In the previous post I referred to the “not-so-subtle pressure to fall into line with the socially dominant position” with regard to the persistence of incorrect Christian belief. In this particular case, too many proponents of Christian pacifism resort to overt social pressure to promote their opinions.
If You Don’t Move Towards Pacifism then You Must be a Defective Christian
The following excerpt from the official PCUSA web site is a classic example of utilizing social pressure to intimidate Christians into silence or acceptance of the pacifist perspective.
The Rev. Mark Davidson, pastor of the Church of Reconciliation in Chapel Hill, N.C., and chair of ACSWP’s Peace Discernment Team, reviewed the team’s draft report, “Risking Peace in a Broken and Fearful World.”
The report has grown out of a churchwide peace discernment process launched by the 2010 General Assembly on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the seminal document “Peacemaking: the Believers’ Calling.” The Assembly expressed its hope that the process would “seek clarity on God’s call to the church concerning violence and to develop policy directions on terrorism and war.”
Davidson said the 49 congregations and 19 presbyteries to date have submitted responses to the team’s study materials.
“Risking Peace” is built on five “declarations”:
- “Celebrate our identity as a church committed to peacemaking”
- “Claim the nonviolent witness of Jesus Christ and the early church as a neglected resource that can breathe new life into the ministry and public witness of the PC(USA)”
- “Confess our complicity in an unjust and violent world”
- “Commit to reducing violence and injustice of all kinds by learning and practicing the things that make for peace”
- “Challenge the idolatrous reliance on military supremacy as the chief attribute of U.S. identity in the world.”
“We didn’t come to these randomly,” Davidson told the committee. “They rose to the surface again and again in our deliberations and the church’s process.”
Noting that some Presbyterians have wondered whether the PC(USA) should join the ranks of the “peace churches” ― such as the Quakers and Mennonites, who are openly pacifist ― the Rev. Ray Roberts, an ACSWP member from Westfield, N.J., said, “Peacemaking is not in conflict with ‘just war’ principles. We are not pacifists, but we are peacemakers.”
ACSWP Coordinator Christian Iosso noted that Just War Theory ― a set of principles by which war can be considered morally acceptable ― “is not mentioned in ‘Peacemaking: The Believers’ Calling.’ We still don’t want to set up an either/or choice between pacifism and just war.”
The five declarations in “Risking Peace,” he added, “seek only to get Presbyterians thinking about peacemaking, nonviolence and conflict resolution.”
If we strip away all the flowery feints and confusing jargon, the crude social pressure message of this text is:
“If you are ignorant of Christ’s and the early church’s witness to nonviolence, unrepentant for injustice and violence, refuse to take responsibility for reducing violence and insist on practicing idolatry, then, by all means, continue to oppose our pacifist beliefs!”
But, of course, no exercise in social control through intimidation by our PCUSA elite betters would be complete without the closing list of disclaimers that “prove” how open minded and loving they really are. That is, after having framed the issue in terms that denigrate and shame any opposition, they, with saintly lovingkindness say that their intention is “seek only to get Presbyterians thinking about peacemaking, nonviolence and conflict resolution.”
In order to convey the deception, cruelty and deceit inherent in this utterly common PCUSA elite mode of argument, I offer up the following statements that utilizes the same strategy but in the opposite direction.
“Risking Peace through Strength” is built on five “declarations”:
- “Celebrate our identity as a church committed to peace through strength”
- “Claim the comprehensive witness of Jesus Christ as contained in the Holy Scriptures (Old and New Testaments) and the historic church as a neglected resource that can breathe new life into the ministry and public witness of the PC(USA)”
- “Confess our complicity in appeasement of injustice and violence throughout the world”
- “Commit to reducing violence and injustice of all kinds by learning and practicing the things that make for peace through strength”
- “Challenge the idolatrous reliance on fellow traveling with genocidal Socialist and Islamist regimes as the chief attribute of PC(USA) peacemaking.”
It is noted that Pacifist Theory ― a set of principles by which war can never be considered morally acceptable ― is not mentioned in the “Risking Peace through Strength” declarations, as we don’t want to set up an either/or choice between pacifism and just war. The five declarations in “Risking Peace through Strength,” seek only to get Presbyterians thinking about peacemaking, nonviolence and conflict resolution.
You have no right to be outraged by this set of “declarations” if you are not by the original set from the PCUSA official site.
Finally, it must be pointed out that these “party line” positions disseminated by the PCUSA elite are often enthusiastically used as weapons of social pressure by others throughout the denomination. How many members who disagree have the confidence to openly stand up against these “party lines” when the starting point is an assumption of defective Christianity for so doing?