I forgot to say in my introduction to this series that the word “confession” has a few layers of meaning. Most commonly we use it for admitting we did something wrong as in “confession of my sin” but in theological circles it also refers to saying what we believe as in a “confession of faith.” In this column, you can take it in either way or both. They are kind of mixed up with each other, just like the words “apology” and “apologetics.” Anyways, let’s get on with it…
Confession: I am a pacifist [from the Latin: PAX = peace + FICUS = to take action, i.e. to take actions for peace], but my actions for peace are rather passive. I teach biblical pacifism as an idealogy that will hopefully lead to “more active” actions for peace. I confess that sometimes I wish I was a more “active” peacemaker on the frontlines, stopping wars and stuff like that, or at least bringing peace to people in the midst of the messiness of life. This past weekend I was in Black Creek on Vancouver Island giving a lecture on how Christians deal with all the violence in the Old Testament, and a sermon on Jesus’ violent acts and statements [see sermons]. I didn’t know most of the people there but I know two that are active peacemakers. Harold Macey operates a sustainable woodlot. He makes peace between people and creation by making peace between the forest and the logging industry. Gordon Carter has been a social worker and hospital chaplain and now he makes peace in the community by pastoring the fledgling United Mennonite congregation. He brings peace by looking into people’s eyes and bringing a healing touch.
Justification: Pacifism is the way of Jesus. I’m trying to follow Jesus by being who I’m called to be. I’m not really the marching, confronting, interventionist, activist, organizing, motivating, frontlines type of personality. I believe that my calling is to profess and to teach publicly and to act it out rather domestically with my family, in my neighbourhood, and in my garden. And perhaps professing and teaching is an action, even if it is not on the frontlines.
Penance: You need to join a march. Signing www.avaaz.org petitions is not enough. I don’t think you have joined a march since the onset of the Iraq war more than 10 years ago. Maybe it’s time to participate in one again just to get out of your comfort zone. It’s kind of like the symbolic action of Jesus’ temple clearing that you preached about.