Jesus, as it turns out was a hard core pacifist and he was serious as a heart attack about that non-resistance, turn the other cheek, take up your cross and be prepared to die at the hands of your enemies stuff. He was, to use an oxymoron, an adamant even a belligerent pacifist. ‘Those who live by the sword die by the sword’ was his warning, and when his disciples tried to take up swords for the sake of the Kingdom Jesus not only told them ‘enough of that’ but he then repaired the damage to the ear of the high priest’s slave. Jesus was in deadly earnest about being the Prince of Peace.
Today, had Hitler not executed him, Bonhoeffer would have still been dead, but more than likely, roundly celebrated on his 105th birthday. Had he lived, it would have been interesting to see his works, but alas, he didn’t. While some may disagree with his involvement as a spy in World War II, I’m not sure that he would have either, really. I think, as I read him, he felt pressed into it, especially after watching what was happening to his German brothers and sisters, Christian or Jew.
Anyway, this is an interview which author Eric Metaxas gave on Bonhoeffer,
Bonhoeffer’s work still stands a call to real discipleship.
In an article that I’ve been holding on to for a while, J. Denny Weaver goes for a non-violent view of the atonement. As my own view is being developed, I like exploring these various views and seeing if there is anything worth gleaning,
The death of Jesus is not needed to satisfy God’s honor.
And after debunking Anselm and others, continues,
It is not difficult to see why discussion of the relationship of violence and Christianity is controversial.(1) When asked whether Christianity supports violence and is a violent religion, does one answer “Of course — look at the crusades, the multiple blessings of wars, warrior popes, support for capital punishment, corporal punishment under the guise of ‘spare the rod and spoil the child,’ justifications of slavery, world-wide colonialism in the name of conversion to Christianity, the systemic violence of women subjected to men, and more”? Or does one respond, “Of course not — look at Jesus, the beginning point of Christian faith, who is worshiped as ‘Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace’ (Isa. 9:6); whose Sermon on the Mount taught nonviolence and love of enemies; who faced his accusers nonviolently and then died a nonviolent death; whose nonviolent teaching inspired the first centuries of pacifist Christian history and was subsequently preserved in the justifiable war doctrine that declares all war as sin even when declaring it occasionally a necessary evil, and in the prohibition of fighting by monastics and clergy as well as in a persistent tradition of Christian pacifism”? But these answers are apparently contradictory. Does one of them trump the other? Or might there be yet another answer?
This essay addresses the relationship between violence and Christianity by examining aspects of Christian theology. Specifically, it examines violence and assumptions of violence in the classic formulations of the central Christian doctrines of atonement and Christology. While this analysis finds classic theology in large part guilty of accommodating and supporting violence, the essay also points to a specifically nonviolent Christian answer.
I am using broad definitions of the terms “violence” and “nonviolence.” “Violence” means harm or damage, which obviously includes the direct violence of killing — in war, capital punishment, murder — but also covers the range of forms of systemic violence such as poverty, racism, and sexism. “Nonviolence” also covers a spectrum of attitudes and actions, from the classic Mennonite idea of passive nonresistance through active nonviolence and nonviolent resistance that would include various kinds of social action, confrontations and posing of alternatives that do not do bodily harm or injury….
“The regenerated do not go to war, nor engage in strife. They are children of peace who have beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning forks, and know no war.
…Our weapons are not weapons with which cities and countries may be destroyed, walls and gates broken down, and human blood shed in torrents like water. But they are weapons with which the spiritual kingdom of the devil is destroyed.
…Christ is our fortress; patience our weapon of defense; the Word of God our sword. …Iron and metal spears and swords we leave to those who, alas, regard human blood and swine’s blood of well-nigh equal value.”