Taking a Stand

Here’s our friend in Perth, Western Australia, Jarrod McKenna, discussing why he and his community are taking a stand for peace:

I find an increasing number of young Christians are willing to say “enough is enough” when it comes to militarism, to military budgets, and to embracing a peace orientation toward how Christians are to live in a world of international conflicts. Ronald Sider (Christ and Violence) and John Howard Yoder (The Politics of Jesus ) have been powerful witnesses to pushing more Christians to ask not what is best for our power but how did Jesus embody the way of God — he did so through a cross that led to resurrection, not through a sword that led to a throne.

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  • Patrick

    1) we are not Christ offering ourselves in a unique, once in eternity act on 1 day, so our conduct(nor His before and after) cannot be associated 100% to all of what Jesus did while He was uniquely in the flesh here and this appears to me to infer that.

    (i.e. He did so through a cross that led to resurrection, not through a sword that led to a throne.)

    He walked into the Lion’s den dis armed on purpose(literally and providentially as deity) and for an intrinsically good purpose for 1 day as a human in the flesh, not our role unless directed by Him as a martyr.

    To do so is misguided, IMO.

    2) Based on Pre incarnation and post ascension actions, Jesus’ willingness to be assaulted was only one day in His existence for eternity and Christ as The eternal Son used extreme violence to preserve His integrity and word which leads me to believe it is still proper at times.

    Metaphor or reality the meaning is the same:

    Flood, sodom/gommorah, tower of babel incident, drowning the Egyptians in the Reed Sea, authorized combat in the wilderness with foreign elements and intra Jewish revolutionary combat, killing of the Assyrians before Jerusalem, conquest and sustenance of the theocratic state of Israel at the command of Yahweh by His human agents, Yahweh getting upset at the leniency of King Saul towards their spiritual/national opposition, Samson’s story, King David’s story, 70 AD Jerusalem which Jesus repeatedly warned as the worst thing in human history, utilizing the most extreme examples of violence either directly by Yahweh or using human agents to accomplish same.

    If the suggestion is we believers should follow Christ’s example by making our national neighbors vulnerable to outside or inside violence, that would be rejected by me.

    We have NO right to place others in vulnerability. Christ didn’t teach such nonsense. If we want to be vulnerable as Jesus was on Calvary, let each of us do so on our own behalf.

    If I was a non Christian, this type of thinking would cause me extreme anti Christian consternation. Who do those Christians think they are making us weak?

    I oppose most US foreign policy, but, not because I think I have a right to make my country as vulnerable as Jesus was in a spiritual warfare activity. I do not have that right.

  • Scot McKnight


    Jarrod and I agree on this: this sort of theology is not based on what’s best for a country, but it is about how to live as Christians. Jesus’ “cruciform” life is not just about his sacrificial atonement, but about how he lived. The Cross was but the completion to a life shaped from beginning to end as a cruciform life. How do we as followers of Jesus follow the crucified Messiah? It is not a wooden imitation but a deep embodiment.

  • It seems to me that conversations about peace and war tend to gravitate to extremes. If a person says they oppose a war because of their faith, they’re immediately assaulted with stories about violence from the Old Testament, questions about what they would do if their wife and children were assaulted, etc. They’re almost automatically assigned an extreme position that invalidates anything else they have to say, which is unfortunate, because militarism and the resultant spending have gotten completely out of control. Imply that the status quo may not be Christ-like or honoring to God, and suddenly you’re an anti-American liberal who is completely cool with all your friends and relatives getting gunned down by terrorists. I once heard someone say that pacifism is not “passive-ism,” and not everyone opposed to the current wars is a pacifist.

  • Barb

    Jarrod’s statement is very clear and easy to understand. I applaud him.

  • Jesus’ “cruciform” life is not just about his sacrificial atonement, but about how he lived. The Cross was but the completion to a life shaped from beginning to end as a cruciform life.


  • I love this quote from Eugene Peterson:
    “I am a pacifist. Pacifism doesn’t offer a way to change the world; instead it offers a witness.”

  • There is a difference between pacifism and passivity. I believe Jesus taught a pacifist message, meaning not to kill. But, Jesus was far from being passive. With righteous indignation He overturned the tables in the temple and called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers”. Injustices make me angry… I mean really pissed off. But, I never support, encourage, or promote violence. Injustices can often be made right by incarnating the kingdom of God.

    And, in regards to militarism I think Mr. Eisenhower was spot on.

    “We must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex”. (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

  • Patrick


    I share the idea we as individuals need to eschew the ego regarding life and love The Lord more.

    I just question the idea/wisdom that believers are wise to try and foist our ideas( doesn’t really matter what they are) on a secular society.

    Is it wrong for us to support a militaristic policy the US exhibits increasingly in the last few decades because we’re “God’s special people” or “American exceptionalism”? Of course it is, IMO.

    So is the opposite which I perceive this is.

    I think my role is to serve Christ and follow His mandates for me, if He wants me in harm’s way say as a missionary among dangerous regions, that’s for me to fulfill, not my neighbors.

  • RDH

    I believe the government should establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

    We need a strong military presence in the world to do that.

    We also need to limit the power and size of government to free our economy to be strong and thriving.

    This will give us the liberty to continue worshiping and serving Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

  • Amos Paul


    You can’t both have a strong, world-wide military presence and limited government encouraging a successful economy. Our militaristic empire is leeching the life out of our country and it, necessarily, requires and intricate and extensive government to run it and make decisions both here and abroad.

  • P.

    What exactly does he know about the war in Afghanistan? He never says. I’ll take people like Jarrod seriously when they take their message to Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

  • Jules

    Hey P.

    Email Jarrod (google does the trick) and ask him if he has any experience with terrorists. You might be surprised.

