September 22, 2008

Christians and Pacifism - Part I

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.

But who are "the peacemakers"? More and more Christians today argue that the only people who deserve such a title are outright pacifists or campaigners for unilateral disarmament. Those who insist that deterrence is more likely to maintain world peace are increasingly dubbed "warmongers." They are described as those involved in "the big sin"; written off as "McCarthyites," "unacceptably right wingers," or "cold warriors." One popular book condemns the arms race and, by implication, dependence on nuclear deterrence, as "a huge evil which flagrantly breaks the laws of God. It is in a sense the sum of all evils." Nuclear pacifism, according to this argument, is the only option for those who wish to obey god and be called his children today.

Quite apart from its arrogance in claiming a monopoly on righteousness in the struggle for peace and justice in the world, pacifism cannot, I believe, stand up to biblical scrutiny. Nor do I believe that gestures of unilateral disarmament by Western powers would contribute to the security of the world. On the contrary, they would lead to a massive increase in injustice and human misery.

Fears about the outbreak of war are understandable. Every Christian ought to be filled with horror at the thought of nuclear holocaust. Many sincere Christians have wrestled with the appalling possibilities of destruction and have come to the conclusion that total pacifism or nuclear pacifism are the only option for the Christian today. They are right in their passionate longing for peace: Jesus commanded us to be peacemakers. But what are the things that make for peace in our world? To come to grips with this question we will look first at some of the arguments of the Christian pacifist and examine them in the light of biblical teaching. Then, after seeking to establish a biblical understanding of our human responsibility to "seek peace and justice," we will turn to consider the specific issue of the ethics of nuclear deterrence.

Who Are the Peacemakers?, Jerram Barrs


  1. Hi Rich,

    Interesting post for me. I wanted to point out somethng a wise person said to me once. WAe are to be peacemakers not peacekeepers and sometimes making real peace means we fight for it.

    Thank you for all your encouragement, support, prayers, e book etc. What a blessing you have been to me, Friend.


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