There is a critical difference between the ways the Old and New Testaments handle the existential challenge–the Crisis. It does matter, this difference, and it is meaningful. Did it really take humankind two thousand years to learn to de-escalate like that, to turn from sacrificing another to shooting your own self in the foot, so to speak? If violence is necessary, to see that violence can be directed to reduce collateral damage? This is something that the violent do understand: they choose their targets.
To those who feel violence is justified: NO
Someone I regarded as a peacemaker was headed to South Africa in 1986 and I heard him say, “There comes a time when you do have to take up arms.” What I heard within was the question: Is that true, that there comes a time for taking up arms? Now what I hear in his words is: This is the world we live in.
That peacemaker introduced me to the (existence of a group called) the Fellowship of Reconciliation (FOR), a peace/justice movement going back to the time after WWI, an important time of assessment for humankind. In 1986 some of those “early adopters” who saw the situation clearly and derived the position, “never again let there be another war on this scale,” were still living. They, or their children, or their children’s children, were still holding that position that did distill into: no more war. It took me a long, long time to reconcile the two positions, FOR and my friend in sight of South Africa under apartheid. No, I have not reconciled these two positions, expediency and a hard line of demarcation. The New Message from God, however, has a plan that the warnings and blessings of past eras could never have provided.
Another student of the New Message re-opened my examination of FOR’s message–the position of idealism–because that student is someone who does walk the razor’s edge, that place where one foot is in the spiritual and the other in the material world. That student spoke to me about the terrible bind the two-party system had forced us into and about the viability of voting one’s conscience. That student’s integrity required I listen from the depths of my own conscience: Do I have that integrity, that I would refuse to vote for any candidate that would violate the principle taught in the New Message: NO MORE WAR. Hello, my fellow student, m’colleague. What was accomplished then was a thorough self-examination that ultimately would result in a vote of conscious pragmatism.
*See comments to the first post in this series for a discussion of Bonhoeffer’s willingness to do whatever it took, and why I would have come to believe that God may indeed have intervened on that misdirected plot.
In loving memory of Brady Tyson.
#3 in the series, You Say ‘God-fearing’ Like It’s a Bad Thing!?
Part 1 is here.
Part 2 here.