Thursday, June 16, 2011

Biblical Nonresistance vs World Pacifism

Without completely undoing what I stated in my article on pacifism, I learned that there is a fundamental difference between nonresistance and pacifism. I was under the impression that they were basically the same, mainly because of the sites I did my research in. It appeared that they went hand-in-hand with one another. But there is, in fact, a big difference between religious pacifism and Biblical nonresistance. This would explain why Tony Campolo and Emergent church members were on the video supporting religious pacifism, because pacifism is a counterfeit of Biblical nonresistance. This would also explain why some churches of the religious left offer pacifist teachings and have become involved in the National Council of Churches and the World Council of Churches - all reaching in unity toward a counterfeit peace. I apologize for the mishmash in my research and hope you will read this clarification.

But before that, I wanted to mention that I was kindly corrected yesterday by a Mennonite friend who explained that Amish, Mennonites, and other Anabaptists are not pacifists. She said: We believe that the government has the right to maintain local police forces and go to war per Romans 13 - specifically verse 4. We glean from the OT, but live by the NT. No where in the NT are Christians told to bear arms for any reason - 'Vengeance is mine saith the Lord.'  Peter's sword was for fending off wild animals, chopping brush, cutting rope, and things like that - utilitarian purposes.

In my attempt to do damage control, and to learn the difference between the two, I've borrowed this explanation using a comparison.

The author prefaces her comparison with this statement:

Pacifism represents 'a group of men and women of many nations and races who recognize the unity of the worldwide family and wish to explore the possibilities of love for discovering truth, dispelling antagonisms, and reconciling people, despite all differences, in a friendly society'.
In some ways, pacifism is a rather general term. There are both secular pacifists as well as religious pacifists. But they are united in their basic beliefs, their objectives, and their methods. 
Pacifism and nonresistance are incompatible.Note the contrasts:
  1. Pacifism is built around a peace emphasis. The pacifist thinks in terms of effecting peace among the nations. Christianity is built on Jesus Christ. The nonresistant Christian understands that peace on earth is realized only as individuals are personally submitted to the Prince of Peace. He thinks in terms of helping individuals find salvation and experience peace with God.
  2. Pacifism emphasizes the universal brotherhood of man and believes in the innate (inborn) goodness of man. Biblical nonresistance understands that man is a fallen creature, born with a sinful nature. Man's native tendency is downward. To become a child of God, man must be born again. He must be spiritually regenerated by the work of God's Spirit (John 3:1-7).
  3. Religious pacifists are selective in their use of Scripture. They emphasize Scriptures such as Matthew 5:9, John 17, and I Corinthians 13. Many of them do not accept the deity of Christ nor His atoning work. Instead, they recognize Him only as a noble example, a hero of peace, a world reformer, and a revolutionist. The nonresistant believer "believeth all things...endureth all things" (I Corinthians 13:7; Matthew 28:20). He accepts the truth about Jesus Christ: that He is the perfect Lamb of God who came to earth to provide atonement for man through His suffering and death. He understands that personal peace with God is realized only by accepting the vicarious death of Christ (Colossians 1:20, Ephesians 2:13, 14 and II Corinthians 5:17-21).
  4. Pacifists oppose war because it conflicts with their ideology. They seek to disarm the nations in an effort to bring about ' a durable and lasting peace' in a "warless world." The nonresistant Christian refuses to participate in military service, because it conflicts with the higher law of God. He understands that the Church and the state are two different kingdoms. Consequently, he recognizes the right of the government to use force to keep order in an unregenerate society, and he does not dispute the nation's right to engage in warfare.
  5. Pacifism seeks to achieve it's objectives through the use of education, social reform, political activism, demonstrations, protests, and nonviolent force. The pacifists actively try to influence legislation and public opinion in order to further their agenda. True Christianity advances it's cause through the preaching of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, which "is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth" (Romans 1:16). Christians remain separate from the world, including civil government. They influence the world through the outworking of the new birth in their daily lives.
  6. Pacifism is an unworkable and impossible theory that vainly envisions world peace without the Prince of Peace. Nonresistance is a philosophy of life that brings satisfying peace to the hearts of those who believe and practice it's Scriptural implications. (Source)
So you will find that by an outsider, they could be easily confused. For the Christian, it is a subject that should be understood. It in no means says that Christians should passively sit by and submit to an evil government. The opposite is seen in the history of the Mennonites church.

So you will see, joining hands with the government or a church who wants to forcefully take the world for Christ, is not the solution. If one does take this position, it will struggle to be set free.

Related article
Biblical Nonresistance and the Church