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Part four, the finale, below:

this is an audio post - click to play

What we've heard so far - Parts 1-3:
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3

In part four Hauerwas gets asked, "What does your view of pacifism say we should do with the President for going to war in Iraq? Impeach him or what?" While giving a lengthy, stammering, um-filled answer he asserts that hope was spelled W.A.R by President Bush and claims we Americans actually like war, unending war. One has to wonder how much truth there is to this theory of his, seeing as how America has in fact been at war non-stop (war defined as armed conflict) since World War I began.

The question he's asked is essentially, "What about all those wars in the Old Testament? What made those wars alright? Did God change his view of war when the New Testament was written?" Arrogant I know, but while Hauerwas' answer is fine, I think I can do better. See you in the comments.


Blogger Roger said...

He mentioned...
"God does the fighting, not Israel"

and also...

"God gets to kill who God wants to kill, it's God's business, not ours"

How does that answer the question that it was Abraham and other flesh and blood doing the fighting in Gen. 14? Was that wrong? Were they supposed to let God deal with it like with Ananias and Sapphira?

The best I can figure out is that Hauerwas is saying Gen. 14 is an event that is subject to special environmental factors therefore no principles are involved and no principles are to be gleaned from that passage of scripture. It must simply be there for completeness or historical reference.

Doesn't Hauerwas do some hand-waving over the bigger question of why "God gets to kill who God wants to kill" - Why is God ever involved in war?

Blogger Kathryn said...

Its too easy to lift things out of scripture to make them fit. I'm certain i've been guilty of this. Kinda like doing a jigsaw puzzle - trying to force a piece in that looks like it might be the right one, but its just not . . The second caller tried this and it ended with (Caller)-- "I guess we'll just have to disagree then." (Mr. H) "No, we won't - you're wrong!"

As for the whole U.S. 'war mindset' - I can't say too much as a Canadian. I will say that it was pertinently interesting today to see Tony Blair and George W eating slices of humble pie. I hope they were genuine? My cynical self says its all about abysmally low approval ratings, etc.

Blogger Roger said...

I was thinking about this some more and thought it might be helpful to post what I heard in a sermon once:

6 questions to ask yourself when looking at any passage:
1) Is there a promise to claim?
2) Is there a lesson to learn?
3) Is there a blessing to enjoy?
4) Is there a command to obey?
5) Is there a sin to avoid?
6) Is there a new thought to carry with me?

So, we can apply this to the passage in Genesis that the second caller brought up that is a difficult one to deal with...

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

To "be Abraham...

1.Our army must be smaller than our enemy's so that it is obvious our might did not win, but God's supernaturally did. OT "general" sent home soldiers to achieve these bad odds. The US has the wealthiest best armed military in the world, only defeatable by nuclear attack, China (just based on sheer numbers) and Britain (comparable military with the best navy in the world.) Our weaponry and skill make Iraqi's look like cavemen with sticks. We could not credit God alone for our victory if we achieve it but Iraq could make that claim for Allah if they won could they not?

2)God will gain glory/fame/credit from the victory. Leaders acknowledge publicly that it is Yaweh who won the day and not their might alone. Will every soldier and general and president and prime minister in this war credit God for the victory and not their own skill?

3)The army of Yaweh must be made up entirely (100%) of Yaweh followers. This has never been the case for the US military. No religion is banned from our forces. Hindus, Buddhists, Wiccans and atheists fight along side Christians. A far cry from Yaweh's Old Testament armies. A non Yaweh follower cannot fight for Yaweh, allegiant to Yaweh and his purposes, be filled by the power of Yaweh, and give Yaweh credit for victory.

4)No Yaweh followers are killed by Yaweh's army. IF the US military were made up entirely of Yaweh followers today we still have to ask whether or not it is US policy not to kill Christians. If we were to invade Korea (largest church in the world is there with 763,000 members) or CHina (massive under ground church) would we make it part of our strategy not to kill ANY Christians. I know we do not intentionally harm civilians. We do not bomb churches. But we have not made it policy not to kill, ever, Christians. And we have killed Christians in Iraq. A pastor was reported killed by Allies early on in this invasion. That did not EVER happen in OT wars. It was easier then, of course, not to kill brothers and sisters in faith because there were fewer of them and they were ion concentrated areas but the fact remains that this was a rule of warfare in behalf of God. God does not kill His innocent followers.

