Ted Grimsrud

Christian pacifism in brief

In Biblical theology, Jesus, Pacifism, peace theology on December 20, 2016 at 8:30 am

Ted Grimsrud

[This lecture was given at the June 28, 2015, Action by Christians Against Torture, USA, annual meeting, at Pleasant Hill Community Church, Pleasant Hill, TN, June 28, 2015]

I want to start with a hypothesis that you may or may not agree with: A clear convictional commitment to pacifism is very helpful for opposing torture and capital punishment. I’m not going to make an argument for this hypothesis. I merely state it in order to tell you why I am giving this presentation on Christian pacifism as part of an abolish the death penalty event. Non-pacifists certainly may—and should—oppose the death penalty and torture under all circumstances. But it’s probably easier to do so as pacifists. At the least, pacifism may provide one angle for advocating abolition.

What is “pacifism”? Let’s start with a simple working definition: “pacifism” is the in-principled unwillingness to engage in lethal violence, including most obviously the unwillingness to participate in warfare or to support the death penalty. “Pacifism” connotes a complete rejection of warfare, and usually other forms of violence. I will suggest, though, that pacifism understood theologically, is a broader, more positive conviction than simply saying no to violence.

Some examples of those who oppose “pacifism”

Let me start with several examples of what I consider to be misunderstandings of pacifism, and then go on to present the case for Christian pacifism.

Some non-pacifists are strongly anti-pacifist. They see pacifism as a refusal to take responsibility for the use of violence that is necessary to stop evil people in our rough-and-tumble world. Popes Paul VI and John Paul II expressed views equating pacifism with “a cowardly and lazy conception of life” and “peace at any cost,” respectively.

Pundit, Michael Kelly, wrote a widely circulated op-ed essay for the Washington Post shortly after the September 11, 2001, attacks. He asserted that, in relation to the war on terror, “American pacifists…are on the side of future mass murderers of Americans. They are objectively pro-terrorist.” Pacifists do not want the U.S. to fight back and neither do the terrorists. Therefore they are on the same side. And since terrorism is evil, he concluded flatly that the “pacifists’ position…is evil.” He defined pacifism primarily as principled opposition to the use of American military might, including opposition to going to war to resist the obvious evils of “global terrorism.”

So, according to these two Popes and to Michael Kelly, pacifism seems largely to be understood as the refusal to fight back (or even to support fighting back) in the face of evil. As such, it is seen as directly complicit in the furtherance of said evil.

The American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr, a former pacifist, believed pacifism is irrelevant to the “real world” of politics and social ethics. Between the beginning of World War II in 1939 and the United States’ entry into that war in 1941, Niebuhr wrote his most direct critique of pacifism, “Why the Christian Church Is Not Pacifist.” In this essay, Niebuhr differentiates between “heretical” and “non-heretical” pacifism. According to Niebuhr, the “heretical” version, characteristic of many liberal Protestants, naively assumed human goodness, rejected the doctrine of original sin, reinterpreted the Cross so that it stands for the idea that perfect love is guaranteed a simple victory in the world, and rejected other profound elements of the gospel.

While viewing this “heretical” pacifism with contempt, Niebuhr respected what he termed “the pacifism that is not a heresy.” This pacifism, characteristic of Mennonites, according to Niebuhr, does not present the effort to achieve a standard of perfect love in individual life as a political alternative. This approach disavows “the political problem and task.” For non-heretical pacifists, setting up “the most perfect and unselfish individual life as a symbol of the kingdom of God” can “only be done by disavowing the political task and by freeing the individual of all responsibility for social justice.” So, Niebuhr’s “non-heretical” pacifism, while he acknowledged it as admirable on some level, is pretty much irrelevant in the “real world.”

Guy Hershberger, a Mennonite contemporary of Niebuhr’s, believed that Jesus forbade all of his followers from using violence, especially in warfare. However, he echoed many of Niebuhr’s analyses concerning what Niebuhr called “heretical pacifism,” the pacifism characteristic of many mainline Protestants that sought political influence in moving the world. Hershberger rejected the use of the term “pacifism” for the faithful Christian rejection of violence he believe in. He preferred the term “nonresistance.” When he refers to pacifism, he has in mind Niebuhr’s “heretical pacifism.”

