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12/14/2005

BRANT'S QUESTIONS on MY NON-VIOLENCE POSITION

SEE THE COMMENTS ON THE PREVIOUS POST REGARDING MARTIN LUTHER KING'S QUOTATIONS TO SEE WHY AND WHERE BRANT ASKED ME THESE QUESTIONS:

BRANT ASKED:
"Is your [brand of pacifism] one that holds that our nation, or any nation, should not use force to defend itself, or innocents in other nations?"

MY ANSWER:
I don't know. Here's what I think though. I think this scenario of nations using violence to defend themselves or other innocents is fantasy. I don't know that it has ever happened in modern history - that I've learned of. I can think of no situation in which violence was used by a nation to defend itself or save the innocent in which that was the ONLY motivation, and the result was that harm came to the "guilty" and armed only. It's just not a real situation you're asking about.

But, in case that seems like a dodge, while I don't know for sure what God would say in such instances, I can find no loophole for such instances in the teachings of Christ, the example of Christ, Paul's Epistles, the teachings of the early church or the examples of the battling Jews of the Old Testament. So, no, using violence to end violence is not just. Or, to paraphrase Martin Luther King Jr, to think we can arrive at peace through war is like thinking we can arrive at purity through fornication.

BRANT ASKED:
"Is your [brand of pacifism] one that holds that police should not use force to defend the innocent?"

"Police" is too general a term. It does not factor in one's faith, one's relationship with and commitment to God. I do not, as a Christ follower, expect those outside the Church to be moral and do not judge them or expect them to behave virtuosly in any way. Moral expectation is reserved for fellow Christians, beginning with myself. (This is why it's odd to me when folks boycott non-Christians for acting like non-Christians). So, to answer your question and change it a little, no, I do not think Christians should use force with the intent to harm, punish, kill, cause pain to another human being regardless of what it is that human being is doing. The intent matters. So, no, I do not think a Christian should be in an occupation that requires them to be violent in order to fight violence. Tertullian, an early church bishop, instructed that Christians who are part of the military should be disciplined out of the church even if they do not bear arms in the course of their duties. That's how strongly many early Christians believed the teaching of Christ to be against violence.

BRANT ASKED:
"If so, and given that you believe we have political responsibilities to advocate for justice -- understandably -- will you advocate for the eradication of police and military?"

MY ANSWER:
I don't know how you're defining "political" but if you mean political in the nation-state/government involvement sense, the answer is an emphatic no. I have no "political responsibilities to advocate for justice" in that way. I do not vote. I do not pledge allegiance. I do not respect our flag over any other. I do not live for or die for a nation and have no faith in impotent governments incapable of legislating beneath skin, in the soul where law must be written in order for justice to be lived naturally. There is no such thing as justice without Christ and no government can therefore create true justice - only the Church.

Romans 13 says there will be governments (local magistrates, police etc) that have swords (weapons) and will use them to punish those who break their laws. Some use this passage to say Paul is prescribing them to do so, that he is commanding government to punish the law breaker with force. IF he was doing this in Romans 13 (and he isn't) then the scope of this punishment and violence is, using only this passage, only local, within the borders of that magistrate's territory. But Paul is not being PREscriptive here. He is being DEscriptive. This matters immensely - the context. He is warning people to obey the laws of men when they don't cause us to break the laws of God because 1)we don't want to cut our lives and our impact for the kingdom of Heaven on earth short by getting our heads chopped off. That would be stupid. 2)we should represent Christ well by being respectful and civil and not causing unnecessary problems for society. Following Jesus will bring us enough problems of it's own without adding to them with negligence and petty law breaking. Die for a good reason, the right reason, the Gospel of Christ, Paul seems to be saying. Don't die by the magistrates sword over some avoidable infraction. He's warning us. He's not saying Hey, magistrates feel free to make any rules you want and kill your citizens if they break them - God doesn't mind. This is especially true when we read Romans 12 and THEN read ROmans 13. There's a fishy chapter break thrown in there that really confuses things. Romans 12 ends by talking about how vengeance and punishment are God's job and that we should love always, even those who harm us, and never seek revenge. THEN the magistrate is contrasted against that, against OUR Christian way of living.

So I admit that police and the military do much much good, when they're not violent. Traffic laws are not God laws but they help society work better and don't go against God's laws so, sure, let's have them and let's enforce them with fines. Laws against murder, rape, theft - same thing. They make society safer and don't break God's laws so, again, have those laws and enforce them. But don't use violence in the process of law enforcement.

The obvious follow up question to all of this that I'd ask myself is "So what do you suggest instead of violence mister unrealistic high horse hippie? How do we defend folks and enforce laws without using violence? What's your alternative? How would YOU stop Hitler or Sadaam or Osama?"

Great question. How would you answer?

74 Comments:

Blogger GrovesFan said...

Shaun,
Once again I feel a major brain cramp coming on.

First off, I wouldn't call you an "unrealistic high horse hippie." Unconventional, yes. While I certainly do not have the answer to your last question completely, I'd say incarcarate them whenever possible. However, since I do believe that true evil exists in the world and that satan does possess the unbeliever to the extent he's allowed to do so, sometimes violence is necessary as a result of the evil. I honestly believe that while Hitler, Hussein, BinLaden, and others, may not be possessed in the same way as "Reagan" in "The Exorcist," they are IMHO, evil incarnate and must be stopped. While I also believe that God is capable of doing this without any help whatsoever from mortal man, I think He does use us to carry out His works.

The Bible says that God will close a man's heart eventually when He knows that the hearer of The Truth will not accept it. He allows the evil to take control for eternity in that individual. I know I'm doing a lousy job of explaining myself here and that it will undoubtedly come back to bite me in the rear.

As for you not voting, pledging allegiance, holding our flag or nation over another, etc. I think that's wrong. While I do not my allegience in anything or anyone over God, I don't think that voting, pledging allegience or holding my nation in high esteem is "anti-God" or wrong.

While Christ was talking about taxes when He said "render unto God what is God's and Caesar what is Caesars," I think that this verse also means that we should do the above things as long as it does not go against God's law. If we as Christians do not vote, for whatever reason, then I think we are hurting our country and it's citizens by not putting people in office that do what God has called them to do for Him. We are also making a public statement that says we don't care about our government, our country, our it's citizens, and I don't think that's the message we are intending to further in the name of Christ.

The massive change that has already taken place in our judicial system since it's inception, is largely due to the misinterpretation of our Founding Father's original intentions. Because of this misinterpretation, both unintentional and intentional, many of our religious liberties and freedoms have been stripped away. If, as believers, we don't fight (non-violently) to keep these liberties in our own nation, as well as others who are oppressed in the name of "religion," then how can we further His kingdom? If we all end up getting killed because of what we believe, or because we sat idly by, then who will be left to witness to others, to serve and help the poor, the hungry, the sick, the oppressed, etc.

I have just started reading a wonderful book called "Original Intent" by David Barton." While it is not a book about pacificsm or non-violence, it is a very thorough and well researched and documented book about the intentions of America's Founding Fathers. I'm only on page 31 and there isn't a paragraph thus far that doesn't have something highlighted in it. We've gone far away from the "One Nation Under God" depicted in our national pledge, and I feel it's because Christians have not been proactive enough, haven't advocated enough and have been truly ambivelant about our nation.

God can use us as individuals and as a nation, but only if we open our hearts to His will for us and the nation; and ultimately, the world as a whole. This doesn't mean I think that America is supossed to be some great world savior or something, but because we are so richly blessed, we have a responsibility to do much.

Beth

12/14/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaun,

do you believe that the church after Constantine became apostate? Many of your arguments seemed to base upon the supposition that the Church was "the way it should be" pre-Constantine and judgemnets thereafter by theologians as great as Aquinas and Augustine were dilluted or tainted in some way and not to be trusted in their judgements. When i hear things like "well thats not the way the EARLY church did things", i have to admit I kinda cringe.

-still trying to figure out where I stand on this one-

Seth

12/15/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just re-read,

some of your arguements. defintely not most.

seth

12/15/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Sort of, Seth.

I do believe Constantinianism is a bad thing. I do not trust the judgments of Aquinas and Augustine on war, no. They were creating theologies that allowed faith to coexist within the greater national agenda of the empire. I do not think we should conform truth to culture or nation or ourselves. We, culture and nation should be conformed to truth.

I do believe the early church was closer in many ways, not all ways, to the "right" way. Much closer than we in the West are today. But that's a whole nother can of worms.

I'm more interested in why you cringe at me saying that. My statements about early church, btw, are in regards only to theology and not methodology. I'm not saying we should do away with AC and microphones, for instance. I'm saying we should read the Didache and the early church fathers and when their views are opposite of ours, as on baptism, church membership, and pacifism, we should seek to understand when and why the change happened in our understanding of God and church.

SG

12/15/2005  
Blogger bridgett said...

Beth,

In my day job, I'm a historian of the American Revolution and Early Republic, specializing in the legal history of the new nation. Think this one through with me. If we followed original intent in the manner you suggest is good, you (and me and any other women among the readership) would not be voting. Our political role in the nation would be dramatically circumscribed, as would the direct participation in governance of most of the men in the readership. Universal white male suffrage was slow to arrive, in some places not taking effect until 30 years after the Revolution was over. The conversation we are having -- with men, in a public space, our opinions listened to and our views intelligently addressed -- would have been improbable in the late 18th century. And it is not just women who were not included in the original conception of who was to be an actor in civil society. If one argues for original intent, there are a lot of horrifying oppressions that go along with that. Picking and choosing appeals to modern Christians, but the law is a system of ordering power in secular society -- one cannot go down the cafeteria line merely taking what we like and leaving the rest. If you really want original intent, you get the bathwater along with the baby.

The freedoms you have assumed were there at the beginning often were not, or were not well-protected by the courts. The bright line between church and state was there for a reason; they were a religiously diverse lot who feared state involvement in the financing of church activities. The commitment to nation as a concept, too, was pretty rickety among the majority of common folk. One of the real anxieties on the minds of early federal officials is the lack of identification with a national vision -- they complained all the time that citizens were too self-interested and didn't behave patriotically. They dodged taxes, bailed out on militia service, etc. There's no golden haze on this period that makes it more virtuous than our own -- sinners are sinners, even when they wore shoebuckles and wigs.

By the way, the "Under God" was added to the Pledge during the Cold War -- to differentiate Americans from "godless Communists." There was no such state-sponsored commitment to Christianity -- and indeed, no pledge to a national flag -- in the immediate post-Revolutionary period.

And just to bring us full circle, pacifists were considered "trubblesum" people and paid heavy fines for what they insisted was an exercise of their religious freedom. So Christians arguing about the assumption of compulsory military service were among the first to demonstrate why church and state should not be so closely aligned.

12/15/2005  
Blogger Roger said...

I don't think it's wise to withdraw from politics. The reality of the state of politics in this country today will soon make us realize that it needs some salt and light. I don't think we should look at politics as doing the job of the church. As I heard a pastor once say, that's not the job of God-ordained government, "I can't pass a law to make you love me, so I need a law to keep you from killing me." I see politics as a backdoor in which the enemy is walking through unchecked while many Christians remove themselves from it - thereby leaving no one on guard to keep watch. I see Christians activity as a method of closing the open doors that the enemy is freely using to enact his schemes to kill, steal, and destroy - all of which effect the church. The seriousness of the enemy's plan demands that we not sit idly by on that front.

Can I add some more questions to think about?

Here goes...
What is the purpose of God-ordained government...and subsequently, does that equate to the role of the individual believer?
Why didn't Jesus advocate that believers denounce the military and remove themselves from it?

>How do we defend folks and enforce laws without using violence? What's your alternative? How would YOU stop Hitler or Sadaam or Osama?"

That's the heart of this, isn't it? How do we get a lawbreaker to obey the law? What if they are bent on doing harm to a great number of people?

In the end, we don't want to have a position on it. We want to have God's position. So, I don't think the correct answer will come through intellectual reasoning, or pouring over history and tradition. I'm not saying those are bad, but they are all trumped by the Holy Spirit and the word of God. So, I think praying, meditating on the scriptures, and yielding to the Spirit are the wisest things we can do.

12/15/2005  
Blogger Mary said...

