Saturday, October 26, 2013

pacifism and pansies

It seems that Mark Driscoll has said something outragous. Gasp.

This time, Driscoll, an author and the pastor of a large church in Seattle, has said something outrageous and, apparently, confused about Christian pacifists--those Christians who take Jesus very seriously when he talks about 'turning the other cheek', and refuse to participate in any kind of violence. Christian pacifism instead advocates non-violent resistance to the powers of evil.

But Driscoll pretty much dismisses pacifism as something for pansies, and Jesus, he points out, was no pansy.

On his blog, Jonathan Merritt has asked a few prominent Christian pacifists to respond. Shane Claiborne and Scot McKnight, among others, offer brief responses that, I think, make a nice (and quick) case for Christian pacifism.

My favorite reaction came from Preston Sprinkle, the author of Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence:
In spite of the fact that Romans 13 doesn’t mean what Driscoll thinks it means, in spite of the fact that Driscoll’s Hal Lindsay-like literal reading of Revelation finds little support among respectable commentators, and in spite of the fact that Jesus’s nonviolent life and nonviolent commands as well as the nonviolent exhortations of Paul (Rom 12), Peter (1 Pet 2-3), and John in Revelation (throughout) are completely ignored, what I find most entertaining about Driscoll’s sermon is his description of pacifists as pansies. Martin Luther King, who courageously led the charge against segregation, was a pansy. Charles Spurgeon, who boldly denounced warfare and violence, was a pansy. André and Magda Trocmé, who refused to use violence when they helped rescue 5,000 Jews from deaths camps during WWII, are both pansies. The leaders of the Christian church for the first 300 years of its existence—all of whom were pacifists—were also pansies.

You can read it all on Jonathan's blog over at RNS.


Rev. Daniel McLain Hixon said...

It may be the sin of envy in this pastor (I often worry about this as a motive for critiques of various large-church pastors, even when such critiques are warranted), but I do wonder why in the world anyone listens to what Driscoll has to say at all.

Now I must confess I've not read any of his books or listened to a sermon in its entirety; but all I ever hear is clipped out of context, but it all makes him sound...well...kind of dumb and mean.

But then that is the reputation that Christianity has in many circles already...and no doubt there are many who fit the bill and are happy to listen to pastors who do so as well. Maybe it is easier to call a pacifist a pansy than it is to think through what implications Jesus' teachings on non-violence have for our own lives; what cross we will have to bear ("label and dismiss" is a favorite form of rhetorical stupidity in our culture in debates of all sorts - an extreme form of the "straw man" fallacy, I guess). And I write that as someone who is not a Christian pacifist as I usually understand the term (but who is a supporter of non-violence as practiced by Rev. King).

Rev. Daniel McLain Hixon said...

I should also say that if the public face of Christianity is the likes of Mark Driscoll and the public face of Atheism that of Richard Dawkins, then I think civil discourse on basically any moral issue is going to become quite rare indeed.