Along with their unwarranted optimism about the character of social life in the real world, Hershberger also believed that pacifists are too sanguine about the use of force in trying to implement their social ideals. He characterized pacifism as accepting of “nonviolent coercion” wherein the one who is wronged places the emphasis on a demand for justice. Nonviolent resistance is still resistance, a form of coercion and against Jesus’s way. Hershberger, then, rejects “pacifism” because it is too worldly, too conformist to a violent world. In its optimism about human possibilities, pacifism minimizes the depth of sin and violence that inevitably, in Hershberger’s view, characterizes this fallen world. It is too accepting of worldly coercive tactics that contradict the message of Jesus. [I should say, as I hope will be clear, that my version of “Mennonite pacifism” will be different than Hershberger’s or Niebuhr’s.]

Theologian and activist Walter Wink did not reject pacifism because it is anti-war or anti-patriotic. And, contrary to Niebuhr and Hershberger, he did believe that social justice compatible with the message of Jesus is possible in the real world. He did not accept their characterization of the message of Jesus as being the basis for separation from social justice concerns or incompatible with the use of nonviolent resistance. So he did not reject pacifism because it is too optimistic or too interventionist.

To the contrary, Wink rejected pacifism because he defined it as more or less the same phenomenon as what Hershberger would call “nonresistance.” He wrote, “pacifism must go. It is endlessly confused with passivity. In the nations in which Christianity has predominated, Jesus’ teaching on nonviolence has been perverted into injunctions to passive nonresistance, which is the very opposite of active nonviolence.” For Wink, pacifism is passive; but nonviolence is active.

However, the term “nonviolence,” preferred by Wink and others of like mind, has its own problems. Nonviolence advocate Mark Kurlansky, who shares Wink’s critique of pacifism, nonetheless admits that “nonviolence” is not a proactive word. It is not an authentic concept but simply the abnegation of something else. So, I think Kurlansky’s recognition opens the door to a reconsideration of the term pacifism. Is it possible that this despised term might actually be able to do the work needed so we can convey in a positive sense our commitment to making peace in our broken world?

Why “pacifism”?

The word “pacifism” has the virtue of being positive, connoting the affirmation of peace more than simply the opposition to violence. The word “pacifism” is quite recent in English, dating perhaps only about a hundred years. It was not listed in the 1904 Complete Oxford Dictionary. According to the Supplement to the Oxford English Dictionary in 1982, the first occurrence came in 1902 at an international peace conference as an English version of the French word pacifisme, itself a recent word, used to express opposition to war. However, the French term originally had the meaning of “making peace,” not simply “opposing war.”

The root word is the Latin “paci,” “peace.” If we take the word “pacifism” literally we could define it as love of peace, or devotion to peace. So let me expand my definition. We might best think of “pacifism” as the conviction that no other value or necessity takes priority over the commitment to peace. Hence, “pacifism” is more than simply approving of peace, which everyone in some sense would do; it is the conviction that the commitment to peace stands higher than any commitment that could justify the use of violence. Of course we need to flesh out what we mean by “peace.” We may do that by turning to Jesus.

Christian pacifists believe that Jesus’ life and teaching are at the center of the Bible, the lens through which we read the rest. We see in Jesus sharp clarity about love, peacableness, compassion. Jesus embodies a broad and deep vision of life that is thoroughly pacifist, even if he did not explicitly address participation in warfare.

I will mention four basic biblical themes that find clarity in Jesus, but in numerous ways emerge throughout the biblical story. These provide the foundational theological rationale for Christian pacifism. They include first and most basic, the love command that Jesus gave as a summary of the biblical message. The second theme is Jesus’ vision for love-oriented politics in contrast to the tyranny of the world’s empires. The third theme is Jesus’ optimism about the human potential for living in love. And the fourth theme is the model of Jesus’ cross that embodies persevering love and exposes the dynamics of oppression.

(1) The love command

When asked what is the greatest of the commandments, some Jesus, according to Matthew 22, responds: “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets”.

