just to throw more fuel on this fire, our U.M. Social Principles allow for war--"as a last resort in the prevention of such evils as genocide, brutal suppression of human rights, and unprovoked international aggression." Interesting, considering our Social Principles are hardly the voice of right-wing conservatism.

Richard Johnson said...

That actually sounds somewhat acceptable.

John said...

So then Tony, was the US government wrong to go to war with the Confederacy in the Spring of 1861? If your answer is "no", then you cannot logically hold that war is always wrong.

John said...

Richard wrote:

Mark, if you do not worship "Allah," then you do not worship "God" as Allah is the word for God.

A name does not make a thing true.

I can build an idol with my hands, decorate it, ascribe various teachings by it and call it God, but that does not make it God.

Dr. Tony said...

The United States was going to go to war with the Confederacy, no matter whether it was right or wrong. The Confederacy was going to go to war with the United States, no matter whether it was right or wrong. Both sides claimed to have God on their side, so we don't know which side is wrong.

Should the United States have gone to war in 1860? I have to hold that no war, seen through the looking glass of history,is ever right. And we look to the future and we see oppression, sickness, homelessness, hunger and we choose to do nothing, then our choice is wrong and war is a faulty and morally wrong alternative.

The outcome of the civil war showed that the war did not solve the problems that slavery created. It only changed the form.

John said...

Tony, if war is inevitable, then how can one attribute moral qualities to it? If war is an absolute certaintly, then how can one say that a decision to go to war is wrong?

Where is there moral responsibility where there is no free will?

Anonymous said...

Richard wrote:

Mark, if you do not worship "Allah," then you do not worship "God" as Allah is the word for God.

Richard,

To quote Butters on Southpark, "you can call a shovel and ice cream freezer if you want to...but at the end of the day it is still just a shovel."

Similarily, there is absolutely no way that the 'allah' that Muslims bow down to is anything like God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost that I worship. That may be their word for "god", but so is Molec, or Rah, or Zeus, what those pagan cultures refered to as their cheif diety or "god"

Richard Johnson said...

But their God is the God of Abraham. We, Jews, Christians, and Muslims, share a common founder in faith and we share a path of faith. We are all connected in our faith in One God who was and who is the God of Abraham, the God of Moses, (and for Christians and Muslims, the God of Mary and John the Baptist). You say that this idea of the Supreme God figure is contradictory to your faith, but it is our faith. If you wish to claim something other than that we have one God, then you're contradicting the very fundamental Commandment which exists in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam - "I am the Lord your God who took you out of that place of slavery. You shall have no gods besides me."

(sorry, John, for hijaking this thread)

The Bass Player's Wife said...

Except that they have denied Him. And so, I would say that their God is no longer that of Abraham et al.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm curious: Is it JUST biblical teachings on pacifism that you reject as unattainable and therefore a bad idea or ALL morals taught in the Bible? Is it okay to commit adultery, since we're not perfect humans and one can only expect so much? How about murder? What if we're really angry, is it gonna be okay if we commit a murder or two?

Which biblical morals do we have to implement in our lives and which ones can we say, "Sounds nice but not practical"? Can we whittle the Ten Commandments down to a more manageable Five?

John said...

That's a hard question, Dan. Well, I can't see how it might ever become necessary to break Biblical commandments, like those against adultery or idolatry. But I could break a Biblical commandment against violence if, say my wife was being raped on our living room floor. I'd get violent right away and worry about the theological consequences later.

Christian ethics is nothing if not messy.

Anonymous said...

John,

I have been preaching a series this month on "War, Peace and God." This is a great post and will help me I plan the remaining sermons in my series.

In addition to the section of the UM Social Principles quoted by Mark Winter, there is another section under the heading of military service (para. 164.I) that reads in part:

"We honor the witness of
pacifists who will not allow
us to become complacent about
war and violence. We also
respect those who support the
use of force, but only in
extreme situations and only
when the need is clear beyond
reasonable doubt. . . As
Christians we are aware that
neither the way of military
action, nor the way of
inaction is always righteous
before God."

I like this statement better than the section from the Principles concerning war and peace.

Thanks for starting the conversation!

Dan Trabue said...

As to your specific questions and complaints about What Do Pacifists Suggest Instead?, there is some legitimate room for criticism here. We are such a minority that we've never been anywhere near being in a position to make policy, so we've not often articulated such.

But that isn't always the case. The Friends/Quakers have this excellent resource:

http://www.fcnl.org/ppdc/

Since pacifists are - and likely always will be - a minority, and since we are usually NOT of the type of religion that wants to force our beliefs upon others, we tend to stick to matters like you've mentioned here: How Must I live? We acknowledge that the majority will not embrace pacifism and in a Democratic Republic, that means that we won't make that call.

What we tend to do (in addition to asking the personal questions about how WE should live, is to suggest that our nation AT LEAST live up to Just War Theory tenets, which a majority of people likely DO support (or, at least, would say they support).

The laws and policies we have in place are insufficient, but not totally wrong.

for instance:

We ought NOT torture
We ought NOT invade other nations unprovoked
We ought NOT intervene in other sovereign nations, trying to oust or kill leaders we don't like
When we DO engage in war, we ought NOT target civilians (as in Hiroshima, Dresden, etc)
When we engage in war, we ought not take actions that we know will lead to the deaths of civilians (even if we're not directly targeting them)

And so on. These are our laws now (with some room for disagreement upon interpretation). We tend to think that we ought to at least obey our existing laws.

From there, we tend to believe (there's a spectrum of beliefs within pacifism, hence my reason for saying "we tend to believe") that we ought to establish a Dept. of Peace (or some equivelent) and invest at least as much time and effort in to planning peace as we do in to planning war.

All of the above ARE concrete actions that pacifists tend to think make sense and ought to be implemented to "provide for the common defense." They're not pie in the sky or utopianist in scope. No more so than hoping that we can bring peace by waging war.

Jonathan Marlowe said...

Good points by Dan Trabue. Remember John Howard Yoder in his book Nevertheless described 39 different forms of pacifism - so we are not all alike. One thing they all share in common is that they are pacifists, not passivists. Pacifism is a peace-making; it is an active, intentional practice. When Jesus said, Blessed are the Peacemakers, we understand "peace-makers" and "pacifists" to be interchangeable, because pacifism is more about what we DO, than what we don't do. This is explained well in a Circuit Rider article by James Howell: http://www.umph.org/pdfs/circuitrider/q102.WPRU.pdf

Your rant against pacifism does not mention the just war theory and how impractical many people believe it to be. An argument could be made that the just war theory is more impractical than pacifism ("you mean we expect soldiers to go to war and not kill civilians? how impractical is that? only an idealist living in the clouds would dream that up!)

The best argument against pacifism may be a movie like Hotel Rwanda. And the best counter-argument may be in a bookcoming out called "What about Hitler? Wrestling with Jesus' Call to Nonviolence in an Evil World" from Brazos Press by Robert Brimlow.