Blogger Roger said...

So, the lesson to be learned from this scripture is that "we're not Abraham"? But that's not really a lesson at all. I want to dig deeper. Why is God ever involved in war? Why did He use flesh and blood to fight these battles?

Blogger Kathryn said...

Why is God ever involved in war? or anything else for that matter? We can ask Him . .

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Good stuff to ask, roger. Let us know what you find.

Blogger FancyPants said...

Haurewas seems to imply that there are a different set of rules for the Jewish nation, because it is God's chosen nation. Almost like it's something that we as non-Jewish Christians cannot claim as a right, so we cannot live by the same standards. We're not Abraham, the father of the Jewish nation, through which all things become reconciled through Christ. Which is a very interesting point. One that I understand.

I don't know why God is involved in war in the OT. But I wonder if it is to protect the Jewish law and commandment, which is God's will for His people. The Jewish nation was the means through which God, the one true God, made Himself known admidst paganism. Until Jesus came. And it is the blood line through which Jesus entered the world. It had to prevail.

Anonymous Barry said...

My battle is with powers and principalities in the heavenly realm. Against the Devil to be more exact.
I will never put my nation state above my God, especially since the United States of America is not a Christian country, and most of our armed forces are not Christian. I like what the guy said in the interview about comitting suicide when a Christian kills another Christian.

I remember when I first heard White Flag when it came in the mail on the day before the release date. I absolutely love the whole Cd, including #2 when you speak of orphans being made out of flags and steel. A guy I know, whom is also a big fan, is ultra-conservative to the point that he now "doesn't agree with your theology".

I guess my point in this is that I don't know the answer about wars, how christians can be involved, or whatever, but what I do know is that Christ was absolutely peaceful when he could have waged war on us for treating him like garbage. That's the example I want to live by--a peaceful one.

People raise the question "But Barry, don't you enjoy the freedoms given to you by our country and the people who died for you?" I guess so, I enjoy driving a car and eating taco bell like the next guy, but I absolutely could go without it. I think that as Americans we're so worried that if we don't "rid the world of evil" that they will take us over and make us slaves or something. What is evil really? Who decides what's evil? A bunch of congressmen? Seriously, God decides what's evil, and I'm pretty sure the way that our country is such an ungrateful and disrespectul one doesn't look real pleasing in God's eyes. And really, we should be so lucky. Christ suffered under an opressive regime, and was killed. So what if we share the same fate? If we're not willing to share that fate are we really devoted to him? Do we really love him? Paul said that he wanted to share in Christ's sufferings. Most of America would run from it.

Blogger Roger said...

The more I dwell on this, the more I believe sin and holiness can help us understand. 'Holy' can best describe the nature of God, correct? 'Sinful' can best describe the nature of man.

The specifics of war change, but the principles do not. Does God war against sin? Yes. What does it mean when it's said 'we have peace with God?' God cannot be passive toward our sin and therefore we are the enemy until we come to Him and surrender and allow Him to be Lord. Sin is a capital crime (Hebrews 9:22) and justly requires a capital punishment. (Side note: That's why it doesn't make sense when capital punishment is declared to be morally wrong by some these days. God sent his own son to the cross to die!) Why such a harsh course of action? One reason alone - sin.

Look at the OT law. Some will say that it was for Israel, and "we're not Israel". But the principles behind the law are still in place even though the specifics of the surroundings have changed. The purpose of the law was to make God's people holy. God has not rescinded his command to be holy. Since pentacost, how have God's people been made holy? By the indwelling of the 'Holy' Spirit. The need for holiness still remains - no matter how hard it is as our flesh wages war against the Spirit. Just as spiritual wars remain - the physical wars do too, as a sinful world wages war against the workings of the Spirit through people and the nations.

God is holy. Man is sinful. Those 2 facts have not changed from the OT times to today.

Shaun, your previous posting of 4 reasons (To "be Abraham...) strike me as more like a formula than a principle. But God is a God of principle, not formulas, correct?

By the way, I'm glad you're debating this topic because it's making me realize that so much of the language we use in regards to sin and our status before a Holy God is taken from the battlefield. For example, when we come to Jesus, we 'surrender' to self. We are then 'at peace' with God. It illuminates the seriousness of sin.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Roger, am I understanding you reasoning correctly to be...

