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Christian Pacifism
Comments by Maynard S. Clark - 17 Jan 2002 - 1424


Thank you for being gracious.

If the topic is PACIFISM, and there's a conflict among persons, we have two issues -- the implications of a philosophy AND the conflict.

The conflict must be resolved in a particular sort of way in order for one to be able to effectively implement a pacifist model of historical resolution, and one COULD argue that a consistent pacifism OBLIGES one to work out history in that sort of way.

But what I've learned in the first half-century of living is that some folks don't know how to resolve conflicts effective, but they do observe the conflicts of whatever sort -- sexual advances, designs upon them, over hostilities, etc. -- and that's a pain to them.

While Christians who study their faith's resources realize that responsible resolution of conflict IS morally obligatory for believers (and for others, even if they don't believe, IFF moral obligations here are objective and universal - or are they?), it seems realistic to note that those who TRY to implement beliefs -- well, who try to REALIZE the ability to live in certain sorts of ways which INCLUDE effective conflict resolution -- often share their experiences as self-sacrifice, costing much, deeply frustrating and stressful, etc.

While these "moments" might not be reason for not working out one's abilities to resolve conflicts in communities which do or do not include us and our issues, they are real, I suspect, if reflexive moments are real.

How will you counsel the folks in the Christian Peacemakers Team (combined peacemaking projects of the Quakers, Brethren, and Mennonite churches) who are living in and around both Jerusalem and the West Bank?  What should they do and how should they become effective in finding peaceful resolution in ways which don't harm anyone?  What's possible, and what's not?

I've tried over the years SINCE I started this list to discuss their work, but to no avail.  Now that "the war has been brought home" to us in the USA, there's more interest in discussing how we think, feel, and act among some vegetarians who previously might have avoided open and engaging dialogue with one another about issues which we're not SUPPOSED to discuss (religion and politics).

Somewhere along the line of action here, I believe, we're going to need to put things on the table and sort them out systematically, even if the ultimate tool of organization is NOT theology or theological.  But I also believe that we're not going to accomplish much IF we don't do this collectively and intentionally.


Isaiah writes about the Messiah as being "The Prince of Peace" (Isaiah 9:6).  Jesus calls upon all believers to become peacemakers, and says, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons [children] of God" (Matthew 5:9).  Paul writes, "For the anxious longings of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons [children] of God" (Romans 8:19).

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