There are few things that I find as satisfying as reading a good book or watching a morally challenging movie. Maybe it’s a good thriller that displays the ongoing struggle between good and evil, or the classic western portrayal of the sheriff who cannot be corrupted with any bribe but instead possesses within himself a divine mission to instil justice, save the helpless, and satisfy vengeance upon the lawless. I have a tendency to crave the just cause of a hero putting the hard hearted evil villain in his rightful place, even if that place is a grave. I am a proud conservative Calvinist, Baptist, and evangelical fundamentalist (I don’t mind the term) who is at serious odds with both the political and religious left. In light of my background information it may then seem rather strange to some that I am also a pacifist. I suppose it's time for me to explain.
What is pacifism anyways? Secular stances on pacifism roughly state that all forms of violence, war, and/or killing is unethical and is to be resisted. Many unfortunately see all pacifism in this light and many pacifist Christians unfortunately hold to this view. I however disagree for the simple fact that in the Old Covenant violence, war, and imprecatory writings harmoniously coincided with the will of God in that particular covenant (Deut 20:16-17; 1 Sam 2:6; 2 Sam 17:14; Jer 13:14, 19:7; Hab 1:5-7).
Since Christ, we have been released or freed from the law and He brought about the end of the law (Rom 10:4), rendering it outdated and obsolete (Heb 8:13). Now we look to Christ and His apostles of the new
covenant for teaching and wisdom. With this emphasis between the nature and understanding of the old and new covenants as being pivotal I tend to call my position “covenantal pacifism”, and would then define my understanding of biblical pacifism as the theological and ethical conviction that violence is incompatible within the new covenant Christian faith. Pacifism is therefore related specifically to the church era.
When I tell people of my position for peace the responses arise immediately. What about a Christian’s use of self-defense against a murderer coming into your home, or enlisting as a soldier, or staging a career in the police force? What about our participation in just wars, or sports such as football, MMA, and boxing? These are all great questions however space fails me to write on all these issues at the moment. For now let us remember to let the scripture lead us to the truth giving us the final say on our ethics and work out the practical details later. So briefly, I want to lay out the scriptures and arguments that support this specific type of pacifistic understanding.
Its unfortunate that the conversation of pacifism is fringe and avoided. The view that was once almost universally believed in the church has now come to produce war in the church; ironic isn’t it? The subject of pacifism ends up doing the very thing that it sets out to avoid. I do not think that this needs to be true among the mature in the context of a healthy discussion. Despite our positions in this discussion we can all agree that as Christians we are called to seek the rich depths of God’s oracles for answers, for peaceful resolutions in conflict, for tools of reconciliation, and ultimately ask the age-old question: how should I live?
Jeffrey McConnell is a former atheist turned devoted Christian, husband, father, and former lay apologist writer for gotquestions.org. He currently resides in Leduc Alberta attending Grace Life Church in Edmonton, with his wife Nikki and three children Austin, Elias, and Macie. You can contact Jeff at: email@example.com and check out The Beaten Sword: A Covenant of Peace
CONNECT WITH US
SUBSCRIBE VIA EMAIL
Privacy: We hate spam as much as you, so we will never share your e-mail address with anyone.
SUBSCRIBE TO THIS BLOGS RSS FEED
AND GET ARTICLE UPDATES