If anyone is interested Larry King hosted a show with the topic "Christians Debate the War" just prior to the decision to invade Iraq. http://transcripts.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0303/11/lkl.00.html I'm not HTML literate, so you'll have to copy and paste - sorry.
Great posts everyone.
Brigett - I loved your post, but mind if I ask you a question? I understand what you are saying about modern people picking and choosing what they would keep from the early days of this country. But, is it far fetched to think that if the founding fathers did have God's backing in forming this nation, (an assumption for sure) that there would be things that He would have steered us away from, such as "white males only" and in one sense it was God doing the picking and choosing of what we should keep from that era? Do you know what I mean?
I also wonder what others think about Jesus destroying the Temple. It doesn't mention that He punched anyone out while doing it, but it isn't exactly what I think of as pacifism. Do you? I have always thought that it was interesting that Jesus allowed others to treat Him in many ways without fighting back, but when they messed with His father...watch out.

12/15/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, i definitely cringe less when i read that last paragraph of yours, but... the origianl cringe came from the fact that I think that it seems to be the trend of our generation to "get back to the basics" Some people take it to the Nth degree like the recovery church and think that the whole church after about 150 screwed up and it wasn't until now 1900 years later are we just now getting back to what is right. I hate to drag the Mormons kicking and screaming into yet another point in another topic but similar claims are made on their part.

There are plenty of things that we accept as true that were developed after the Church got in bed with Politics. The doctrine of the trinity, the cannon pretty much as we know it, and the defeat of gnosticism to name a few. these all also helped in some way to allow faith to coexist with the greater national agenda, becuase they brought about unity and less revolt. this in my mind is a way the God used something crooked to bring about something beautiful and a greater realization of who He is. Constantine did not shut up or out truth. although he may have left his stamp on one thing, war, and that i guess what I am trying to figure out.

a question this pacifism issue has brought to my mind is -Where do we get off, now quite a few centuries later, in making judgement calls on issues such as pacifism, though these icons of our Church being influenced by the raging wars around them, developed just war theory, - who is to say that we are more right in saying that any war is wrong, in our time being influenced by corrupt politics, with presidents calling atheists bad americans, and the fact that a nation was duped into a war with Iraq, simply by thirty-minute video clips on a boob-tube.

before it get tooo long-winded here, and make no point whatsoever, one last thing- you said:

"I'm saying we should read the Didache and the early church fathers and when their views are opposite of ours, as on baptism, church membership, and pacifism, we should seek to understand when and why the change happened in our understanding of God and church."

If you make this statement, which i agree with, then shouldn't you and i and everyone else seeking unity be prepared for other things like, the eucarist and the ex cathedra of the Pope along with baptism and pacifism? Because if we aint then it seems like that we are up for justifying changing ideologies and theologies and being a little "picky and choosy". The founder of our reformation, Luther himself, would out-Catholic some Catholics today. Luther and Calvin almost got in a fist fight over the eucarist.-the point being since luther we've hardly stuck to a point, thus the billions of denominations.

I guess what i am trying to say is (or where the majority of the cringe comes from) that i dont think that Constantine was the great serpent in the garden of our church. dont get me wrong, he wasnt the greatest thing that happened to the Church, but God did use our relationship with him ultimately for the furthering of His church and for His glory. Just like Catholics now believe that God used and is using Luther and the Protestant Reformation to bring the necessary change for a greater unity. So using Constantine as the dividing line between good Christianity and Bad Christianity, while tempting, really doesnt seem to work because work because Christians even during Paul's time were jacking things up which is why we have his letters.

time to shut up.

peace

seth

12/15/2005  
Blogger c.j.e. said...

i know that my own difficulty in wholeheartedly swallowing pacifism is my fear of death. in other words, my addiction to this life.

those who don't believe in eternal life should hypothetically be the strongest advocates for saving earthly life at all costs (using violence if need be) because for them "it's all there is".

those who do believe in eternal life, one would think, should be the strongest advocates for peace, because like a martyr from any era, by remaining committed to peace even unto death, they enter into wholeness physically testifying that in fact life is eternal and purposeful. true martyrs are really the most proactive not passive people in all of history.

my convoluted point? the Church should embody, to the rest of the world, the hope of eternal life (already and not yet) rather than the fear of death.

so how does this play out in regard to hitler, bin laden, or a burlgar in my house threatening my family? like bonhoffer, i'd probably fail my beliefs and choose the violent path...

...but, we nonetheless should work peacefully to remove the conditions that create people like hitler and bin laden and would-be murderers in the first place. perhaps there is an important difference between pre-emptive peacemaking and pre-emptive and reactionary violence?

12/15/2005  
Blogger caparoon said...

Hi Shaun,

I hate internet discussions like this,
and I also really like your blog.

That being said... Maybe I'm reading wrong, but if you're defining "violence" how I think you are, then how do we square something like your *not* being willing to hit an intruder in the head with a bat when he's raping your wife with Jesus' little whip-trip through the temple?

thanks,
-j

12/15/2005  
Blogger foleyma said...

Excellent discussion, though it seems so hard to get to a conclusion. So many angles.

It is possible, I suppose, that God can have different answers for different situations. I may walk in on a man raping my wife and God's answer may be for me to stop and pray. Completely counter-intuitive, of course, but that might be His answer for that time and event.

I need to listen to that answer. What seems to be missing in this discussion is the idea that God's Will is the will that matters. Not our brains, not our philosophical pov's, and definitely not our political allegiances.

Was it God's will to, say, invade Iraq? Who is to say? The only evidence we seem to have one way or the other is the lying that had to take place in order to justify the invasion. In my experience, God does not ask us to lie in order to do His will. But perhaps it wasn't a lie? God knows - I do not.

Finally, let me just add two things. First, many Christian philosophers have advocated a break between believers and The Powers. Meaning that we are not be concerned about the affairs of this world (Power), but instead to concern ourselves only with the affairs of Christ. Christ has already won the battle and has already destroyed (or will destroy) the Powers (this would include Hitler, Stalin, etc.). It is not our concern. This works for me, and helps me to not get worked up about injustice in the government. My job is to work in my world and to avoid the government at all costs (sort of).

My other point would be to look at the founding fathers of our faith. Those who went to their deaths proclaiming Jesus. Were they not innocents who were killed? Should the police have stepped in and stopped it from happening? Should the Christians have united, gathered weapons and stormed the jail to free, say, Paul? What kind of story would that be? Is that what we believe in?

I think not. I think Christians often become Christians because they want to let go of their lives in order to gain real life. We should be willing to die for our friends and our faith at the drop of the hat.

But should we be willing to kill for it? That's not the Jesus I know.

12/15/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaun,

I'm not sure why we'd equate martyrdom (giving up your life for Christ) and standing by while someone ELSE gets killed for your beliefs. Let's agree these are two entirely different things.

You fault my first question. But nations, like individual humans, are mixed motivational bags, right? You know as well as I do that it's true to say, "Shaun makes music because he loves God". But it's not ALL the truth, is it? You turn it to a question of "Is that the ONLY motivation?", and I'm not sure why that's necessary. I'm not sure I EVER do anything pure of motive. Honestly.

The question remains: Is force ever morally permissable?" and your initial answer is "I don't know," and that's okay by me. We're thinking through this.

I presumed you hadn't sworn off politics completely. As you know, I, too, am disgusted with politics, and the obsession with it as an uber-answer, but our form of government simply isn't something the Bible really hits on, nor the early church fathers. What about when, in a sense, YOU are now the authority? Should you pretend you aren't? Or, is that abdication? That's a tough one for me.

Laws are morality. Even a philosophy of law, "We should have laws for a functioning society" is morality, based on my opinion that a "functioning society" or even "society" is "good". Democracy's always a mess, so we'll argue about what laws are appropriate. But heck, you quote MLK: The civil rights movement was nothing BUT morality, made public policy, and even a morality wrapped in specific, and overt, Christian understandings of it. Glad they mixed church and state vigorously.

I admit I'm struck that, while you fault my view of force-as-protection-of-the-innocent as unrealistic, you then advocate policing without the use of force. Please talk to police about the realism reflected there. If only life, and the human heart, were that way.

You say, "Don't use violence in the process of law enforcement." (I use the word "force", while you don't make a distinction.) Police, without force and the threat of it, simply can not police. I wish it weren't so.

To answer your final question: How would YOU stop Hitler...?

I would have us stop Hitler with the only thing that's ever stopped his ilk: force. Deliberate, heavy-hearted force.

Would Jesus use force to stop Hitler? Well, heck, would Jesus drive a RX-7 or play center for the Heat? The question is not WWJD? but "What would Jesus have US do, here and now?" Takes reflection and maturity, and we can disagree, but it's not immediately obvious to some of us that Jesus wants us to, say, let the schoolchildren in Beslan get machine-gunned and brutalized without responding with force. In fact, I'm convinced that not acting is not actually "love" at all.

As it happens, your point of view here allows you to a) espouse pacifism, b) exempt yourself from democratic responsibility, and c) (I think this is fair) believe men and women in the military are engaging in immoral careers.

All the while, a) you don't ask them to stop, unless they're Christians, even though it's immoral, b) you still get to enjoy the protection of said police, c) you still get to enjoy the lifestyle afforded you by the U.S. military, and d) you don't advocate that they stop doing their jobs, either, really.

All in all, while morally misguided (?) soldiers lie underneath the soil in Normandy, for instance -- what actual sacrifice does this "dangerous", as Tony C would put it, position entail? It's not real dangerous.

You can be pretty confident you won't be martyred in Nashville. In fact, you can even score cool points, all the while enjoying the lifestyle afforded you by the sacrifices of others.

I'm not a theologian, but that seems like a pretty sweet deal. I'm very, very thankful for our military and police. The Kingdom is here, and it's also not-yet.

Sorry so lengthy. Thank you, ALWAYS, for your kind tone.

Best,
Brant

12/15/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Wow, Brant. A lot to take in. Let me process and get back...if I even need to.

Seth, something you said struck me:"If you make this statement, which i agree with, then shouldn't you and i and everyone else seeking unity be prepared for other things like, the eucarist and the ex cathedra of the Pope along with baptism and pacifism? Because if we aint then it seems like that we are up for justifying changing ideologies and theologies and being a little "picky and choosy". The founder of our reformation, Luther himself, would out-Catholic some Catholics today. Luther and Calvin almost got in a fist fight over the eucarist.-the point being since luther we've hardly stuck to a point, thus the billions of denominations."

I've never said this out loud, let alone written in permanent cyberspace, but here goes. I have a theory, a perception of historical reality actually. Simplified, church history after Jesus looks a little something like this to my small brain: Early church. Then Constantine and the creation of the Catholic church. Then some guys named Luther and Zwingli and their pals got ticked and started their own church. This is called the reformation. It was an undoing, to my brain, of the wrongness of the Catholic church. But it was not a return to the ancient original church. It took the foundations of the Catholic church and built a new structure on top of them. It did not recognize that the Catholic church was not built entirely upon the original foundation but instead laid partially on a new foundation called "Constantinianism." No matter what is built upon that foundation, no matter how "reformed" and well-intentioned and good, it will not be a return to the original structure Christ left us with: the CHURCH.

Now, that's one paragraph full of holes and suppositions and I'm sure easily beaten down and destroyed by smarter men and women, but it's the window I look at the world through these days. We're building on the a partially erroneous foundation. Constantine did a great deal of damage to the original foundation of the CHURCH and until that damage is recognized and undone, I, and some other smarter folks, think the Church will not reach her full potential, will not do her full job, will not be distinctly Christian and peculiar as she was created to be. I can back a lot of this up with history and theology but I honestly have much more to learn before going public with details. For now I'm just admitting this bias in all of my thoughts about nation and church. This is why I lean so heavily, as the Orthodox church does, away from white Americans in the suburbs sitting down as individuals and deciding what the bible means with little or no tethering to a larger community AND to the early church fathers and a constant suspicion towards the nation-state and the marketed gospel and model of church as servant to the Christian's wants.

