Thursday, March 10, 2005

more yoder

this is something i have been thinking about: "the gospel concept of the cross of the christian does not mean that suffering is thought of as in itself redemptive or that martyrdom is a value to be sought after . . . what jesus refers to in his call to cross-bearing is rather the seeming defeat of that strategy of obedience which is no strategy, the inevitible suffering of those whose only goal is to be faithful to that love which puts one at the mercy of one's neighbor, which abandons claims to justice for one's self and for one's own in an overriding concern for the reconciling of the adversary and the estranged . . . this is signifigantly different from that kind of 'pacifism' which would say that it is wrong to kill but that with proper nonviolent techniques you can obtain without killing everything you really want or have a right to ask for."

3 comments:

geoff said...

why is it that 'pacifism' has come to be known as passive? perhaps it is somehow connected with 'love' being understood in romantic (and passive?) terms almost exclusively. so, if we say we are to love instead of do violence, it sounds like we are just sitting back and sending nice feelings in the general direction of the problem. i really like the affirmation that "suffering" is not, in and of itself, "redemptive". this should form our perspective on the atoning (saving) significance of the cross.

thanks for the post brad. it is a privilege to be striving toward a cruciform life alongside you.

[i just heard on the radio that the salt march in India (lead by Gandhi) was 75 years ago today....love in action]

Thunder Jones said...

Pacifism got its current label as being passive because of the straw man arguments offered in the wake of WWII and during the Red Scare. Pacifism has no ligusitic root to passive, its root is pax facer which means peacemaker. We really have to strive after peace. The perception in the world today is that everything should roll along really smooth, but when it doesn't it has to be fixed. A peacemaker attitude has to do with being in the midst of the problem before it escalates and making sure that Kingdom justice is continually done so that things don't escalate to violence.

On of the conversations I often have has to deal with the need for violent action as a way of stopping something horrific. The problem with that logic is that horrific things don't appear out of nowhere, they are the result of building injustice and repression that blow up at a certain point. Check out Christian Peacemaker Teams for a really phenomenal witness of getting in the way of injustice http://cpt.org

One of the things that Yoder wrote that has always stuck with me is from the end of The Politics of Jesus when he writes that the cross is not the way to the Kingdom of God but is thing Kingdom of God. By living in a cruxiform manner, we often find ourselves opposed to the Powers that be. One of the Berrigan brothers once wrote that if he's not being put in jail, he probably isn't living out his faith. I don't think its that extreme, but if we are successful as the world understands success, then we are probably less like Jesus and more like Rome (Imperial Rome, not the Roman Catholic Church). It's a shame that churches work so hard to be big and have money. We often find ourselves looking more like Rome than the Lord.

brad said...

thunder, thanks for commenting. one of the things that gets me about the quote is the way that it takes pragmatics off center stage. yoder points out the danger in using non-violence as a sometimes practical tool to get what you want. the cruciform life you refer to transforms our goals and the most practical way of achieving them into something that looks like love.