We see three keys points being made here that are crucial for our concerns. First, love is at the heart of everything for the believer in God. Second, love of God and love of neighbor are tied inextricably together. In Jesus’ own life and teaching, we clearly see that he understood the “neighbor” to be the person in need, the person that one is able to show love to in concrete ways. The third point is that Jesus understood his words to be a summary of the Bible. The Law and Prophets may be summarized by this double love command.

In his call to love, Jesus directly links human beings loving even their enemies with God loving all people. “I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven: for he makes his son rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous”. Jesus’ message has deep grounding throughout the biblical story, and he provides a hermeneutic for understanding the peace message (shalom) as the core message of the Bible.

From the start, the Bible presents God as willing peace for human beings—for all human beings. And, crucially, God’s means for this love for “all the families of the earth” to be channeled through a community formed through God’s election of them as a people of the promise. The story makes it clear that this election is pure mercy—God’s persevering love for God’s elect is itself an expression of God’s love for enemies.

The basic guidance that Jesus draws from the story of God with God’s people, the story that he understood himself to stand within, may be summarized in Jesus’ words as reported by Luke: “Love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for God is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as God is merciful.”

So, the first and most basic biblical theme grounding Christian pacifism is the centrality of the love command. The love command provides the central building block for Christian pacifism—both in the positive sense of establishing love as the highest ethical standard that can never be secondary to some other possibly violence-justifying ethical value and in the negative sense of providing the basis for rejecting the participation in war as a morally acceptable choice.

(2) Upside-down politics

Our second biblical theme compliments the love command. Jesus sharply critiqued power politics and sought to create a counter-cultural community independent of nation states in their dependence upon the sword. Jesus indeed was political—he was confessed to be a king. He was executed by the Empire as a political criminal. However, Jesus’ politics were upside-down politics. He expressed his political philosophy thus: “You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant”.

In making this contrast between the politics of the “Gentile nations” (such as, of course, the Roman Empire) and the politics of the followers of God, Jesus was not comparing apples and oranges. He was not saying these represent two totally different realms of life. He was, to the contrary, saying these are competing visions for the ordering of social life among human beings.

When Jesus accepted the title “Messiah,” when Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God as present and normative for his followers, when Jesus organized his followers around twelve disciples (thus echoing the way the ancient nation of Israel was organized)—he established a social movement centered around the love command, a movement focused on supporting people living transformed lives in the here and now, a movement that witnessed to the entire world the ways of God, the ways meant to be the norm for all human beings. Jesus, however, directly rejected any notion that this movement would seek to imitate, even replace, Rome as a dominating Empire based on its military might.

Rather, Jesus spearheaded a movement to operate within the nations of the world as an alternative society operating according to the word of God rather than the rule of the sword. The community Jesus founded modeled itself after the pattern established during the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah. Jeremiah encouraged people of the covenant to seek the wellbeing of whatever society they were part of while at the same time maintaining their distinct identity as people of Torah.

In light of Jesus’ message, and how that message lifts up Jeremiah’s prophetic word, the entire Old Testament may be read as a cautionary tale of the failure of nation-state-centered, sword-oriented politics to be a viable vehicle for sustaining the people of God as people who will bless all the families of the earth. In light of Jeremiah and Jesus, we may see this prophecy being carried out not through the violence of the standard nation state, but through the peaceable witness of counter-cultures scattered throughout the world in various nation states—counter-cultures that center their lives on the consistent embodiment of the double command to love God and neighbor.

So, Jesus followed in close continuity with the Old Testament when he called his hearers to embrace once again their vocation to bless all the families of the earth, making “disciples of all nations.” This vocation most decidedly was not dependent upon the coercive political power of a nation-state.

Later, the Book of Revelation poses Babylon and the New Jerusalem as competing alternatives for followers of Jesus. It echoes the choice Jesus presented his followers—join uncritically in the social order where rulers lord over their subjects, or join in an alternative social order where greatness is manifested in servanthood. Revelation presents he pattern as one of persevering love followed by martyrdom followed by God’s vindication. The final section of Revelation compares and contrasts two cities. First the angel shows John’s vision of Babylon, then of the New Jerusalem. One is the way of power politics (and death); the other is the way of suffering servanthood (and life). These two alternatives are about life in the here and now.

