Church of England and Roman Catholic theologians are working to come up with new approaches to what might be considered a “just war” in the modern world of international terrorism. The plans have grown out of a concern among bishops that they have lost the initiative to the Government and that the churches' opposition to the war in Iraq weakened a traditional role of providing advice at times of crisis reports the Times newspaper. However, for more radical Christians, opposition to the invasion of Iraq from many church leaders marked a healthy shift away from previous justifications for war by the church which were seen as contradicting Jesus' commands, as recorded in the Gospels, to pursue non-violent solutions to conflict. Religious just-war theory was originally developed by St Augustine and shaped in the 13th century by Thomas Aquinas. The theory was developed after the church became allied with the state and had to square its previous commitments to non-violence with the actions of Government. The proposals for change, to be set out in a document to be published next Easter, may disappoint more radical Christians who would like to see a more substantial commitment to non-violence and feel that new 'just-war' theories won't make churches more effective in advising governments when facing situations such as Iraq, but only compromise the churches' message. Just War theory has been used down the centuries to justify many different military actions, and critics say its criteria have been so vague and open to interpretation than they can be employed to provide justification for almost any military action. The paper noted that, while traditional just-war theory has at times sanctioned anticipatory self-defence, humanitarian intervention and even preventive action, it does not address the “moral and political hazards” associated with pre-emptive military action. One insider said: “We were looking at the just-war criteria. We were trying to seek a way we can use them against weapons of mass destruction, rogue regimes and terrorism. It was one of the most important ecumenical initiatives that has taken place in a long time. All the peaceniks will have heart attacks.” A Church of England working party on just-war theory has reported back to bishops and their report will be finalised at a meeting next week before debate at General Synod.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Sunday, May 29, 2005
I was with a few great people: Jeff Sachs, the economist; Bob Geldof; Quincy Jones [the musician], who's been a mentor to me — a deadly serious man, but he kept whispering to me to check out the Holy Father's [Pope John Paull II] shoes: ox-blood loafers. "These are some funky slippers," he was saying. There were some nervous giggles, but we all knew why we were there. The pontiff was about to make an important statement about the inhumanity and injustice of poor countries spending so much of their national income paying back old loans to rich countries. Serious business. He was fighting hard against his Parkinson's. It was clearly an act of will for him to be there. I was oddly moved . . . by his humility, and then by the incredible speech he made, even if it was in whispers. During the preamble, he seemed to be staring at me. I wondered. Was it the fact that I was wearing my blue fly-shades? So I took them off in case I was causing some offence. When I was introduced to him he was still staring at them. He kept looking at them in my hand, so I offered them to him as a gift in return for the rosary he had just given me. Not only did he put them on, he smiled the wickedest grin you could ever imagine.
Saturday, May 28, 2005
- [url=http://www.amazon.co.uk/exec/obidos/ASIN/1842273558/organicchurch-21/026-9160175-5402802?creative=6394&camp=1406&link_code=as1 ]Atonement for a 'sinless' Society: Engaging with an Emerging Culture by Alan Mann[/url]
- Performing the Faith: Bonhoffer and the practice of non-violence by Stanley Hauerwas
- Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross: Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition by Hans Boersma
- Non-violence in the World's Religions by Hagen Berndt
- Against the Wind: Eberhard Arnold and the Bruderhof by Markus Baum
Thursday, May 26, 2005
'Irritating and vulgar are good words for what I feel about trying to reduce the vocation that gospel has in mind for us to a handy slogan that might with very little alteration be used to sell beer or tampons.':lol: Well said, Sir!
Monday, May 23, 2005
Saturday, May 21, 2005
Catholics argue that justification is a comprehensive act in which God not only declares persons to be righteous, but also makes them so. Justification, then, cannot be sharply distinguished from the process of sanctification. Sanctification is attained as humans cooperate with divine grace, which is imparted largely through sacraments and other ecclesiastical channels. Protestants counter that in order to truly begin sanctification, individuals must first be justified. For unless they are first freed from fear of condemnation, simply by faith in Christ's atonement, individuals can never perform those selfless acts of love which produce true sanctification.
