April 22, 2013
What an important thing to remember!
Branson, thanks for this. I absolutely agree that peace is a gift, it is received, not made by the powers of this world.
But also I notice you stop just short of advocating Christians defect from the Pentagon, to do the work of 'preaching the Gospel'? Can Christians, in the here and now, of the already-not-yet, work toward a just peace? Would you say the Pentagon, and politics generally, does have more than just the threat of death at its disposal, but also the productive, public task of justice?
Branson, you really nailed it with this line: "we are peace-celebrators". Yes we are!
When I think of God's peace being delivered to us in his love, it reminds me a little bit of kids and adults. When a child is mad - at war if you will - with a parent, the child can build some fairly strong walls of separation. Parents break down the walls not by battering on them with the child's own methods (yelling, stomping feet, hurtful words) but with love and peace.
God broke through my walls with his love and peace.
Rob raises an important point in his earlier comment, viz. the positive task of government to work toward justice. To that I would add that the primary means by which government achieves those ends---and here specifically the Department of Defense---need not be death or the threat of death. And that's why I distinguish between "means" and "weapons." By way of analogy, police officers have guns and the threat of criminal justice as means, but also walking their beat, being known in the community, and other positive measures. Likewise, much of the legitimate task of the military is not the wielding of weapons, but rather protection and preparedness (defensive measures achieved independent of threat-based deterrence).
Good question. I think Christians can work toward a just peace and that the public task of justice is a legitimate goal of politics. But I'd resist conflating politics/justice in general with the Pentagon. I'm not convinced that the Pentagon truly aids the end goal of just peace and the public task of justice. And because of that, I think Christians probably should defect from the Pentagon (which is not the same as defecting from politics, defecting from seeking justice, or defecting from a just peace).
I agree that the task of government is to work toward justice. The way that the Pentagon uses its weapons, however, is unjust more often than not (at least if the just war criteria count for anything). Weapons have proven valuable to fighting wars, but it's not clear that the outcome of the war is actually justice. In the same way, a police officer's gun might prove valuable in stopping a bad guy, but it's not always clear that the outcome of a shootout is justice. The question is: is justice best served by this means (weapons)? I would say no, while agreeing with you that government as a whole should seek justice. If the weapons of the Pentagon are the main means to that end, that end will never come.
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