excerpts: Disciple of Peace (2)

 

Disciple-of-Peace-WattsFollowing are some more quotes from Craig M. Watts’ fine work entitled Disciple of Peace: Alexander Campbell on Pacifism, Violence, and the State (Doulous Christou Press, 2005).

* On the death penalty Tertullian wrote, “Even if he appeals to the power of the State, the servant of God should not pronounce capital sentences.” Such was the dominant position during the first three centuries of the church, just as pacifism was the prevailing position during this time in regard to war. The earliest Christians regarded all use of deadly force as incompatible with their faith. (p.113)

* The cross provides the lens through which we see the world and provides the form by which we are to live in it. It is for this reason that claims made from the time of Augustine to our own that Christian soldiers can kill in war and practice love even in that very act are not credible. Surely it is possible to kill and destroy without hate … But if love is defined by the cross, there is no room for making victims and creating misery either in one’s personal life or for the sake of a nation-state. Love reflective of the cross endures suffering rather than inflicting it and accepts death rather than causing it. Christ-centered love is cross-centered and for that reason is non-violent in all of its way. Campbell’s support of capital punishment was possible only because he failed to be cross-centered in his pacifism. (p.121)

* The cross is not an emblem of victimization so much as an eloquent demonstration of love by One who willingly took his place with victims to save both them and their oppressors. The cross is not just the means of salvation but the shape of Christian existence. To affirm one without the other is to be left with a fragmented, incomplete faith. (p.123)

* … pacifism arises from the call to be like Jesus regardless of the consequences. … It is a life lived in the conviction that God more desires to use our vulnerable faithfulness than our most clever calculation of consequences, and that God will make history come out right without our violent measures. (p.123-124)

* In Campbell’s view, to see war simply as a conflict between nations is not to see it truthfully. So long as Christians are involved in the conflict the rightful reign of Christ is distorted and misrepresented before the watching world. … Insofar as the churches throughout the world fail to repudiate the Christian participation in warfare, oneness in Christ will be treated as dispensable and subject to the Christian’s loyalty to the separated and often hostile nations. Only a nonviolent church can be united sufficiently to witness to Jesus as Lord that the world might believe. (p.125)

* Only as the church detaches itself from the narrow unity rooted in and fostered by the nation-state will it be able to develop a faithful global imagination and act in view of it to minister to the world as it ought. When the church in the United States – or any other nation – compliantly helps reinforce national unity, inevitably this compliance will weaken the credibility of the church’s witness to the God who loves the entire world. … The church does not exist to bolster any of the pieces of the fragmented world against any other, but to offer an alternative to them. The church exists to show that its brokenness is not necessary. (p.126)

* … the determination to utterly submit to God as Master and Sovereign … requires a willingness to live according to the standards of the world to come – to love defenselessly, serve indiscriminately, forgive persistently – without regard to the pride, preferences, or interests of the powers of this present world. To live in this way leaves no room for the preservation of hostile divisions or the use of deadly force but demands a willingness to share in the sufferings of God in Christ. (pp.133-134)

* So long as we are convinced that the historical results we desire for our nation, our cause, or ourselves should arbitrate the decisions we make about violence, we will trust ourselves rather than trust the God who raised Jesus from the dead. The practice of nonviolence requires that we relinquish our imagined control over our consequences and rely instead, upon the eschatological power of God. Violence can be seen as an option – even if it is limited to being a “necessary” last resort – only when we insist that we know what victory looks like and that we are responsible for insuring it is achieved. (p.135)

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