1)God is perfect and hates sin
2)God punishes sin with death
3)Mankind is to be like God
4)Man should therefore punish sin with death

If this is your argument, here are what I believe a few umps in the road for this logic. Correct me if I'm wrong...

1)Governments, executioners and armies contain non-God followers. A non-God follower is not in pursuit of being like God in any way and cannot discern accurately what sin and perfection are. (1 Corinthians 2:14)
2)Jesus tells His followers (and only those who wish to follow Him) to be "perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect" (Matthew 5:48)
3)Being like our Father in Heaven is described by Jesus not as punishing evil with death but like this: " Matthew 5:43-48 "You have heard that it was said, 'Love your neighbor[h] and hate your enemy.'But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."

The way I understand it, your reasoning 1)makes all people equally able to discern sin from virtue and equally able to act on God's behalf (not be used by God but to act as God, to be His ambassadors and living epistles), commands non-Christianns to be perfect as God the Father is perfect, and defines that perfection - God's treatment of sin and sinners - as punishment with death whereas Jesus defines it as grace and mercy to the point of sustaining the sinner's/enemy's life.

You seem at odds with words of Jesus in Matthew 5. How do you interpret those words. You seem to be doing the very thing you don't like Hauerwas doing: giving theories and logical arguments without interpretation of scripture. Offer an alternative reading of the Sermon on the Mount (just one teaching in scripture of non-violence and peace making through kindness).

And I'd like to understand where in scripture God gives a blanket assignment to all people or even His followers to punish sin with death and calls this being like the Father. There are some things the Father does and is we cannot do and be unless He tells us to be. Angry, for one. Concerned for our personal fame, is another. Judging, yet another (which in biblical times included sentencing/punishment). But in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus gives the commandment to be like God in this way: Sustain your enemy's life as God sustains the life of the just and unjust with rain and sun. Even terrorists love their own, even gang members love their own, but you're to be supernatural representatives of your Father by loving those who hate you. Don't kill them. Sustain their lives.

I can't dismiss these words by saying "They fought in the Old Testament." God hasn't told us to behave like the Old Testament. He's told us to behave as people who no longer live under the law but who are forgiven by the sacrifice of Christ. Once enemies. Now friends, sons and daughters. Do as God has done through Christ. Love.

So, ROger, I've offered a theory on how OT wars could be approved of by God and Jesus could still be teaching non-violence and peace making. You have not offered a theory on how we can be punishers of sin with death and still live Matthew 5. How do YOU put the two together?


Anonymous jwise said...

One big disagreement I have with Mr. Hauerwas -- he says that we are not Abrahams because we're Americans, not Jews.

Paul argued in Galatians 4:21-31 that those who have FAITH are the true sons of Abraham, not through blood and lineage but through PROMISE. This was a huge stumbling block for Israel 2,000 years ago.

To say that we must be Jews to be "like Abraham" flies in the face of everything God does in Scripture, destroys the meaning of the Promise, and returns us to a place of no hope -- we are not Jews, and therefore have no salvation available to us.

Regardless of one's feeling on war and pacifism, I cry heresy if someone tells me my blood is what makes me "like Abraham" or "not like Abraham". I'll side with Paul and say it's my faith in the Promise.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

jwise says, "he says that we are not Abrahams because we're Americans, not Jews."

Correction: We are not Abraham (not Abrahams) because we are not Abraham.

Hauerwas said nothing of us not being Abraham because we're American and not Jews. Our not being Abraham is a matter of chronology and ancestry sure. But we are also not Abraham because we have not been charged with the same task as Abraham and because we have already inherited the kingdom through jesus the Messiah. Abraham was looking for the kingdom that we now have and was in need of the Savior we now know. We are not Abraham in these and many other critical senses.

We are "sons of Abraham". WE = Those following and believing in the story of Jesus. America cannot be the Jewish people nor can our government be Abraham. They are not even all sons of Abraham.

It is a massive leap that belittles salvation and Christ to say that America can do and is charged with doing all things Israel did.

Hauerwas, again, does not say blood makes us not Abraham. He annoyingly doesn't say what makes us not Abraham. He just says it.

Anonymous jwise said...


I think that makes sense. Thanks for the clarification. As for pacifism and war, I'm left somewhat torn.

