Posts Tagged Pacifism

Lessons In Nonviolent Resistance: The Example Of Hans & Sophie Scholl

Posted by on Sunday, 11 March, 2012

In this clip, Bruxy Cavey, pastor of The Meeting House church in Ontario, Canada, discusses the faithful witness of Hans and Sophie Scholl and their nonviolent resistance to Nazi Germany. Bruxy compares and contrasts Hans and Sophie Scholl’s approach with that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and others involved in the assassination attempts against Hitler…

Ministry: The Meeting House
Full Podcast: But What About… (Drive Home)
Date: 5/9/10
Speaker: Bruxy Cavey

 

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Hans & Sophie Scholl


Related article:
The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent 

Partial transcript: Sophie Scholl offers us an example of someone who because of her strong Christian faith–along with her brother Hans and a number of other people–launched a letter writing campaign and a public tract distribution campaign to speak against the evils of the German government, of the wars, of the Nazi regime, and to call faithful Germans away from their support of their own government; Sophie and Hans wrote faithfully from a Christian point of view… they had a wide-reaching effect on the hearts and minds of the German population; Both Sophie and Hans gave of their lives; Neither the assassination attempt [of Bonhoeffer and co-conspirators]–the way of “just violence”–nor the way of pacifism–the way of actively speaking out against and calling people to the way of Christ–both techniques led to the death of the participants… but the way of Hans and Sophie Scholl–that prophetic voice like a John the Baptist who stands up and says what needs to be said and loses his head over it (and literally that’s what happened to Sophie and Hans Scholl–they were beheaded), but they died in the way of Christ; They were not pacifists in the hypocritical sense, by being passive and doing nothing… perhaps too many German people were–they were afraid for their own lives; This is the challenge, then… the way of speaking out will probably cost you your own life under Nazi Germany, if we go back in time; The way of calling people to repentance… going on record… would be more likely to cost you your life than joining a covert assassination attempt, which, if it was successful, would hopefully topple the government and leave you still alive and safe, and maybe a hero for having assassinated Hitler; That was one of the weaknesses of the assassination attempts of Hitler… those who were planting the bombs were not willing themselves to die–they were trying to plant the bombs in a way that still allowed their own lives to be preserved, whereas Hans and Sophie Scholl were more ready to die for their cause, and this more closely emulates a Christian response in the middle of Hitler’s Germany

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 12

Posted by on Friday, 9 March, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called “The Anabaptist Vision“…

[Part 12 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: Jarrod McKenna, John Hirt, and Thorwald Lorenzen

 

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Transcript:

Jarrod McKenna: What does it mean that we’re living in an age where Christianity is no longer the dominant religion? And while some are lamenting that, saying ‘That’s awful, and don’t you realise that this is a Christian country and that’s why only Christians should be welcome here?’ Some of us are saying, ‘Hang on a sec., maybe we were never supposed to be in control. Maybe that was never our role.’ It’s certainly not what Jesus called us to and maybe instead of responding to refugees by this kind of Christendom lens which says, we’re in control, we’ve got to make sure history turns out right, responding in a way which is faithful to Jesus, where we welcome the stranger, we welcome the outcast, we welcome the refugee, but not just the refugee, that we respond personally to those issues.

Gary Bryson: Jarrod McKenna. Anabaptism it seems, not only resonates with contemporary concerns of peace and justice, but offers Christians of all denominations an opportunity to centre their faith in openness and tolerance towards others. It’s a great testament to the Anabaptist confession of faith, that despite many years of cruel persecution and withdrawal, tolerance remains one of their greatest legacies. Final words on this Encounter from John Hirt and Thorwald Lorenzen.

John Hirt: What can we learn from the Anabaptist tradition as a third way today with regard to the way that the world is run? The Anabaptists were also about reconciliation. They wanted people to be reconciled to each other. Obviously for them in the beginning, this was necessary because they were getting slaughtered all over the place without a chance to express their loyalty to the things that are good and right within any given state, and so they wanted people to talk and to converse and the Swiss even say that much of their great democracy, their confederation of democracy is owed to Anabaptist beginnings. If we’re about reconciliation, then we cannot be about viewing hatred and enmity as the form of social orthodoxy, the way in which much of the world seems to be divided today, it’s us and them. [But] not according to the New Testament, not according to the Anabaptists. We are the people among whom Christ has come to reconcile us all to God. Ephesians Chapter 1, Verse 10. In the fullness of time to bring all things into unity. This is one of the texts that they love. So the way that Anabaptist theology would play out in the world today in its non-violence, it would be, how can we be reconciled to each other and how can we not begin by hating the other, or making the other into someone who is differentiated by me in terms of, they’re the evil empire, they’re the other. No, no, no, this person is my brother, this person is my sister. The Anabaptist line, ‘I would die for the right for a Jew to be a Jew or for a Turk to be a Turk’. You can’t have that kind of notion in your head and go and want to rape and plunder and declare war on someone, it’s just against the whole tradition.

