Monday, August 14, 2006

Health, Wealth, and Peace

Christians who reject would contemptuously the name-it-and-claim-it, health and wealth gospel as it relates to bodily health and personal prosperity nonetheless want to apply something similar for peace and international relations. The idea that there is this prescription for peace that involves negotiation, showing the other guys that we mean no harm, and crucifixion humility is imbedded deeply in the Christian Left. Because Jesus wants us to be, like, peacemakers, then it Only Stands To Reason that being peaceniks should work. Work for peace. Teach peace. Prince of Peace. War is not the answer. Interrupt the cycle of violence. If we do our part as Christians, then peace will follow.

Ignoring for a moment that the Bible does not actually teach that nations are morally obligated to do this, and granting arguendo that it does, it still doesn’t say anywhere that acting in pacificistic humility will bring peace, neither in the short nor the long run. With all the sophisticated dressing, the accusations of American arrogance and empire, the giving voice-to-the-oppressed rhetoric, and intonations about the Authentic Gospel, that’s what it boils down to. Underneath it all, there is the unexamined assumption that Jesus says it will work. Jesus never says that.
A related post, Transnationalism is the last refuge of the scoundrel.


copithorne said...

Are you talking about anyone in particular? I don't recognize this assumption.

Christians believe that Jesus Christ was moral and that he was crucified. So, doing the right thing is not a guarantee of worldly success in the way you describe.

Still, we believe it is important to do the right thing because we participate in a different economy.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

Sure. Jim Wallis, Tony Campolo, Ron Sider, PCUSA, the Episcopal Church, the UCC...

copithorne said...

When I read the statements of the Catholic popes and bishops opposing the war, I don't see the kind of theological assumptions you perceive. If you come across quotes where you see that theological assumption in others, I invite you to share them.

I know that it is possible to hold that:

1. It is important to behave in a manner consistent with moral reasoning.

2. Minimization of violence is the goal and an appropriate strategic method of U.S. policy.

3. The moral high ground is a critical strategic asset for America,

Without holding that:

Life is a vending machine in which you put in virtue and get out success and happiness.

Assistant Village Idiot said...

I wasn't thinking of the Catholics in particular. Professors at roman catholic schools tend to have a knee-jerk response that the proper authority standard of the Just War Doctrine can only mean the UN, but the bishops conferences tend to try hard to provide a balanced perspective.

Since you asked, I uncovered the following in about five minutes.

In light of your earlier absolutist statements, you might read the more formal statements by catholic bishops conferences more closely, copithorne.

copithorne said...

Which statements illustrate your "unexamined assumption."? I didn't find them.

By the way, Jesus did say "blessed are the peacemakers for they shall be called sons of God." So there is a way in which Jesus did say it would work in the divine economy.

CBI said...

It is worth pointing out that, in the classical Just War analysis, those who wage just war on evildoers are ipso facto peacemakers and therefore, in our Lord's word, blessed.

Thus, as copithorne pointed out, "there is a way in which [peacemaking] would work in the divine economy." I don't think it an exaggeration to note that the U.S. Marine Corps did more to promote peace in the 20th C. than did the United Nations.