Let’s go further with the idea of Christian pacifism…
Christian non-violence is based on the words of Jesus in the gospel, the idea of love for our neighbor and enemy, and so on… I find it hard to read the NT without finding a lot about being called to love, not hate… The whole idea of the Kingdom of God like announced by Jesus, in which Gods will is done on earth as in heaven, does include it!
The basic idea behind Christian pacifism is the Walter Wink quote: ‘Violent revolution fails because it is not revolutionary enough‘. And indeed, Jesus brings us in his life, and in the cross and resurrection, something that goes beyond all our violence and other primitive responses…
Greg Boyd puts it like this in his book ‘the myth of a Christian religion‘. (A book that I quite like, even though I do disagree with the pejorative use of both words ‘myth’ and ‘religion’, but that’s another story…)
The revolutions of the world have always been about one group trying to wrest power from another. The revolution Jesus launched, however, is far more radical, for it declares the quest for power over others to be as hopeless as it is sinful. Jesus’ Kingdom revolts against this sinful quest for power over others, choosing instead to exercise power under others. It’s a revolution of humble, self-sacrificial, loving service. It always looks like Jesus, dying on Calvary for the very people who crucified him. (p.19)
This means more than the non-violence we are talking about, but a complete reversal of our human ways to view power, and a call for us as Kingdom people to live the reality not of this broken world, but the reality of the coming world. The current world is under the influence of the Powers of destruction and violence, but all those things will be dona away with, and the Power through which the new world will come is diametrically opposed to our human views of power:
The difference between the Kingdom of God and the kingdoms of the world comes down to the kind of power they trust. The kingdoms of the world place their trust in whatever coercive power they can exercise over others. We can think of this kind of power as the power of the sword.
In contrast, the Kingdom of God refuses to use coercive power over people, choosing instead to rely exclusively on whatever power it can exercise under people. This is the transforming power of humble, self-sacrificial, Christlike love. Exercising power under others is about impacting people’s lives by serving them, sacrificing for them, and even being sacrificed by them while refusing to retaliate, as Jesus did. We can think of this kind of power as the power of the cross, for the cross is the purest expression of humble, servantlike, self-sacrificial love. (p.22)
Note here that Boyd is known to put a heavy emphasis on Christus Victor atonement: Jesus, God incarnate became human and suffered with us, and on the cross Jesus he himself over to the powers of darkness and destruction, sin and defeated them in the resurrection… The self-giving Jesus who endures the powers is the conquering King destroying death and evil… And we are not just to ‘believe in Him’ but to follow Jesus, even in the example of the cross, which means that we are to be different than ‘the world’:
Kingdom people are called out of the world to be a holy, separate people. We’re called to be nonconformists, resisting the “pattern of the world” as we’re transformed into the image of Christ. This holy nonconformity isn’t just one aspect of who we are—it’s the essence of who we are. It’s how we manifest the beauty of God’s character and Kingdom. Out of the wellspring of the abundant Life we receive from Christ, we are to live in revolt against everything in our own lives, in society, and in the spirit-realm that is inconsistent with God’s reign. This can only happen if Jesus followers refuse to get co-opted by other things. (p. 23)
I leave you with one description from Boyd of the paradox of the enormous power of the cross:
While cross-power may look weak next to sword-power, it is, in fact, the greatest power in the universe. The power of the ‘cross is the only power that can overcome evil rather than merely suppress it for a while. It’s the only power that can transform an enemy into a friend. It’s the power that God promises will ultimately transform the world. It’s the kind of power the omnipotent God himself relied on when hè came in the person of Jesus Christ to overcome evil and redeem all of creation from its grip.
what do you think?