Our staff is reading The Secret Message of Jesus by Brian McLaren right now. We’re blowing through it pretty fast, but today we finished with Chapter 17 – The Peaceable Kingdom, a chapter on non-violence. McLaren has a few interesting comments about Christian non-violence.
- “Those who are committed to non-violence based on the teachings of Jesus – if they are wrong now – will someday be right.” He’s saying that one day violence will be a thing of the past, and this is part of what God is doing in the world. One day those who are committed to non-violence will be viewed not unlike early abolitionists. They are ahead of their time.
- Every nation who goes to war calls their enemy evil. Jesus commanded us to love our enemy, instead of calling them evil.
- This is the most interesting point he makes: “we need to realize that both our enemies and we ourselves have a common enemy… lust, greed, anger, and hate [that] thrust us into conflict and war… Every warring nation emphasizes the evil of its enemy; few resist the temptation to minimize their own evil. Fewer still realize that the same evils are at work in both ‘them’ and ‘us,’ and therefore pose a common, universal enemy – and it is this universal enemy that the kingdom of God fights with its weapons ‘not of this world.'”
So here’s my question: Is Jesus’s vision for how the kingdom of God will advance opposed to violence? And if it is, then why is Christian non-violence not an essential teaching in contemporary American Christianity? What did the tradition you grew up around teach about violence?