(3) Faithfulness is possible

The third theme from Jesus’ life and teaching that undergirds Christian pacifism may be seen in his approach to ethical exhortation. Jesus displayed a profound optimism about the potential his listeners had to follow his directives for life. When he said “follow me,” he clearly expected people to do so—here and now, effectively, consistently, fruitfully. Jesus’ most famous teaching, the Sermon on the Mount, begins with a series of straightforward affirmations—you are genuinely humble, you genuinely seek justice, you genuinely make peace, you genuinely walk the path of faithfulness even to the point of suffering severe persecution as a consequence.

So, when Jesus calls upon his followers to love their neighbors, to reject the tyrannical patterns of leadership among the kings of the earth, to share generously with those in need, to offer forgiveness seventy times seven times, he actually expected that this could be done. Jesus’ optimism about human possibilities reflects a central theme throughout the Bible. At the heart of Torah and at the heart of the prophets’ exhortations we see the assumption that indeed human beings are capable of walking in the paths of justice and shalom.

The biblical problem is not so much that human beings are incapable of following God’s will for their lives. The biblical problem is that in spite of their capabilities for faithfulness, human beings nonetheless all too often turn away. And in turning away, in worshiping idols, human beings find themselves in bondage to social dynamics of oppression, greed, and violence. However, from the start, the remedy is always at hand—simply turn back, repent and trust in God. Faithfulness may then follow.

So, again, Jesus offers not radical innovation when he begins his ministry with these words: “Repent and believe in the good news. The kingdom of God is at hand”. Everything that he said in the months that followed presupposed that repentance (that is, simply turning back to God) is all that it takes for people to enter into fellowship with God and live as people of humility, people who hunger and thirst for justice and peace, people who persevere even in the face of persecution and suffering. When Jesus called his followers to make kindness and love, even for enemies, the kind of priority that can never be overridden by some other value (that is, when Jesus established the basis for pacifism), he expected that this indeed would be possible.

(4) “Take up your cross”

The fourth theme from Jesus’ life and teaching that undergirds Christian pacifism may be seen in his willingness to persevere in the path of love even when that brought him suffering and death. Jesus’ cross serves as a model for his followers. At the heart of his teaching stands the often repeated saying, “Take up your cross and follow me.” He insisted that just as he was persecuted for his way of life, so will his followers be as well.

The powers that be, the religious and political institutions, the spiritual and human authorities, responded to Jesus’ inclusive, confrontive, barrier-shattering compassion and generosity with violence. At its heart, Jesus’ cross may be seen as embodied pacifism, a refusal to turn from the ways of peace even when they are costly. So his call to his followers to share in his cross is also a call to his followers to embody pacifism.

Jesus’ cross certainly puts the lie to the idea that consistent, lived-out pacifism is passive, safe, and withdrawn. Jesus’ way of peace led to conflict—not conflict stemming from his own belligerence, but conflict stemming from deeply entrenched characteristics in the structures of human society that resist freedom and compassion. Jesus’ cross besides pointing to pacifism in terms of his style of life, also points away from trusting in the swords and spears of empires and institutional religion—these are the very structures of human social life that killed Jesus.

After Jesus, we see his suffering servanthood lifted up as the basic pattern for faithfulness in the Book of Revelation—the basic pattern of Jesus is stated at the beginning of the book: “the faithful witness, the first born of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth”. Revelation portrayed Jesus as simultaneously the one who suffers violence without retaliation, the one whom God honors and exalts, and the one who serves as the true ruler of the world.

Jesus’ pattern is held up as the model for his followers—the ones who are healed by God are the ones who “follow the Lamb wherever he goes,” the ones who refuse to kill with the sword. Those who “conquer” in God’s way in Revelation, conquer with suffering love. Those who “conquer” in the Beast’s way, conquer with violence.

The Bible, thus, provides a fourfold basis for pacifism: the love command, the calling to give loyalty to the counter-cultural community of God’s people over loyalty to the Empire, the belief that faithful human beings can be empowered to follow Jesus in the here and now, and the model of the pattern of Jesus—suffering love even to the point of death with the promise of God’s vindication.

Core theological convictions

If we understand “pacifism” as a foundational conviction, one that shapes all our other convictions, and if we affirm that our pacifism follows from our Christian faith commitments, then we must recognize that pacifism links with core Christian theological convictions. When we view Christianity theologically through pacifist lenses, we will see that key theological motifs naturally take a distinctly pacifist slant.