Thorwald Lorenzen: Where do we see the presence of Christ today? And here the Anabaptists would say, we see it first of all in our conscience, in our commitment of faith. Then we see it in the community, and then the community needs to be open in love and compassion and mission. And therefore, our commitment to each other, our commitment to Christ, naturally flows into a commitment for peace and justice in the world. But on the other hand we have to realise we cannot simply copy what they did in the 16th century to our century. We should not use radical in the sense that we need to be different, we need to be faithful to what we have committed our conscience to. And that makes us committed at the centre, but very open and accepting at the margin.

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 8

Posted by on Tuesday, 6 March, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called “The Anabaptist Vision“…

[Part 8 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: Mark Hurst, Chris Marshall, and John Hirt

 

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Transcript:

Gary Bryson: The over-riding authority then for Anabaptists was and is the New Testament. All scripture is interpreted according to the teachings of Jesus Christ as they understand them. Perhaps the most important consequence of this is a fervent commitment to non-violence.

Peacemaking was and is in many ways one of the more radical expressions of Anabaptism, isn’t it, and it’s also one of the most controversial, and one of the other reasons that people were persecuted?

Mark Hurst: Yes. The Anabaptists in the 16th century and since have refused to join military forces, often refused to join police, and this goes back to an understanding of what the church is. For many Anabaptists, in the 16th century and even today, when they look at church history and they look at Constantine, rather than seeing that as a high moment in church history, they see that as the fall of the church, and they see the introduction of Christendom as something that they were against, that linking of church and state. So from the very beginning, they said no, the church should not be linked to the state, and because of that then, as Christians they didn’t get involved in the political forces, and particularly the police and the army, that they would use lethal force to enforce their ways.

Chris Marshall: When you come to the issue of violence, I think a huge cleavage opens up. As I understand the teaching of Jesus – and this is open to dispute, not everybody would agree – but as I understand the teaching of Jesus, he did reject coercive violence, he did encourage his followers to turn the other cheek, to go the second mile, not to use the sword. And when you say well, if that’s the case and we look at Christian history, why has the church been so caught up in violence? To this day the dominant Christian position on war is the ‘just war’ theory, which believes that under certain circumstances, war is all but obligatory, and that it is not inconsistent with discipleship for Christians to participate in that. And so how does that square with the teaching of Jesus? Well, we either have some way of limiting the teaching of Jesus to personal conduct or to private areas so that it is no longer an obstacle to fighting a war, or we ignore it. So to take this seriously I think is quite radical.

Thorwald Lorenzen: It is very important that the church – actually all of religion, but in our setting, the church – has a clear peace witness, because we know that all over the world religion is functionalised to validate violence and war, what the state is still using as a political instrument. And here all religions are invited today, to make a clear commitment to non-violence.

Chris Marshall: The commitment to peace, the commitment to non-violence flows from an understanding of the teaching of Jesus. The Anabaptist tradition by and large said, well, this means that followers of Jesus must not be involved in lethal coercion, and I guess a corollary of that is if you’re not going to be involved in war, then it’s not enough just to withdraw into a kind of separate community of pacifism, but you also need to be committed to peace-making.

Thorwald Lorenzen: Today, as you know, for instance in the church’s stance with regard to the war in Iraq, there was basically a unanimous opinion of all the churches, and all the church leaders, to oppose the war. So we have reached the stage today where in light of modern military technology, most or perhaps all churches would agree that war is no longer an institution by which we need to do politics. So in a sense, the Anabaptist vision today has become ecumenical.

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 2

Posted by on Wednesday, 29 February, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called The Anabaptist Vision

[Part 2 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: Thorwald Lorenzen and John Hirt

 

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Transcript:

Thorwald Lorenzen: Up to the fourth century, the church and Christians were pacifists. In the 4th century, with the victory of Constantine on the Milvian Bridge, just before his military victory, Constantine had a vision of Christ, and in this vision, he was asked to fight the battle under the banner of the cross, and he did this and he won. And this military victory has become a major influence of the Christian church. Under Constantine, the church began to have privileges, the clergy began to have privileges, the church was used to unify the Emperor, and ever since this marriage between church and state has determined the history of the church. In the Reformation, in theory, this history was finished, but it is still living on in the state churches in many countries today.

Gary Bryson: Thorwald Lorenzen. It was a commitment to pacifism that first set the Swiss Anabaptists up against the mainstream Reformation. In Switzerland the Reformers were led by Huldrych Zwingli, one of the major Reformation figures alongside Luther and Calvin. The issue had quickly divided the country, canton against canton. But the Anabaptists resisted Zwingli’s call to arms against the Catholics. John Hirt.

