My struggle with the word "pacifist"

Wow — I really need a break from Feast preparations, so I thought I would write a bit here about something I have been musing about for some time. It hit me again yesterday morning as I was doing my walk and reading Bernard Lewis’ excellent book The Crisis of Islam: Holy War and Unholy Terror. (I have read it “piecemeal” before, and now am taking advantage of my exercise time to read it in a normal, human fashion. Yes, I do bump into parked cars while I am walking. No, I have not been run over, yet.)

My musings have been about the word “pacifist.” On one hand, I do not believe that, as a follower of Jesus Christ, I should fight in this world’s wars, whether those of my own nation or not. When Jesus said to Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36), I believe that there is a principle expressed in those words that impacts the question of serving in any war — not just a fight against Rome. Jesus didn’t say that His servants would not fight because it was His role to die or because God had delivered Him into the hands of Pilate. Rather, he rooted His statement into the fact that His kingdom is not of this world. His kingdom is still not of this world, and I believe that just as His followers would have been wrong then to fight and attempt to install Him as a leader in this world using the means of carnal warfare, His followers would be just as wrong to do so now.

I don’t want to take the time to completely explain that stance here — one, I don’t have the time to take, and two, it’s not the main principle I am trying to discuss in this post. But to give the essence of it as best I can off the cuff, I believe I have been called out of this world, spiritually, and am not to participate in its carnal governments and wars (2 Cor. 6:17, context 14-18; cf. Rev. 18:4), just as an ambassador for another nation does not so do in the nation where he resides (cf. 2 Cor. 5:20). I believe that Jesus meant His teachings recorded in Luke 6:27-29 to be as radical as they sounded. The kingdom of my King is not of this world, and I will not fight. For the same (and additional) reasons, I do not vote or participate in juries or in politics.

This has been a documented belief of the Church of God in America since at least the American Revolution, and earlier outside of America. Again, I would love to go into this belief in more detail, but such a discussion is beyond the intended scope of this post.

But does this mean I am a “pacifist”? I’m willing to wear a label that fits, even if it is one that society scorns, but when I look up the definitions of “pacifist” there is generally some part that, invariably, does not apply to my convictions and beliefs.

For instance, take the definition of “pacifist” (from Dictionary.com, as are any others that will follow) that says a pacifist is “opposed to war or violence of any kind.” Well, I can’t state that without qualification. Things will get pretty violent at Christ’s return, and God has the right to wage war to accomplish His purposes — “in righteousness He judges and makes war” (Rev. 19:11). So I can’t say that I am completely opposed to “war … of any kind.”

Then there’s the definition of “pacifist” that says a pacifist (one believing in pacifism) believes that “disputes between nations should and can be settled peacefully.” This might apply, except for the words, “and can” — which is a matter of degrees, perhaps. Do I believe that such disputes can be settled peacefully? Yes — provided all parties agree to be under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. A time of such perfect peace between all nations is coming, and I will be celebrating that time with God’s people during the coming days of the Feast of Tabernacles. May God speed that day! But in this world, before Christ’s return? How realistic must the “can” be to qualify? Is it sufficient if it dwells only in the realm of the theoretic?

I still believe what I said in a post about an insightful Dennis Miller “quip” back on April 11: “A nation that will not come under the shed blood of Jesus Christ will continue to experience the shed blood of its sons and daughters.”

God can provide the kind of peace and security that America desires, and He does not need our tanks, missiles, and blood to do so (e.g., 2 Kings 19), but He does desire our repentance. This is part of the message I believe that I have been called to help proclaim to modern Israel (the US & the British-descended nations) and the world. And, actually, I believe that ultimately this is the only solution that will work.

But until such a turning to God happens, then the other choices are complex. None of them will work in the long run, I believe, and it is really a matter of delaying the inevitable. There is the path we — with horribly faulty step, perhaps — are currently taking: violence and war with overwhelming might against those who would do harm to us. Then there is the way of Neville Chamberlain: talk and appeasement. (Some will complain that this is an oversimplification and that these are extremes on a spectrum; some would say that the belief that it is more complex is one of the sources of our current difficulties. I will leave that consideration to you and continue without comment.)

Stuck with these two ultimately ungodly choices, I believe that the former gives us more time to survive as a nation and an increased opportunity to hear the truth and repent than the latter in these times and against these enemies. Is this in line with the beliefs of a pacifist?