You get a lot of mileage out of that one little quote from MLK. I would suggest you weigh it in the context of MLK's whole life and broader writings and see where you come out. It might also be a good idea to take a closer look at Bonhoeffer's life and writings, rather than just assume one isolated incident adequately sums up his entire life and theology.

I don't know of too many people in history who have been more practical than Dorothy Day. Ever heard of her?

Anonymous said...

Hey John,

Look at all the comment.

It is about time that someone stepped up to the plate with a good dose of Raynorism!

John said...

Keith, as this is a family-friendly blog, I think that Raynorism belongs someplace else.

I agree that we should live up to certain tenets of Just War, although I suspect that our definitions for it will differ.

My point in using the MLK quote and Bonhoeffer's authorization of violence is that absolute pacifism is foolish. Situational pacifism (e.g. Gandhi) is not, but the position that violence is always wrong cannot claim MLK as an intellectual godfather.

John said...

Let me clarify an error in that last comment. Gandhi was not a situational pacifist, but his unique situation permitted pacifism to succeed. MIK, however, was a situational pacifist.

Jonathan Marlowe said...

John,

Using your understanding of "situational pacifist," I suppose Malcom X was a situational pacifist, and George W. Bush is a situational pacifist. They use non-violent methods when they yield the desired results. The problem with watering down the definition so much is that it robs the word of any serious content. When you can say that George W. Bush is a situational pacifist, what's the point?

Martin Luther King also said,
***
They did not see that there's a great deal of difference between nonresistance to evil and nonviolent resistance. Certainly I'm not saying that you sit down and patiently accept injustice. I'm talking about a very strong force, where you stand up with all your might against an evil system, and you're not a coward. You are resisting, but you come to see that tactically AS WELL AS morally it is better to be nonviolent.
***
The assassination of Malcolm X was an unfortunate tragedy. Let us learn from this tragic nightmare that violence and hate only breed violence and hate, and that Jesus' word still goes out to every potential Peter, "Put up thy sword."
***
May I say just a word to those of you who are struggling against this evil. Always be sure that you struggle with Christian methods and Christian weapons. Never succumb to the temptation of becoming bitter. As you press on for justice, be sure to move with dignity and discipline, using only the weapon of love. Let no man pull you so low as to hate him. Always avoid violence. If you succumb to the temptation of using violence in your struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness, and your chief legacy to the future will be an endless reign of meaningless chaos.
***
Violence creates many more problems than it solves. And the oppressed peoples of the world cannot afford to flirt with retaliatory violence. And there is a voice crying through the vista of time saying, "He who lives by the sword will perish by the sword." And history is replete with the bleached bones of nations who refused to listen to the words of Jesus at this point. The method of violence would be both impractical and immoral. If this method becomes widespread, it will lead to terrible bloodshed and that aftermath will be a bitterness that will last for generations. So we must all pray and hope and work that the oppressed peoples of the world will not use the method of violence to stand out against oppression and injustice.

More on Dietrich Bonhoeffer later.

Also, find out more about Dorothy Day.

Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

'Even Martin Luther King recognized this distinction and said, "if your opponent has a conscience, then follow Gandhi. But if you enemy has no conscience, like Hitler, then follow Bonhoeffer." Sometimes we must be Bonhoeffers.'

Where do you find this quote from King? I wrote my dissertation on King and have published several scholarly articles on his work since. I find nothing like this--certainly not from 1955 onward when he had finished his "Pilgrimage to Nonviolence." MLK, Jr. was most assuredly NOT a situational pacifist.

As for the often repeated claim that Gandhi's program only worked because the British were "civilized oppressors with consciences" (I'm not even going there!), what do with the following nonviolent revolutions:
1)The many Eastern European revolutions of 1989--many with very harsh dictatorships. Only Romania's turned violent. In East Germany (the "Revolution of the Candles") where Honnecker the dictator was called "the Beast," and "the second Stalin," not one drop of blood was shed. No lives were lost at all in Czechoslovakia, either. Of all the nonviolent revolutions that year, except for Romania, no more than 12 lives were lost and no killings were done by the nonviolent revolutionaries.

2) What of the 1991 nonviolent collapse of the USSR with its active nonviolent confrontation of the Soviet hardliners?

3) 1986, the U.S. backed dictator Marcos is overthrown through nonviolent people power. Was Marcos a "dictator with a conscience?'

4)In 2000, the Serbian dictator --who survived intact the NATO bombing of Kosovo--was deposed in a textbook nonviolent revolution led by the student group Otpol. It was made the subject of a PBS documentary, Bringing Down a Dictator, which is probably available through your local public library. I don't know ANYONE who would argue that Milosevic was an "oppressor with a conscience."

5) In the 20th C. at least 20 Latin American dictators were overthrown nonviolently--although many regained power through violence.

I am not claiming that nonviolent revolution or nonviolent defense always works. Far from it--I have a good friend who lost family in Tiennenman Square in '89. But war has a pretty poor success rate--1 side always loses and often both sides lose. We train people to make war better--at great cost--but most nonviolent campaigns are improvised. How much better could we make this option with nonviolent equivalents of West Point and Annapolis? With enlisting our best minds to come up with better ways to intervene nonviolently?

As it is Christian Peacemaker Teams, Peace Brigades International, Nonviolent Peaceforce, Witness for Peace, Nonviolence International, and other small, poorly funded, initiatives have an amazing success rate for their numbers and investment. It is possible to be against violence and war without being for guilty bystanding.

The old proverb is "When all you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail." So let's work on expanding the toolkit so that--at the very least--we reinforce the Just War principle of "last resort" by having some other "resorts?"

Jonathan Marlowe said...

Excellent points, Dr. Westmoreland-White. Thank you.

John, the only place I can find your alleged quote from MLK is from second-hand sources like Richard Land.

Here's a thoughtful piece on Bonhoeffer.

Anonymous said...

John:

Outstanding post! Save yourself a lot of time and energy and highlight this piece as Best of the Methodist Blogroll at weeks end.

Respectfully,
Dark Gable

Kevin Baker said...

Excellent posts from Dr. Westmoreland-White and Jonathan Marlowe. You have said things better than I could have put them.

I would reiterate that pacifists are not passivists, and there is quite a bit of ideological diverstiy among us, as at least one post pointed out.

Situational ethics and "what if" senarios are not very helpful in such discussions, but they certainly constitute the bulk of the frontal assaults on Christian pacifism. Why Christians are not more concerned with the practices and holy habits of peace and peace-making one can only guess, but I can imagine that issues of utility and practicality trump faithfulness and the possibility of suffering.

That is the one thing I would add to what has been said - that a commitment to the non-violence of Jesus does not presume to "work" (though I am thankful for the posts that illustrate that it often does - and the posts that illustrate how ineffective violence actually is in achieving its desired results).

The way of the cross does not come without the possibility of bearing one, or even being crucified on one. Let us remember: Jesus did not inflict suffering, but he did endure it and call us to follow him.

Shalom.

Richard Johnson said...

Great points Dan, Jonathan, and Dr. Michael. I'm definitely going to order What about Hitler?.

John said...

My sources for the MLK quote are all secondary, too. I can (and will) check it in a Bartlett's, but probably not before Monday.

