Hi, Joshua. This has been a tough topic for people, and I can understand why. We are called to be like Christ, but what does that mean in a broken world when it seems we often only have a choice between two evils? At times it does seem that inaction, withdrawal, non-resistance, etc, really may be the best, most loving course. And at times, it seems that the most unloving thing to do would be to not get involved–to refuse to fight. I think that the non-resistance view is embraced with a heart after God’s just as those who embrace the just war theory do so out of a love for God and people. It is simply an approach from different perspectives and convictions.
Personally, I like the Augustinian view that war is justifiable if the goal is peace. In their book An Introduction to Biblical Ethics: Walking in the Way of Wisdom, Copan and McQuilken write of this view, “Just as God must judge and punish creatures he loves, just war should be inspired not by hatred but by love for justice and peace and by concern for the oppressed. The issue is not violence versus nonviolence, but just versus unjust uses of force” (p. 411).
Thinking about justice, we were made in the image of God, and as such, we do possess a limited number of His attributes. That is where we get our sense of justice from-even if it has been twisted in varied degrees by sin’s depravity. My thought would be that we were made in such a way for a purpose: to reflect God’s glory and function as His representatives on earth. We are called to be like Christ and are being molded more and more into his image so that, post-fall, we are slowly but surely being brought back to a place of bearing God’s image, reflecting God’s glory for the world to see. That reflection, then, would surely show certain attributes of God, like love and justice.
I mention love and justice specifically, because so many people do not realize that those two attributes go hand-in-hand. We can’t have one without the other. To love is to deal justly–to perform justice when necessary. Therefore, if we neglect justice and working for peace, even if we need to do it by force, then–for me and how I view the issue–is we fail to love in the way to which God has called us. We fail to be Christ-like.
While I treasure the hearts of those on both sides of the subject and am sure God honors their intentions towards Him, I think it is important to recognize that doing nothing is also doing something. Doing nothing is still doing something, and so pacifism has victims just like war does. Look at those who decided to do nothing when the Nazis rose to power. How many died because of the action of inaction? There can be horrific consequences from either position.
I think in today’s world–in any world of any time period, really–pacifism can be realistic. It’s just a matter of how high a price one is willing to pay. But the same goes for non-pacifism. I think this is sort of a trick question, too, because when we Christians talk about something being realistic, we have to try to determine what is realistic in that “now and not yet” reality of God’s kingdom. What may seem non-realistic according to our senses at this stage of God’s redemptive timeline may be perfectly realistic according to faith in the Spirit.
Christians should always be defensive except in prayer, but sometimes the best defense is a good offense, right? When Hitler began taking over nations, he hadn’t come to the United States. Yet it was obvious he was insatiable in his desire to take territory. Not only that, but we needed to protect and defend those who could not defend themselves–a defense which called for an offensive move. That reminds me, too, that we are to be a voice for those who do not have one, even if the voice needs to come in the form of gunfire.
These are just some thoughts I have so far. I may add more later. The computer screen makes my eyes tire quickly, and I have to take a break
Looking forward to hearing the thoughts of others.