So, no, Seth, I don't think we open ourselves up to Popes and all the rest of the Catholic church's methodologies and theologies. The Catholic church was a later symptom of the faulty foundation laid in part by Constantine that married the church to culture and the empire in ways that conformed the Church's truth to societies wants and needs. I'm interested in understanding what the church before Constantine (pre-325AD) believed and WHY and then figuring out what those beliefs would look like lived out, incarnated, in the church community and world today. But let's stop looking at the world and church membership today and then working backwards towards scripture and history and Jesus and looking at them through the filter of today. Instead, let's look at today through the filter of them. I think that would get us closer to "true."

Go ahead hit me. I'm confident of any of this. I'm being honest about that. I'm sharing it so I can be prodded and debated and learn. I know in my gut, like so many other Americans, that the Church in America is not what it's supposed to be. But unlike so many of my friends who've abandoned church I want to work with you and generations before me and anyone who'll listen and debate and teach me to discover what it is we were supposed to be, where we went off course, why and how we can get back there if there is deemed to be better and truer than here.

Got me? Alright. Help me. Teach me.

SG

12/15/2005  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Brant,
You speak volumes! As a former combat vet (the first Gulf War) and the wife of a currently serving in the Middle East husband, I can honestly say that I think the military is a wonderful thing. Yes, members to make mistakes, sometimes horrid ones, but they also saves many, many lives and show love in ways that aren't available to most of us. Look at the soldiers that give their own personal items away to those that need them; food, blankets, etc. The ones that carry the wounded, hug the orphans, and care for the widows; tell about the love of Jesus at risk of personal danger.

While it's great to say that violence is always wrong, I don't see that Jesus necessarily taught that specifically. None of the quoted scripture says that violence is wrong in every circumstance, no matter what. Scripture also says that God forgives when we repent. Not that that gives us open license to do wrong because we know we'll be forgiven.

I honestly do not know what Jesus would do in many situations, just as I don't know what I'd do either, because I've never been in that situation. I have had my life threatened and let me tell you, all I could muster was absolute terror, and fervent prayer! I was struck immobile. I don't think I have to necessarily know what Jesus would do, I just have to know what He wants me to do and I trust that He'll tell me at the right time.

As for Bridgett's comments above, I don't agree with most of it. By saying that I think we should follow the original intent of our founding fathers, I'm not saying that I think laws shouldn't change, etc. Of course slavery was wrong, and women having the right to vote is a good thing. However, those ammendments were added to our Constitution by majority vote of America's citizens. The First Ammendment and the Tenth Ammendment were never intended to be used with each other in determining law. It was never our founding father's intentions to place control and thus law-making ability in the hands of our FEDERAL government when it came to religion. It was assumed (and it's very well documented in many places) that America was and always would be a CHRISTIAN nation. It was even written into many state constitutions that non-believers could not hold public office. Catholics were even barred unless they took an oath that they would carry out the will of the nation over that of the Pope. This is not because there were only Christians in America at the time as some would have us think. There were in fact Jews, Muslims, Buddists, Arians, etc. in large numbers here.

The First Ammendment has been misinterpreted so many times (both intentionally and unintentionally) that many do not even know what it really says. Ask the average American today if the phrase "separation of church and state" is in the constitution, and they'll tell you "yes, of course it is. It's the First Ammendment." That phrase is not ANYWHERE in ANY PART of our Constitution. The Constitution says The government shall NOT ESTABLISH a religion. The intent was that our federal government would not place one DENOMINATION of Christianity over that of another and that federal dollars would not be used to fund one denomination over another. The states were actually encouraged to establish state religions, fund the training of educators, pastors, etc. in theology, and also to make sure that the public schools had trained teachers who could properly instruct the students in the Bible.

Sorry to get off topic, but all that to say that if Christians don't vote, don't get involved (in the right ways), and advocate for Christianity in America, then satan will be even more successful in undermining the work God wants us to do. We can't blame anyone but ourselves for that. Not to act in God's name for godly things, is to act for evil.

Beth

12/15/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it! I have to say that i suspected it or something like it. (you went off on Constantine on one of your visits) Honestly and truely, and this i have never written or said publicly, although not near as risky as your side of the computer, (oh Lord faith confessions, actually this is pretty darn exciting to me.) i think it is either what you said, practically word for word, or in a few years i may be ready for ex cathedra, i.e. Catholic. (dont tell phil.)

I honestly believe that one or the other is the future for the Church. As Lewis put it, "the Church is still young" so who knows.

thanks for that.

Seth

12/15/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Lost me there near the end, Seth. Are you saying YOU'RE ready to make your church more like the Catholic church? If so, in what ways?

SG

12/15/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, for the lack of clarity.

let me see if i can slap some more mud in the water.

No, not make my church more Catholic, basically I am starting to believe that either it is as you stated pretty darn well for a single paragraph, or it is like this:

Early church, persecution, Roman Empire Christianized, Christians get a break from the Lions, Bishops given political power that they should not have had, but not severely abusing in the beginning, councils that meet and put down heresies, dark ages, power becomes abused, muslims invade, Christians encouraged to help save other christians from being murdered and sold into slavery, Crusades, just war theory developed, Church becomes even bigger political power, church becomes corrupt by things like the position of bishops and priest being bought,(all the while good things come out of church, like aquinas, Agustine, st. francis, and missionaries chirstianizing the 4 corners of the world) church becomes even more corrupt, enter Luther and the boys, they bring reform and the church splits, we shoot at each other for a couple of hundred years, the protestant church splits into a hundred thousand denoms because lack of authority, 1950 something vatican II meets., says we are all Christians and that the church is moving to Unity, the protestant reformation was needed and that Christ will unify His church and we will be one again, this will come from the coming together and partaking the eucharist, and coming under the authority of the Catholic church and the Pope.

seth

12/15/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaun -- That's cool, whenever you want to take any of that up is fine. There are (generally monastic, historically) brands of pacifism I totally respect. It's a huge issue, and dang it, if you want to be a pacifist, so be it. You likely won't be the variety I've encountered: some of the angriest people I've ever met. Seriously: Positively violent in their pacifism.

As for complex issues and much thinking: My fave quote of the last ten years, seriously, from Paul Ricoeur(?):

"There is a second naivete, that lies on the far side of complexity."

He said something like that. I so love that, and it's even peace to the restless mind, I think. Kids "get" the Kingdom. How cool is that?

(By the way, thanks for your service, Beth. I'm certain, too, that mature folks understand that saying there's an unfortunate, but necessary, role for force isn't tantamount to signing off on all uses of the military, or mindlessly endorsing all police actions.)

Best,
Brant

12/15/2005  
Blogger foleyma said...

Brief point of clarification:

I'm not sure why we'd equate martyrdom (giving up your life for Christ) and standing by while someone ELSE gets killed for your beliefs. Let's agree these are two entirely different things.

They are different things, and I was not attempting to equate them. My point was based on the experiences of the believers left behind who, as you nicely put it, stood by while someone else was killed for their beliefs. Ferega and Parthemius (sp?), for example, who - as I remember it - asked Paul to pray for them, then led him to his death? Should they have tried to help him escape - fought the other guards to save him - killed anyone who tried to kill him?

Did they know Paul was a martyr, and therefore a special exception? Did Mark, Matthew, Luke, Stephen, etc. know they were martyrs who therefore required no effort at physical salvation? What of that girl from Columbine who was shot dead because she refused to renounce Christ? Should the police have stopped that bullet (they were trying) - for certainly she was a martyr.

It appears the early Christians did not believe in fighting to save life, as I can see no scripture in which they used violence to forward the Church, and their leaders had a pretty tough time staying alive.

Many Christians advocate killing in order to save human life. I've yet to read a scripture in the Bible that backs up that claim.

12/15/2005  
Anonymous AFRM said...

We need to remember that the early church had no 'power'. They were the minority and grew in spite of the persecution. In fact, they may have grown because of the persecution.

After Constantine, we (proclaiming Christians) had the power and influence. What we do with that power is what I believe we will be held acountable for.

I have a few questions to those challenging non-violent resistance:

- is it EVER justified to take innocent lives?
- using scripture as our guide, can we support violence that is rooted in revenge?

I have some pretty strong opinions on the 'rape of your wife' scenario but will hold off on those for later in the discussion.

Brian

12/15/2005  
Blogger Whiteboy said...

Just a comment I want to throw on the discussion of the history of the Church and what not...

I fail to see any sort of logical construct that can allow for a person to understand, relate to, and accept the teachings of the early Church Fathers as being the direction of the Church intended by Christ...and not be (or at least lead to becoming) Catholic.

Any attempt to do so means simply picking and choosing certain teachings of the early fathers to conform to our understanding of what it should be (TM)...which obliterates any reason to read, understand, and accept the early Church fathers in the first place.

12/15/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Quick response to Brian's question about "revenge":

No, I don't think we're ever given moral license for revenge. God always seems concerned with motivation, and I don't believe our government can rightfully take this role, either. (Again, morality in politics, there, but I'm all for it.)

Yes, for my part, I do believe taking innocent life might be justified, in a sense. It's likely in Beslan, for instance, that police/military had a hand in an innocent's death, while *not* acting would have meant the death/torture of many more.

In this case, it's really accurate to say the Muslim extremists who were killing the children also caused this death, but for the purposes of the discussion, yes, one could say innocent life was taken by the police.

Best,
Brant

12/16/2005  
Blogger caparoon said...

"I do not think Christians should use force with the intent to harm, punish, kill, cause pain to another human being regardless of what it is that human being is doing. The intent matters."

One more comment from the "rape" scenario guy, at least... I re-read this, and based on that, it seems to me that if your intent is to protect, then the bat option is a decent one.

Christ's intent in the temple was not to harm--though there's nothing to indicate no one was harmed in the process. His primary intention was one of protection.

Are you *also* intending to inflict injury with your bat? Yes, but that isn't your primary intent. You're not just wandering around the streets, looking for someone to bean.

12/16/2005  
Blogger Roger said...

The reason the church today isn't what it should be is that Christians aren't yielding to the Spirit. It's not that we are not aware of some early church behavior or social positions. Has the Holy Spirit changed? No, and it is THE constant throughout all of church history. Christ didn't leave us with a structure - He left us with the Holy Spirit. If we focus too much on this history analysis, it'll seem to outsiders that the church is a methodology - partly based on scripture and partly based on the intelligence and research abilities of its leaders. I'm thankful it's not that. I want sanctification to be based on obedience and not works. We just have to let the Spirit teach us and mold us until there's less of us and more of Christ. All of this talk about 'What Jesus would do' is unnecessary considering that the Holy Spirit inhabits the believer. If we yield to the Spirit, we won't have to wonder, we'll be living it out. This may seem too simplistic, but I have a hard time believing that anything else would not result in a 'works-based' or 'works-influenced' faith. How can we be more 'true' than having the spirit of Truth living in us? If we stray from that, it's because we've given in to self instead of yielding to the Spirit.

12/16/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

roger, i understand your point, but what happens when the the spirit tells me something different than what it tells you and it is outside the scope of scripture? who is to say which is the church's official stance?

besides, faith WITHOUT works is dead. so work or doing something because the love of God is compelling you or you know that you should even though you dont feel like it, is the other part of our faith.

Seth

12/16/2005  
Blogger Roger said...

Seth,

Will the Holy Spirit contradict itself? Also, there are no good works outside of a faith in Jesus Christ. The good works are a result of the Spirit working through us, not of ourselves. If works outside of a relationship with Christ were beneficial for the Kingdom, then surely Satan wouldn't be so liberally using the cults and their doctrine of good works to mislead people away from a relationship with Jesus.

12/16/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Roger = Can of worms.

Yes, I think your theology of the Holy Spirit is far too simplistic. It seems to assume that a Christian is a new creation with a new heart that only desires the will of God and is only powered by and sensitive to God via the Holy Spirit. This is false.

We have a "new nature", a new heart on which God's law is written and by which we can understand and desire God's will. BUT our "old nature", "flesh", is always in us as well. Our old heart has not been removed. It has been offset by a new nature. This is why Paul penned his tongue twister in Romans 7 about doing what he doesn't want to do and not doing what he wants to do. To assume that all we need to do is listen to the Holy Spirit and we'll all be in agreement about the things that matter and live them out perfectly is not, I believe, true because of "sin at work in me." And in you.

The church (and Church), scripture, history, blogs even, etc are tools used by the Holy Spirit to feed out new desire, our new heart, and give us clearer discernment of what it is that God has written on our hearts already - what "right" is by His definition. God has written "right" on our new heart and these tools, powered by the Holy Spirit, help us read His handwriting.