I am glad that there are a number of occasions where peaceful opposition alone has resolved conflict and advanced human freedom. The examples that you have listed are, however, more the result of cascading preferences and the use of force as deterrance. And they also presume to allow vast suffering before significant change takes place. Thanks, but no thanks. The Warsaw Pact nations, for example, had to endure a half century of enslavement before liberation. This necessary precondition of many uses of pacifism may make its selection as the strategy unacceptable.

But as you say, we can expand our toolkit and include less violent means of acheiving change.

By the way, the Christian Peacemaker Teams is not a pacifist outfit, but a pro-terrorist outfit. Just that point of clarification.

Kevin Barker wrote:
Situational ethics and "what if" senarios are not very helpful in such discussions, but they certainly constitute the bulk of the frontal assaults on Christian pacifism.

I'm sorry if reality is "unhelpful" to discussions of the utility of pacifism.

Why Christians are not more concerned with the practices and holy habits of peace and peace-making one can only guess, but I can imagine that issues of utility and practicality trump faithfulness and the possibility of suffering.

Yeah, working out the theology sucks. But then again, I won't ever have to see my wife raped on my living room floor because I refused to use violence to defend her. I think that I'll take that option and work out the Christian ethical problems later.

Dan Trabue said...

A few more points of clarification:

"And they also presume to allow vast suffering before significant change takes place. Thanks, but no thanks."

The suggestion here seems to be, "but with war, no such suffering takes place," and I'm sure you realize the irony some of us might find in that suggestion.

"the Christian Peacemaker Teams is not a pacifist outfit, but a pro-terrorist outfit."

They are certainly NOT a pro-terrorist group. Words have meanings and you're using this phrase here wrongly. Just because one chooses to identify one party in a conflict as the main "target" to try to stop the violence, does NOT indicate support for violence on the other side.

If you want to criticize them for "picking on" the US and Israel too often, then do that. But don't obfuscate matters by calling them "pro-terrorist."

What's that commandment...oh yeah, "thou shalt not bear false witness."

Dan Trabue said...

"But then again, I won't ever have to see my wife raped on my living room floor because I refused to use violence to defend her."

As indicated already, there is a spectrum of pacifists out there, but I imagine most are okay with the notion of intervening to stop individual acts of violence.

Using Safe Physical Management or just bodily presence and interference to stop an individual attack does not relate to using bombs in Iraq to stop "terrorism."

Jonathan Marlowe said...

I did not want to wait until Monday to check on the alleged MLK quotation. Bartlett's Quotations (10th edition) is on line. I checked and could not find the saying at all.

Dan Trabue said...

I'm sure if that's the case that the retraction will be posted soon from Brother John, if I read him a-right.

Rev Paul Martin said...

I have seen no evidence that CPT are pro terrorist. It just doesn't wash!

Jonathan Marlowe said...

Concerning the question posed by Dr. Joseph Cathey, John Howard Yoder has a lengthy response to this question, and I have posted it here. I hope I am not violating copyright laws, but I don't think Yoder would mind. This used to be on Jesusradicals.com, which is where I got it. I also posted this at Dr. Cathey's blog, but it is not showing up (maybe Dr. Cathey will allow it later?)

John said...

Barlett's online is a much smaller version than Bartlett's in print. I'm a librarian by trade; I know.

If I can't find the quote, yes I will retract.

CPT is pro-terrorist. They falsely identify the primary protagonist in most conflicts and usually side with the most depraved and violent; or whichever side is against Israel and and the US. They are clearly sympathetic with the most depraved side in Iraq, for example, and give rhetorical cover and support for the terrorists there. Authentic pacifists tell all sides to cease violence, not just one, and certainly not the most evil. They're pro-terrorist and have no relationship with any true Christianity.

Rev Paul Martin said...

Show me where they justify violence by any group in Iraq?

I have read their site and see no such evidence. Perhaps, your conclusion is based on their emphasis on a message to their own countries BUT that is not the same as supporting terrorism.

I hope to hear Norman Kember. I have read much of his comments. They are consistently anti violence. shortly

John said...

I think that I laid out my case pretty strongly here.

Of course, that was eight months ago. Maybe they've repented of their sins since then and abandonned their support for terrorism.

Anonymous said...

I recommend a bolt-action rifle, chambered for .22 WMR.

It isn't much good against burglars and other intruders, but it's great for things like rabbit hunting.

Jonathan Marlowe said...

John
Glad to hear you are a librarian. My mother was also a librarian. I think there are some similarities between pastors and librarians, but that is the subject for another post. As a librarian, my mother helped instill in me a love of learning and books, including reference books, and an appreciation for using reference materials appropriately as a way to share accurate information.

My mother once gave me Bartlett's Quotations in print as a graduation gift (15th and 125th anniversary edition - revised and enlarged). The quotations from Martin Luther King are found on page 909 of my edition. Your alleged quotation is not there. However, you will see several wonderful quotations about the importance of non-violence, so I encourage you to look it up.

Kevin Baker said...

MacIntyre sheds some light on modern moral discourse like the string of posts found here. In his book, After Virtue, he addresses what he calls

“the conceptual incommensurability of the rival arguments [see page 8 for the three debates he is referring to]. Every one of the arguments is logically valid or can be easily expanded so as to be made so; the conclusions do indeed follow from the premises. But the rival premises are such that we possess no rational way of weighing the claims of one against another. For each premise employs some quite different normative or evaluative concept from the others, so that the claims made upon us are of quite different kinds. In the first argument [dealing with war], for example, premises which invoke justice and innocence are at odds with premises which invoke success and survival …From our rival conclusions we can argue back to our rival premises; but when we do arrive at our premises argument ceases and the invocation of one premise against another become a matter of pure assertion and counter-assertion. Hence perhaps the slightly shrill tone of so much moral debate.”

At the risk of raising the tone even higher, I would like to ask: just what premise lies behind our positions? Many, if not most of the posts come from Methodists. Assuming we are all bound to the same confession, what do we do with the claim upon us found in Article XVI of our Confession of Faith: “We believe war and bloodshed are contrary to the gospel and spirit of Christ.” (keep in mind this is NOT the Social Principles, that can and will change every four years, but part of our Doctrinal Standards that is much more difficult to change and to dismiss).

John wrote: I'm sorry if reality is "unhelpful" to discussions of the utility of pacifism.

??? Not sure why you said this. If I read your post right, you are accusing pacifists of forsaking utility (that every action should be based solely on its consequences).

John wrote: Yeah, working out the theology sucks. But then again, I won't ever have to see my wife raped on my living room floor because I refused to use violence to defend her. I think that I'll take that option and work out the Christian ethical problems later.

I had already pulled my copy of “What would you do?” down from the shelf when I saw that Jonathan beat me to the punch and has provided a helpful link to the book by Yoder. One of Yoder's points, that often goes ignored or dismissed by detractors, is that there are myriads of ways to responds to such violence in creative ways – options that more often than not end in more desirable results for the intended victim. Running to the gun cabinet as the first and only solution is a failure of imagination (imagination that can be exercised prior to the event …wooah …that actually sounded like some action on the part of a pacifist? any woman (or man) who has been to defense training knows some of the techniques that are more effective than introducing a weapon … techniques that used to be maligned have now been mainstreamed, primarily because of their effectiveness … go figure.

