catapult magazine

catapult magazine


clarifying pacifism


Feb 17 2002
04:20 pm

It’s very hard to be against a “just war,” whatever that is, when there is a Hitler loose on the earth, or when terrorists have just flown airliners into U.S. buildings. Still, I can’t find any Christian justification anywhere for war, just or not. I think we have wars and call them “just wars” because the Church has taken the political stance, rather than trying to change the politics. Although it’s an Old Testament scripture, I think the church needs to pay a lot more attention to what happens "if My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and seek my face, I will heal their land, etc.
Sandy Wilbur


Feb 15 2002
07:24 am

a few months ago (shortly after september 11), my church did a series related to the war on terrorism and our post-9/11 response. while he was sensitive and far from militaristic, the pastor implied that pacifism consists of sitting back and doing nothing—of turning the other cheek, which he interpreted as ignoring the problem. his sermon was consistent with the denomination’s position advocating the just war theory, but i was uncomfortable with his characterization of pacifism.

for the past couple of years, i’ve struggled with my identity as a pacifist or a just war theorist. however, i haven’t found that the just war theory is radical enough to meet the demands of a radical Gospel. what i have found is a rich history of active resistance by both Christians and non-Christians. how can the church deny the effectiveness of non-violent resistence? how can our president (and indeed our country) take the moral high ground when we’re using that elevated position to kill?


Feb 15 2002
08:22 am

kirstin -

Spend some time with the Sojourners mag at
The Mennonites have spent many generations working to develop a cohesive theory of pacificsm; you may already be familar with their work. Especially take a look at the latest two issues of the magazine; they deal very specifically with how we need to respond to a war on terror though our understanding of the radical message of peace that Jesus has given us.

By the by, I’m curious as to which denomination has supported the just war theory. To my knowledge, none of the Reformed/Presbyterian denoms that I’ve been associated with have (or ever will) come out with a firm stance (although some congregations may be more open with their collective opinions).


Feb 15 2002
08:29 am

Well, there is also the power of the non-violent movement Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. started. They were really intentional about no violence.


Feb 15 2002
10:21 am

yeah, we actually have both of those issues of sojourners you mentioned. they were really wonderful. sojourners is a really awesome resource.

we also just picked up a few books that neither of us has had time to read yet:

Bearing the Cross: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Souther Leadership Conference by David J. Garrow

A Force More Powerful: A Century of Nonviolent Conflict by Peter Ackerman and Jack Duvall

has anyone else read these? does anyone else have any resources concerning Christians and pacifism?