Paul seems to admit that the government has a sword, an instrument given by God to maintain order. The question, then, is this: Can a follower of Christ serve God as a bearer of that sword, or does God solely reserve that position for those who don't believe and obey Him? It seems a strange position to be in.

The other question I can't answer is this... I know if our life is in danger, we are to surrender our life before we take another's life. However, are we to surrender another's life before we take someone's life? If a man is about to kill another man, do we have an obligation to rescue the one in danger? Or do we simply say, "I'm sorry. Be warm and well-fed, I can't save you, but I'm sure God will.. if it's 'his will'".

That's the heart of this entire issue, isn't it? Pacifism as described in this discussion is, "Do all you can to avoid being in a position where you have to make a decision to save one man's life or save another's." The poor man who's left with the decision, "Your unborn baby or your wife -- which should we save?"

These are a lot of very difficult questions, and I don't believe "Don't kill! Don't kill!" goes nearly far enough to answer these questions.

If God were to give us supernatural ability to save lives and bring people back from death, then we could certainly say, "Go ahead and kill the kid because I can't kill you. I'll just raise him back to life." But we have no such ability. And it seems just as bad to say, "Go ahead and shoot; let the kid be damned in HIS unbelief because of your sin... I wash my hands of killing, so I can't kill you!"

Either way, someone's going to be cut off from God. It seems better in my mind to let it be the murderer than to let sin just run its course. Didn't Jesus come to stop Satan's work?

Wow.. Way too many thoughts for a comment.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

"Paul seems to admit that the government has a sword, an instrument given by God to maintain order"

Not exactly. Paul says in Romans 13...

"1Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves. 3For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you. 4For he is God's servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. 5Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience. 6This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing. 7Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor."

This passage is taken by many as one that teaches "The government's violence is good." It doesn't say that anywhere. It says God appointed government leaders and we're to obey them" pay our taxes, not speed, not litter, not litter, not download illegally. Consider Iraq. God appointed Sadaam Hussein according to this passage. Now, does that make Sadaam's use of force righteous? No. We are overthrowing him because we do NOT believe him to be "right" in using force against his people. Yet the very same people arguing for killing Sadaam argue, using ROmans 13, that the US military is God's instrument because God uses government.

See the contradiction. The US government, according to this passage is not more God established than the governments of Iraq or Iran.

Furthermore, Romans 13 is thought by commentators to be a plea to Christians living under dictator rule saying essentially, "Don't tick off the government because they will kill you. God has given them reign for now. There is plenty about just being part of THE WAY that will draw their persecution. For the gospel to keep going and the Church to survive we don't need to draw more of the Roman wrath than we already have. So obey their laws. Keep your head down and we'll live. Don't give them any stones to throw at you. Don't give them reason to say we're not good citizens, that we're causing trouble. Only cause trouble for the gospel's sake. For no other reason. Be careful o do what is right in the eyes of everyone. Don't bring unnecessary criticism on yourselves.

That's what it seems to be saying. It is not a pro-military force passage, especially taken with Romans 12 which teaches us...

"17Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. 18If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God's wrath, for it is written: "It is mine to avenge; I will repay,"says the Lord. 20On the contrary:
"If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head."21Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good."

Almost lastly, ROmans 13 is not a passage about global military force. notice that the local magistrate is said to have power to punish HIS PEOPLE. This says nothing of going overseas after having been attacked, chasing down your attacker, killing him and killing your own family in the process. That kind of behavior seems to go against Romans 12. "Do not repay evil for evil."

And lastly, we are to cut off Satan's work. And yes Jesus came to do this. he came because laws and punishment proved unsuccessful. We're now to attack hell by bringing heaven to earth. Peace making is not stopping war alone. It is replacing the negative of conflict which spills from he negatives of selfishness, hunger, etc with the positive of no war which spills from the positives of food, water, clothing, shelter, and spiritual transformation. A war fought any other way will not yield peace - only submission from woundedness.

Name a war that ended in peace. Plenty stop the fighting...for a minute, a generation. But peace is so much more.

Blogger Roger said...

>He's told us to behave as people who no longer live under the law but who are forgiven by the sacrifice of Christ.

Scripture reveals that the law is a reflection of the character of God. Romans 7:7-12 says that the Law is holy, just, and good, that it is not sinful - but that it addresses sin. Therefore, Jesus didn't conflict with the Law. Living under the law in terms of having external laws for holiness are no longer necessary now that the Holy Spirit has come.