To often the dilemna approach to violence assumes there is only two options, which is far from the truth (ask my spouse who has been a victim of assault - we read "What would you do" together, not to get one up on somebody's blog, but to practice, learn, and act in ways that diminish violence and its effects in such situations).

John said...

I had already pulled my copy of “What would you do?” down from the shelf when I saw that Jonathan beat me to the punch and has provided a helpful link to the book by Yoder. One of Yoder's points, that often goes ignored or dismissed by detractors, is that there are myriads of ways to responds to such violence in creative ways – options that more often than not end in more desirable results for the intended victim. Running to the gun cabinet as the first and only solution is a failure of imagination (imagination that can be exercised prior to the event …wooah …that actually sounded like some action on the part of a pacifist? any woman (or man) who has been to defense training knows some of the techniques that are more effective than introducing a weapon … techniques that used to be maligned have now been mainstreamed, primarily because of their effectiveness … go figure.

Psst. I'm over here. That's a strawman that you're hacking away at. I've never said that violence is the solution to every problem.

Kevin Baker said...

I think that I'll take that option and work out the Christian ethical problems later.

Straw man? You build them and I'll burn em. Glad to hear the clarification in your response.

Michael Westmoreland-White, Ph.D. said...

Christian Peacemaker Teams "pro-terrorist?" Excuse me, but just what have you been smoking? I know about 50% of the CPT board personally and many of those who have gone on CPT short-term or longterm assignments. Your description is a lie from the depths of hell.

Rev Paul Martin said...

I agree.

It is legitmate to disagree with CPT on theological grounds or regarding their wisdom for some practical circumstances. that is your right even though I am increasingly won over by their perspective.

What is not legitimate is to debase debate by suggesting something grotescue such as that they are pro terrorist. It patently is not so. I understand that they wish to equip people to resist wrong in non violent ways. therefore to accuse them of being "pro terrorist" is to bear false witness and indeed to sabotage proper democratic debate by replacing it with the politics of innuendo which seeks to repress dissent.

I have spent plent of time perusing CPT site and I agree with above poster that there is absolutely no case for describing CPT is such a manner.

John said...

Did you read my link?

Rev Paul Martin said...

Yes!

And I have spent time reading their site.

I stand by my post. Your approach turns everything into an "us" or "them."

I find my admiration for CPT grows every time I go to their site.

John said...

Okay, what part of my argument is flawed?

Rev Paul Martin said...

It is simple. Nowhere do they justify violence or encourage it.

Please provide evidence of such comments.

My reading of their site along in the past with the likes of Dave Warnock finds no such evidence.

Michael Westmoreland White who knows many CPT leaders has also stated that they are opposed to all violence.

Find the quotes that support violence and your argument won't be flawed. The problem is that the evidence of such an outlook seems to be non existent.

Dr. Tony said...

In the discussion of what is pacifism and what is not, whether there are multiple styles of pacifism, please consider the case of Desmond Doss. He earned the Congressional Medal of Honor as a non-combatant.

From http://www.medalofhonor.com/DesmondDoss.htm -
Desmond Doss insisted that he be allowed to serve, but he refused to carry a rifle. Doss was a religious pacifist, ridiculed by his company for his constant Bible study and his supposed cowardice. But then this World War II medic saved over a hundred lives in a single day under heavy fire.
On Oct. 12, 1945, Desmond Doss received the Medal of Honor from President Truman. He would spend a total of six years in hospitals as a consequence of his wounds and a bout with tuberculosis. Today, almost totally deaf, Doss lives with his wife in the mountain community of Rising Fawn, GA, where he serves his church with all the quiet determination he once put at the service of his country. I don’t think there is anyone who appreciates peace more than I do, Doss once told an interviewer. I am sad for the true heroes who paid the supreme price for our freedoms.
Citation: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. He was a company aid man when the 1st Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. PFC Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them 1 by 1 to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards of enemy forces in a cave's mouth, where he dressed his comrades' wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On 5 May, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, PFC. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On 21 May, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and PFC Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers' return, he was again struck, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions PFC Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.

See also http://www.medalofhonor.com/DesmondDoss1.htm

Anonymous said...

A couple of points, first even Jesus didn't advocate pacifism. When Jesus encounters the money changers in the temple he sure doesn't look like a pacifist.Actions speak louder than words and Jesus knew there were times when more than words were called for.
Secondly all the debate about quotes seems kind of fruitless. The people who compile quotations don't take every quote and certainly in the case of MLK wouldn't take a quote that would lessen his legacy.
Now I'm not quite old enough to remember MLK first hand but i've worked with people who were. One statement that was attributed to MLK That he would predict that there would be racial violence in a city. Guess what after said prediction there was violence. Preaching pacifism and then instigating violence seems kind of two-faced to me.

Pacifism seems to me to limit people when sometimes a peaceful solution isn't likely or even possible.

Dan Trabue said...

"When Jesus encounters the money changers in the temple he sure doesn't look like a pacifist."

That's probably because you have a poor understanding of what it means to be a pacifist. We're not passivists.

Jesus driving the money changers out was taking action to stop an injustice without employing deadly violence. There's not even any scriptural evidence that Jesus used his makeshift whip to do anything other than drive the animals out. Regardless, he didn't kill any moneychangers and sure as hell didn't drop bombs on their households in hopes of stopping them.

Pacifists tend to be about ACTIVE Peacemaking. Taking steps to stop oppression, just as Jesus did in the temple.

It may be helpful to look up Non Violent Direct Assistance or go to the Mennonite or Quaker websites and learn a bit more about what pacifism means.

Dan Trabue said...

But you know, I'm not tied to the term, "pacifist." If that has negative connotations to you, feel free to describe Jesus by his teachings.

We are instructed by Jesus to use what's been called the Third Way.

That is, not fight, not flight, but stand up to evil by turning the other cheek.

We've been taught to love our enemies, do good to those who hate us.

We've been taught to overcome evil with good.

We've been taught to follow in Jesus' steps, which may likely include putting ourselves on the line to love and help others and to do so without resorting to violence.

You don't have to call that pacifism. But, as Christians, this is what we've embraced, IF we've embraced Jesus' teachings. (Likewise for those who follow other religions and philosophies who respect Jesus' teachings.)

Rev. C. S. Roberts said...

I hate to add to 72 comments but here we go…

John, first of all, you mistake Hauerwas’s differentiation between the proclamation and the creation of God’s kingdom. I have never heard anyone claim Hauerwas has a low ecclesiology. If one reads any of Hauerwas’ writing it is understood that he has a very high ecclesiology. This thought about creation is less about ecclesiology and more about God’s sovereignty. If God is the creator of all then we are not in the creation business. I suggest reading (or re-reading Performing the Faith by Dr. Hauerwas to see how ecclesiology, faith, and non-violent action plays itself out in the life of the church).