John Hirt: Zwingli as a Protestant reformer in the Canton of Zürich was keen to raise an army to fight against the Catholic Cantons; tragically in the history of Christianity, here’s the church at war, fighting among itself, and it was slaughter and slaughter and slaughter all over the place. Zwingli therefore, wanted to get everybody he could into his army, to fight the Catholic Cantons. He happened to have two best friends, two of his best Biblical scholars, one a Greek scholar, the other a Hebrew scholar, one was Conrad Grebel, and the other guy called Felix Manz. They were both ardent Christians, who like a lot of people at the time said that there’s something more to what Jesus says than us being behoven to the state, or to be given to killing and to that whole process of what the world expects of us. They of course were seen by Zwingli as being betrayers, and when he began to raise an army, these two allies of his, two of his best scholar friends, said to him, ‘We cannot fight because it is not lawful for us to fight. We are followers of Jesus.’ And they chastised Zwingli – he didn’t take that kindly.

Then, to cut to the chase, the argument became about well, who belongs to the state and who doesn’t belong to the state? And at that point, Zwingli said, ‘If you’re baptised as an infant, you belong to the state’, and at that point the Anabaptists started to say, ‘Wait a minute, if that’s what infant baptism is about, me being behoven to the state, that’s a problem.’ And so that’s when the whole discussion really picked up.

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 1

Posted by on Monday, 27 February, 2012

Gary Bryson hosts a program about anabaptism on ABC Radio National called The Anabaptist Vision

[Part 1 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guests: John Hirt and Thorwald Lorenzen

 

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Transcript:

Gary Bryson: Menno Simons was one of the leaders of the early Anabaptist movement. He was a Dutch cleric who gives his name to the best known of the Anabaptist groups today, the Mennonites.

Early Anabaptists were persecuted not only by the Catholic church, but by Protestant reformers, who regarded Anabaptist beliefs as crossing the line to heresy. So what were these beliefs, why were they considered so dangerous, and why are they still important today?

The core of the Anabaptist vision is found in the key ideas of the separation of church and state, adult baptism, radical discipleship, the authority of the gathered community, and a fervent belief in non-violence. As we’ll see in this program, these are ideas which are today informing a new generation of Christians committed to political and social change. Anabaptism is not a sectarian creed, but is instead a theological vision which can inform the practice and faith of Christians from many different traditions. More controversially, it is also a vision which seeks to redefine the role of the church in our everyday lives.

John Hirt: Historians of the Reformation referred to the Anabaptists as the radical reformers, or the left-wing of the Reformation.

Gary Bryson: The Reverend Dr John Hirt is the Uniting Church Chaplain for the University of Sydney and the University of Technology, and we’ll also hear from the Reverend Doctor Thorwald Lorenzen, Professor of Theology and principal researcher, the School of Theology at Charles Sturt University.

John Hirt: They got their beginnings in 1525 in a little village called Zollikon, which is not too far from Zürich in Switzerland. And their big concern was that the reformers were not reformatory enough. When the reformers talked about reformation, the Anabaptists talked about restitution. They wanted the church to be restored right back to the New Testament faith.

Thorwald Lorenzen: When we speak about Anabaptists today, we generally are speaking about the peaceful Anabaptists who were in Switzerland, in Southern Germany, and in Middle Germany and Holland. We’re not speaking about the more violent eschatological Anabaptists who were in Münster, people like Thomas Müntzer. So we have to distinguish between various Anabaptist movements. The Anabaptists which I’m talking about in Switzerland and Germany, they would agree with the major reformers like Huldrych Zwingli in Switzerland and Martin Luther in Germany, in their response to the Catholic church. They would agree with the reformers, but they felt that the reformers’ commitment to the authority of the Scriptures was not radical enough.

Gary Bryson: The radical restitution demanded by the pacifist Anabaptists was a call to return to the values and precepts of the early Christian church as they saw them: pacifism, discipleship, free acceptance of the faith through adult baptism, and a separation of church and state.

The Constantinian Shift – Part 3

Posted by on Monday, 13 February, 2012

Bruxy Cavey, pastor of The Meeting House church in Ontario, Canada, discusses the early church’s views on pacifism, before and after Constantine

[Part 3 of a 3-part series]

Ministry: The Meeting House
Full Podcast: The Emperor’s New Clothes
Date: 4/11/10
Speaker: Bruxy Cavey

 

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Bruxy Cavey


Notes: 
Constantine wanted Christianity to flourish… but it would flourish at the demise of the Roman Empire… he had a problem that needed a solution, and some of the best minds went to work, such as Augustine; Augustine, then, started writing things like this: “War is waged to serve the peace”; Here we have within Christian circles the first time that peace as a means and peace as an ends is separated; Additional quotes from Augustine; In his writing he turns more and more to the Old Testament, and then you see another trend happening that happens within just war theory… and that is a desperate attempt to find some clue in the teaching of Jesus that might tell us He didn’t actually mean what He said and say what He meant in His very clear teaching on the way of peace; And so we see this snippet, or that parable, or this over here, and that starts to come up… that pattern still exists today… comes up often when talking with non-pacifists, and we see it begin in the writing of Augustine; Luke 14:23; It is an exercise in exegetical desperation… but we see it become the norm in Augustinian thinking and rationale