>You have not offered a theory on how we can be punishers of sin with death and still live Matthew 5. How do YOU put the two together?

Good question. Was Jesus addressing how individuals are to live or how governments are to rule? Me and you are not punishers of sin with death because we don't have that authority. But didn't God give that authority to government?

The rest of my comments are under the Hauerwas thread - part 2 ...

Blogger Chaotic Hammer said...

Shaun - Okay I promise to try and keep this comment a little shorter than my previous one about Hauerwas. Instead of me unleashing so many of my thoughts about it all at once, let's try this bit by bit.

I agree with your interpretation of Romans 13, and if you thought I was using it in my previous comment (Under Hauerwas, Part 3) to justify war on a national level, then I miscommunicated. In addition to Romans 12, you should have also used 1 Peter 2 to further bolster your interpretation of Romans 13, because it says the same thing in a different way -- be gentle, live in peace, if you suffer under cruel people you should endure and not fight back, thus honoring Christ and allowing His goodness to shine through you at all times.

This is arguably the most Christ-like response to persecution, suffering, and hardship brought about by other people. I would agree with you that there is never scripturally-granted permission for Christ followers to take vengeance for evil done to them, even on the national level. This means that when we are attacked, we don't automatically attack back to punish those who hurt us. Instead, we forgive. I'm still with you on this.

But I think jwise has succinctly framed the real issue: it's not vengeance on our own behalf that makes pure pacifism hard to take to its extreme and logical conclusion, it's defense of the defenseless. It's seeing the potential suffering of millions of people, and being able to end it with one sinful act (say, killing Hitler), and being told that "the lesser of two evils" is always to allow the evil to take place, without trying to stop it personally.

The other thing I don't think I agree with is that I believe you are indicating that to you, civil police are the equivalent of soldiers on a foreign battle field. Here's the thing: In America today, by and large, there are extremely strict rules in law enforcement regarding how much force may be used to enforce the laws. The standard is "use the minimum amount of force necessary to get the desired result". Sure, there are corruption and excessive force at times, but by and large, the authorities are held strictly to this standard. When actual shots are fired by a police officer, there is an automatic suspension from duty, immediate investigation -- it's a big deal. Every thought and action leading up to it is scrutinized. Personal civil rights in our system are protected against the power of the state. The one who arrests a suspect does not judge the suspect, so no single person is "judge, jury, and executioner". This has some similarities to the Roman system that was in place when Paul was addressing these issues, so it's not a big leap to say that we can apply them to our current system with a fair degree of accuracy.

So to put it simply, would it be wrong in your mind for a Christian to be a police officer?

And if there were clear and unambiguous choices right in front of you (say, a man with a pistol in a room full of 100 small children, he has already shot 10 of them and has clearly stated that he will not stop until they are all dead, and you are looking in on him with a rifle pointed at him) would it always be the wrong choice for a Christian to take that one life to save the 90 others? (I know this sounds like the same argument an abortion clinic bomber might use, but here we don't have a doctor "capable" of killing unborn babies, we have clear intent and opportunity immediately present).

I'll stop there. Thanks, I think this is a great discussion.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

"would it be wrong in your mind for a Christian to be a police officer?"


"a man with a pistol in a room full of 100 small children, he has already shot 10 of them and has clearly stated that he will not stop until they are all dead, and you are looking in on him with a rifle pointed at him) would it always be the wrong choice for a Christian to take that one life to save the 90 others?"

This never happens in real life. There is no real world example of anything close to this. Is there a time when I personally would kill to save a life? Yes. A very rare time I cannot even imagine. Bonhoeffer, a pacifist, MAY HAVE, conspired with men who killed Hitler. It's been pieced together from his writings and from friends' recollections that IF this actually happened Bonhoeffer may have been thinking that there are very rare times when we will choose to sin to stop harm from coming to the innocent. In such instances we are still sinning, the innocent are innocent, our motives are not mixed, the killed are guilty and no innocent people are at risk of being killed. Like I said, rare.

We can field hypotheticals all day. "What if your grandmother was being raped?" Well, I shoot the bastard if I had a gun. Does that make it right? Is that any way to form an ethic, to understand the character of God, to interpret scripture? I point back again to the weight of scripture, early church history, and the example of Christ. Would Jesus be for war to save people from harm? He wasn't. He surrounded by people being harmed by government but did nothing violent about it - for them or himself.