No one lives at high noon. We're all in twilight. Things are not as clear and easily understood as you assume they are in these dim circumstances of ours.

12/16/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

BRANT SAID:
"...your point of view here allows you to a) espouse pacifism, b) exempt yourself from democratic responsibility, and c) (I think this is fair) believe men and women in the military are engaging in immoral careers."

I SAY:
Not exactly and yes. a)I LIVE pacifism. b)Who assigned me this responsibility? c)A soldier in the US army SWEARS to defend the constitution (not God) and the President (not Christ) by obeying ANY order given by his/her commander for any reason and against any target, without explanation. Failure to do so is a failure to keep this oath. One can object but one can also then be punished for doing so. Is that an oath any Christian should take for any institution or ideal besides Christ and His kingdom? No. Taking that oath - if it is fully understood and meant - and carrying it out by exacting violence (harm) on another human being at the request of someone else is, I believe, immoral. However, service men and women I've known (my father for one) take this oath and follow through on it with violence, believing they are laying down their lives for another. THAT is honorable and Christlike motivation. It is possible for honorable men and women to do dishonorable things like kill tens of thousands of unarmed Japanese at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, like kill unarmed men in Iraq (as shot on video by the BBC), like destroy all of Dresden - even orphanages and art galleries and old folks homes full of innocents, like kill thousands of Native Americans etc etc. We have a long history as a species of convincing ourselves we are acting selflessly, nobly, only to have our actions reappraised as immoral by future generations. Good men and women can be misguided in how to do good and accidentally end up on the wrong side of virtue can't they?

AND BREANT SAID:
"All the while, a) you don't ask them to stop, unless they're Christians, even though it's immoral, b) you still get to enjoy the protection of said police, c) you still get to enjoy the lifestyle afforded you by the U.S. military, and d) you don't advocate that they stop doing their jobs, either, really."

I SAY:
a) Again, no where in scripture (take Paul's letter to Corinth for instance) are we guided as Christians to expect non-Christians to do what they cannot: act Christian. We can ask I guess, but we can't expect results. OK, so I'm asking, "Hey, all you non-Christian soldiers in the US army, stop killing people." We'll see what that does. b)Sure. c)I think God gave and sustains my life and it's style. d) See a).

BRANT SAID:
"All in all, while morally misguided (?) soldiers lie underneath the soil in Normandy, for instance -- what actual sacrifice does this "dangerous", as Tony C would put it, position entail? It's not real dangerous."

I SAY:
I wouldn't call them morally misguided. I don't know their motivations but I assume they were the noblest. But they were misguided from without if not from within.

BRANT SUCKER PUNCHED WITH:
"You can be pretty confident you won't be martyred in Nashville. In fact, you can even score cool points, all the while enjoying the lifestyle afforded you by the sacrifices of others."

I CRY LIKE A BABY AND THEN SAY:
Wow, I didn't know I got cool points from living near Nashville. I thought it was the hair. Anyway, and your point is? Brant, I know you so I'm going to swing back. No one in the audience should be afraid at this point or boo me. Brant, I throw this point back atcha man. Let's be honest. Neither of us is living in Beirut in the 80's right now. This is theory for us. Both of us. Neither of us stands to lose or gain anything for ourselves from all this talk. Oh wait, I do. See, and this is just the way I see it so set me straight if I'm wrong here, but you let other people do your fighting for you when you support the actions and preeminence of our military as the "uber-solution." You also take a large load of responsibility in war prevention away from the Church and yourself. I, on the other hand, am forced to be a hypocrite espousing the Church as the greater solution or sell my house, scale back my lifestyle (the one the military gave me) and live more purposefully toward taking personal responsibility for preventing war by eliminating poverty and injustice the whole world over via the Church and the church. I choose the latter. I have to. You, I'm betting have chosen a life of service as well, but you don't HAVE to in the same sense I;'m meaning it. You have the military to clean up any messes you fail to help prevent.


BRANT PLAYED HUMBLE:
"I'm not a theologian, but that seems like a pretty sweet deal. I'm very, very thankful for our military and police. The Kingdom is here, and it's also not-yet."

I SAY:
Yes you are. We all are. Any believe about God, His likes and dislikes, His character and way of acting is a theology. And anyone who has one is a theologian. Sweet deal? Absolutely. And, yes, potentially dangerous. Ever hear of Ghandi, Martin Luther King or this guy they called Jesus? Yep, dangerous. I never had my life threatened until I started talking about nation and war. That's something I never experienced making upbeat and positive hits for the soccer moms in your listening audience. Challenge the norm at all and it gets dangerous. Not Beirut dangerous, mind you, but my hope is that it could be. I think Christianity could get dangerous again, even in America. We have to get peculiar first.

My life is in transition. I won't be doing anything I'm doing now for a living in a short time. Then we'll see how dangerous life can get. Will you still be backing our military from the safety of an upbeat and positive radio station in one of the wealthiest counties in the nation? What are YOU doing to get dangerous? What does pro-violence require of the Christian who does not hold the gun?

What faith does believing my life was given to me by my country require of me? What compassion and love is necessary when violence is seen as mightier and even sacred? Pacifists and pro-violence folks can both be apathetic. But it seems like one has a greater need to be active in order to avoid hypocrisy, while the other can sit back and vote and never be in danger of being called a hypocrite. Am I making sense to anyone but me? Not, am I right? But is this clear to anyone else?

SG

12/16/2005  
Blogger Roger said...

Shaun,

If in my last post I came across as saying things were simple to understand or easy, I failed to communicate my thoughts properly. I just had to reply to the implication (or maybe incorrectly inferred on my part) that the church needed to get back to anything other than a closer relationship with the Spirit.

12/16/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Roger, but what specifically does "closer relationship with the Spirit" mean to you? Can't get closer than in right? So what do you mean by that? If you can reword that statement I think you're onto something very powerful and profitable for us all. But right now it sounds like a bumper sticker...or an INSPO hit. ; )

SG

12/16/2005  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Shaun,
I think we've had a similar discussion about the military oath before. You make it sound as though those who take the oath are blindly following whatever is told to them by a superior or the president without any regard for morality, ethics, or Godly perspective.

Again, going back to the original intent and the original meaning behind the definition of the word "oath," an oath can not be taken by an individual without belief in God (The Christian God) and an inherent understanding and implication that the oath taker would not even consider stepping outside God's will when carrying out the duties of the office they made the oath for in the beginning. I'm not saying that TODAY'S oath takers feel the same (I was and so was my husband), but can't say they don't either.

The military oath is very specific. It says that we will obey "lawful" orders, not just orders. It also says that we will defend the constitution. Again, understanding the original intent of the constitution rather than the twisted version we so often get from today's courts, there's nothing immoral in our constitution that Christians shouldn't defend.

I believe that God assigned us our democratic responsibility. We should "render unto Caesar's what is Caesar's." I don't think that means money or taxes only, but our allegiance (insofar as it is not contrary to scripture) too. Although it would be nice to live in a utopian society where there is no war or violence, that isn't going to happen here until Christ returns. To allow anarchy to reign because we think we have not been assigned a democratic responsibility is just wrong. It's caos and not of God.

Our military, while often involved in acts of "violence" as you say, don't generally propogate violence for the heck of it. There are very strict rules of engagement. Yes, accidents happen, innocent lives are sometimes lost, and sometimes intentional acts are carried out by overzealous or wrong-minded individuals. Our military, while its primary mission is protection, is more often than not, involved more in humanitarian aid. America is the largest provider of humanitarian aid in the world. While aid is often funded and some duties carried out by charitiy organizations, etc. it is almost exclusively the military which provides the transport, fuel, logistic support, heavy equipment, food, water and manpower. Just ask any military person who was involved in aid to Somalia about their humanitarian work. No violence, just lots of gut-wrenching, lifesaving work for thousands (mostly children) who would have certainly perished otherwise.

While I think we could've certainly done without Hiroshima, Nagasaki and even Dresden, unfortunately, there weren't other options available at the time and ultimately, more lives were saved than lost. Ask a Holocost survivor if Dresden was necessary.

This is a tough topic to be sure and there is no one right answer. While I applaud your pacifist lifestyle and admire your personal sacrifice to help further the work of the church, I don't think it's the church's job to protect the citizens in a physical sense like the military and police does. I would not call my pastor if my house was on fire or I was being held at gunpoint. I would certainly call him afterward though and be calling on God throughout the whole ordeal. The churchs' job is feed the hungry, clothe the naked and help the poor, etc., physically and spiritually, but not to bear arms persae. That doesn't mean that as a Christian though that bearing arms in the defense of ones country, family etc. is wrong either. I'm sure I'm not explaining myself like I want to, but I'm stuck with my rambling words and so are the readers unfortunately.

Thanks Shaun, Brant, Seth and others for feeling free enough to be open and honest, and also respectful of others opinions. I never fail to learn from this site and that's what counts.

Beth

12/16/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I thought you explained yourself eloquently, Beth. Always good to read your thoughts and ponder for a while. Thanks for lending your much needed perspective to this discussion.

SG

12/16/2005  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Shaun,

Thanks. I know you can make sense of my ramblings because you are so smart. I hope your unpacking (and finding of all things now "misplaced") is going smoothly and that the new Groves home will soon feel that way, like home. Please don't let Gresham put up any pictures or otherwise come in contact with tools. You would come out on the losing end and so would the house!

Beth

12/16/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaun,

Sorry I don't have your email address. I'm also sorry, truly, that you misunderstood my tone. This is likely my fault. I read a couple lines and see where this happens. I did really think this was a "let's see where this takes us" -- kind of review of your pacifism position, first-explained. It clearly wasn't that.

That said, I'm mostly disappointed, but that's okay, too, in the scheme of things.

You say:
>>This is theory for us. Both of us. Neither of us stands to lose or gain anything for ourselves >>from all this talk.

No, actually, it isn't -- it's not and hasn't been mere theory for me. You're mistaken, because you're presuming things about me that aren't actually true, so that you can make a point, I guess.

Why are you doing this?

You say:
>>My life is in transition. I won't be doing anything I'm doing now for a living in a short time. Then we'll see how dangerous life can get. Will you still be backing our military from the safety of an upbeat and positive radio station in one of the wealthiest counties >>in the nation? What are YOU >>doing to get dangerous?

You know what? I actually answered this question. But I deleted it. Give me your email, if it wasn't rhetorical, and I'll send it to you. Stupid, but true.

It's embarrassing to answer this question here. You can read it, then print a big "wups" or something, I guess, based on the fact that, if you really knew me, this would rank as one of the most ironically funny (and embarrassingly so) challenges/questions you could ask.

I'm not going to do the "Well, let me boast like Paul," list here. At least I'm fighting the urge. Suffice it to say: really bad challenge.

(And you're dismissive of the radio station, again, and this is ironic as well: You don't live here, and actually don't know what we've been doing. Very, very sorry you're angry about the positioning statement, really.)

And true, I think force is sometimes necessary, AND I'm not in the army. Hypocrisy?

I think firefighting is dangerous, and sometimes necessary, and I'm not a firefighter either! Perhaps you're not, too! We're cowards.

Second, while my only sibling, my brother, served in the Army, I went through a pacifist stage, at age 17.

Sure, I got over it, but I was pretty sure the army didn't want me, since I'm legally handicapped visually. They have a thing with visual handicaps.

Nevertheless, you offer:
>>you let other people do your fighting for you when you support the actions and preeminence of our >>military as the "uber-solution."

Yes, anyone who knows me knows I'm all about "supporting the pre-eminence of our military as the uber-solution." That's actually my personal positioning statement, with "positive and upbeat" or whatever.

Seriously: to say I support the military as the uber-solution is flat-out false.

FWIW, here's what I actually believe, again:

1. Sadly, force is actually sometimes necessary to restrain evil.

2. Not every police/military action is just, to say the least.

3. Nevertheless, I'm certainly thankful for the military and police.

Hypocrisy? Okay. Or, maybe it's not, and you don't actually understand it fully.

Shaun, does it matter that you still have literally no answer for the basic question, "How do we 'police' anyone without force?"