The Constantinian Shift – Part 2

Posted by on Sunday, 12 February, 2012

Bruxy Cavey, pastor of The Meeting House church in Ontario, Canada, discusses the early church’s views on pacifism, before and after Constantine

[Part 2 of a 3-part series]

Ministry: The Meeting House
Full Podcast: The Emperor’s New Clothes
Date: 4/11/10
Speaker: Bruxy Cavey

 

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Bruxy Cavey


Notes: 
One of the last voices before the Constantinian shift that we hear from is Lactantius, who is actually the tutor of Constantine’s son, Crispus; Quote from Lactantius; In this commandment of God, no exceptions at all ought to be made to the rule that it always wrong to kill a man, whom God has wished to be regarded as a sacrosanct creature; From Constantine on, things change, and over the centuries ahead we get a new norm; Examples of what becomes normative after Constantine; Quote from Jacques de Vitry; Now pacifism is seen as demonic; Quote from John of Mantua; What we find in much of their writings is the shift has moved from the example and teaching of Jesus to the example of other Old Testament saints, where violence is used to establish the kingdom of Israel and maintain the kingdom of Israel… and so David, Joshua, and others become the heroes of the faith, and Jesus steps to the sideline in much of their writing; Quote from Pope Innocent IV

The Constantinian Shift – Part 1

Posted by on Saturday, 11 February, 2012

Bruxy Cavey, pastor of The Meeting House church in Ontario, Canada, discusses the early church’s views on pacifism, before and after Constantine

[Part 1 of a 3-part series]

Ministry: The Meeting House
Full Podcast: The Emperor’s New Clothes
Date: 4/11/10
Speaker: Bruxy Cavey

 

Download

Bruxy Cavey


Notes: 
Pre-Constantine, the church that was associated with the Roman Empire rallied around a concept called “patientia“… it is Latin for “patience”… it meant “enduring evil so as not to commit it, rather than committing evil so as not to endure it”; They unanimously taught that we should do anything to avoid killing, because that would destroy our witness for Christ; It’s always ok to die for a cause… it’s just never ok to kill for a cause; Suffering well… dying well… loving your enemies as they extinguish your life… could be one of the greatest witnesses for the transformative nature of the kingdom of Christ at work in your heart… so why would we fight back to preserve our life?; The word “martyr”, which has now come to mean someone who dies for their faith, doesn’t actually mean that–it means a “witness”–someone who is a witness is a martyr; The early church said, well, one of the best ways you can be a witness is actually to die for your faith while you love your enemy; So to be one who dies for the faith came to be seen as the ultimate “witness”, and they were called “martyrs”; The unanimous voice of the church pre-Constantine… quotes from Origen, Tertullian, Hippolytus, Arnobius; You can agree or disagree, but this was the unanimous opinion of the church for 300 years

The Constantinian Compromise

Posted by on Saturday, 24 September, 2011

Tony Campolo discusses the change in the Christian church after 300 years of nonviolent resistance/pacifism, as it first began to embrace war under the Emperor Constantine.

Show: Across the Pond
Full Podcast: Campolo – Repeat: Peace Movements Part II (3/26/10)
Host: Tony Campolo
Notes: For the first 300 years of its existence… Christians were non-belligerents (they were not in the army); Those who became Christians often left the army if they were already in the army; For the first 300 years, the Christian church preached nonviolent resistance/pacifism; Why the change?; Up until the time of the Emperor Constantine, the church had been a persecuted minority; Constantine wanted to unify the Roman Empire… one of the ways of unifying the empire was to create a common, universal religion–he chose Christianity; “In this sign, conquer”; He became a “Christian” and ordered that Christianity become the “official religion” of the empire; The Christians were thrilled… no longer were they a persecuted minority; Overnight, they had been designated as “the moral majority”; But that recognition and legitimation came at a price… if you are going to get the support of the empire, then you’re going to have to support the empire in return, which the church readily did; In supporting the empire, they had to in fact support the empire’s militarism… and that’s when it all changed; It changed under Constantine, it changed at the Council of Nicaea… from then on, the church now supported war, and it remained only for Augustine to legitimate this with just war theory; There is no historian that will argue… for the first 300 years the church was pacifist, and it supported nonviolent resistance; If you go to the ancient writings, every one of them pronounces judgment against war and says Christians cannot participate in the army; There is nothing that polluted and ruined the church more than the Constantinian Compromise

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