Hearty Heresy


Jesus and the Early Christian Movement Practiced Non-Violence
July 19, 2007, 1:46 am
Filed under: Christianity, Faith, Heresy, Jesus, Peace, Religion

Sort of a no brainer, isn’t it? But I’m beginning to think that the peace and non-violence perspective in this day and age is the most heretical one a person can take. Actually, it may have been the most heretical point of view one could have taken in the first century as well–which is why Jesus is my favorite heretic of all time. I’m thinking of this peace business right now because: 1.) this whole Iraq mess is turning out to be more horrible than anyone could have ever imagined (especially in terms of innocent loss of life), and 2.) the whole “In God We Trust” license plate thing I wrote about the other day. (BTW, it turns out that Minnesota has enacted tough new anti-specialty plate legislation, so it would cost around $30,000 to get a “peace” plate proposal looked at by the legislature; oh, well…one can always get bumper stickers printed up.)

So in that post, I mentioned the Every Church a Peace Church movement. I took a closer look at their site, and SURPRISE! My favorite biblical scholars and theologians endorse the concept. Here are a few quotes:

One of the most certain results of historical scholarship is that Jesus and the early Christian movement of the first three centuries practiced non-violence. One of the most encouraging developments in our time is that an increasing number of Christians are willing to take seriously the non-violent stance of Jesus and early Christianity. Marcus Borg

I have learned from a lifetime of research, first, that the historical Jesus would have worn a T-shirt with WWJD on the front and WHAT WOULD JUSTICE DEMAND on the back; second, that peace is the necessary result of justice, of structural, systemic, distributive justice in a world that belongs to God and not to us; third, that peace without justice is the quiet of the desert or the grave; and fourth, that non-violence is never enough since non-violent RESISTANCE to evil, injustice, and violence was the way of Jesus, the incarnation of God. John Dominic Crossan

With the exception of the historic peace churches, the churches of America have never repudiated violence or domination. Every Church A Peace Church is a prophetic attempt to bend the churches toward the spirit of Jesus and say ‘Yes’ to a vocation of peacemaking. Walter Wink

If Borg, Crossan, and Wink are in favor of it, you know I’m going to take it seriously. It doesn’t hurt to be married to a Mennonite, either. I guess it’s fair to say that I’ve come around to seeing the practice of non-violence resistance as the ultimate heresy. It threatens everything those with political, economic, and religious power believe in–that God rewards some and punishes others; that one’s income level and accumulated wealth are indications of God’s blessing (Prayer of Jabez, anyone?); that poverty is a sign of moral bankruptcy; and that the “righteous” are well within their God-given rights to use violence in order to maintain the domination system that favors those in power. How anyone can arrive at these conclusions and claim to follow Jesus is beyond me. But that’s exactly what Brand Xians do. Ugh!

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7 Comments so far
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Good stuff. It does seem kind of obvious that those who claim to follow Christ should emulate the things he taught and lived.

If your interested, here are a few resources on this topic.

“Mere Discipleship” by Lee Camp
“The Politics of Jesus” by John Howard Yoder
and a sermon series by Rob Bell entitled “Calling All Peacemakers” http://www.marshill.org/teaching

Comment by rogueminister

Thanks for the resources. I keep hearing about John Howard Yoder and I haven´t read any of his work yet. I think it´s about time!

Comment by heartyheretic

He’s an interesting guy. He was a Menonite, teaching biblical ethics at Notre Dame, and apparently he had a huge beard and kinda looked homeless. Anyway, I hope you enjoy.

Comment by rogueminister

“True peace is not merely the absence tension: It’s the presence of justice.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Comment by pastorofdisaster

Amen to peace and justice!

Comment by heartyheretic

WHEE!! I love it! I have a postcard in my Bible that says:
“A modest proposal for peace: Let all the Christians of the world agree they will not kill each other.”

As a Mennonite, this post rings so true to my heart. So much of war is based on arrogance and lack of compassion for others. Understanding the preciousness of others is paramount to beginning a real movement for peace.

You’d like John Howard Yoder. He lived next door to us one year when I was young and my dad was studying at the Mennonite seminary in Indiana. I remember him looking kinda scary but so did most of the older Mennonite men when I was a kid! Nevertheless, his writings are great.

Comment by Audrey

Good to hear from you, Audrey. I grew up in Elkhart, Indiana (home of the Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary), so I know exactly the neighborhood you’re talking about! I’m definitely going to be reading some John Howard Yoder very soon–HH

Comment by heartyheretic




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