Anabaptists seldom used "justification" to describe their own views, for they approached the issues involved from a different angle. Like Protestants, they emphasized that God initiates the salvation process, and that individuals enter it through faith. Yet they often complained that Protestants, by emphasizing "faith alone", minimized sanctification and encouraged sub-Christian behavior. Like Catholics, Anabaptists insisted that sanctification, or actually becoming righteous, is the goal of God's saving work. Yet they argued that this occurs not within Catholicism's ecclesiastical framework, but primarily through acts of love in daily life. And although human co-operation is involved in the process, most Anabaptists maintained, as did Michael Sattler, that the works involved "are not the work of man, but of God and Christ, through whose power a man does such works ... because God through them wishes to give to man something of his own." (CRR 1:113)
Today there is probably little value in seeking to identify the Mennonite perspective with either traditional Protestantism or Catholicism. Since Anabaptists viewed the issues from a different angle, Mennonite contributions to the often stalemated discussion can best be made by seeking to recover this perspective. Perhaps consideration of the eschatological justification of God, as an overarching (though formally unarticulated) horizon for Mennonite theologizing, can provide helpful insights for rediscovering that perspective.
Friday, May 20, 2005
So some of us hope that the traditional [view of the eternal destiny of the unsaved] is not completely right. We hope this, but we know that our hoping could be misplaced, but we do so for a variety of reasons and I give some of these (you may have others) and some of these are your thoughts and some of them are my thoughts. Why? Because we have read much on this and we know that many fine Christians who love the Lord and the Bible have taught other things -- including such things as conditional immortality and annihilationism. (I do not speak here for universalists, for that I'm not.) Maybe they are wrong, but they deserve to be listened to. Why? Because we think the logic of an eternal punishment for a finite sin and a finite human seems inconsistent -- and we believe with many that humans simply cannot -- in space and time -- commit infinite sin and that finite sins against an infinite God are still not infinite sins. Why? Because we cannot bear the thought of humans we love or know or speak with or have known or know about will spend Eternity in such graphic pain and misery. Those who love their neighbors, at least as much as themselves, cannot look with glee or triumphalism or joy and vindictiveness on Dark Places. We can imagine the horror and it terrifies. Why? Because we know the grandeur of God's embracing grace, we know the glory of that grace, and we wonder if maybe, somehow, God might even turn hell inside out and upside down -- even though we do not understand it or comprehend how it might be just or know how it would be good. We are among those who feel the pull of God's final grace -- the way Paul feels its glorious pull in Romans 5. Why? Because we know the ground of reality is the perichoresis, God's interpenetrating love and mutual indwelling of the Trinity in love -- which has been a consistent theme from Gregory of Nyssa to Jonathan Edwards to Miroslav Volf, and we wonder if God's Love might be able to turn human sinfulness into divine grace and glory. And we want that Love to hold our hearts in its embracing grace. Why? Because we know that the Old Testament does not speak of hell, because we know that what many say about hell is rooted in passages that are about God's historical judgments -- in time, in space, on earth, judgments against his people's unfaithfulness, and because we know that many people today think Jesus was speaking about 70 AD in Mark 13 (parallels) and that the parables attached to that chapter might be speaking of that in-time, in-space, in-history judgment against Jerusalem and because we know that we could be wrong about this interpretation too (but maybe not), and because there is not as much in the New Testament about hell as there is about historical judgment, and because the one book that seems to talk so much about it -- Revelation -- is front to back apocalyptic and metaphor and imagery and symbolism and we just wonder, if maybe even judgment imagery ought not to be taken too literally. Why? Because we know that even when Jesus speaks about hell he uses graphic physical imagery and we know that human bodies can't go on burning for ever and ever because they will be incinerated, and because we know that "fire" is an image and a metaphor quite often in the Bible for judgment and for purgation and maybe isn't literal. And that therefore we wonder what it might be an image about -- and we wonder and we hope and we do this because we believe in the Bible and hope that it might refer to something as simple as separation (as Lewis wrote in The Great Divorce). Why? Because we believe God is Sovereign, and that it is his judgment (not ours), and that what he wants to do will be Goodness itself, Beauty itself, and it will always be consistent with his glorious person. We want what he wants. Why? Because we might be wrong, and we'd like to be wrong because it pains us to hear our brothers and sisters talk the way they do about hell and final judgment as if it doesn't matter and as if humans are dispensable and as if these brothers and sisters have got things so right and that they know they are on the right side -- when the whole Bible points its fingers at attitudes like that. These are some thoughts -- and I am speaking for my own heart and the heart of others when I say these things, and I know what the Bible says and I believe what it says, but I'm with a lot of brothers and sisters who know that what it says is not that clear and that we ought to be more humble about it all and that we ought to spend our time loving our neighbors and not assigning who to where. I know what I think the Bible says but I hope that what I think is not what will happen -- why? Because it is unbearable, friends, unbearable.
