Thursday, September 11, 2008

Pacifism is NOT Passivism

Pacifism is not passivism—it is not sitting idly by while evil gains ground in this world. Pacifism is not being nice—it is an all out assault on systemic oppression and ill-conceived notions human responsibility to police other states and adjudicate others interests (especially when it is to our own economic advantage). Pacifism is not a spineless resignation—it is a deliberate methodology which calls attention to the injustices of this world. Pacifism is not quiet or nice—it is deliberately aggressive ideologically while refusing any right to retaliation; it deliberately provokes response (often violent) to force the "enemy" to put all his cards on the table for the watching world to witness. Pacifism is not an absence of anger—it is furious at the injustice of this world. If you are guilty of accusing pacifists of being angry, as if this is a contradiction in terms, then I personally apologize for not articulating our position more clearly. If you expected us to renounce imprecatory prayer, assertive articulation, deliberate instigation, stubborn implacability, and belligerent conviction, we have failed to communicate clearly enough what an actual pacifist is. For this we offer our sincere apology. Be deceived no longer.

So what is pacifism? It is the uncompromising realization that we as humans are incapable of bringing about justice through violent retaliation. Hence, we relinquish all such acts to God in his sovereign and eschatological plan of judgment, justice, and mercy. Indeed, God have mercy on us.


Blogger Kevin J. Bowman said...

Unbelievably AWESOME!!!! This is the most impressive explanation I have ever seen. I have tried to articulate why Christianity demands pacifism before, but no more, I will simply send people to read your post.

September 11, 2008 at 10:17 PM  
Blogger Jed said...

Mark -

Very, very well said. Your final paragraph is nothing short of brilliant.

Jed Brewer

September 12, 2008 at 1:14 AM  
Blogger KingJaymz said...

I love how you delineated what common perception of what pacifism is and what it really is.

However, I would just say that in the second to last sentence of the first paragraph, the adjective/abstract noun combinations seemed a bit forced or stretched. I only say this because it seems to take away from the sober sensibility and passionate flow of the rest of the post.

It is inspiring in faith to hear this perspective. Thanks for laying down such worthwhile thoughts.

September 12, 2008 at 2:05 AM  
Blogger Michael DeFazio said...

Beautiful and timely. Oh, and inescapably true.

September 12, 2008 at 11:43 AM  
Blogger Landis said...

I like using the phrase, "non-violent resistance." Thanks Mark

September 18, 2008 at 12:35 PM  
Blogger christyg said...

It sounds very poetic to say one will relinquish all violent and unlawful behavior to God, however, living out these beliefs is a different story. What would you do if your wife was attacked by someone robbing her? Would you sit by and watch and pray that God would rescue her? Most husbands would attack back and fight for their wives safety- and they would be asking God to give them strength to do so! All over the world people are suffering under oppressive rulers- they are starving, being terrorized, etc... There ARE many speaking very articulately against this evil, and many more praying, yet year after year the opression continues on. At some point- like in Sudan for instance- wouldn't it be the most humane thing to do to come in and physically remove these evil leaders? These are just a few of my thoughts...

October 4, 2008 at 3:44 PM  
Blogger Landis said...


I've noticed that every time someone talks about peacemaking and the way of Jesus, someone will inevitably ask a situational question like "what if a child is being beat up in an alley" or "someone breaks into your house and starts raping your wife, what would you do then?" There are no pat answers for this. I don't have some sort of nonviolent "strategy" for these types of situations. But what I think we can do as followers of Jesus is internalize his character and his spirit. We can meditate daily on the fruit of the Spirit and pray that they take root in us. Then we can trust that when we do encounter a bad situation, we will act like Jesus.

October 7, 2008 at 9:48 AM  
Blogger Thom Stark said...

You sound angry, Mark. I thought you were supposed to be a passivist. Well, I'm not going to listen to you if all you do is spit on people in the front row.

October 8, 2008 at 1:47 PM  
Blogger Falantedios said...

Christyg, allow me to share something I wrote a couple of months ago, in response to a question like yours. I wouldn't call myself a pacifist, but rather a disciple that strives for non-violence in all things.

I am a prior-service Army officer, so because of my training, I
have a broader variety of options than most people. Training and
discipline allow a person to respond to all sorts of challenges with a greater level of freedom.

So when I begin my answer to your question with "I don't know," it
is not a cop-out, nor should it suggest either naivete or a lack of
preparation. I don't know because I do not plan to respond the same
way every time. I will strive to love my attacker as much as
possible. I operate from the stance that I own NOTHING that is worth anyone's life.

Prayer is our first line of defense and offense. We pray that God will deliver us from evil and that we will remain true to our Lord in all circumstances, including life-threatening ones.

Simplicity is our second line of defense. Therefore, I do not own
anything expensive. The most expensive things I own are a beat-up Ford Focus and my wife's new Zune MP3 player. I do not own a suit, nor do we own any clothing that suggests enough wealth do attract attention. We have no credit cards and carry very little cash.

Pro-active planning is our third line of defense. My home has an
evacuation plan, in the event that we are at home during a burglary.
We will avoid confrontation at all costs. If necessary, I will
provide a diversion to allow my loved ones to get out of the house.
If possible, I will talk to the attacker calmly and lovingly,
helping them understand that there will be no threat from me or
anyone else.

No sane (or sober, or uninfluenced by drugs) person will maintain
a violent stance in the face of such responses UNLESS they have an
ideological motive for their aggression.

Against the insane (etc.), non-lethal force is our fourth line of defense, and lethal force is our last resort.

The ideologically- driven aggressor is not truly attacking me, but my King. In those instances, intentional and interactive strategies
of non-violence (such as those taught and modeled by the followers
of Gandhi and King) will be employed. At no time will I respond to an attack on my Lord with violence.

November 7, 2008 at 11:52 AM  

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