American foreign policy is always in the news. After all, the United States currently has the largest military in the world, and frequently serves as the globe’s police force through alliances such as the United Nations and NATO. The recent appointment of John Bolton as National Security Adviser for the Trump administration simply reinforces this as Bolton was very supportive of the US invasion of Iraq and supports further military aggression towards Iran and North Korea.
On that last point, the Korean War also happens to be in the news again in response to recent nuclear testing by the North and now peace talks in Korea between both Korean nations.
War is in the news. It usually is, and I don’t see any chance of that changing any time soon. It is very unfortunate, but those of us in Christian peace and nonviolence organizations also have to talk about war. This is a great sin in our world, and it expresses the spirit of the Wicked One rather than the spirit of the Anointed One. Continue reading Conquering the World Through Love→
Due to the recent military incursion of Western powers in Syria (and some reactions that this has generated in different churches), Chilean members and friends of Pensamiento Pentecostal have written some general recommendations for a proper treatment of these delicate issues inside of evangelical and charismatic churches in order to contribute to a fruitful reflection about war in Christian contexts.
This document highlights some common beliefs that emerge when the Church faces this kind of situations. For instance, sometimes attempts are made to explain and even justify armed conflicts in the Middle East as part of the “plan of God.” We regret that sometimes this emphasis leaves aside the concern for the human suffering involved in any war, no matter in what context it happens. Continue reading Chilean Pentecostals and Charismatics call to serious christian thought on war→
Here are my first impressions of Paul: Apostle of Christ. First of all, I am very grateful that such films are being made. That gratitude overwhelms reservations on any other points. As you might guess (because I am a biblical scholar), movies about biblical themes are my favorite, and among the few kinds of movies I must see.
The various scenes of Rome are splendidly done; they make ancient Rome look like ancient Rome. For modern viewers far removed from the world of the New Testament, this provides an invaluable benefit. The film also dramatically captures the horror of people being murdered for their faith (or because the powerful in society deem them expendable). I appreciated the numerous echoes of Paul’s letters (and a crack about the Corinthians), although sometimes when Paul tells Luke to write something down it comes from Paul’s earlier letters, not from Acts. Continue reading Biblical Accuracy and Nonviolence in Paul: Apostle of Christ – Movie Review→
Romans 13:1-8 is a passage that has been used in ways that are unjust.It has been used to justify the divine right of kings, to justify slavery, to justify apartheid and segregation.This text has been used in support of the Just War Theory.It’s still used in the church to justify oppressive policing and discounting of immigrant’s basic human rights.If people would just obey the law, the logic goes, then they will be left alone.But is that what this passage means?Is Paul saying that that all laws are good? Is he saying that all people are treated equally under the law? Is he saying that laws should be obeyed without question?These things are often read into the passage making these verses something like a sword to keep oppressed people in their place.I don’t believe that was Paul’s intent.
Just because a particular action is legal does not mean it is just.As God’s people it’s imperative that we carefully discern and think through texts like these so that we might walk well in the way of Jesus. How shall we view this set of scriptures? Continue reading Re-thinking Romans 13→
Jesus told us to love our enemies (Mt 5:44). This has been the cornerstone of Christian pacifist theology; whether you look at the early church, or the Anabaptists or the early Pentecostals, they all agreed on that loving enemies is incompatible with killing them, and hence they refused to wage wars or use violence against other human beings.
For this reason, the Christian non-pacifist has to argue for one of the following positions:
Killing is an act of love towards the one you kill.
We should not follow Jesus’ command to love enemies when we decide to kill people.
Quite consistently in my life the issue of Christian pacifism has been a subject of interest. Even well before I became a Christian, I held to a deeply pacifist morality. I distinctly remember one conversation at a family gathering when I expressed disagreement with the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. My brother (an enthusiastic Charismatic Christian at the time) said something that stuck with me; he called me “the family Democrat”. To him at the time, pacifism was not a Gospel or Biblical issue. Pacifism was entirely partisan (despite Democrats engaging in just as much violence as Republicans).
For many people, this continues to be the case. Regularly with my work in the church and wider community, the issue of Christian morality comes up, and this inevitably leads to a discussion about pacifism. As I observed with my brother many years ago, pacifism is often understood as a somehow disconnected from Christian values. For many, there is simple ignorance about the teachings of peace found in the Gospel, and for many others, they are aware of such teachings, but find them unrealistic, and do not believe that they are relevant for post-New Testament Christians. Continue reading The Biblical and Apostolic Foundation of Pacifism→
Hopefully, you’ve already discovered our resource pages filled with free articles, book recommendations, and links to other great ministries and podcasts. We’ve just added our first free e-book on the Books section: The Early Christian Attitude to Warby Cecil John Cadoux.
Published almost 100 years ago in 1919, Cadoux did the first – and many argue still the best – comprehensive review of basically everything early Christian leaders and church fathers said regarding war, violence, soldiers and peace. His conclusion is that most of them were pacifists, and that the strong Christian commitment to nonviolence was overturned by the Constantinian influence in the fourth century.
It’s amazing to see how Cadoux debunks arguments still used today by non-pacifist Christians, for example the idea that Tertullian only became a pacifist after he joined the “heretic” Montanist movement, or that Origen supported Christians becoming soldiers even though he wrote:
“You cannot demand military service of Christians any more than you can of priests. We do not go forth as soldiers.” (Against Celsus VIII.7.3)
Cadoux’ book is a well-worth read if you want to understand how the earliest Christians interpreted the Sermon on the Mount. Also, it’s very interesting to see that when Christians abandoned pacifism in the fourth century, the charismatic gifts and ministries also faded. The Holy Spirit clearly doesn’t like when God’s children start killing others.
Pentecostals & Charismatics for Peace & Justice is a multicultural, gender inclusive, and ecumenical organization that promotes peace, justice, and reconciliation work among Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians around the world. If you like what we do, please become a member!