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Give Peace a Chance?

This just in:

Keepers of Protestantism’s pacifist traditions will showcase just how far they’ve come from their humble roots in Europe’s persecuted peasantry when they share an intimate dinner Thursday in New York with a world leader.

It’s not just any world leader, however, but Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who’s been labeled an international pariah for his nuclear ambitions, denial of the Holocaust, saber-rattling toward Israel and alleged support of terrorism.

But for Quakers and Mennonites who’ll be at the table, breaking bread with this controversial man means drawing deeply on the same spiritual roots that sustained their embattled ancestors long ago.

“Jesus ate with lepers and with tax collectors, and in the United States right now, Iran would be in that category,” says Arli Klassen, executive director of the Mennonite Central Committee, an outreach arm for Mennonite and Brethren in Christ churches in the United States and Canada.

The New York gathering, an Iftar dinner to commemorate the Islamic holy month of Ramadan, will mark the fourth time since 2006 that Ahmadinejad has met with American religious leaders. Each time, Klassen says, it’s been at Ahmadinejad’s request.

Read the rest here.

Comments (17)


An "outcast" for holocaust denial. Poor fellow. Holocaust denial: It's the New Black. It makes you irresistible to Useful Idiots of every lefty stripe. At least, if you're President of Iran.

Is this a joke?

Mulder, I am afraid to say, it is true.

Treating a tyrant as if he were not a tyrant is to give aid and comfort to evil, the sort of evil that results in the slaughter of fellow Christians throughout the Muslim world. Jesus, indeed, ate and drank with sinners, but he called them to repentance. He did not "dialogue with them" to understand "their point of view."

To celebrate "Ramadan" with this loathsome Holocaust-denying despot is an an insult to many Muslims who reject the hatred this man spouts.

I haven't been able to take pacifists seriously since a group of them harangued a friend of mine who had served (Special Forces) off our predominately Brethren in Christ campus. At this point, some might be saying to themselves, "What Army Ranger is afraid of a bunch of hot-tempered sissies?" Well, this Army Ranger had PTSD and didn't handle being told that he wasn't a Christian by a bunch of his "brothers" all that well.

Oh who am I kidding, I've never been able to take pacifists seriously.

Oh and for the record, ALL of the Quakers I've ever known denied that Christ was who he said he was, namely, the Way, the Truth and all that rot. I don't include them in my list of Protestants because I normally limit that category to Christians.

Pacifists can't seem to recognize the very important distinction between Jesus being the Prince of Peace (which He is) and Jesus being the Prince of Pacifism (which He never was and never will be). That's because they confuse means and ends. They identify a legitimate political end -- peace -- as the only moral means to get peace. They don't get that in a fallen world you might have to fight in order to get peace, that in a fallen world you might not be able to produce the end of peace by means of peace.

Yes, and they forget who's in charge of Armageddon, namely the gentle Jesus, allegedly meek and mild. From every indication given us, that event won't be a picnic or a peace rally. They forget too that Jesus says He does what He sees his Father do -- and what He sees his Father do in the Old Testament is hardly pacifism. Whether the Quakers and Mennonites among us like it or not, Yahweh is a warrior. So also is his Son.

But pacifists think they are above the fray, that they are not required to get their hands dirty in the fight against colossal evil, that somehow they can be innocent bystanders in the fight -- yes, the fight -- against wickedness. They don't get that if, in the midst of a fallen world, you are a bystander, you are not innocent. Pacifism is a delusion, and pacifists are the tyrant's dream come true: friends of beauty, truth and goodness who won't actually resist. Pacifists think that things like prayer and protest exhaust the acceptable options in pushing back the frontiers of error and evil, when such activities are just the beginning of resistance. On that front, the pacifists aren't even close. They leave the real fight to the rest of us. Maybe they hope that we won't notice that they are aiding and abetting injustice.

I am a former Mennonite pastor.

Preach it, brother.

This is no Protestant tradition I know or respect. No self-respecting Protestant should ever freely associate with or wish Godspeed to a man who not only curses Israel, but plots its destruction in a nuclear holocaust.

You're absolutely right, Mike T.

Even if the pacifist crowd doesn't intend wickedness, he does, and by their presence they grant him a dignity and credibility he does not deserve. He grants them a moral taint that, because of their inexcusable ignorance, they do deserve.