Second, I shy away from calling myself a pacifist, though I am a supporter of Christian non-violence. This is more than mere Christian rhetoric. Though I hate to use this extreme example, let’s go there. If someone breaks into our home, my wife understands that I will not act violently in response. I will seek to resist all evil, however, I cannot act violently (return evil for evil). I do not hesitate to call the “authorities) as per Romans 13, the government does have the authority to use violence, as part of God’s created order. Romans 13 does not say that this violence is god, just necessary. So I have no qualms to use it. That isn’t rhetoric, that is Truth. Just ask the crackhead who stopped that fugitive in Atlanta by reading Rick Warren.

Finally, the church has not invested itself into understanding and practicing non-violence as a way of life. We have been so overwhelmed and sold-out to the ways of the world that violence is natural (part of our original sin). The church needs to reject the world and take seriously the ways of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

Peace.

Richard Johnson said...

Fascinating insights from both sides.

John said...

I have been asked why I consider the Christian Peacemaker Teams to be a pro-terrorist organization. I suppose that some might look at the name and conclude that it is both Christian and devoted to peacemaking. But a name does not necessarily make a thing true.

In order to assess the political objectives of the CPT, it is necessary to look at the totality of their writings on their website. Paul insists that I provide direct quotations of their support of violence. I do not think that this is a necessary criterion. From the whole of their writings, one may discern a disproportionality of criticism which conveys what Goebbels called a “Big Lie”.

Authentic Christian peacemakers or pacifists would condemn violence everywhere. Yet the almost exclusive focus of the CPT is on condemning violence committed by the governments of the United States and Israel – two nations that are both free democracies with excellent human rights records.

We find an example in their criticism of the US liberation of Iraq. The CPT directs almost all of its criticism toward the US and other allied nations occupying Iraq, and none toward the terrorists. It condemns the forces responsible for building a stable, free, and less bloody Iraq, but not those who are trying to create an unstable, enslaved, and more bloody Iraq. So we may discern the CPT’s perspective on not only what is said, but what is not said. For example, one of its stated goals is to “document abuse of detainees by Coalition forces”, but there is no corresponding objective of documenting abuse of detainees by terrorists in Iraq. Why is it that the more evil, destructive, and less peaceful side is spared the lash of their words?

One of the most stunning examples of this lopsided perspective occurred when four CPT members in Iraq were kidnapped by terrorists there. In response, CPT released a statement blaming the allied forces for the incident, claiming that the invasion of Iraq was the indirect cause of the kidnapping. Yet the CPT did not blame the direct cause of the kidnapping – the terrorists themselves. All blame was cast upon those who did not commit the crime, and none upon those who did – even after the hostages were freed.

By depicting the US as the source of evil and sorrow in Iraq, the CPT adds rhetorical and persuasive strength to the terrorists’ false narrative: that America is wicked, enslaving the Iraqi people, and committing horrible war crimes. The far more numerous daily wanton murders committed by the terrorists are to be ignored, the far fewer war crimes committed by the US are to be highlighted.

The title of this post is “On Christian Rhetoric and Christian Action”. That’s because words have consequences; or as Jonathan Marlowe put it “words matter”. If enough people push a Big Lie, over and over again, the sum total of their rhetoric and change the course of world events. Again, the terrorists in Iraq wish to push a Big Lie: that America is wicked, enslaving the Iraqi people, and committing horrible war crimes. The CPT’s rhetoric mirrors this narrative. Their words add rhetorical and political support to the Big Lie that the terrorists wish to convince the world of. Therefore they are pro-terrorist.

The CPT could avoid contributing to the terrorists’ Big Lie. If they wanted to stand simply for their own truth, then they could condemn all violence. This would mean condemning the terrorists in Iraq a lot; in fact, most of the time. Shoot, I’d be content with just a one-for-one balance. The CPT could be a true pacifistic witness by condemning violence universally. Yet the CPT does not. Its criticism is offered only to the far less evil side. This trend blatantly advances the false narrative of the terrorists’, and therefore the terrorists’ agenda, and is therefore pro-terrorist.

The second primary focus of the CPT is Israel. Israel is a small nation of a mere six million people, yet CPT is intensively interested in Israel’s conflicts with its neighbors. Although Israel is not blameless and wholly innocent, its enemies wish to advance the false narrative that Israel is the aggressor in all of its conflicts and the primary instigator of those conflicts. Its enemies wish to annihilate Israel as an independent state and have said so, repeatedly, since its inception up to our time. CPT contributes to the advancement of this false narrative by mirroring it. If CPT was an authentic pacifistic voice, it would condemn all violence in the Levant, not just that perpetrated by Israel. It would condemn the Hezbollah missile attacks and kidnappings which instigated the recent war, not just the Israeli response to them.

But CPT does not. It is forever a shrill voice condemning the Israeli side of this conflict exclusively. The convenient silence in response to violence committed against Israel betrays the CPT’s alleged mission of peace and justice. That shrill voices gives moral/rhetorical cover and support for the terrorists’ false narrative, and therefore the terrorists’ agenda, and is therefore pro-terrorist.

The difference between the allied forces and the terrorists in Iraq is not the same as those between the Democratic and Republican parties, or the Conservative or Labor parties. Christians can, in good faithful conscience, arrive at either side of these fences. One need not like America or what it is doing in Iraq, or think that the war was or is a good idea. One may think of it as an illegal or immoral war to launch. But one cannot advance the Big Lie of the terrorists in Iraq and serve their political agenda in good conscience. One cannot willingly be a propagandistic tool of the terrorists’ false narrative in Iraq without being pro-terrorist.

I realize that this may be an unpopular position. Paul Martin considers it “patently not so”. Jonathan Marlowe is apparently summoning apostolic authority to call me to account for this perspective. Michael Westmoreland-White considers it to be “a lie from the depths of hell.” Nevertheless, after prayer and thoughtful reflection, I have reassessed my original position and found it be sound. CPT, despite its name, is a pro-terrorist organization. Sometimes speaking truth to power is unpopular. But here I stand, I can do no other.

Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil;
Who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness;
Who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah 5:20

Anonymous said...

Can this naivete be for real? Can one really think that there is not another "Big Lie" at work with the covert (military and economic) operatons of the U.S. in virutally every country around the world?

It seems there may be a "ditto head" here that needs to be outed (the Limbaugh narrative always seems to trump critique, self-evaluation, and reflection - particularly when deep seated nationalist idolatries are exposed and divested of the thin veneer of Christian packaging). That may or may not be what is in play here - but it bears so much resemblance that it can still serve as an analogy for unquestioned presuppositions.

I am for denouncing violence from whereever it comes ... but if John has failed to go directly to his brothers and sisters on the CPT site in question (Matthew 18 / bound by baptism if nothing else - though there seems to be compelling evidence that the offending brother is John not the members of the CPT. It is one thing to engage in debate, quite another to bear false witness whether it is sincere or not - for that matter, most commandments are broken in the name of sincerity) ... then the demand for retraction stands.

John said...