Seriously: How is actual life going to work? Honestly -- I'm open on this. Offer something. I'll sign up. Seriously.

The people who battled the terrorists and brought down flight 11 were wrong? You can think that, okay. I just need some coherent explanation of how life is supposed to actually work for people.

We're not in Eden, and we're not in Heaven. I'm sorry. We're in between right now. It stinks, but it's true.

You say God is responsible for your lifestyle. I was thinking the American economy played a role there. Could it be, that perhaps you've benefitted nicely from military and police force, and God continues to allow it?

Could that possibly be true?

Shaun, you say D-Day soldiers weren't "morally misguided", then you give the effective definition for being morally misguided when describing their state and actions. There's no effective "without/within" dichotomy. They did something you say is immoral, they thought it was moral. That's misguided, folks.

I share your desire for a "peculiar" church. I respectfully disagree that this peculiarity is about refusing to use force to protect the innocent.

You say: "BRANT PLAYS HUMBLE"

???

(Next, on "Pacifists who 'Swing Back' When Threatened: Verbiage Doesn't Count, Only Global Stuff")

Like I say, BE a pacifist. That's cool. Go for it. No problem, here. Heck, be militant about it, if you want. I could be wrong on all this.

Back to the fluff-mine,
Brant

12/16/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. Brant's a jerk.

12/16/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How did that help the conversation? What did that add? Please refrain from insults, especially when you don't have anything to add to the conversation yourself.

12/17/2005  
Blogger Roger said...

>Roger, but what specifically does "closer relationship with the Spirit" mean to you? Can't get closer than in right? So what do you mean by that? If you can reword that statement I think you're onto something very powerful and profitable for us all. But right now it sounds like a bumper sticker...or an INSPO hit. ; )

Bumper sticker eh? :) Do you think they'll sell? I'm tired of eating Ramen noodles all the time.

Ok, this will make all the left-brained folks happy! (and I'm pretty sure it's not pithy enough for a bumper sticker) It's taken me a while to get to this point, but for what it's worth, here's what I've been grappling with:

It's a given that the Spirit inhabits the believer. And we also learn in scripture that God doesn't change, so it logically follows that the same Spirit that worked through common men (the apostles weren't super-Christians, empowered by a stronger Holy Spirit) in Acts is still available and desiring to work through us. So the question is, "What's wrong today?" I believe it's not so much of what we're doing or not doing, but rather what we're letting God do through us. Having said that, I'll clarify by saying that I struggle with my thought life - on many fronts. In scripture we're told that if we walk in the Spirit, we won't fulfill the lust of the flesh. I thought that was plainly stated, sort of an "it's either one or the other" type things - the flesh or the Spirit. However, I couldn't get anywhere on the 'walking in the Spirit' part. What does that mean? How does that apply - especially since our minds and thoughts are where all the trouble begins. And then I remembered a verse somewhere and looked up 1 Corinthians 2 - where Paul talks about believers having the mind of Christ. But I was still stuck. Why do I still struggle? What is the mind of Christ? Then one night I heard pastor Charles Stanley mention how the Bible "was the mind of God." I needed that explicit reference to confirm for me that it's the word of God. It's the Bible. So, the stuff I was looking for was right there. I just need to saturate myself in the word so that I can let it work in me. For Is. 55:11 and Heb 4:12 tell us that God's word won't return void and it's alive and active. So, further clarifying the first point, the Holy Spirit will work through God's word to reveal truths and teach us about scripture as we go deeper into it. As we spend more time in the word, our minds will be more finely tuned to God's thoughts. We will be more aware of the Spirit's working in our lives. From that awareness comes opportunities to yield to Him and let Him work through us.

12/17/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm curious to get a bit of background on the post that indicated:

It was assumed (and it's very well documented in many places) that America was and always would be a CHRISTIAN nation.

This is the really the first I've heard someone suggest that the writers and framers of the the US constitution (a people persecuted for their religious choices in the countries they fled) 'assumed' that the country would be a nation of just one religion (and that the religion would be Christianity). I'm very curious to read/see the references you are aware of - could be very, very enlightening.

Thanks.

12/17/2005  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Tough topic and passionate on all sides to be sure. First off, although I'm quite sure that Brant and Shaun are capable of sticking up for themselves, whoever said above that "Brant's a jerk" just doesn't get. Having a strong opinion about something, doesn't make someone a jerk. This is still a great discussion and anyone who's taking the time to really read and think about what's being said from all sides is really learning something here. Brant and Shaun would be the first to say that they don't have to agree on everything in order to be friends.

Brant, I'm sure you're frustrated at times with your job, playing "fluff." Everything you play however is certainly not fluff. It's good stuff; life-changing, challenging, spirit-moving stuff. I wish I had the opportunity to listen to your station. The one I have here is OK, but lacks the variety that's out there and is definitely missing most of the truly great music that's around today. Keep it up, please!

Shaun, you say you will not be doing anything you're doing now to earn a living in the near future. As long as God is leading you and you're following, go for whatever He wants you to do. I will say though that what you're doing now is clearly God's calling. You are impacting lives for His Kingdom and there just isn't any other work He'd have you do. You may be carrying it out in a different way, but the actual work won't change.

Personally, I would be very disappointed if you weren't making music or teaching anymore, but that's me being very selfish. Your music is the stuff that needs to be played more on the radio. If you quit, then the business just thinks you weren't right for the job, or your music wasn't what people really NEEDED! I could care less how it "tests" except that it would get more air play if the "Becky's" of the testing market were actually interested in learning something from the music they listen to rather than just settling for something that makes the drive from home to the soccer game more entertaining and covers up the noise the kids are making in the back seat. Music like yours, Taylor Sorensen's, and others are too important to walk away from. My kids will talk over the radio anyday, but pop in a Shaun Groves or Taylor Sorensen CD and what you hear is not talk, but singing (however off-key, lol), followed by things like "what did he mean by that?" or "WOW, what he's singing about is just the way I feel", or "I need so-and-so to listen to this song so they can "get it" too." Sometimes I think that you feel what you do (in the music industry) isn't good enough, or because it doesn't get the airplay, it's somehow not worthy. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Unfortunately, the market is hard to bear sometimes because it has to "make a living" too. I just wish the market would wake up and realize that impacting lives is far more important than the "living" they're trying to make. Brant gets it. You get it, I get it and so do your listeners. Unfortunately, we aren't the ones being tested.

Beth

12/17/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Brant. What we have here is proof once again that sarcasm does not translate well in print. Or at least my attempt at it.

Brant, I truly like you - not just love you - truly. I am not attacking you nor did I feel attacked. For instance, when I said BRANT PLAYS HUMBLE I smiled. I thought that was funny. There's not need to say you're not a theologian when in fact you're a very good theologian. It's not a slam to remind you of this. I TOTALLY get why this would piss you off - the wording - but the intent I don't think would. I truly didn't think of how that might come across to you, I guess because you and I have been sarcastic in person so often. Shoot, your blog about my last appearance on your show was pretty sarcastic towards me was it not? I didn't think you were serious in the least. I took no offense. I'm asking you for forgiveness in miscommunicating. I thought those reading our conversation might think I was being mean so, notice, I warned them and let them know it's OK, I like this guy and know him and he'll get my intent...in not so many words.

If I thought I was treading thin ice with YOU I wouldn't have posted in that tone. I really was getting bored with it all and feeling it was a bit too serious for too long so I added some levity. Or tried. Instead I added space between us. I'm very sorry for that. Please forgive me.

Here's the main point I hoped to get across. I'm not disqualified from thinking pacifism is right simply because I'm benefiting in some way from the violence of our military and nation's history or because I don't have an answer to every question. Geez, I don't have all the answers to how God saved me exactly thorugh Christ but man I believe it. And I haven't been addicted to drugs but I know it's not a positive thing and I could argue against it even though the bible never mentions Cocaine by name. My view isn't crap just because I'm not facing a violent enemy in the flesh right now either. If my safe environment and cushy surrounding disqualify me from this debate then my point was that you too are disqualified. We're both pretty stinking coddled in the big scheme of things. You're as safe working at a studio in a wealthy city in Florida as I am in my home in Nashville. You started that line of thinking and I didn't get offended. But, hey, we both are doing things to help others and move others to do the same. I acknowledged as much in my comment. I said you serve. Dude, your station that calls itself positive aired a non-positive segment with me about hurricane victims and wound up moving listeners to house seven families. Freakin Yea. But in regards to violence you and I are still safe - I'M ASSUMING. As far as I know there are no enemy forces storming West Palm today. ; ) (See, now I have to use those stupid winky smilies so I don't offend. I hate winky smilies) Just as there are none In Nashville. I hope that clears up that point anyway.

The main thing I want you to hear now is I'm sorry and I'm not pissed at you. I get how my last comment could be read as you read it - parts of it anyway - but I assumed you knew me and my humor and tone better by now. It's up to me to communicate better not for you to interpret better. It's my fault. I misjudged and I'll be more careful in the future. I felt relaxed and open and that was my downfall. THat, and having fun with a serious subject like this.

Sorry.

As for the question I've not answered. It's not a concrete answer. The answer is in part:

1)Creating shalom: completeness of every kind.
2)This means saving souls, economies, ecologies, relationships. Seeing salvation as all inclusive and not just individual when-I-die saving. Seeing God's salvation as drawing all men to Himself, reconciling all things is necessary.
3)Living on less and giving more. Less time for ourselves and our jobs. Less money for our houses and things. Giving to the Church doing the work of Shalom making. Working to serve, not working to live. CHristians in business working to give, motivated to increase profits because in doing so they have more to offer the world in need.
4)Breaking the laws of the US is necessary to do the work of Shalom in countries we are currently forbidden to visit. Going not as leaders but as learners and servants lending strength and resources and knowledge to Shalom making already being carried out by the Church in those countries. Building wells, paving roads, feeding children, creating schools, giving micro-loans, planting fields, buying land to plant fields, teaching skills, funding churches, training pastors, providing medical infrastructure and equipment and training, etc etc.
5)Using the hundreds of thousands of church square feet that sit empty every week to create industries that are low on profitability and high on compassion for the poor. In other words, create jobs to rescue folks from welfare etc. Even they're fake jobs in a sense. Use this space to educate and heal as well. This relates to global peace in that it is preventative medicine for war here at home. Many wars stem from poverty and we're naive if we think that can't happen here with poverty rising along with wealth. We start fending off war now in the US by educating, healing, telling about Jesus etc. Saving the whole person and their family and their neighborhood etc.
6)Pray.


Again, I'm not pissed at you and I think we're both victims here of the awkward communication that cyberspace affords. There's really no room for ambiguity or sarcasm here. And I'm very sorry I didn't re-read before posting to make sure there was NO way I could be misunderstood. Sorry.

SG

PS. I don't slight what you do for a living or your station. I don't like the upbeat and positive slogan but that;'s all it is at WAY-FM - a slogan. You guys don't follow it. We've talked about this before I thought. My reason for bringing it up was that it is very safe compared to the battlefield or Beirut in the 80s - just as my job and locale are. You pointed that out and I was simply trying to apply the standard to us all. NONE of us on this blog are familiar with warfare except Beth. PErhaps that's why her opinion means so much to me in this discussion. For the rest of us, I AM ASSUMING, this talk of war and peace is theory which we have not had to apply in the worst circumstances.

12/17/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Shaun,

Thanks, again, for your kind tone. I also apologize for misunderstanding your sarcasm entirely. I'm real good at dishing it out, not so good at picking up on it. I actually didn't see your response, until a friend sent it to me, with a "Geez, what's up with Shaun? Holy cow" take.

But again, that's from someone who doesn't know how we might relate (sarcastically) and laugh at stuff. I should have picked up on it better, period.

I don't subscribe, but can respect your pacifism, as an "outpost of the Kingdom that is to come" variety.

I even teach, repeatedly and in every way possible, my son to defend the innocent, particularly women and children. And it starts with his sister. He can not threaten her, because he has a role of protector.

I took him to C.R. this year for the express purpose of saying, "Look at these little kids in the slums. What does God want you to do about it? Maybe God is training you to defend their interests..."

As for safer bullets and stuff, cool. It's still using force, of course.

Some say we can "arrest" terrorists in, say, Afghanistan without force/violence. I'm pretty sure this is not something that's actually possible.