Friday, May 20, 2005
- Japanabaptist I've been reading JJ for absolutely ages. Thinking about it, he may have been one of the very first blogs I ever read (back when he was a fat blue man)!
- Blorge No idea what it means, but it's always good to read. Make sure you check out his recent series of posts on pacifism. Good thought-provoking discussion-starters there.
Thursday, May 19, 2005
Can Protestants affirm some kind of sense of Purgatory or a post-mortem second chance or some kind of "in hell but not endlessly"? Recently, I predicted to a student that in twenty years you will see a gradual acceptance of purgatory among Evangelicals -- and I say this not as a prophet but as one who has been "reading the signs" and "sniffing the winds" since the early 80s on this topic. Kevin Corcoran is a sign that this question will surface again and again; I just pray that Evangelical theologians will be level-headed enough to ask the hard questions, look to the Scriptures for what it does say and what it does not say, and ponder their answers in dialogue with the fathers and all those who have studied the matter seriously. It will not be a surprise to some that John Stott affirmed a view called "annihilationism" because he could not bear the thought of humans suffering eternally for finite sins. He brought this forward in his dialogue with David Edwards, published in Evangelical Essentials. The logic he uses must be considered, and it should be observed that many English Evangelicals over the years have affirmed annihilationism -- that sinners will not suffer eternally but will be extinguished from reality. A thought too unbearable to think about more than a second. Corcoran speaks of two sorts: separationists and universalists. The latter is clear: they believe that all, in some sense, will spend eternity in blessedness. The former believe that humans and God will be separated. But will it be an eternal separation?, he wants us to ask. The separationists, so Corcoran suggests, can comprise both those who believe in eternal separation and temporary separation. In fact, Corcoran seems to be suggesting that we consider a via media in which those once separated are eventually united with God. He seems to label these Christocentric universalists or second chance separationists -- that all need to be and may indeed be reconciled through Christ. He suggests, also, that second chance separationists could suggest as well that some would refuse their second chance. This latter group somehow turns hell into a purgatorial temporary existence out of which some (or all) emerge into the presence of God. Corcoran comes to what I can only call the present position of many: he hopes for some kind of universalism but he does not believe in universalism. Long ago I studied this question somewhat and came to the conclusion that it would not be "just" of God to punish eternally human beings whose sins, however great and belligerent, were finite -- finite beings cannot sin infinitely so eternal punishment for finite sin seems incommensurate. (Like a life-time sentence for stealing a cookie.) When I asked a colleague of mine, whose name shall go unmentioned here, what he thought about this conclusion of mine, he said something that I shall never forget: "It is just only and only if such humans continue in their unrepentant state." Corcoran would ask him this, "What if they didn't? What then? Would their state become temporary separationism?"
Wednesday, May 18, 2005
Tuesday, May 17, 2005
Saturday, May 14, 2005
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Saturday, May 07, 2005