Gerald, perhaps you would be so kind as to cite when I have ever linked to or cited Limbaugh or referred to him as an authority.

Anonymous said...

Dan, Your correct Jesus didn't use deadly force. However it does demonstrate a need for force to rectify some situations. The problem is that chasing someone with a whip is not always enough force. The people railing against the U.S. or the Israelis believe that there is a way without force to deal with terrorists. I believe our government is doing all in it's power to try to protect it's citizens.

Anonymous said...

By your own admission, citing an actual source does not seem to be an important criterion (as in absense of one from CPT supporting terrorism or sanctioning violence).

Your basic arguement is - "if it walks like a duck" so I am using the same one in my evaluation. Who said any of this was about dicerning actual truth of another's position?

If you go down that road, don't blame others for following you.

John said...

I haven't listened to Limbaugh in eight years, and then only in passing. But whatever. Compare me to Limbaugh. I couldn't care less.

Now, do you have an actual argument to make? Is my reasoning flawed?

John said...

Chris Roberts wrote:

Second, I shy away from calling myself a pacifist, though I am a supporter of Christian non-violence. This is more than mere Christian rhetoric. Though I hate to use this extreme example, let’s go there. If someone breaks into our home, my wife understands that I will not act violently in response. I will seek to resist all evil, however, I cannot act violently (return evil for evil). I do not hesitate to call the “authorities) as per Romans 13, the government does have the authority to use violence, as part of God’s created order. Romans 13 does not say that this violence is god, just necessary. So I have no qualms to use it. That isn’t rhetoric, that is Truth. Just ask the crackhead who stopped that fugitive in Atlanta by reading Rick Warren.

Hmm. Well, when one of my neigbhors got drunk and tried to break into my house one night when my wife and I were there, I didn't use force, but it was pretty clear that I was willing to if he took a swing at me or menaced my wife.

Romans 13 is a difficult passage. If one accepts it as literal and binding on us today, then one must also conclude that all governments are established by God and resisting them is resisting God himself; that we have no reason to fear government since they are there to serve justice. This experience is contradicted by many governments throughout human history. Nazi Germany, for example. Were those who resisted the actions of the Nazi government (put in place by God himself and given authority by God) disobeying the commands of Scripture?

So either:
A. Romans 13 is literally true and that all governments are put in place by God and serve the cause of justice

or

B. There have been unjust governments and government actions in human history

But A and B cannot both be true.

Dan Trabue said...

"Authentic Christian peacemakers or pacifists would condemn violence everywhere."

Yes, and we do. BUT we may choose to identify ONE party as the entity to target. When the US backed the Contra terrorists in Nicaragua in the 80s, Christian peacemakers tended to condemn the terrorists and not so much the villagers who were shooting back.

Sometimes, there's a clear aggressor and we'll tend to target those aggressors in a situation, it only makes sense and I'd hope you could agree with that.

Sometimes, there's less of a clear aggressor, the fighting may have been going on back and forth for years and decades (as in Israel). But sometimes in those sort of situations, one side might have more power, be committing more atrocities, thereby helping the violence to escalate. In those situations, it makes sense to target the stronger party.

Peacemakers do tend to always criticize violence, but not all violence is equal in the real world. Practical peacemaking requires logical and creative interventions.

Dan Trabue said...

"If one accepts it as literal and binding on us today, then one must also conclude that all governments are established by God and resisting them is resisting God himself"

No, not really. Not if we take the Bible as a whole and not just isolated verses. Taking the Bible as a whole, we can clearly see that at times, we are instructed to obey God rather than gov'ts. There's not really a question in that regard, it's clear biblical teaching that nearly all Christians acknowledge.

We MUST resist gov'ts at times. This much we know. The question is not, does Romans 13 mean we must always obey our gov't, but what guidelines does the bible give us as to WHEN we should oppose our gov'ts.

John said...

Sometimes, there's less of a clear aggressor, the fighting may have been going on back and forth for years and decades (as in Israel). But sometimes in those sort of situations, one side might have more power, be committing more atrocities, thereby helping the violence to escalate. In those situations, it makes sense to target the stronger party.

I think that it would make more sense to target the violent party, rather than the more powerful party, if the two should be different. As in these two cases.

Anonymous said...

Sometimes, there's a clear aggressor and we'll tend to target those aggressors in a situation, it only makes sense and I'd hope you could agree with that.

Sometimes, there's less of a clear aggressor, the fighting may have been going on back and forth for years and decades (as in Israel). But sometimes in those sort of situations, one side might have more power, be committing more atrocities, thereby helping the violence to escalate. In those situations, it makes sense to target the stronger party.

Peacemakers do tend to always criticize violence, but not all violence is equal in the real world. Practical peacemaking requires logical and creative interventions.


LOL! Therefore beauty, errr, atrocities, clear or less clear aggressors, side with more power, stronger or weaker party are in the eye of the beholder. It appears that "practical peacemaking" is nothing more than a political agenda that is neither "practical" or logical; and does nothing to further peace.

Respectfully,
Dark Gable

John said...

No, not really. Not if we take the Bible as a whole and not just isolated verses. Taking the Bible as a whole, we can clearly see that at times, we are instructed to obey God rather than gov'ts. There's not really a question in that regard, it's clear biblical teaching that nearly all Christians acknowledge.

Agreed, we should obey God, not governments, when the two are in disagreement. Still, if we take this passage as literal and binding, then all governments are instituted by God and are instruments of his authority.

If.

Dan Trabue said...

"Still, if we take this passage as literal and binding, then all governments are instituted by God and are instruments of his authority."

Instruments of God's authority, fine. But you said Instruments of God's authority that must not be opposed ("would be resisting God," I believe you said), and that's different.

As to the comments that we ought to target the violent party, sure, IF only one side is engaging in violence. But that's not the case in Israel, and in Iraq, the US was the invading nation, which was met with resistence (perhaps not unlike an invasion of our country would be met with).

"It appears that "practical peacemaking" is nothing more than a political agenda that is neither "practical" or logical"

I've no political axe to grind, nor do most pacifists in my experience. Most of us were appalled by Clinton's violent and ill-advised behavior and we're appalled by Bush's. Our "agenda" is peacemaking with justice.

No more, no less.

Anonymous said...

John,

Your points made all through the original post and the comments are all excellent.

As for the issue of the government, I learned in my UMC that are three God created and has ordained three separate institutions to rule the affairs of men (I mean mankind, so no offense ladies.)

These are: 1. The Family. 2. The Church – by church I mean the body of believers and worshipers who follow the one, true God. The Church in this definition has existed since the God created Adam and Eve. 3. The Government.

This does not mean that all families, all churches, all governments are ordained by God. We live in a fallen world and the Enemy corrupts each of the God ordained institutions in doing his work to oppose God.

The Enemy hates the family. He uses apostate families to wreak havoc in the lives of men and women, to bring entire generations into sin and loss.

The Enemy hates the church. He opposes the church at every opportunity. This includes false churches and legitimate churches with false doctrines.

The Enemy hates the government. Or legitimate governments who derive their power from righteous citizenry from legitimate means.

