I recently wrote up an article for the website Libcom. The article is basically a teaser for my book, as well as a very little history of early Christianity and its social framework.
Starting with Saint Augustine Christianity had always had a concept of ”Just War, ” whereas Christian pacifism has always been a force in Christianity, historically the “Just War” theology won over. The conservative religious journal “first things” published an article recently By William Doino Jr. where he defends the Catholic “Just War” theory against what he calls “The Pacifist Temptation.” The temptation he’s referring to a conference held by the Pontifical Council for Justice and peace and the Pax Christi movement, which led to a declaration by Pax Christi that appealed to a commitment to Nonviolence and insisted that there cannot be such a thing as “Just War.”
In the previous post, we went over Reza Aslan’s theological assumptions coming from the school of thought beginning with Friedrich Schleiermacher. We ended with me agreeing with Reza Aslan that the answer to religious violence must come from religion. But how is this to be done? In his lecture, Reza Aslan doesn’t really explain how, but during the questions, he addresses it by saying:
The last post on this blog was about the Not peace but a Sword saying found in Matthew 10:34-39. The impetus for that post was actually a lecture I saw recently given by Reza Aslan on the connection between religion and violence. I’ve written on Reza Alsan before. His argument is based on a few fallacies, one of which is found around the 20 Minute mark, he says:
A Muslim is whoever says he or she is a Muslim, the end.
Μὴ νομίσητε ὅτι ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἐπὶ τὴν γῆν· οὐκ ἦλθον βαλεῖν εἰρήνην ἀλλὰ μάχαιραν.
And in the NRSV:
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth; I have not come to bring peace, but a sword.
This scripture is used over and over again, by Reza Aslan types who want to prove that the New Testament and Christianity is just as potentially violent as the Koran, the Old Testament, or any other religious text, or to show that Christianity is entirely open to any and every potential interpretation. The argument goes something like this usually, the first person says “Such and Such religious text is problematic because of what it teaches,” and the Reza Aslan type responds with “well, the new Testament says I came not to bring peace but a sword” and Christians choose to ignore than, or interpret it away, so we can do the same with other religious texts. I is not legitimate to simply isolate a text in any religious tradition that may be violent and think that this in and of itself shows anything, for Christianity or any other tradition, you need to do exegesis and theology, and think the whole tradition through. So can this scripture be legitimately used to defend violence? Well let’s examine it.
Here is the final part of me and DFXC’s dialogue, starting with my final reply and the DFXC’s final reply, the first two parts of our dialogue can be found here and here. My part is in red and DFXC’s is in blue (as I said in the previous 2 posts, this is not a formal debate or anything like that):
It’s interesting what you say about the historical method, tomorrow I’m publishing a post on my blog specifically about the problems with apologists arguing from a purely secular historical method. None the less I do believe a secular historical method is important, so we take away tradition and inspiration, or “bracket” them, you don’t necessarily take out the divine, although it is “bracketed” then you go from there. I don’t think you get a kind of Jewish proto-Gandhi figure necessarily, not if you’re reading good scholarship and really examining the materials.
In the previous post I introduced the dialogue between me and DFXC, and started with his post, here is my response and then his reply to my response (I ask you to keep in mind this was a casual discussion, not a formal or prepared debate), my text is in red, and DFXC’s text is in blue:
I want to be clear from the outset, this is not an issue I have spent much time researching, not an issue I have developed well-formed arguments for, so what will follow is going to be an off the cuff apologia at best, I hope some slack is given. At the same time, I understand that this question is about our foundation and thus cannot be ignored.