Is it the thought of a pacifist to think that Sean Penn’s answer to the question of whether or not he wished America would win the war — “I think we’re past that point in human evolution where there’s such a thing as winning wars” (AP, 8/6/2007) — is very possibly completely asinine? A “fluff in deep’s clothing,” if you will? More slogan than solution? What aspect of America’s goals in Iraq and the Middle East does Mr. Penn so oppose that he does not wish America would win?

Perhaps I should give him more credit — as well as the benefit of a doubt — and consider the possibility that he does wish America would win, but that the opportunity the question presented was, he felt, better consumed advertising his philosophy. But if I really am a pacifist (the question under consideration), do I have to agree with Mr. Penn’s broader philosophy — which, I suspect is entirely Godless and would probably (in my opinion) doom the nation all the quicker?

Pacifism unaccompanied by utter subjection to God seems even more delusional than the other carnal alternative. The use of the sword may ultimately be a self-defeating approach, but I do recognize that God allows its existence at this time in the hands of the unconverted to maintain peace and to temporarily restrain evil (Rom. 13:4) — a peace and a restraint that has allowed God’s work to flourish in the modern age, as it did under the enforced peace of Rome. For this reason, I pray that the sword in the hands of our unconverted rulers is used with wisdom: sparingly where possible and with ferocity where necessary — delaying the inevitable, perhaps, but a delay is better than an open invitation. Does such a belief disqualify me for the label of pacifist?

I believe that God Almighty forbids me to participate in this world’s wars and requires me to be His ambassador representing His coming kingdom. For this reason and others, I am and must be a conscientious objector when faced with the possibility of fighting in war, as must all who place their lives wholly and completely into subjection to the Living Christ, whose subjects do not fight. I may be called to sacrifice my life — as may any true Christian — but it will be for different goals. Until the arrival of that kingdom, I pray that He may grant that I live peaceably with all men (Rom. 12:18), that His gospel of the Kingdom of God go out into all nations (Matt. 24:14), and that this nation have ample time to come to its senses, through whatever means He sees fit to allow.

This hasn’t been my best or clearest writing, to be sure, owing to haste and the pressing weight of other needs, but I will stop here. The question remains: do those who believe as I do rightly bear the label “pacifist”? Even if it is technically broad enough in definition, is it too narrow in perceived meaning — which is often the real judge of a word’s use? I will bear that label if it is the one that fits, though I certainly do not agree with many of the fellows who wear it so smugly. But if it does not fit, then what label does?

[Because we are gearing up for the fast approaching Feast of Tabernacles (not to mention the Day of Atonement, tonight), the moderation of comments may be a bit slower than usual (as if “the usual” is fast!) — my apologies in advance!]

[EDIT, 9/22/2007, 10:00PM-ish: I noticed tonight that I misspelled Mr. Bernard Lewis’ name and decided to go in and change it, as well as add the full title of his book and make it a link to the Amazon.com page for that book. It really is an excellent primer on the Middle East and adds a lot of depth and understanding to the thin, “headline oriented” picture we are often presented. Also, I noticed that for some reason my post was not published online until 8:00PM Friday, which makes it look like I wrote it after the beginning of the Day of Atonement, which I did not (it was begun Thursday and finished early Friday). I must have done something dumb in Windows Live Writer (the post was written off-line) to cause it to publish at a later time. So I am going to try to reset the timestamp to about 9:00 the preceding Friday. If I mess up and end up moving it to someplace closer to the Mesozoic Era, my apologies… (And thanks for the comments, so far! Again, with the Holy Days and preparing for the Feast, I am a bit slow on the moderation side of things, but I will try and keep up as best I can!) I hope everyone’s Atonement was a good one!]

23 thoughts on “My struggle with the word "pacifist"

  1. wickle

    This is fascinating reading. I have spent a lot of time in the past few months discussing and debating with my Bible study group leader about whether I am or should be a pacifist. We’ve gone over some of the same territory that you are, and haven’t really gotten anywhere.

    Phil Donahue once remarked that he would like to be a pacifist, but doesn’t have the courage. To a certain extent, I feel the same way. I want to be able to be a lover of peace and completely trust God.

    But I can’t get past the idea that we need to have some F-16’s around, just in case …

    This is very fascinating, I look forward to seeing what other thoughts come from this.