  • heathb

    “This will give us liberty…” It is devastatingly sad to realize that liberty always comes at the suffering and dying of other human beings. To sustain it, we must perpetually kill and die for it. The question is… is that what Jesus taught about liberty? that you must be willingly to die, yes, but also to kill? And equally important, liberty from what? liberty to what?

  • KD2

    I tend to agree with Patrick, #8.
    The Bible is full of conflicts that appear to be God-sanctioned, if not God-ordained. (I realize there are many ways to interpret these, but they are there nonetheless, and it seems to me that it is pretty tough to avoid them.) What if there had not been a military response to Hitler? What if there HAD been an intervention in Darfur? How many lives would’ve been lost/saved? How would the world be different?
    To #3’s point, I think you are correct that not everyone who opposes current military policies in America is an extremist. However, I do believe the man interviewed here IS an extremist in exactly that way, and I while I respect his heart, I do not believe he is wise to apply his view of pacifism like a blanket solution to all situations.

  • #13 heathb – You raised some really good points that raised more questions to ponder. If Jesus already paid the price for freedom and liberty with His own blood, why should more blood be needed? Do we need more freedom than what we already have with Jesus? And, must we continue killing in order to maintain freedom? If so, then is it truly freedom if we are held in bondage to shedding the blood of others in order to have that freedom? Freedom at the expense of others? The alternative is oppression where just as many people are killed. Hitler and Stalin aside, perhaps that is a fallacy. Just thinking out loud.

  • RDH

    I’m a Southern white boy so I can’t speak for Black Americans, but I’ll bet most of them are glad people died in the War of Northern Aggression. If they hadn’t, Black slavery might still be practiced in the United States.

    Another poster brought up Hitler. I’m of German descent, not Jewish, so I can’t speak for Jews, but there might be Jews who wish the U.S. had entered the war earlier to end the killing in German prison camps.

    Of course, I could be wrong. If Northern preachers and politicians had just left the issue of slavery alone and lived in peace with the Southern states, they wouldn’t have seceded. Maybe slavery would eventually have died out on its own.

    And if we had not gone into a wartime mode after Dec. 7, 1941, and left the Germans and the Japanese alone, and let them take the land and peoples they wanted, we might have had peace and prosperity.

    I might be wrong on that, too. Perhaps you all who want peace at all costs are right.

  • Tim

    Love your enemies, pray for those who hurt you, then blow them away?

    Carry the pack an extra mile, then stab them?

    Courageously turn the other cheek, refuse to strike back, but after so many chances, spend more and more money on weapons, just like Jesus did?

    This is why we need a Christ centered reading of the scriptures over against violent biblicist interpretations.

  • Fish

    I think there is a huge difference between freeing the slaves and occupying Afghanistan.

    The slippery slope of war is far more slippery than any biblical slippery slope, for how else would we see the occupation of multiple countries with hundreds of thousands of innocent women and children dead at our hands, in a war that costs a bankrupt country with no health care $250,000 / minute, a war based on a lie, on blood vengeance and on protecting the profits of big oil, as a Christ-like action.

    Like Rome, we have the most powerful military in the world. And like Rome, we will crush anyone who dares to challenge our power. I don’t see too much Jesus in that.

  • RDH

    I agree that it is time to leave Afghanistan. Obama killed Osama. Mission accomplished. Bring them home.

    Tim and Fish make excellent points about war and militarism, and I believe they would agree with me that Northern preachers were wrong to use their pulpits to preach against slavery, a political issue.

    In fact, I think a presidential apology is due to the South for the invasion, particularly to my native state of Georgia, where that devil Sherman wreaked havoc, and to Missouri, where I live, which was occupied by the Union, much like Afghanistan is being occupied now.

    Perhaps it’s also time to revise our views and apologize to the Axis for not turning the other cheek.

  • RDH

    Watching Hotel Rwanda. I had forgotten about that. Now there was an incident, a case of genocide, in which the U.S. had a peace orientation.


  • Amos Paul

    To those actually SUPPORTING America’s wars (what?).

    What if, God forbid, America had not responded to 9/11 with attacking Afghanistan, Iraq, or anyone. What if, instead, America responded with massive amounts of foreign aid, support, and humanitarian effort to the countries indoctrinated to hate us?

    Guns are for defense. Love is for offense.

  • @RDH wrote: I’m a Southern white boy so I can’t speak for Black Americans, but I’ll bet most of them are glad people died in the War of Northern Aggression. If they hadn’t, Black slavery might still be practiced in the United States.

    But the Civil War didn’t end slavery. “Officially”, on paper, perhaps, but slavery conditions continued for another ~100 years in the South until Civil Rights era, as minorities still suffered injustice, exploitation and denial of suffrage. See Douglas Blackmon Slavery by Another Name for an excellent expository work on the subject.

    Regarding abhorrent fate Jewish people suffered — a good bit of that would have been alleviated and/or short circuited if powers at the time did not exercise blatant apathy, disregard for fate of Jewish people — only until after the war was well under way did their fate become linked with war effort.

    And finally, I eagerly confess that Jesus way makes no common sense and is upside down to the world’s wisdom of reciprocity minded human relationships. Jesus, OTOH, taught AND modeled 100% counter to this earthly sense.

  • DLS

    It’s surprising that ‘young people’ who don’t have any experience or understanding of world affairs prefer a nebulous ‘peace’ to ‘war’?

    This is nothing new. It happens repeatedly. Fortunately, as people grow older and become more informed (and experienced) with how the world works, they tend, more often than not, to understand that ‘militarism’ in many respects keeps them safe from the bad guys, and they come to the realization that they like not having to fear death each time they leave the comfy confines of their upper middle class existence.

  • Dan J

    Wow. I can’t believe how many people conflate the church with the United States.