About police. I do not believe police are the same as military personnel. The difficult thing about interpreting these passages for today is that the nation-state as we know it did not exist. So questions about police are hard to answer. Some Menonites and Anabaptists would argue that working for the state or city is the same thing as working for the national Caesar and that for this reason, and others, Christians shouldn't serve as police officers. They should obey officers and obey government but not advance government or serve it. Caesar's kingdom and God's kingdom are separate in this sense.

I don't know what to think about all that. I don't think Romans 13 saying there ARE magistrates with swords means magistrates with swords are a good thing, anymore than saying God establishes rulers means that Sadaam Hussein is a good ruler. Known by God/allowed by God/chosen by God do not equal pleasing to God. Bizarre stuff. But somehow true. God allows what He does not like.

Good thoughts. My brain feels scrambled.


Blogger Shaun Groves said...

One more thing I forgot. Jwise, you seem to be making an assumption I've tried to clear up here a couple times now.

The chocie we have is NOT war or nothing. It's not "let the innocent die" or "kill their oppressor." Pacifism is not passive. If it is, then it is not making peace. Peace (shalom) is not the absence of conflict but the absence of conflict WITH (and because of) the presence of the reign of God. Physical and spiritual need is met. Allegiance is pledged to God alone. That is peace. hat is the aim of CHRISTIAN non-violence. I'm not Susan Sarandon. This is not about chunking the guns only. It's also about physical and spiritual sustenance being delivered. This frees people to live lie Christ in the midst of oppression and/or be free from oppression.


Anonymous jwise said...


My brain is equally fried over this. I've chewed on it all weekend, especially with Memorial Day all over the place and rallies protesting our presence in Iraq. I agree with you that we base a lot of our "doctrines" on hypothetical "that-will-never-happen" scenarios. At times like this, I shrug my shoulders, admit I don't really know all the answers, and get back to building the Kingdom and serving those around me.

Besides, I'm far more likely to shoot someone (especially a brother or sister) with harsh words than I am with a gun. I'm far more concerned that my words reflect Christ than my 12 guage or my .410 or my glock :)

Forgiveness and restoration are certainly the highest goals we can have while following Christ.

Thanks for something deep to chew on.

Blogger Chaotic Hammer said...

Shaun - First of all, and I mean this sincerely, thank you for taking the time to answer my questions honestly. Yes, I am deliberately posing hard questions and worst-case scenarios. I realize that sometimes when someone does that during a debate, argument, or discussion, it's just to be ornery. It's like putting one pothole after another in front of you to trip you up, or just to waste your time with endless objections.

Please understand that my intent with these questions is completely different than that. I'm trying to establish some limits to your principles in this matter. I'm trying to get a definition of what this Christian peacemaking might look like "on the fringes" or "in the margins", practically speaking -- meaning, how it will react when certain underlying assumptions are removed (the presumption of undisturbed physical safety of my family, for instance). You said yourself that one of the common objections you hear is that these ideals seem utopian or removed from reality. By dealing directly with where the two intersect, you can effectively address many objections.

I'm getting too verbose again, so let me cut to the quick: Shaun, I believe that what you are presenting here might very well be true at its core. I sense that I am coming around to thinking about the questions you've been posing for a while in a whole new way. Lest you think too highly of yourself for changing someone's mind, I'd like to point out that it's not really a fair fight -- if there's truth in what you're saying, the Holy Spirit is working behind the scenes to soften hearts and make ears receptive to hearing the message. (I mean, God forbid that you should get any credit for what you're advocating here). >:-)

Frankly, this is a hard teaching to accept. Without going into any detail here, I'll just say that not long ago at all, I would have run rings around it with flawless logical arguments, and walked away feeling all the more secure that what I've always assumed was true and correct, really is true and correct. I'm not a naive neophyte to the issues you're raising -- easily swayed to a new position every time someone says "Come, let me present you with new evidence you haven't seen before". Quite to the contrary, I'm old and set in my ways, well-versed in the issues at hand, and hardened in my resolve to continue in the same direction that has always seemed right. It's hard to admit that I need to rethink certain things. But I think maybe I do.

More questions for you later, if you're so inclined to indulge me a little more...

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Always ready to indulge


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