  2. opit

    For decades the U.S. fought the perils of ‘communism’. It died. New perils were declared – not having form, state, geography… Bit like a phantasm.
    9/11 Boom. Invade the wrong country and stay there. Bases in 730 countries.
    Fight America’s battles ?
    ………………………….
    You’re asking the wrong questions. I did too at your age. I scarce know where to start. Why don’t you wander over to Monte Asbury’s Blog. It might be a start.

  3. opit

    Let me take that back a bit.
    I don’t mean wrong, exactly. There’s no moral issue. Worldview, now…
    You’re going to have to make choices. Jesus burden is light because we are told life is our gift and we are to appreciate it. At the same time, in a wicked world, knowing right and wrong separates one from others ina way that is socially trying.
    There is a lot of hoo-haw about ‘Christianity’ today.
    By their fruits shall you know them.
    If the ‘spirit’ – feel – emotion – aura – doesn’t evoke love and compassion : it’s the wrong door.
    And you do know who your ‘neighbour’ is. You learned that at somebody’s knee : even if they were from Samaria… or Mexico…or Iran…

  4. Ed Ewert

    There is so much to be said on this subject, I hardly know where to start. I could spend days framing a proper answer.

    I come from a Mennonite background, so the concept of non-participation in war has been with me from when I was very young, and I’ve considered over the years what to make of the issue of a non-violent approach. I’m naturally inclined to be militant/hawkish so this tends to go against the grain, but the Bible says things like “If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat, and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink;” Proverbs 25:21 [What?! How about if I beat my enemies into a pulp, and take their stuff instead!] So, of course I have to change my attitude and conform to biblical principles of action and thought.

    But I would never call myself a pacifist. I regard not participating in things like war is an act of obedience to God, not some sort of philosophical position that if we all just refuse to go to war, everything will turn out well, regardless of our standing with God.

    I see the turm “pacifist” as being more of a secular term, and it should be noted that if you look at the history of secular pacifism, many pacifists are in fact, relative pacifists. That is, while they may be pacifists when it comes certain particular wars, like the war in Vietnam, they may not be pacifists when it comes to other wars, like the war against Nazi Germany.

  5. Hi, Mr. Smith!

    There are indeed extremes on a spectrum, and here’s why. The classical conservative believes that human nature is inherently evil and intractible; the classical liberal believes that human nature is inherently good and perfectible. The moderate believes (as we know, rightly so) that human nature is flexible — a mixture of good and evil. These positions dictate one’s stance on a given subject, including the utility of war. So we have PM Chamberlain on the liberal end, possibly the famous Sun Tzu on the conservative end and perhaps PM Churchill, certainly many literary people (including A.A. Milne, an influential pacifist who “hated Facism and Communism equally”), and probably Gen. Douglas MacArthur somewhere in the middle. (As Milne put it, a pacifist worthy of the name seeks to avoid war, or if this is impossible, to finish war as soon as possible. That’s MacArthur in practice and in speech all over.)

    All these positions as the world holds them, including the moderate, “pacifist” position, leave God out of the picture. The moderate position on human nature is the correct one, but without God pointing the way out of the dilemma of the human condition, it is no more useful than the liberal and conservative positions in preventing war. Even MacArthur was forced to acknowledge that while “in war, there is no substitute for victory”, modern warfare was no longer a viable alternative. He pointed the way out, famously, but like all other humans he could not bring the solution about of himself. In effect, he implied we needed God’s help (“the problem basically is theological”). But it would be equally problematic to try to pigeonhole God into a liberal or conservative position in order to solve the problem of war, for He does not operate according to liberal or conservative assumptions about human nature.

    That is where your critique of this world’s pacifism is valuable, and where some others who are answering here are missing the point. It is they who have not lived long enough to understand that human beings have no solution to the dilemma of war, that no position on human nature that leaves God out can work in the long run. By contrast, Jesus Christ the Son of God is the Ultimate Pacifist. He seeks peaceful solutions to problems as long as He can, but when He fights, He puts an end both to the problems and to the wars they lead to (cf. Psalms 46). He is not called the Prince of Peace for nothing, but notice how that is connected prophetically with the need to fight a war to end all wars (Isaiah 9). And He alone has the ability to put human nature under subjection and ultimately, to transform it.

