November 16, 2012

Paul Ramsey, the Good Samaritan, and Christian Pacifism

United Nations Peacekeepers in Kigali Rwanda

(HR Brief)

By Keith Pavlischek

When Paul Ramsey retold the parable of the Good Samaritan asking, “What do you imagine Jesus would have had the Samaritan do if in the story he had come upon the scene when the robbers had just begun their attack and while they were still at their fell work?,” he was not merely concerned with asking what Christian love required of the individual, but what the implications were for the responsible political use of force.

As we saw in my last post, Ramsey rejected the notion that “nonviolent direct action” of some sort was always “qualitatively more righteous than the use of force.” Once you decide that you would be complicit in the evil if you were entirely passive, and once you decide that charity requires action, it is difficult to see how it is more charitable to the victim to pursue an ineffective nonviolent strategy than an effective violent strategy. As Ramsey says, “if one judges that not to resist is to have complicity in the evil he will fail to prevent, then the choice between violent and non-violent means is a question of economy and in the effective force to use.”

Now, many pacifists, despite attempts–and I would say delusional attempts- to pay homage to the notion that “nonviolent” action is always effective or would be more effective if we just tried harder, have become sufficiently realist to recognize that nonviolent direct action just isn’t that effective in the face of great evil.  That’s why you will find many pacifists retreating from their pacifism to support, or at least not object, to things like armed “peacekeeping missions,” as long as they are run by the United Nations.

That’s why it has become fashionable of late for pacifists to make a distinction between the use of force or violence by a police force, which they say is permissible, and the use of force and violence by a military force, which is not. The former, we are told may be something the Christian can and should support, and perhaps even participate in, while the latter is impermissible for the Christian.

Read more here.


6 Responses to Paul Ramsey, the Good Samaritan, and Christian Pacifism

  1. Michael Snow says:

    “hat’s why it has become fashionable of late for pacifists to make a distinction between the use of force or violence by a police force, which they say is permissible, and the use of force and violence by a military force, which is not. ”

    This is where the delusion begins for both sides. We are not looking at a ‘Christian’ nation that is to live out Christ’s call to Christians whether they picture themselves as warriors or pacifists.

    We have our own calling, to be the light of the word, to follow Christ and his commands, not to be the sword of the LORD.

    Romans “13” in context is clearly a pacifist passage recognizing our call to obey and follow Christ.
    http://textsincontext.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/romans-13-in-context/
    http://christianpacifismblog.wordpress.com/

  2. Gus Ravenwheel says:

    sKeith…

    it is difficult to see how it is more charitable to the victim to pursue an ineffective nonviolent strategy than an effective violent strategy.

    It is difficult to see, too, how writing an article based on strawman arguments does anything other than suggest you’re not familiar with all sides of the discussion.

    Who is suggesting pursuing an ineffective NVDA strategy? Who says your violent strategy is effective?

    In addition to strawman arguments, you’re begging the question.

    If you’re not willing to deal with holes in your arguments and bad logic, you can’t expect people to take your commentary seriously, Keith.

    You have yet to address the huge holes raised in your earlier posts: On what BIBLICAL bases do you suggest that sometimes it’s good for Christians to kill their enemies – where is the BIBLICAL support for that?

    If you want to admit that your position is based mostly on fear of what would happen in the real world if we don’t fight violence with violence – regardless of what the Bible says – then say so and we can start discussing that aspect of it. But given that conservatives routinely criticize the Christian Left for not basing positions on the Bible, you’ll have to give some sort of biblical explanation first, or admit that you have none, which so far, appears to be the case.

  3. Gus Ravenwheel says:

    As noted before, there is not an argument against pacifism/peacemaking here from the Bible, but I DO notice that you reference Calvin – he who supported the torture and execution of so-called “heretics…” Any chance you could make a BIBLICAL case for your positions, or just admit that you can’t? Rather than continuing to dodge the question and cite “kill-thy-enemies” supporters like Calvin?

    ~Dan

  4. […] Paul Ramsey, the Good Samaritan, and Christian Pacifism (juicyecumenism.com) […]

  5. The Christian Pacifist faces an insurmountable problem when they decree that ” all force used by followers of Jesus ended with he Sermon On The Mount “, and immediately go from Matthew 5 to A.D. 100-300, not referencing any Scripture in between. The problem for them is the ” in between Scripture “, specifically Luke 22 and John 18, where we have followers of Jesus carrying and using force with defensive weapons. The questions that begs to be answered by C.P.s is ” If the Sermon On The Mount ended the use of force and the use of weapons for those who would follow Jesus, then why do we find followers of Jesus still possessing them , and still using force, after the Sermon On The Mount “?

  6. The Christian Pacifist faces an insurmountable problem when they decree that ” all force used by followers of Jesus ended with he Sermon On The Mount “, and immediately go from Matthew 5 to A.D. 100-300, not referencing any Scripture in between. The problem for them is the ” in between Scripture “, specifically Luke 22 and John 18, where we have followers of Jesus carrying and using force with defensive weapons. The question that begs to be answered by C.P.s is ” If the Sermon On The Mount ended the use of force and the use of weapons for those who would follow Jesus, then why do we find followers of Jesus still possessing them , and still using force, after the Sermon On The Mount “?

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