My point is that the sure sign of a false church is one that opposes the God ordained family and opposes a legitimate God supporting government (the Branch Davidians come the mind, or fundamentalist Islam) . The sure sign of an evil government is one that opposes the family and the church (this is target rich environment, the however Religious Theocracies such as are in place in Iran comes to mind here, Communism, or National Socialism. The sure sign of a corrupted and evil family is one that has contempt for its own family members, the church, and the government.

Thus, while God has ordained all three institutions to rule over men, that does not mean that all families, all churches or all governments of them are Godly in nature, nor does God support all.

Anonymous said...

I'm sure you're aware of the almost painful irony of claiming to be "speaking truth to power" when defending the use of state-sponsored violence in an argument with pacifists. It verges on creepy.

I was more or less with you on your original post here. I'm an anti-death penalty, generally non-violent vegan... but I believe strongly in self-defense, believe I'd rather work out the details of guilt and such down the road than let someone hurt any one of the people I love. I can't really feel bad about that. It's nature, the better part of our nature even, to want to protect those we care about, and sometimes pacifist (even when not "passivist") methods just don't do it. So, yeah, to look out at a gang infested barrio, imagine the worst, and say "I should buy a gun and learn how to use it" doesn't sound so crazy to me. When it comes to state-sponsored violence of any sort, things get trickier. I can say I'm "anti-war," but, really (aside from a handful of sociopaths who seem to gravitate toward positions of power) who isn't? I believe that there are occasionally extremely ugly necessities. I'm glad to not be in a position to have to wrestle with making some extremely ugly decisions.

That said, you've lost me, for a number of reasons.

This morning, my wife and I were talking (for reasons I can't remember) about the classes we'd dropped during our (long finished) college careers. I told her about quitting a class called Argumentation and Debate. The course description had appealed to me, it was at the perfect time of day, I was taking it with a very argumentative pre-Law roommate with whom I often disagreed, so I was truly looking forward to the class. On the first day, the professor (a conservative Christian, this being Houghton) described the class in a little more detail, then said that we would be free to choose topics to discuss, with the exception of abortion. This, he explained, was because there was absolutely no rational argument that could be made in favor of abortion and there was therefore no point in debating it.

Now, whatever you might think of abortion, you have to think that this sort of mentality coming from a professor teaching a class on "argumentation and debate" is absolutely absurd. It defies the whole purpose of such a class by completely discounting any potential argument before the debate begins, by making some topics off limits and saying "we can't use reason here, we can't discuss this."

I'll be honest with you. I don't know a whole lot about Christian Peacemaker Teams. I'd never been to their site until reading your comments about them. But I'm disappointed by your tendency to completely discount those who disagree with you by throwing out labels like "pro-terrorist" that stop any meaningful discussion before it can even start. Too often, it seems, those who disagree with your perspective are simply hate-mongers, terrorists, apologists for every kind of evil.

Again, I don't know much about CPT. But your claim that they are pro-terrorist because they criticize U.S. and Israeli actions more than they criticize violence by, say, Hezbollah, is something that could apply to me, and I certainly don't consider myself a supporter of terrorism. In your claim that this makes them pro-terror, you completely discount any possibility that they might have reasons (with which you might very well disagree, but rational reasons nonetheless) for their focus. If I complain about U.S. policy more than I complain about Al Qaeda, it's in part because I don't think there's anybody out there within the sound of my voice who might have a rosy picture of Al Qaeda. I don't need to point out how wrong it is to fly some planes filled with innocent people into buildings filled with more innocent people. People are pretty much on board with that (a few more sociopathic exceptions, sure, but they're more or less beyond the reach of reasoned arguing anyway). Motivation might also have something to do with the fact that, while terrorist groups make their decisions more or less independent of public opinion, democracies (in theory at least) can be influenced by the people. And then there's that pesky reality that some people might in fact truly, honestly believe that the U.S. and Israel carry more responsibility for the wrongs currently going on. Some might point to 500,000 Iraqi children reported dead by UNICEF due to U.S. led sanctions against Iraq and as many as 100,000 Iraqis killed since the current war started (most killed by coalition forces and bombs, not by terrorists), or the enormous discrepancy in numbers between Israelis/Palestians or Israelis/Lebanese in those conflicts, and say that it would seem that U.S. and Israel are the more guilty parties. You don't have to agree. But the arguments aren't irrational.

Instead of any sort of reasoned debate or attempt to understand the perspective of others, we get heavy doses of wild accusations, insults, and disrespect. It's unfortunate.

I'm also curious. While I understand your arguments against an absolute pacifism and the need for occasional violence, does your faith slow you down at all when it comes to pulling out the guns? I hear you saying "yes, of course violence shouldn't be the first resort," but generally see you coming to the same conclusions as the worldliest of hawks. Where does faith come into it? If it doesn't make any notable difference in worldly decisions, what's the point?

John said...

How is my understanding of violence different now? What is the difference between Christian John and pre-Christian John? Admittedly, I've a long way on the road to perfection.

In the domain of violence, I'm a lot less hateful now. Although I didn't hurt anyone, there are people that I would have physically hurt -- a lot -- if I could have gotten away with it. There were people who had hurt me and I would have sought bloody revenge if possible. But not anymore. Christ changed that part of me.

But I don't write of the use of force. Am I akin to the "worldiest of hawks"? Probably more than I should. Christ changed a lot of me, but I don't think that I really budged politically. Perhaps He has more changes in store in the future. But as it is, I see limited violence as an acceptable tool under certain conditions.

Describing CPT as a pro-terrorist organization isn't just an attempt to tar them. I just don't see how one can look at the totality of their writings and statements and reach a different conclusion. Shoot, I can debate them. Their own perspectives are not unworthy of debate and refutation. In fact, it's necessary.

Does CPT have reasons for focusing exclusively on the less evil sides in regards to Iraq and Israel? If there's a good reason, I'd like to hear it.

Q said...

I'm going to have to agree with you here John. Much like my brother said some 948957594 comments up, we might not agree on the when, who, what, where or why, but the theory is sound. Violence is a tool used by "good" and "evil" alike. Hitler used it. We used it to try and stop him. People say we should have never let it get so bad as to have to use force, to let things turn violent. But how would we have stopped the Holocaust without some measure of violence? Also, and more to the point, once we realized our mistake, we surely can't say well woops, and continue to do nothing for fear of violence.
It might not be a first or best option, but it is still an option, one that is often justly utilized.

Anonymous said...

Regarding "more" and "less" evil... I don't think it breaks down quite that easily. A bad analogy... who is more evil, the sociopathic street thug who kills people for loose change and sneakers, or the mob boss in charge of the city's organized crime? Walking down the street at night, I'd much rather run into the mob boss than the thug. If I had to choose who to have over for dinner, again, the mob boss. Less likely to steal the silverware, less likely to cut me with the silverware. Probably even some decent conversation. Maybe civil, polite.

In the broader sense, the mob boss is the more dangerous of the two.