    שלום
    יוחנן רכב

  6. Howdy, all —

    My thanks for the comments, so far! They reflect some good thoughts, and I appreciate your contributions. I hope I didn’t come across as if my convictions were in question. They are not. I know what Christ expects and requires of me, and I am wholly dedicated to doing (and being) that — with His help, which He so generously provides to those who, like me, are so unworthy.

    My question was completely as to whether or not the word “pacifist” fits such a one who holds those convictions. Like the use of any word, “meaning is in the ear of the beholder,” and I gather from what I have read that this definitely applies here.

    Ultimately, the question “Are you a pacifist?” can only be answered after a clarification: “What do you mean by ‘pacifist’?”

    Also: My family and I are leaving to go to Branson early tomorrow morning to help prepare for the beginning of the Feast. I can’t predict how easily I will be able to access this blog during that time, though I know I will be pretty busy doing other things! My apologies, again, if any moderation is slow. (As in, days-long-slow!)

    Thanks, again, for everyone’s feedback, and for those who keep the Holy Days, may we all have a meaningful Feast of Tabernacles!

    — Wallace Smith

  7. Deano

    Hello Mr. Smith – and others,

    I guess I got to this kind of late. I guess to me pacifist equates to “liberal pinko”. I will say that even before coming into the Truth, I would more often than not, walk away from a fight except when someone I cared for was threatened or hurt or disrespected. I will also say that, before coming into the Truth, I believe I would have given my life to defend this great nation.

    For the most part I would not do these things today as my King is not of this world – I do feel it would be appropriate to lay down my life to protect my family. I believe that we are in an even greater war than those that rage upon this globe throughout. “We are in a battle for the very thoughts of our minds” to borrow a phrase from the late Mr. John H. Ogwyn. We wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against the wicked spirits that rule this present evil world.

    All that being said, I still think there is a place for civil defense, but along with that, if the nation was truly obeying God then we could send out the choir, and let God do the rest, should another nation threaten our borders.

    Well, I think I actually had something intelligent to say when I started out but I am still asleep and not all that bright to begin with 🙂 so I’ll leave off here.

    Hope all you guys are having a great Feast!

    Deano

  8. Ray Schaefer

    The liberal pacifists of this world are not pacifist because they are putting their faith in God and seeking to obey him. They are pacifist because they are putting their faith in man. They think that man is essentially good, and if only the United States would lay down its arms and be “peaceful”, the bad guys of the world will follow our example and be peaceful. They are also militant about their position, that is, they do not just endorse pacifism as their personal position, but they want to enforce pacifism as a way of thinking on the whole country – hence they campaign against military spending and anything that tends to make our country strong. But they do not trust God for their protection, but rather, they trust themselves and their agenda.

    Liberalism tries to have a morality without God. Pacifism is one part of that.

  9. Howdy, wickle. Thanks for your comment, here and above. I hope you are well!

    I don’t want to speak on Mr. Schaefer’s behalf, but I can say what I get out of his comment.

    From what I hear him saying, the label “pacifist” is one that often does carry unwanted baggage. I do wholeheartedly agree that the one and only way that America could lay down its arms is to wholly embrace God and His ways, and that to do the former without the latter would merely be quicker route to national suicide than the one we are currently taking.

    Yet those who tend to publicly proclaim themselves “pacifists” are the same ones who have no interest in embracing God — either wholly or otherwise — and who are, for all intents and purposes, Godless. Consequently, being the public voice of “pacifism” they tend to define the label “pacifist.” Hence, my difficulty isn’t with my stand, in which I believe I am clear sighted and completely committed, as God so gives me the strength. The difficulty is in the label. Pacifism may be a broad umbrella that covers many beliefs and approaches, but it is defined popularly by those who claim it most publicly — and with those who so do, I find I have little in common.

    Again, not wanting to answer for Mr. Schaefer — just writing what I got out of his comment.

    Thanks, again —
    Wallace Smith

  10. opit

    Funny how this is going along. I wouldn’t have thought there was much question on what we are taught about the status of violence. Asking what place it would have in a ‘civilized. society might make things clearer.
    Those who claim it pacifism to resist the idea of chasing around the world shooting and killing as a method of achieving peace are quite right. Better yet, intelligence will advise anyone who cares to ask that stirring up trouble – ensures you will have it.
    What’s hard to understand, here ?What has this to do with God?
    Oh. I don’t know. Would a loving father counsel stupidity ?

