Pacifism As Profoundly Ungrateful

I link to this article simply as a proof that such butchering of positions occurs within the church. Stephen Webb is a Christian and so is bound by the philadelphian love of his brothers and sisters that the New Testament is filled with. He begins by saying that he has friends who are pacifists. And then he proceeds to replace them with straw men so ugly and lacking in virtue that I suspect we’d be better off if we just fed them to cattle.

Here is the article.

Early in it, he says:

To be human is to depend on the protection of
others.

Grand. We’ll agree with that. But right before that he has said pacifism is “absurdly idealistic.”

On a simple scan, it would seem to me that the safest way to depend on the protection of others would be to depend on them in a society where we agree that no one kills anyone else. I want to rely on neighbours who don’t use lethal force. That is, absolutely, one solid way to be protected in society.

Of course, Christian pacifism, which might be better described as Christological non-violence, (more accurate, but crap as a slogan on a poster) is not even affected by these kinds of surface level, pragmatic questions. Christians are non-violent because they say Jesus is the Christ. They don’t sit down, do politics, military strategy or idealistic philosophising to come to this conclusion. Instead they stand up, on Sunday mornings, and sing words like these and that ends the conversation.

Your Correspondent, Is a vegetarian between meals

2 Replies to “Pacifism As Profoundly Ungrateful”

  1. Such violent rhetoric. I butchered pacifism. I should be bound to the law of love. I am lacking in virtue. The result? “we” should feed pacifists to cattle? So you have attacked me personally and used brutal rhetoric to prove that what I said about idealistic versions of pacifism (read my last paragraph) was…what…unfair. Hmm. don’t you prove my point: that pacifism is a form of absolute idealism that “forces” its defenders to deny reality in order to make the world conform to their principles? And: that pacifism is very close to self-delusion, thus it leads people to be violent in the name of non-violence.

  2. Dear Stephen,

    Thank you for your comment. I don’t believe I have attacked you personally and if I have, I apologise.

    As I intended it, I wrote this post to be a racy riposte to what I believe is an examplar piece of anti-Pacifist writing. Hence the attempt to literary verve-setting with the direct relationship between butchery and pacificism. As far as the comment about straw men and being fed to cattle, it disappoints me if an obviously humorous comment flounders so badly as to lead you to believe I was doing anything but encouraging a wry agricultural smile from my readers.

    I hope that on reflection you can at least see that the “brutal rhetoric” you have found and the self-delusionary violence you have detected is both in keeping with your original piece and considerably more light hearted and funny than you first surmised.

    After that, you might be able to engage with the very substantial theological claims made by Christological non-violence. If they are delusionary, it is hard to understand Easter as the turning point of history. If it is idealism in the absolute, it is hard to build any theological argument at all, since all that I would propose is that in the light of Easter Sunday, Christians cannot achieve their ends using the means that (appeared to have) ended Jesus.

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