a copy of a copy

thought mashups from garret shelsta

Combining thoughts copied from other places

Pastor of College and Young Adults at Christ the King

One of the ekklesia facilitators 

Bellingham, Wa

Thought Mashup 1/25/16: Loosing my Pacifism to a sound track of 2nd wave Emo and Tom Brady being sacked over and over again (Why I am no longer claiming Pacifism)

I am pretty young I think.

Well at least I feel young. I have more wisdom than when I was 18 but not as much as someone who is 70. This is all to say that l I have made mistakes when I communicate to groups of people… Some of it is because I am young, some of it is because I didn’t think through my idea to its completion (I am lazy), sometimes I like being a contrarian for the sake of it, and sometimes I am just flatly wrong. 

Back in June I preached a message in which I labeled my self a “pacifist.” I contrasted my “position” with my brothers and sisters in the armed forces to show the idealogical diversity that exists in our faith community and thus the need for Jesus to be the unifying force in our community life (Feel free to check it out here if you want). It was met, I am seeing now, with a justified mixed response.

I have come to see that I approached that message incorrectly. And because of that I isolated some of the community into a place where they missed what I was saying. I also think that my mistake to contrast myself with others in the community came from a philosophical mistake I have made in thinking about being a pacifist. 

This has led me to come to a realization/ I think labeling my self as a pacifist is problematic. So, I am going to stop.

But this is not for the reasons that many will think… 

Brian Zahnd in his book “A Farewell to Mars.” Helped me put language around this in a way that I have been struggling with since June when he says, 

“I actually don’t claim the label of pacifist for this reason: pacifism is a political position on violence. It’s a position on could adopt apart from Jesus Christ — as for example, the great writer and humanist Kurt Vonnegut did. But I am not a political pacifist. What I am is a Christian. And as a Christian, we can talk about how Christ informs humanity on the subject of violence. In my long and winding journey, I’ve come to understand that to live gently in violent world is part of the counterculture of following Christ.” 

So… Consider my mind changed. 

I no longer label myself a pacifist. I am simply a Christian. 

All other categoriesor identities flow from and are subservient to this one. If I didn’t make the philosophical mistake in thinking that pacifism was a “position” bur rather the life that flows from Christian identity, I wouldn’t have seen stances on violence as “diversity issues” but rather a discipleship issue. If I wasn’t intellectually lazy, I wouldn’t have done damage to members of my community.  And I would have saved myself a lot of grief and hours of answering emails from rightfully upset members of the community.

In addition, processing this over the last few months helps me see where I have been mis-stepping in how I have conversations about what it means to be a Jesus follower and our use of violence. When I claim a “position” above an identity, I make any brothers or sisters who doesn’t hold to whatever “position” I have an “other” or “different” from me rather than the “one new humanity” talked about in Ephesians 2. I am deconstructing the body of our Lord, and I don’t think it would be an overreach to say, that if you say you follow Jesus,  you don’t want to work against the culmination of his achievements in the cross.  Through my lack of clear thinking, I isolated and made an “other” of my brothers and sisters in the military who are some of the most selfless, kind, and generous people I have had the opportunity to meet. I think Hemingway says what I have struggled to differentiate in my mind in a “Farewell to Arms,” when he says, 

"Wars are fought by the finest people that there are, or just say people, although, the closer you are to where they are fighting, the finer people you meet; but they are made, provoked and initiated by straight economic rivalries and by [those] that stand to profit from them."

I knew this but it hadn’t worked its way into my heart yet. And because of this I acted the part of a Pharisee and this was wrong. And if any of my brothers or sisters are reading this now… I am sorry I acted the part of a pharisee rather than the image of Jesus. You deserve better from a pastor. 

But please don’t get me wrong… I still think that, as Zahnd says, “ that living gently in a violent is world” is central to what it means to follow Jesus, however I think we can have strong tensions in a community on what it means to live as followers of Jesus who proclaims His rule and reign with their life (just ask Paul and Peter). The fact that I have been given the grace in Jesus to repent publicly for a public mis-step, I think shows that we can disagree all the more vehemently because we can do so as those reconciled to each other. We can disagree because, for those of us who are in Christ, there is no disagreement that is worth killing over. However, like Christ, there are some disagreements worth dying for. 

Wisdom Skill level up +1

Super Bowl 50 and 2nd wave Emo in 2015. 

You guys... My team is going to the Super Bowl and I am really really excited. 


Also this was my sound track for writing this post. It came via my college roommate Steve Johnson who has a youth ministry podcast you should check out. 2nd wave Emo for the win.