Friday, August 20, 2010

Beating Swords Into Plowshares

(I originally wrote this on my blog yesterday).

Last night I saw something I thought I’d never see: the last U.S. combat brigade left Iraq yesterday. Here’s what President Obama said in an email statement:

"Over the last 18 months, over 90,000 U.S. troops have left Iraq. By the end of this month, 50,000 troops will be serving in Iraq. As Iraqi Security Forces take responsibility for securing their country, our troops will move to an advise-and-assist role. And, consistent with our agreement with the Iraqi government, all of our troops will be out of Iraq by the end of next year. Meanwhile, we will continue to build a strong partnership with the Iraqi people with an increased civilian commitment and diplomatic effort."

Any one who knows me knows I’ve never been a fan of this war, so the only thing I can say is, “Wow! Never thought I’d see this.”

* * *

When it comes to war, Christians usually fall into three points of view:

The first is the Far-Right Winged approach. Christians who subscribe to this view believe that it is our sacred duty to invade any country we deem as a threat and attack them with everything we’ve got. The Far-Right Winger goes by the saying, “Kill everyone and let God sort them out.” If you disagree with the Far-Right Winger, he or she will call you a traitor and anti-American. This approach to war is based more on extreme politics than the Bible.

Then there’s Just War Theory. Developed by Catholic theologians like Thomas Aquinas and Augustine of Hippo, Just War Theory lists four conditions that make war an ethical option:

* the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
* all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
* there must be serious prospects of success;
* the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition. (Source: Wikipedia)

Even though a lot of Evangelicals believed the Iraq war was just, the Catholic Church disagrees.

Finally, there’s pacifism, which is what I believe in. For a while pacifism was a four-letter word among Evangelicals; if you said anything about nonviolence, it was the same as saying, “I hate America.” But with the Obama administration, pacifism isn’t as taboo as it used to be, although it’s still not as widely embraced within the Church as Just War Theory. Most Evangelicals will say, “Well, yeah, pacifism is a nice idea, but is it really possible?”

I don’t believe that we will ever see total world peace in this current world; that won’t happen until Jesus returns to fully restore creation However, I think that the Bible is clear that as followers of Christ we are called to be peacemakers (Matthew 5:9). One of my favorite passages comes from Isaiah 2:3-5, which is a prophecy about Jesus:

Many peoples will come and say, "Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths." The law will go out from Zion, the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. Come, O house of Jacob, let us walk in the light of the LORD.

Some might think Isaiah was only talking about the Second Coming, but did you notice the part where he says, “He will teach us His ways so that we may walk in His paths?” To me, that indicates Isaiah was talking about Jesus when He came to earth the first time to establish His Kingdom. So that means we don’t have to wait around in order to have peace; we can work for peace right now.

Now, like I said earlier, I don’t think we’ll have perfect peace until Jesus returns. But I do believe it’s time the Church took Jesus’ teachings about nonviolence seriously, and start working to make the world a more peaceful place (with the help of God, of course).

(Photo credit: Kosmos Journal


  1. There are 50,000 soldiers still in Iraq, so while there have been steps taken, there is still war being waged in Iraq. I'm a Canadian that doesn't vote, and also is no fan of that war, but what's been accomplished is nothing to celebrate, because there is still a heavy military presence in the country.

    Some good words on non-violence, I've only recently come to "see the light" there and become a pacifist myself.

    I'd be very cautious to in any way link Obama with pacifism though - his track record in office would greatly suggest otherwise.

  2. Trust me, I'm definitely not a fan of Obama's war policies!