But it's not just Hitler, it's every single day. This is not an exceptional, far-off issue. Again, Beslan, with schoolchildren getting mowed down, and what should we do? Flight 11. Police work every day in this country.

I do think that we should not create the impression that police work is necessarily immoral, and I fear trying to "have it both ways", saying "Jesus doesn't want the police to use force," then saying, "But I'm not saying you police are doing something wrong." I think we WOULD be saying what they're doing is wrong.

I don't think that's necessarily accurate or loving, and it does follow from the "force is always wrong" concept that police work is immoral.

No, no one's invading West Palm. But I haven't been staying in West Palm, either. In a non-snarky way I really mean the "Well, Brant, what have YOU done that's dangerous?" question is legitimately funny. My wife laughed aloud. But if I get into why, it sounds like I think I'm an American Christian Action Hero, when I am, in fact, a dork.

I could have you call Kevin Turner, with SWI, formerly of Voice of the Martyrs, and have him tell you some stories about me. It would literally be funny.

I've actually had more than one missions group ask me to LEAVE a country for fear that by staying, they'd be killed, too, for their connection to Christ.

That's for starters. So I get some big award, or something, I guess. Or something.

We've got some stories to swap sometime. But I'm usually interviewing you, not the other way around, which is cool by me.

Shaun, I've interviewed pacifists, professors to activists; been a part of a church with large numbers of them; we even joined a homeschooling group (!) where the meetings were delayed because everyone was out protesting the war. (There was a Christian homeschooling group, but we didn't fit in.)

These pacifists? I've never met angrier, more un-peaceful people in my life. Seriously. Pacifists with no peace. Over and over and over.

I read a Bruderhof writer recently saying, "You know, the Bible does not give us space for anger. We may not like GWBush, but anger is not something we're allowed." What a cool thing to read from a pacifist. I'm sure that torqued some people off. But maybe I'll even learn from him, too.

Maybe we like to call our anger "righteous", when it's really self-righteous.

Lastly, as for "neither one of us has anything to gain from this talk": I'm not sure that's true. I can "gain" psychologically, by, say, posing as some tough guy who says, "Well, Shaun, YOU won't defend your family, but by golly, I've got a gun, and I WILL step up for MY family, blah blah blah..."

That could make me feel like real man or something.

YOU could gain psychologically, too, if you get benefit from fancying yourself a prophet, and derive significance from being that "prophetic voice". I AM NOT SAYING YOU DO THIS. But you see what I mean: we can take public positions on issues because it feeds our significance somehow. Pretty complex, and I'm being too brief, but I think you'll agree. I always have to watch that in myself.

Best,
Brant "The Anonymous-Nominated Jerk"

12/17/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

BTW -- BETH,

Thank you for your input in this. You're right on.

I was being (again) sarcastic about the "fluff mine". I think what WAY-FM does is very important, subversive even. Some are catching on.

Brant

Brant

12/17/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Brant, I'd like to know specifically what it is you are doing with folks like VOM. I don't think there's anything wrong with offering your life as a partial but still imperfect example of how to do this Christian thing better. IF you're afraid someone will think you're an egomaniac, who cares what they think? I think it would profit us all more than harm your reputation. I'm hungry to know what I could do, different from what I AM doing. And I sense that you have stories that would provoke me in the right directions or at least get me pondering my own in very productive ways. I urge you to share them with us.

Dangerous was obviously a poor word choice by me. I was thinking in terms of living our faith out in such a way that we are threatened at home. I didn't at all specify that. My bad. I'm not doing anything here in Nashville worth persecuting is my point. And I ASSUMED you weren't either. You and I probably have to go elsewhere for that. Other places outside the US might kill me for saying, "jesus" but to be killed here in America might require I LIVE like Jesus. And that's the crux of my little rant. And now I can't think for the life of me how that had anything to do with pacifism.

I fear you're looking at me and my pacifism through the lens of the protesting pacifists and angry pacifists you've known. I'm not them in motivation or action. I often say I'm not a pacifist for the same reasons Susan Sarandon is. She thinks it "works" and I know it does not. I'm a pacifist because being so is I think part of being perfect as my Father in Heaven is perfect. That's the only motivation Jesus offers in the Sermon on the Mount. And I'm as aware that my own anger is murder as the killing of 3000 American on 9/11 is murder. Pacifism is not about war but about denying human nature's draw towards self and preservation and harm, it's denying oneself and not satisfying oneself with anger or hostility of any kind. It's becoming meek (Psalm 39-1-11) and committing my way to the lord so that I do not feel the need to be vengeful, worried or angry. It's not treating the symptom (war) without addressing the disease (self). Those folks protesting are fixing the symptom perhaps, though probably not, but could easily miss the cause. War does the same thing. It kills the tyrant but only prolongs the inevitable revival of evil. It is ineffective at what it claims to be effective at: creating peace. And, I'd say, pacifism does not remove the tyrant OR free his people by itself. So, let's say neither pacifism nor violence really fixes the problem of of the oppressor and the oppressed entirely or permanently or, maybe, at all. So to some degree, in some ways, they're the same. The difference is - and this is why I chose one over the other - that pacifism, while it's failing to save us all, puts the character of the Father on display for all to see. When we die. When we're raped. When our civilization crumbles at the hand of militant Muslims. Someone is watching. And they'll see Jesus. Do they see that in violence? Military action is never pitched as the work of God, the character of God. Is it? Is it putting on display the values of God? I don't believe it is, so I choose not to support it. NOT BECAUSE it doesn't work, for I've already said pacifism doesn't either. BUT because it is part of being perfect as my Father in Heaven in perfect and therefore points to peculiar perfection no matter the outcome.

OK, that's the best I've ever summarized that. I hope it's clear. So what I'm hoping to see from the other side is some evidence from scripture, not an argument for self-preservation or practicality, that shows how war under the New Covenant is allowed by Christ and represents His Father well here on earth. I haven't seen that yet.

SG

12/17/2005  
Anonymous Stephen said...

Thanks Shaun for that summary. I have not heard it put like that before, and it gives me a lot to think about.

12/17/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

speaking of police. i think one of the greatest television shows of all time is Andy Griffith. The man never carried a gun. I love it. (really love that episode where barney thinks he can sing operatic) anyway, the whole reason for me peeking my nose into this almost finished discussion is to say that Policeman should try and be more like Andy.

once again a great discussion. So far, I am still in agreement with Just War. However, it seems to me that nary are the wars of today fought when the requirements of a Just War are met. as Christians i think we should always prepare for peace and not war. Preparing for war is living in fear and how many times did Jesus tell us not to be afraid? I still believe there is or may be instances that you are only left with the alternative of physical intervetion to protect those whom you love but I do not live in fear of those times. It still is pretty simple to me, but that may be because i still desparately try to keep things simple. God is simple, people are complex.

-If it is preventive, as in direct intervetion of an occuring act, like someone raping your wife, or kidnapping your kids, or wiping out a race, its justified. jump in and protect. if the deed it done and you just want to regroup and re-emerge guns a-blazing and prevent it from happeing again, then nope, not Just War. Seems more like a reaction to fear without forgiveness than prevention. I also think many times we mistake peaceful solutions with "diplomatic" solutions. Starving a country AINT a peaceful soultion to a problem. some of these verses may have already been quoted but i am too lazy to scroll up and check. I try and live and breathe by these scriptures when it comes to this issue.

Psalms 145:8
The Lord is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, and rich in love.

James 1:19, 20
My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.

Ephesians 4:31, 32
Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Proverbs 15:1
A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.

John 16:33
I have told you these things, so that in me your may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.

peace-

Seth

12/17/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Those are great, Seth. And if you can live those you'll be pretty stinkin peculiarly Christian. But I think Brant has a good point when he argues - and I'm trying hard not to put wrong words in his mouth - for anger or, uhhhh, maybe force without anger (if that's possible) on behalf of others. Not sure defending someone else with force is really an act of anger that could be reigned in by these great verses you've posted. Got anything about defending others using force?

The only thing I can think of is a passage from Luke 13:

1Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. 2Jesus answered, "Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? 3I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. 4Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? 5I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

Roman soldiers, armed we assume, interrupt church services and kill those making sacrifices. This is obviously murder, and with obvious holy versus pagan ingredients mixed in. Serious stuff. We'd bomb those Romans "back to the stone age." I think.

But when Jesus is told this story he doesn't become the warlord Messiah the Jews want, the One they've expected to kill their enemies for generations. He doesn't free them from the terrorism of the Romans. He doesn't tell them to fight back. He skips it altogether. That would tick me off. He makes a plea for personal examination instead. That would seem very inappropriate I think. A battered woman or a battered woman's teenage daughter, afraid to go home because Daddy's drunk again, comes to me for counsel (asking if her mother is being beaten because she is being punished by God for sin) and I say, "Let's talk about YOUR sin." What? Jesus asks would-be victims of the Roman occupation to look into their own hearts and see their own wickedness and repent of it. Weird. Doesn't He care about justice?

(Side note: these jews telling Jesus this tale are assumed to be asking if we are attacked by our enemies because we are sinful and being punished. In other words, is Falwell right and 9/11 happened because of gay people. Jesus seems to be saying no here just as he said the man blind from birth wasn't being punished for his parents' sin. Or is He saying yes but all death is punishment for sin. Geez, this guy's hard to figure out.)

Weirder still is his likening the slaughter of innocent holy people by a relentless pagan enemy of the Jews who isn't going away anytime soon (the Romans) to an ACCIDENT involving a tower falling on some folks in Siloam. Really weird. He doesn't even say one death is worse or more saddening or angering to Him than the other. He seems to be saying something like, "Yea, that sucks that those guys in the synagogue died. You know, we all die. Like, did you here about that tower that fell on those folks last week? The real tragedy though is that everyone is spiritually dead. All sinners. No one, no matter how they die, is more or less sinful than anyone else. So YOU need to repent and get ready for death because an enemy can kill you or a tower can take you out at any time. You just don't know do you? Get ready."

I'm paraphrasing and that's dangerous but it seems to be what's being said after I've read commentaries and other translations. Commentaries either skip this passage or shed very little light on it. So it's hard to know exactly what's going on here. But it seems that Jesus is rather unconcerned with the enemies of the Jews. And isn't moved to defend their physical lives, to preserve them in any way. But this is the only passage I can find that seems to say anything of Christ's stance on defending the innocent victim with force against his enemy.

I'm as certain as I can be about anything mysterious and divine when it comes to the question of killing in self-defense and out of revenge or killing the innocent (even on accident). I want to be (notice I didn't say I am) - I want to be a man who would rather die than murder. I want to be a person who'd rather lose than win unlawfully, perish than live murderously. To be that kind of man demands that my allegiance to God be greater than my allegiance to nation, that I not live to preserve my life or property or way of life but to make God known through faithful obedience, and that I not define "right" by what seems to work out best for me and mine. I'm not there yet but I'm praying for it and I'm confident it's what I SHOULD be. So war, in general, I'm as certain as I can be, based on the evidence and conversations I've had in my life so far - and there's much more living to do - is immoral because it goes against the perfect nature of God and His teaching and model in Christ and the early Church's understanding of the issue as well (before the Church acquiesced to preserve her power and relationship with a warring Caesar). I'm as certain as I can be about all that. No one has shown me anything authoritative to the contrary in the two years I've been publicly asking to be shown.

BUT I am very uncertain about whether killing or harming to defend the innocent - if such a situation exists in which that is the SOLE motive - is immoral or virtuous. I just don't know. I never have been certain of this. The bible doesn't seem to address it specifically enough.

I am afraid though, because of the very very little I know of human history, anytime the judge and executioner are the same person/nation. We humans, and nations, have a long record of making the wrong call when it comes to who is innocent, who is not, and what force should be used to set things right. Remember, I tell myself, the German Church backed Hitler and the Spanish Churched backed the slaughter of natives in the New World. The Church (many of our godly founders, in fact) backed the beating or killing of disobedient slaves. Many in the white Church backed the lynching of blacks after slavery whom they must have thought deserved it. (Southern Baptists were founded on their embracing of slavery, which surely entailed harming said slaves if they got out of line and posed a threat to the "business", so to speak.) Wrong call right? Much of the US Church backed Truman's bombing of Japan. And friends of mine who backed our current war in Iraq when it began, believing it was "just", now regret saying so.