One distinctively Christian theological affirmation is a Trinitarian understanding of God. God is a unity of three distinct “persons,” Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Insofar as Christians retain a commitment to understanding God monotheistically, they recognize that these three “persons” are not independent in will, but are three ways the one God is manifested in relation to human beings. Operating from within a Trinitarian framework, Christians recognize that Jesus of Nazareth, in his concretizing of God’s nonviolent, persevering love, reflects the very character of God. Jesus is confessed by Christians as “God Incarnate,” the second person of the Trinity.

“Incarnation” originally meant that God broke through the borders of our standard definition of what is human, and gave a new, formative definition of Jesus. “Trinity” did not originally mean that there are three kinds of revelation, the Father speaking through creation and the Spirit through experience, by which the words and example of the Son must be corrected; it meant rather that language must be found and definitions created so that Christians, who believe in only one God, can affirm that that God is most adequately and bindingly known in Jesus.

If Jesus is Lord, if Jesus is God Incarnate, if Jesus is Messiah, if Jesus is the Second Person of the Trinity, “fully human and fully divine,” his way of life embodies God’s will for all humanity. Pacifism as a core Christian conviction, as a commitment that shapes every conviction we have as Christians, follows from a Christology that recognizes Jesus as part of the very being of God.

The Bible gives us mixed signals concerning the relationship between God and violence. However, insofar as the Bible presents Jesus as the normative revelation of God, and tells the story leading up to Jesus’ incarnation and following Jesus’ ascension as being in ultimate harmony with the story of Jesus’ life and teaching, we are charged to pay close attention to themes in the Bible that illumine the message of Jesus.

The challenge of making sense of various Old Testament portrayals of God as linked with violence certainly deserves our serious reflection. However, if we do take Jesus as normative, we need not wait to resolve every point of tension before we lift up biblical themes that do make clear that the deepest, most profound, most coherent view of God (that recognizes Jesus as part of the Godhead) leads directly to the conclusion that the Christian God is best understood in terms of nonviolence.

The beginning of the Bible, Genesis one, makes clear that creation itself reflects the peace that is at the heart of God (especially when we contrast the story of origins told here with other contemporary stories such as the Babylonian account that posits profound violence at the very heart of creation. Throughout the Old Testament, though indeed often violence is linked with God, the basic story line presents God more in terms of persevering love, an emphasis surfaced early on when following the retributive judgment of the Great Flood in Noah’s time, we see the rainbow, a weapon of war unstrung, and read of God’s promise to respond to human willfulness in a different way.

Jesus, most obviously, presents his Father as characterized by mercy in response to wrongdoing. Jesus turns to God as “Abba,” a God worthy of trust and affection. He asserts that we best imitate the character of God, who showers life on the just and unjust alike, when we exercise God-like mercy, even to the point of loving our enemies. Paul reiterates this last point when he emphasizes how God loves all of us while are yet God’s enemies. This, remember, comes from the former zealot who himself had violently persecuted Jesus’ followers in service of the God he worshiped. Only after his life-shattering meeting with Jesus on the Damascus Road did Paul realize that the God he thought served with his violence actually was revealed in the thoroughly pacifist Jesus of Nazareth, in whose service Paul spent the rest of his days.

The language of pacifism, then, is best understood as the basic language of our human vocation, our way of understanding creation and our place in it. The foundational saving event of the New Testament, God raising Jesus from the dead, both vindicates Jesus’ own pacifist way of life and reflects in the most profound way possible God’s own pacifist way of responding to the worst imaginable human rebellion and violence.

Jesus embodies the pacifist vocation. He directly engages the Powers of evil (offering forgiveness to outcasts, healing to the Powers’ victims, establishing countercultural communities of resistance to the domination system). Jesus’ engagement, while clearly confrontive enough to elicit an enormously violent response from the Powers, provides a paradigm both for perceiving the human situation (e.g., his critique of how the so-called “Benefactors” of the nations actually exercise their power in tyranny) and responding to this situation with creative and transforming pacifism (e.g., his “transforming initiatives” in his “Sermon on the Mount”).

