War, pacifism and a third option
Ron Sider writes in Relevant magazine:
The debate and division between pacifist and just-war Christians in the church continue to the present. The pacifist minority includes Mennonites, Quakers, and small numbers of Catholics and other Protestants. The Pentecostal movement argued for pacifism on biblical grounds in its earlier years. In fact, the Assemblies of God denomination was officially pacifist until 1967. As in the previous sixteen centuries, however, the majority of Christians remain within the just-war tradition.
Recently, however, a number of prominent Christian theologians and ethicists from both traditions have developed what is often called a third approach: just peacemaking. This approach starts by combining key arguments from both pacifists and just-war Christians with some basic historical facts.
… In the last two decades, Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT; originally founded by Mennonites, Quakers, and people from the Church of the Brethren) has grown into a small but effective organization using the tactics of nonviolent direct action to intervene in areas of conflict on several continents.
… Even without much preparation and training, even without a large investment of money and personnel, nonviolent direct action has frequently been highly effective. One wonders what might be accomplished if all parts of the Christian church (in cooperation with all others who are interested) would get serious about investing resources, time, money, and people to explore what more could be done nonviolently to end injustice and prevent war.
We need thousands of praying, peaceful team members to travel and deploy in dozens of dangerous situations.
… Top Christian leaders from both the just-war and pacifist traditions must decide that now is the time to vastly expand groups like Christian Peacemaker Teams. We need thousands of praying, peaceful team members to travel and deploy in dozens of dangerous situations. Pacifists need not abandon their belief that killing is always wrong. Just-war proponents can continue to insist that killing is sometimes necessary. But both traditions demand that they vigorously do as much as possible in nonviolent ways. After decades when nonviolence has often enjoyed stunning success even without much preparation, we must now invest tens of millions of dollars in the first serious effort in human history to explore how much can be done to reduce injustice and war through the techniques of nonviolent direct action.
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The article is excerpted from Just Politics: A Guide for Christian Engagement.