Posts Tagged Peace

Why I Am An Anabaptist – Part 10

Posted by on Friday, 9 March, 2012

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

[Part 10 of a 12-part series]

Show: ABC Radio National
Full Podcast: The Anabaptist Vision
Date: 6/17/07
Host: Gary Bryson
Guest: Jarrod McKenna

 

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Transcript:

Gary Bryson: Jarrod McKenna is a young Christian activist involved in peace and social justice issues. He is one of the founders of the Peace Tree Christian Commune in Perth, and also the founder and creative director of ‘Empowering Peacemakers in Your Community’, or EPYC, an organisation which runs non-violence training programs for young people. For his work with EPYC, Jarrod was awarded last year’s Donald Groom Peace Prize.

He’s inspired, he says, by Anabaptist ideals.

Jarrod McKenna: Out of that has come lots of crazy adventures. I’ve been at Pine Gap, the US military base 20 kilometres outside of Alice Springs to being roughed up by police on national TV to my mum’s horror at Baxter Detention Centre, to being part of the catalyst for a Christian community in one of my neighbourhood’s lowest socioeconomic areas, to doing the work I do with young people.

Gary Bryson: It’s fair to say that you’re part of a group of very radicalised young Christians who are taking on issues of peace and non-violence in the much more engaged ways than perhaps we’ve seen in the last few years.

Jarrod McKenna: Yes, I think for us that has come out of not thinking of these things in terms of issues but thinking about it narratively in terms of what is it for us to be submerged, or baptised, as the Anabaptists would talk of in this narrative of this Jesus, this Jesus who turns over tables, this Jesus who preaches love of enemies, not bombing our enemies. And out of that has come this life; we’re daring to imagine a world transformed.

Gary Bryson: How do you understand the notion of discipleship today?

Jarrod McKenna: Discipleship for the early Christians and discipleship I think for this emerging church movement, which is drawing on Anabaptism, is about what it is to follow Jesus in ways that are empowering and life-giving, ways that speak of a world transformed, where we see in our lives as communities, what a world would look like turned upside down, what would a world look like where instead of power being understood as something which we lorded over them, as Jesus put it, but again, I think the Spirit is speaking a word to the church, in the world that this time in history that says, ‘Not so with you”, not so in terms of power being simply about oppressing others in terms of manipulating others, in terms of coercion, but this power that we see revealed in the resurrection of Jesus, this non-violent power that this new world has actually, this new creation has begun.

Gary Bryson: So what does an Anabaptist-inspired community look like to you?

Jarrod McKenna: For us, an Anabaptist-inspired community is a community that is drawing on the Anabaptist tradition, looks like living in communities together where no-one is in need, where we’re able to provide an economic alternative to the economics of greed and scarcity that surround us and the rest of society, and out of that, a generosity that with experience from God can actually provide for others as well in housing the homeless, in providing a place to stay for people who otherwise wouldn’t have a place to stay. In terms of growing our own food, in terms of living on the land in such a way where eco-spirituality no longer becomes an abstract but becomes a daily practice, of no longer simply trusting on the empire to provide our daily bread but what is it to seek our daily bread in ways that don’t participate in the oppression of other people around the world. So linking together, seeking alternatives, just very, very ordinary and yet very rare and special.

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.