08 October 2006

War and Peace

There are already many links to Kim Fabricus' article, Ten Propositions on War and Peace. But do go read it if you haven't already.

For me personally, it is point two that is the essence of the argument for Christians:

it is incontestable that “God is Christ-like, and in him there is no un-Christ-likeness at all” (John V. Taylor). Jesus preached and practiced non-violence – no ifs, ands, or buts. And Jesus is the imago Dei.

I don't really see how a Christian can support the concept of "Just War" - or worse, redemptive violence - without entirely removing from our theology Jesus, the cross and the resurrection.


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

You are right on target. Kim's 10 propositions don't say everything that can and should be said, but what they say is very powerful, very direct, and gets at the heart of the gospel. Wesley was not exactly a pacifist, but Wesley said somewhere (if only someone would take his collected works, index them and put them on searchable DVDs!) that war was the most visible and obvious sign of sin.

U.S. Methodists (including most of my Methodist family--I'm the odd duck as an (Ana)Baptist) seldom realize that Wesley's refusal to support the U.S. Revolution was not a lack of sympathy with the colonists, but an antipathy toward war that was missing in Asbury and Coke.

PamBG said...

Michael: Wesley was also - as Methodists well know! - a big fan of "good order"; he was a Royalist because he believed that this was the government that God had given to the British people.

I read recently on a blog I trust (the person is a recognised Wesley scholar) that one reason Wesley hated war was because he felt that the poor suffered disproportionately - which certainly would have been true in his day and age.

I do not claim that Wesley was a pacifist. I also do not claim - as some US Methodists seem to be trying to claim - that Methodists must strictly adhere to the beliefs of a man who lived over 200 years ago. I doubt Wesley would have approved of his followers making him quasi-infallible. Fortunately, British Methodism has never been possessed of the delusion that Wesley had Pefect Theology. Our Deeds of Union, drawn up in 1932, specifically state that we expect the Holy Spirit to lead the Church into fuller understanding of the word of God and that some doctrines will change. There has always been a significant contingent of British Methodist Pacifists.

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

There were so many pacifists in U.S. Methodism during WWI that the War Dept. listed the Methodist Church (but not the Methodist Church, South) as a peace church. Even after North/South reunion, Methodist pacifism was plentiful until about the mid-'70s. Now, Methodist pacifism is much smaller, and the activist kind of nonviolence that made Methodists so prominent a part of the nonviolent civil rights movement is smaller yet. Sad.

PamBG said...

Michael - Pacifism was a huge issue for British Methodists in World War II, actually. I think it came closer to causing a schism then than the h-topic is doing today.

British Methodism still has its roots in the poorer ends of society and tends to be quite socialist-leaning. I don't know how many people would necessarily be out and out pacifists today, but I reckon most would err on the side of "War is probably not the best option in most cases". I've not yet personally met a single British Methodist who was in favour of British troops being placed in Iraq. (I admit this is not a statistical sample, but I think it's somewhat indicative!)