When you use words like "more evil," I get the feeling that you're defining the terms in ways that really only apply to the sociopath. Yeah, you're absolutely right... the "bad guys" out there are truly bad, bad guys. They blow up cafes and cut people's heads off on video tapes and preach the annihilation of Israel and such. No doubt all that stuff is really bad. Truly.

It's just that some people might think the less over-the-top, more civil, polite and subtle evil is evil too, and maybe even the bigger problem. Again, 500,000 dead Iraqi children as a result of sanctions could strike some as bad... it might not be as grotesque and barbaric as cutting off heads on camera, but the end result could be deemed, by some, to be worse. 100,000 dead Iraqis (or 50,000, or whatever... it's an awful lot) is a lot of dead Iraqis in a short time... the fact that they were killed "clean and legal" with bombs dropped from planes rather than blown up with improvised bombs in cafes doesn't make the end result any uglier.

So maybe the people complaining about U.S./Israeli actions more than they complain about Hezbollah etc ARE addressing what they see as the greater evil (whether or not they'd word it that way).

And again... there's the issue of utility. As I said before, complaining to terrorist organizations about their excesses doesn't have much effect. In theory, asking a democracy to bring it down enough (you know, stop torturing prisoners, stop talking about the nuclear option in Iranas if it's a plausible, rational, not absolutely insane tactic) could have some sort of positive results.

Anonymous said...

Most pacifism vs. realism debates seem to turn around the question: Are counter-measures to violence violence?

The added twist in this particular debate seems to be: Which actions will we call "the counter-measures" and which will we call "the violence"?

The answer to this question seems to have more to do with social location and political conviction than theological conviction (narrowly-defined). For that reason, it seems adherence to logical argumentation is only clouding the issue.

Maybe a more helpful approach at this point would be: When did we learn what is violence? Who/what taught us?

John said...

I'll respond this afternoon, Jockeystreet. As usual, your comments merit more than a quick-and-dirty reply.

Anonymous said...

John:

Shoot, I can debate them.

You may want to re-word the above, otherwise passivists will accuse you of a disproportionate response, or a shoot first talk later mentality that just continues a cycle of violence! :)

Regards,
Dark Gable

John said...

Jockey, you're right that the calculus of greater than/less than evil -- any sort of comparison -- is tricky. Especially when we count the corpses and come up with different numbers.

I suppose that it might be more effective to lobby and press a democracy to respect human rights than a less civilized polity. But I don't see that as the approach of many critics of Israel or the US. If the rhetoric were along the lines of "Civilized nations like the US and Israel are morally obligated to use greater care; they can and should be held to a higher moral standard", then I could accept this rationale as not necessarily logical, but at least worthy of consideration. But the rhetoric follows more along the lines of "The US and Israel are the most brutal terrorist states in the world." This rhetoric does not portray these nations as more civilized and therefore held to a higher standard, but less civilized and therefore more reviled.

Dammit, Jockey, why do you have to be so reasonable? I have to think instead of dismissing you with a wave of the hand as a wacko moonbat.

Anonymous said...

Sorry.

If it helps...

We never landed on the moon, the government could cure all infectious diseases if it so desired but doesn't in order to keep the population in control, there's an engine out there that gets a thousand miles per gallon but Dick Cheney has the only prototype hidden in his closet in a box along with the REAL Deep Throat's identity and and and...

Jonathan Marlowe said...

I thought it was a shame to stop this string with 97 comments, so I thought I would make 98 in hopes that it might reach the century mark. By the way, John, I noticed that you have not responded to my explanation that you had used an argument from silence, which is a logical fallacy.

Kevin Baker said...

John said (some 40 odd posts ago): Again, the terrorists in Iraq wish to push a Big Lie: that America is wicked, enslaving the Iraqi people, and committing horrible war crimes. The CPT’s rhetoric mirrors this narrative. Their words add rhetorical and political support to the Big Lie that the terrorists wish to convince the world of. Therefore they are pro-terrorist.

Thought I would jump in here again, if only to keep charging towards 100 (John, is that some kind of record?)

But on to the pot stirring ...I have to admit that the cursory statement you made on "The Ivy Bush," namely that

I would only be committing the logical fallacy of Argument from Silence if CPT was disengaged from terrorism-related issues.

is far from any kind of refutation or evidence to the contrary. Of course, a person can choose to argue from silence, it is just a very weak argument. From the rather jaundiced reading of the CPT links that you provided, I find it hard to believe it evokes a "here I stand" kind of certainty on your part. I think the reason you have gotten so many hot reactions is becasue a good many other logical and rational readers have looked at the same material and come to a different conclusion. This knowledge, at the very least, should allow space for some humility on both sides.

Here are a few other points/questions that I would add to the mix:

1) Should not Christians (even those who have sharp ideological differences) err on the side of charity towards brothers and sisters in the faith (until proven otherwise?).

2)Is there a difference between anti-American rhetoric and "pro-terrorist" rhetoric (from the way you have argued, I am assuming you think they are synonymous).

3) And just to add fuel to the fire - should not Christians be "pro-terrorist" anyway? Certainly not in the sense that we want to be "pro-terroism" - but in the sense that we love terrorists, we love enemies - in fact, it is one of the few things that makes us such a peculiar people?

A wandering, pro-terroist sounding middle-eastern man once said:

If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' love those who love them. And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' do that. And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even 'sinners' lend to 'sinners,' expecting to be repaid in full. But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back.

John said...

is far from any kind of refutation or evidence to the contrary. Of course, a person can choose to argue from silence, it is just a very weak argument. From the rather jaundiced reading of the CPT links that you provided, I find it hard to believe it evokes a "here I stand" kind of certainty on your part. I think the reason you have gotten so many hot reactions is becasue a good many other logical and rational readers have looked at the same material and come to a different conclusion. This knowledge, at the very least, should allow space for some humility on both sides.

My argument would be much stronger if I had direct quotations of CPT leaders saying "Kill the Jews!" and such.

I would be glad to hear any explanations as to why CPT mimics the terrorists' rhetoric and repeats their lies.

1) Should not Christians (even those who have sharp ideological differences) err on the side of charity towards brothers and sisters in the faith (until proven otherwise?).

Yup. I do not make the accusation lightly.

2)Is there a difference between anti-American rhetoric and "pro-terrorist" rhetoric (from the way you have argued, I am assuming you think they are synonymous).

The two are not necessarily synonymous. They are only in this case when the moral differences between the two foes are so stark.

CPT could be authentically pacifist by calling all sides to cease violence and decrying all uses of violence. But it does not. It only critiques one side. Again, I would love to hear explanations of this behavior.

3) And just to add fuel to the fire - should not Christians be "pro-terrorist" anyway? Certainly not in the sense that we want to be "pro-terroism" - but in the sense that we love terrorists, we love enemies - in fact, it is one of the few things that makes us such a peculiar people?

We should love the sinner, but we should not participate in and give assistance to his sin. For example, ministry to gambling addicts should not include giving them large amounts of cash.

------

Just War folk and the like are often accused of dividing the world into cowboys wearing white hats and cowboys wearing black hats. Our problem here is that CPT does the same, but puts the white hats on the far more evil cowboys and the black hats on the far less evil cowboys.