I don't know. Anyone able to point to something greater than hypotheticals and opinions alone to give me a little wisdom here? This is the toughest part of pacifism for me. This aspect is discussed the least. BUT I don't think I have to have it all worked out, a solution to every snafu, to believe with some degree of confidence that revenge killing (even if part of the motive is revenge) is wrong, killing innocents (even on accident) is wrong and killing in self-defense alone is wrong. I think that. It's the rest of it that's littered with question marks for me.

Help.

SG

12/18/2005  
Anonymous kat said...

Shaun,
You've REALLY opened my eyes with this topic. One question I have is regarding the Old Testament. How do you reconcile the fact that you consider killing someone to be wrong and all of the killing that happened in the Old Testament that was at the request of God. I'm no scholar and I don't have my Bible handy, one story that comes to mind is when God punished the Israelites for NOT killing people. I believe it was the Amalekites (but I could be waaaaaay off). In any case, I believe He had told them that they were to destroy them, but the Israelites didn't kill all of them as God had commanded. Or when God gave Samson the strength to destroy the temple and all the people in it.

Please understand I'm not trying to argue with you. In fact, I really love a lot of what you've said, especially the part about the Church needing to be peculiar. I just can't see how something could be OK in the OT but now be sin.
Thanks for your wisdom and openness.

kat

12/18/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

PLEASE ARGUE!! Arguing is good. One of the many ways Paul's speaking/preaching is written about in Acts uses the words "argue" and "debate." That's good stuff. That's how some of us learn. Just stay nice when you do it. That's the hard part.

Alright. OT wars. I don't think God's character ever changes. His values, in other words, His list of priorities, is always the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. What He loves He always loves and what He hates He always hates. Always. So then, yes, you ask a great question: What gives with God telling His people to war in the OT and then Jesus showing up and seemingly saying don't war? (If I'm reading Jesus right.)

I'll do you one more. Not only does God tell folks to war in the OT and then tell folks NOT to war in the New Testament, He tells people NOT to war in the OT too. In fact, He tells the Jews to kill people in the OT and later amends His covenant with the Jews (He lets non-Jews like you and me be saved through Christ) and punishes the Jews royally BECAUSE they kill people. This happens in Ezekiel 36 - one of my most often cited biblical references here it seems. What gives? Is God bipolar?

Here's one possible explanation. There seem to be things these "good" God-ordered wars in the OT have in common. These common traits might be what make these wars OK with God. They might tell us something of what a truly God ordered war looks like. I can't find an exception to these, btw, but I want to know if you can. Let me know. I'm ready to learn. The common traits are:

1) Small force against larger force. (one man against a giant, small army against a massive army, strong man against concrete pillars and crowd and his own blindness, trumpets and marching band against Jericho's walls etc) Seems God likes to stack the odds against the people He sends into battle. This may be because of the next trait.
2) The battle is ONLY for God's fame and agenda, often to make His people great (back when they were His only people), give them land, demonstrate his might against the might of a false god etc. God's renown is ALWAYS the result. By choosing small men and armies no nation can take credit without giving God obvious props for winning the battle.
3) The small man/force commanded by God and fighting for His renown and agenda is holy: 100% Yaweh followers. In fact, if someone in the force disobeys Yaweh they're let go (smote). God not cares about what is being fought for (His name) but also that those doing the fighting represent Him well. Only a force entirely made of God-followers fights at God's command. (This does not mean that God doesn't USE non-God followers like Pharoah and Joseph's brothers to bring about His plans, but they have no direct command from God to kill and no agenda but their own.)
4) The enemy is 100% non-God followers. Therefore, no brothers and sisters in the faith are killed, not even by accident, by the force God commands into battle.
5) God gives the order and the army knows they've been ordered by God. There is NO question who the order came from. (This one is harder to prove since the bible doesn't always narrate the order being made, but when the order is mentioned it is obvious. And when the order isn't mentioned the army behaves as if it was and celebrates victory as if it was.)

Let's look at the war in Iraq and see how it matches up to these narrow rules of engagement - if these are accurate, and I'm not certain they are. I need you guys to help decide that. But they seem to be accurate.

1) Small force: The US is arguably the best force in the world. Wealthy, massive, WMDs out the yang and lots of technical advantage.
2) When we win, will ALL of our nation and army give Yaweh (not just a god or creator or maker) the full credit?
3) Our military is not 100% Yaweh followers. Good men and women, but not followers of Christ/Yaweh or else we wouldn't have Muslim chaplains and our own Christian chaplains would have freedom not to be ecumenical as they're forced to be now.
4) One could argue that the terrorists are not Christian/Yaweh-Christ followers but they are not the only one's dying. We have killed Christians in this war. I read about at least one Christian death over at Voice of the Martyrs a while back. Can't remember the details but it stands to reason that Christians are dying accidentally, as Beth admitted this happens in war no matter how cautious we are, and we know we have brothers and sisters in faith in Iraq.
5) No one but Falwell seems confident we've been ordered by God into Iraq. (Falwell, said we should, "Blow them (the terrorists) away in the name of the Lord." I'm not assuming his position.) Bush hasn't invoked Christ or Yaweh publicly as a source for the declaration of war. No doubt his understanding of his faith influences his every decision but that is far different from declaring war in light of a direct order from God to do so. (In fairness, I don't know what this direct order from Heaven would even look like today. Does it come from a Derek Webb CD or Pat Robertson? A dream? Who's the prophet? This one's tough to imagine today.)

Alright, paging all Bereans. Check me out on this. Did I miss something? Teach me.

About Ezekiel 36...God punished/cursed the Jews for waging war because they did so without His commanding them to. He says they profaned His name (made it small, misrepresented Him to neighboring countries as less than He is) by "shedding blood." Doesn't say why they shed blood but scholars (OK, one scholar) says they went to war because they had been attacked. I've had a hard time figuring out the exact reasons the Jews fought but if we ever found out it could be very telling about the kind of reason for war God frowns upon. But for now it's enough to note that He didn't like them fighting without His permission and for their own reasons/gain.

SG

12/18/2005  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Shaun,

Outstanding stuff as usual. I have faith that my husband is doing what God called him to do. I don't know all the ways His kingdom has been furthered or glorified by it (and I'm sure there've been instances where it not been), but since I'm limited, as we all are, by our three dimensions here and God is not, I don't expect to know either. At least not yet. I'm so glad that we can all learn and even argue and debate about what God says about things and know that we don't have to be completely right or even in agreement to have learning take place and more importantly, further His kingdom in the process. Not that He needs us to carry out His plan, but it sure is nice to be a part of it!

Now, Shaun go to bed. You have a fever, a cold and two sick kids in the house. Becky will need you to be healthy so you can take over when she gets it. Oh wait, she's a mom, she can't get sick!

Beth

12/18/2005  
Anonymous Stephen said...

I too have struggled with the matter of war in the Old Testament.
When someone says that the God of the Old Testament is the same God as the New Testament, I agree. I can find great comfort that the same God who flooded the whole earth, the same God who parted the Red Sea, in the N.T. calmed the waves for His followers and told them to not be afraid. It's easy to see how the same God that spoke to Moses spoke to Saul.

But, it is harder for me to process that the God who, in the N.T., says to turn the other cheek, who says to love those who hate you, in the O.T. apparently was a big fan of genocide and took great pleasure in killing women and children.

12/18/2005  
Anonymous kat said...

Shaun,
Those are some good points. I think my brain is cramping with all this thinking you make me do.

This is what I've decided. I'm not a pacifict. I'm not pro-war or pro-violence. I'm a follower of Jesus. The nations will war. Let them. I'm called to love people in the name of Jesus. That's my plumbline. I wonder if God doesn't care so much about "force" as He does about loving people and making His love known to people. And maybe that calls for different and perhaps even contrary action at times.

I think the world needs exact definitions of pacifism. They need to know exactly what violence is or isn't. They need to know exactly what they should or shouldn't do. They need to know exactly what is or isn't right. Specific rules are their god because they have no other. There is no higher authority.

Perhaps God doesn't outline His exact position on every topic in the Bible because He wants us to seek Him. Perhaps He doesn't have a once and for all answer because He wants us to continue to seek Him.

Perhaps at some point we should stop searching for God's once and for all answer because it doesn't exist, but He does and He want's so much for us to just sit on His lap and put our arms around His neck. He doesn't want to give us all the answers because He knows we'll probably just walk away.

This has been SUCH an enlightening and interesting and challenging discussion. you've made me question everything I've ever thought about war and violence. And I've come to the decision that I don't know the answer, but God does and I think perhaps should go and spend some time with Him.

12/18/2005  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Kat,

Well said!! I agree completely (not that that matters any) and you've definitely hit the nail right on the head!

Beth

12/19/2005  
Anonymous AFRM said...

I don't read for a few days and I miss a fight, a tearful reconciliation and two or three novel size responses from Shaun.

I want to re-visit the question about innocent people dying for a greater cause.

Brant, thanks for your honest answer on this. My follow up question is: who gets to decide when innocent people die and when they are spared? We might agree that innocent people die accidental (but predictable) deaths during war but with that reasoning can't we then go and support killing abortion docs because that would save thousands of babies? Why not have all the Christians band together and wage war (using the Just War Theory) on those killing our unborn babies?

What do we also do with Christians killing Chrisitans in war for the glory of a nation? That seems totally contradictory to every unity passage in scripture.

Brian

12/19/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Mr. Concise shows up at the end and asks some good questions I wish I'd included in my previous novel sized comments.

I have to go install a new door and several locks...so no one will break in and force me to answer that question about whether I'd use force if someone broke into my house. ; )

SG

PS. afrm, did you actually READ my novel sized comments, and if so, got anything to correct in all of it?

12/19/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry so late on a response here but what about when Jesus makes it clear when speaking about children in Mark 9:42 And whosoever shall offend one of these little ones that believe in me, it is better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and he were cast into the sea." this does not imply the use of force to fend off attacking nations but it does give us some clue into how he felt about ones that are defenseless.

I empathize with the struggle you mentioned because of the pregnant silence of the New Testament in concerning the use of Force. I realize that the Centurian has also been mentioned previous posts, but his lack of criticism for the Centurian's profession gives us evidence for believing that some use of force for the purpose of Justice is necessary to fulfill Gods plan on earth. There will be no tax collecting or voting in Heaven but Jesus is pretty clear on the use of currency and how we are to interact with it. I think that we can learn plenty from this silence in the new testament. He condemed the prostitute and why not the centurian. He did not However condemn the tax-collector in his position, He asked him to follow him.

i get the impression sometimes that you toy with the idea of sometimes using force for Just purposes (the innocent) could be justified, but because history has shown us that at times when this theory is employed that it is abused and distorted so awfully, therefore it must be altogether bad.- Like all of the examples you gave. For instance you mention Hiroshima but do not mention the action against Hitler. (again you may have earlier but i cant remember)

It is the eternal rub of pacifism and Just War. Which really makes me believe that we are to be both silmultaniously. Which is direction that those verses i quoted lead me. If we believe that God is the same today, yesterday and forever then we know that God has used force to establish his plan, peace and Justice.

It is not that every use of force is just but that the just use of force when there are NO other alternatives, is itself ordained by God as a means of preserving justice in the fallen world. Until the time when all that was won by Christ's death and resurrection is fully realized, Christians live within the context of a fallen world and of government institutions ordained by God to wield force in support of justice. (oh Lord i hate sounding like this) Which brings us to the question: when is force just? -- which brings me back to Augustine and Aquinas -- In which I can find some solace -- and you feel it is tainted by a already Constantined-Christendom. Ah the tangled web we weave. just some other thoughts off the top of the knoggin. feel free to use as a punching bag.

Cheers



Seth

12/19/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

What centurion passage are we referring to? I must have missed something somewhere. Help me out, amigo.

SG

12/19/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guess he wasnt mentioned.