Responses to the critiques of pacifism

As we turn back to the critiques of pacifism summarized above, we may see that in each case, the criticism does not reflect an adequate understanding of authentic pacifism founded on the message of Jesus.

Michael Kelly may be correct in seeing pacifism as opposing American imperialism, but for precisely the opposite reason he cites. He claims pacifism is “objectively evil” because he assumes the interests of the American empire represent “objective good.” Pacifism does not oppose American imperialism because it is American, but because it is imperialism. Indeed we do have a responsibility to resist “evil people.” However, we are called to offer such resistance in ways that do not simply add to the spiral of evil. Pacifists argue that in fact their way of resisting evil offers the best long-term hope for actually healing the problems created by evil actions, breaking the spiral.

Pacifism, in contrast to Kelly’s caricature, does stand for objective good in opposition to evil doers. This is why pacifists oppose all mass murder, be it the acts of those who flew the planes into the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001 or the killings of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis following the United States invasion of Iraq in March 2003. Pacifism respects the “power of sin” at large in our world today. We take human sin so seriously that we respect the likelihood that military and political leaders themselves are corrupted by sin so much that they can no be trusted to operate on behalf of genuine justice and fairness.

The only ultimately redemptive response to sin and how it profoundly distorts human social life is, as Jesus asserted, to seek to overcome evil with good. The only way successfully to resist violence without simply adding to violence in the world is overtly non-violent resistance.

The pacifism being advocated for in this paper would recognize itself in neither of Reinhold Niebuhr’s caricatures of “orthodox” or “heretical” pacifisms. It is possible to affirm human possibilities of living faithfully in response to God’s transforming love (which is central to biblical anthropology as reflected both in Torah and the Sermon on the Mount) without positing a naïve and superficial humanistic optimism. For pacifism, our hope rests on God’s promises, not inherent human goodness.

It is also possible to be pacifist and affirm that Christian faith does lead us to political engagement that enters into human history in the “nitty gritty” of real life. However, following John Howard Yoder, we affirm that the “politics of Jesus,” while directly involved in human social life, must not be reduced to a balance of power between competing egoisms that requires the use of the sword to be genuinely “political.” Such a politics based on violence not only contradicts Jesus’ expectations for human beings living in the present world, it also misses the importance of cooperation, community, and mutuality in all healthy social dynamics.

The message of Jesus is directly relevant for life in the political realm. Pacifism after Jesus helps the believer see that it is not the following of Jesus’ way that causes damage due to its neglect of Niebuhrian “rough justice.” Rather, damage is much likely to be caused by those who fail to see that violence and militarism do not create a valuable if imperfect form of relative justice but instead only foster injustice and heighten the spiral of violence.

In contrast to Guy Hershberger’s dismissal of pacifism as unbiblical and based on unbelieving humanism, pacifism as understood in this paper bases itself directly on biblical teaching, as shown above. From the Bible, we learn of a pacifism that does seek to transform the world and that overtly resists evil and evildoers (albeit nonviolently and with the goal of lovingly transforming the evildoer).

Justice is indeed to be insisted on—though not the retributive, abstract, and coercive justice of thinkers such as Niebuhr. Biblical justice does seek to challenge evil, but not with the threat of punishment but with the possibility of genuine healing and the restoration of broken relationships. Pacifism helps us keep in mind that true justice requires healing both for victim and offender, seeing past the lure of eye-for-an-eye vengeance.

There is a place for nonviolent coercion in pacifism, though following Gandhi’s careful thought about coercion, it is used only in ways that do not violate the humanity of the one being confronted. Jesus himself expressed coercive tendencies, for instance in his sharp critique of the Pharisees in Matthew 23 and his driving of the moneychangers from the temple.

Walter Wink presumably would affirm much of what we have been saying about pacifism, except he does not like the term. Like Wink, we affirm that the follower of Jesus is called to seek social justice and to live as if social transformation is possible in history. Our pacifism is decidedly not “passive;” it has nothing to do with passivity.

The focus of pacifism is positive, constructive, active, and engaged. It is on making peace. Hence, the term “nonviolence” simply is not adequate. “Pacifism” encompasses precisely the vision Wink articulates of God’s domination free reign that Jesus inaugurated.

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