Time to bring in George Orwell:

[T]here is a minority of intellectual pacifists whose real though unadmitted motive appears to be hatred of western democracy and admiration of totalitarianism. Pacifist propaganda usually boils down to saying that one side is as bad as the other, but if one looks closely at the writings of younger intellectual pacifists, one finds that they do not by any means express impartial disapproval but are directed almost entirely against Britain and the United States. Moreover they do not as a rule condemn violence as such, but only violence used in defense of western countries. … Pacifist literature abounds with equivocal remarks which, if they mean anything, appear to mean that statesmen of the type of Hitler are preferable to those of the type of Churchill, and that violence is perhaps excusable if it is violent enough. After the fall of France, the French pacifists, faced by a real choice which their English colleagues have not had to make, mostly went over to the Nazis… All in all it is difficult not to feel that pacifism, as it appears among a section of the intelligentsia, is secretly inspired by an admiration for power and successful cruelty

"Jesus ate with lepers and with tax collectors"

yeah, and was crucified. If this is the path this morons are looking for they are on the right track.

Frank--I'm sure you remember the little gig Jim Skillen and I had with Richard Hays back in 2000 (I think) at the Evangelical Philosophical Society. I resurrected Anscombe's argument that if pacifists were taken seriously they would have to consider the profession of soldiering to be akin to being a madam in a brothel or (as Gen Patton might put it) a pimp in a New Orleans whore house. But that doesn't seem to be the way Jesus, John the Baptist, or the apostles thought of soldiers. And so forth.

You might recall Hays' pacifist response--he said that those military chaplains who tried to recruit students at Duke Divinity school into the chaplain corps, were indeed, the moral equivalent of prostitutes.

I suppose it's to Hays' credit that he seems to know very little about prostitutes. It's not to his credit that he cannot distinguish right from wrong on an issue this important, or take the teachings and example of Christ wisely into account.

On a different note, I've got to admire someone with the courage and insight needed to bring Anscombe into polite conversation. You are one step closer to sainthood.

Yes, Keith, I do recall that encounter. Ironically, Duke cannot discriminate against prostitutes since it cannot discriminate against sexual orientation. So, as long as the prostitute is not working for the ROTC (or the lacrosse team), she's free to practice her wares at Duke.

As long as a just war guy has his back, Hays will be just fine. :-)

I always liked that Jesus lauded the centurion's faith (Matt. 8.10) and told the adulteress to go and sin no more (John 8.11).

John Dear (www.johndear.org), on the other hand, told my school that a man couldn't be a Christian and serve in the military (his exact words were harsher, along the lines of military service disqualifies a man's Christianity).

This sort of depravity is not, unfortunately monopolized by Protestants.

You're right, Steve. It's not. No church is a block-head free zone. Peaceniks are ecumenically mistaken. No church has cornered the market on their errors. Fr. Dear is a case in point. He rejects the prudent and honorable just war tradition of his own church, yet fails miserably to give what seems to me anything like a a compelling "just peace" theory in its place. He writes as if only war required careful, compelling, detailed argumentation and expert biblical exegesis. He's for peace, but doesn't know how to get it or preserve it.

Too often pacifists operate as if peace were the obvious default position in a fallen world, as if you did not have to copiously justify failing to engage colossal evil with anything more than prayer or protest, or as if the Old Testament were either irrelevant or else safely ignored, and as if Armageddon had nothing to do with Jesus.

Pacifists do not yet understand that it takes a power to check a power, and that, under the providence of God, that checking power is almost always more than prayer and protest.

I'm reminded of a faculty forum we had at our college during the first Gulf war.

A jovial, warm-hearted, pacifist woman from Costa Rica said, "We have no standing army in Costa Rica. We have a peace academy. Why can't the United States be more like Costa Rica?"

I replied that "We have three peace academies in the US: Annapolis, West Point, and Colorado Springs. If you want peace, you have to know how to end war quickly and well. When it comes to making peace, these guys are the the best world."

Jesus said "Blessed are the peacemakers," not "blessed are the pacifists."

Guess I'm going to have to brush off my lecture (with apologies to Luther): "Whether Pacifists too can be Saved?"

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