Matthew 8:5-12

"As he entered Caper'na-um, a centurion came forward to him, beseeching him and saying, "Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, in terrible distress." And he said to him, "I will come and heal him." But the centurion answered him, "Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof; but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I am a man under authority, with soldiers under me; and I say to one, 'Go,' and he goes, and to another, 'Come,' and he comes, and to my slave, 'Do this,' and he does it." When Jesus heard him, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, "Truly, I say to you, not even in Israel have I found such faith. I tell you, many will come from east and west and sit at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth." And to the centurion Jesus said, "Go; be it done for you as you have believed." And the servant was healed at that very moment."



Seth

12/19/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Seth said this about the centurion...

"[Jesus'] lack of criticism for the Centurian's profession gives us evidence for believing that some use of force for the purpose of Justice is necessary to fulfill Gods plan on earth"

The danger for me in having a predisposed idea now about Christian non-violence is that I realize I can miss evidence against it in scripture if it's subtle. So forgive me if I'm doing that, if I have my I've-already-made-up-my-mind blinders on. I'm trying not to and to listen and discern as if I were deciding every moment what is true and what is not. But I'm human so push hard if need be to get my head going in your direction. Both hands. Lean into it.

I just don't see how Christ healing a soldier's family member validates the soldier's use of force. Are you thinking that because violence according to me would be sin that Jesus wouldn't have healed this man's family member or boasted about this man's faith had he been engaged in sin? IF that's what you're thinking I think that's assuming then that only repentant people received food, healing, salvation of various kinds from Christ. Don't know that that case can be substantiated with scripture but let me think on it.

You mention that because Christ didn't MENTION this man's violence or bawl him out for it that Christ was acknowledging the need for it (for violence by military personnel). I think that's an even bigger leap. But again, blinders and all that...Anyone see this differently?

SG

12/19/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just seriously doubt that Jesus would have healed the man's girl without mentioning that he was doing something as his livelihood that he felt was contrary to God's plan or something that would endanger his soul for all eternity. He did it for the Woman at the well, and he did it for the prostitute caught in action, the rich man, Zacheus, anytime someones livelyhood or how they were acting in their profession or if it was becoming their God or if it was in some way sinful, Jesus would shine a big giant light on it.

Also, correct me if I am wrong but you put the OT violence in the context of a righteous-Yahweh-famed agenda. But could we not argue that everytime that Jesus was ordering a nonviolent reaction or action was because the recievers of the agression were being persecuted in Jesus's name?

Seth

12/19/2005  
Anonymous stephen said...

Seth said: It is not that every use of force is just but that the just use of force when there are NO other alternatives, is itself ordained by God as a means of preserving justice in the fallen world.

So who decides when there are no other alternatives? Why do abortian clinics and doctors not fall under this? If you believe that abortion is murder, how many children were killed this year? How many children did Hitler kill?
If it is a problem, an ongoing one at that, why don't we go blow up an abortion clinic? If God wants us to respond with violence to preserve justice and stand up for those weaker, is this not a classic case where we should apply those principles? Or is there another path that God wants us to follow?

12/19/2005  
Anonymous AFRM said...

Seth -

I am impressed at your use of scripture here. I don't think I am ready to justify war based on it but in hours of discussion with people about non-violence there have only been a handful of times that people actually used scripture other than OT wars to defend their position. But I ask you this question with your line of deductive reasoning - is it fine to own slaves? Jesus never preached against it even though slavery was common and in fact, Paul even sent Philemon back to his owner.

Also - I was re-reading the posts here (except Shaun's because they are so freakin long) and can someone expand upon the use of Jesus clearing the temple as a justification for war and killing? This seems to be laying our already firm beliefs on top of a scripture that does not deal with violence?

To continue with what has turned out to be my monologue on killing innocent people for the greater justice - why don't we overthrow our government in order to stop abortion. Do you realize we have killed millions more than Hitler? Is it not our government that has allowed this? If killing is justified to save lives whey have we not employed it or at least applauded those who have done so in the pro-life battle?

(** very important note for those who just flagged this discussion via THE PATRIOT ACT - I do not advocate killing abortion docs, overthrowing the government, or mobilizing a pro-life army. It is an attempt to make a point on this non-violence discussion)

Brian

12/20/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oh lordy, as if this topic could not get any more mind-twistingly complicated and exhausting. (but very fun) you just had do drop the A-bomb huh? here comes abortion in all here controversial glory.

ill get to some of this tonight, but its a GREAT question so ill try to regroup and do the rest later. and even then im pretty sure that i or anyone wont have a perfect answer for it.

first off, i never said blowing anything up was the first thing that I would do. I said if ALL other alternatives have been exhausted then some-kind of force would be necessary. AND if abortion were illegal then you can bet there would some force employed by the GOVERNMENT to intervene. secondly, blowing up abortion clinics is against the law of the land, protecting my wife from rape with force is not. thridly, pacifists and just-war adherents (sp.?) or Christians in general should be way more active in the prevention of abortion...

great question man, ill be pondering that one for days on end. THANKS ALOT!!!! :)

Seth

12/20/2005  
Anonymous AFRM said...

I don't think abortion being legal or illegal here is relevant in the totality of this discussion. The question is justice not legality. It was legal, but not just, for Sadaam to gas his own people and torture them as he wished. He made the laws but we did not care about the legailty of this when we decided to invade Iraq.

This is also not a conversation about the GOVERMENT intervening this is about OUR STANCE as believers.

When we apply the same criteria to issues at home instead of just saving them for our foreign policy, it becomes much more complicated for us.

None of us want a civil war over abortion but if we hold the same criteria up for that as we do in justifying Iraq that may be the answer we come up with.

Brant - thanks for the Bruderhof quote. Much of my readings and conversations about non-violence were birthed from that community.

Brian

12/20/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

a couple of clarifications. I never said that i felt the war in Iraq a just war. I do not. I do not feel that all other peaceful options were exausted before coming to a peaceful solution. Although i feel the gassing of his people hanus and it greives my heart, I do not believe that invasion was justified under Just war which says:

- the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain; (this one it meets)

- all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective; (doesnt meet)

- there must be serious prospects of success; (really doesnt meet, we are just getting deeper and deeper in a mammoth mess)

- the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modem means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition. (really, really, does not meet)

This last point is what i use as far as saying "no" to the Christian defying the laws of the land and use force to prevent abortion. because abortion is not a cut and dry issue with MANY factors making the issue more complicated and not as cut and dry as hitler invading poland and throwing the jews in a furnace. It IS worth a brief comparison: WWII factors -- 1. hitler, crazy power-hungry blood-thirsty ruler invading sovereign land after sovereign land. 2. sovereign nations, with a right to defend themselves. 3. a real and present danger to all the people of the planet. Abortion factors: -- 1. A woman with in some cases a right to defend herself,(all Christians cant even agree on this one) 2. a doctor protected by law to help the woman defend herself (now i know that abortion is illegal for more than defense right now but things are moving peacefully to the contrary) 3. a bomber who does not see that his actions would create a greater evil than the one that he is attempting to prevent.

i remain convinced that the use of force by a Christian, in a nation where it is against the law to bomb clinics the use of arms would produce evils and disorders graver than the evil that trying to be eliminated.

you said:

"This is also not a conversation about the GOVERMENT intervening this is about OUR STANCE as believers."

I thought that it was both.

you said:

"When we apply the same criteria to issues at home instead of just saving them for our foreign policy, it becomes much more complicated for us."

I think that you are right about this one but then again i can apply all the premise of just war theory and still justify defending my wife from rape. I cannont however for bombing abortion clinics and overthrowing the government.

you asked earlier:

Also - I was re-reading the posts here (except Shaun's because they are so freakin long) and can someone expand upon the use of Jesus clearing the temple as a justification for war and killing? This seems to be laying our already firm beliefs on top of a scripture that does not deal with violence?

I have hesitated to use this scripture because of the messianic implications of what Jesus was doing. Jesus sort of starts his ministry by fulfilling the prediction concerning Him who was to be Israel's refiner and purifier (Mal. 3, 1-3) On the surface it seems like the most obvious choice for advocating force for injustice but our nation is hardly the temple of the living God. If we use the same rational for justifying war then we should consider an ass the best and holiest mode of transportation -- in short, it was a fullfillment of a prophesy about the Messiah, in God's temple, by God himself. It seems to me that the scenerio cannot be replicated.

Seth

12/20/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Brian, i didnt get to the slave question sorry, ill try to give my opinion in a bit.

man, at this rate i am NEVER going to finish my dissertation. (a peice of music, nothing fun like this topic) if i dont graduate in march i am sending the bill to shaun for this semester. after my wife uses force and kicks my butt.

Seth

12/20/2005  
Anonymous keith said...

I know this comment doesn't add anything to the direction of this post, but I can't help thinking of a lyric from Randall Goodgame when reading some of this.

Sometimes soldiers die settin' people free. That's more like Jesus than I'll ever be.

As I consider these issues it just makes me wonder. I guess the emphasis is on how dieing relates to freedom and how hard it is for me to die for someone else.

12/20/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Would it be a waste of everyone's time or of interest to anyone to see ALL the scriptures I've found in the last three years I think pertain to Christian non-violence? Reading them all at once with no commentary is what moved me - after being very pro the first Gulf War and military action in general - towards Christian non-violence. I came to the conclusion after confronting scripture that, while I didn't know WHO was right exactly about the whole subject of peace and war etc, I'd never given it much thought, I couldn't explain with scripture where I got my opinion about it all, and that the bible seemed to be teaching, on the surface anyway, something very different from my own opinion. Is something anyone else would like to read?

SG

12/20/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

heck yup.

Seth

12/20/2005  
Blogger GrovesFan said...

Post away! This is something I struggle with as you know and I want to be on God's side always, and not base my stance on opinion or emotion, but fact and faith. Even if you don't post it here, could you email it to me anyway?

Thanks,

Beth

12/20/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Was Jesus physically free himself? Were His people the Jews? How important was physical freedom to Christ? How do we know this? Did He admonish anyone to die/kill for physical freedom? How about democracy? Capitalism? The pursuit of happiness? Constitution? President? Anything? What did Jesus say His followers would die for? What did He promise them about their own physical freedom?

Soldiers are like Christ in their willingness to give their own life for that of another - and that is honorable and mournful when that life is in fact taken away - BUT soldiers are unlike Christ in that they are trained to take lives. (Powell or Shwartzkopf said during Gulf War 1 press briefing that the military's job is "To destroy things and kill people.") AND, if they are well trained, superior to their enemy, the better soldier, they will take more lives than they have to give. That is unlike Christ who came to give His life for the many and only kill spiritually (we are crucified with Christ, etc.) while incarnated. There is no one in warfare who seeks only to give up their life without harming others in the process - otherwise, why carry a gun? Guns are for killing not being killed. The comparison then between soldiers in the US military and Christ's battle against sin and it's effects on the universe is very very limited. Christ wrestled not against flesh and blood but against...

Should we?

Is it fair to sum up the bulk of Christian American thinking on this subject as follows:
We American Christians accept the personal and governmental use of force against force with few exceptions. Any rare use of non-violence against violence should only occur when doing so is in the best interest of the United States of America or the individual user of force.

What I'd like to move closer to personally is something like:
We Christian Americans reject the personal and governmental use of force with few exceptions. Any rare use of violence against violence should only occur when doing so is in best interest of the Kingdom of God or the accurate representation of God's character to others.

SG

12/20/2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so would I shaun.


Seth

12/20/2005  
Anonymous keith said...

Yeah, that Goodgame lyric is just an analogy, and we all know that analogies break down somewhere, or in this case, get blown to tiny bits.. er, crushed into a million pieces... er, peacefully disassembled by Shaun here. I think the purpose for putting it in the song is to make us think of Christ's sacrifice and how much we fall short of His example. At least, that's what it did for me.

I, also, would like to read the verses you mentioned.

12/20/2005  
Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Sorry, Keith. Didn't mean to crush into pieces etc etc. I think out loud...often brutally. I do think it's a great lyric, just a bad analogy. Here's hoping no one decides to dissect Welcome Home. Yikes.

Thanks for your contribution.

I'll get those verses ready.

Sg

12/20/2005  
Blogger Mike Morrell said...

Right on, brother! Who thought a Nashville musician could be so enlightened? ; ) Truly, this is encouraging. ANd if any of y'all want to check out how some others in the Body of Christ are putting feet to this, check out some Pax Christi and Christ-centered political alternatives.

12/24/2005  

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