Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Jesus and nonviolence - conclusion

The final chapter of Walter Wink's fine little book 'Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way' is rather short. I will conclude my posts on this book with its final two paragraphs:
Many people have not aspired to Jesus' Third Way because it has been presented to them as absolute pacifism, a life-commitment to nonviolence in principle, with no exceptions. They are neither sure that they can hold fast to its principles in every situation nor sure that they have the saintliness to overcome their own inner violence. Perhaps a more traditional Christian approach would make more sense. We know that nonviolence is the New Testament pattern. We can commit ourselves to following Jesus' way as best we can. We know we are weak and will probably fail. But we also know that God loves and forgives us and sets us back on our feet after every failure and defeat.

Seen in this light, Jesus' Third Way is not an insuperable counsel to perfection attainable only by the few. It is simply the right way to live, and can be pursued by many. The more who attempt it, the more mutual support there will be in following it.

I had wanted to read this book for a long time, and I'm glad I finally did. I don't know that it was exactly what I was expecting, but then, I'm not sure what I was expecting. At any rate, I think I learned a great deal through its 103 pages.

I have always considered myself a pacifist, so to be sure I looked it up in the dictionary. It says...
Pacifism = Belief in peaceful resolution of conflicts: the belief that violence, war, and the taking of lives are unacceptable ways of resolving conflicts; Refusal to participate in war: the refusal to take up arms or participate in war because of moral or religious beliefs; and Belief in diplomacy over war: the belief that international conflicts should be settled by negotiation rather than war.

There seems to be a fine line between the Third Way and strict pacifism. At any rate, this gives one much to think about.

Peace out; and in.


Bruce said...

Far too often I find that I am a theoretical pacifist. Nice theory.......poor application. Nice theory until someone crosses me, pulls out in front of me, etc.

You see I have red hair and I have the bar bouncer build. I have excuses for being violent (in word, thought, and deed) :)

This is the toughest part of Jesus's message. Peace.


Barry Clemson said...

I think most of us can sympathize with Bruce's comment. Becoming nonviolent is not usually a one time decision but rather a long process. Even John Dear, in his marvelous memoir, recounts suddenly discovering in middle life ways in which he was still violent.

We live, we struggle, we love, and gradually we become less violent.

dan h. said...

Yeah... I'm not much of a pacifist while driving.

Good points. Thanks guys.