  11. Greetings, opit, and thanks for the comment.

    I believe you too quickly dismiss the issues at hand. You are right: intelligence will so advise. Yet, regrettably, without God there is simply no effective counterproposal out there to stopping violence in the world that completely rules out additional violence.

    Those who believe that “interventionist policies” and the like are the sole (or even chief) source of the violence and strife in the world today fail to grasp the reality of human nature. The failure of the “Leave them alone and they will leave us alone” approach was taught to many by the bully on the playground, though too few have learned that lesson. I’m not justifying being the bully, mind you — just saying that it is silly to pretend that bullies can simply be ignored. And today, sadly, overwhelming force is all that some bullies will recognize.

    Would a loving Father counsel stupidity? No. But an immature child might mistake a loving Father’s counsel as such. Frankly, it happens all the time.

    As for what this has to do with God, I believe that Douglas MacArthur had it right when he said, “It must be of the spirit if we are to save the flesh.” Neither the rifles and missiles of our armies nor the poetic but empty platitudes of the godless will be able to change the spirit. But God has appointed a day when He will change the spirit (Jer. 31:31-34), and the result will be a world in which violence has disappeared from the earth (Isaiah 11:9). We will then, perhaps, know for the first time what the phrase “civilized society” even means.

    God has everything to do with this issue.

    Thanks, again, for the comment —
    Wallace Smith

  12. Ray Schaefer

    Hi wickle,

    I will try to answer your question, “what does this have to do with this conversation?”

    My understanding is that part of the topic of this conversation is about the label “pacifist”, and why some of us may feel uncomfortable with the term.

    Some of us may feel uncomfortable callings ourselves “pacifist” as a description of our stance even tho we as a Church do not participate in war or in the military, and our members have claimed conscientious objector status in past drafts. That may seem to some to be an irony or an apparent contradiction. If we claim exemption from military service on religious grounds, and if as a church we teach against participating in war, why do some of us feel uncomfortable about the idea of calling ourselves “pacifists”?

    My response was to offer the explanation that the term “pacifist” is closely associated with the world’s concept of pacifism and the liberal concept of pacifism. Most people in this country who would call themselves pacifists do so for reasons entirely different from ours. They may be like us in their aversion to military service, but there the similarity ends. I am offering the explanation that the reason some of us feel uncomfortable with calling ourselves “pacifist” is that we do not want the connotations of that term applied to us.

    I would never tell anyone in my workplace or family (who are not in the Church of God) that I am a “pacifist”. If I did, unless they already knew my position on the issue, they would assume that I also agree with the general pacifist thinking among liberals in this country that human nature is essentially good and that if the United States just lays down its arms, our enemies will naturally follow our good example. That is why I feel uncomfortable with the label “pacifist” even tho as a Church of God member I would not participate in military service.

    I hope this answers your question.

  13. wickle

    First of all, I would like to apologize for using one sentence to ask a question that should have taken a lot more than that … I didn’t mean to be rude or abrupt.

    My point was that the post was clearly talking about the questions of peace and faith, and really didn’t introduce the concept of a liberal/secular pacifism. I see your point … thank you for answering me with more courtesy than I showed in the question.

  14. opit

    I usually handle the political angle. The arms merchants must have their ongoing demonstrations. That’s the greatest impetus for so-called ‘interventions’. With 800 foreign bases you should not believe for a microsecond that the U.S. is a promoter of peaceful relations.

  15. Ray Schaefer

    Hi winkle,

    I understand, and thank your for your response. Actually, your question helped me to clarify what I had said in my first comment.

    The interesting thing about a blog is that questions and answers can take many different directions. Inside of one post or response can be the seeds of many subtopics, and it takes different people with different perspectives to see all the possible directions the conversation can take. But that is good because it helps us to learn from each other, as well as learn how to express ourselves on complex issues.

    One of the most difficult questions I have faced was from a non-Church of God member who asked me after the September 11 attack on the twin towers if my church teaches that American soldiers are committing a sin by fighting a defensive war. That same question turned out to be a difficult one in Spokesman’s club also. So this is not a simple and easy issue for everyone even in the church. At least it was not simple and easy for me.

  16. Howdy, again, opit —

    Thanks for your comment. While I don’t know that I could conclude that the entire purpose for our “interventions” is to sell weapons, I do readily agree that the US is not 100% committed in all circumstances to promoting peaceful relations.

    Rather, I believe that the US — like all other carnally-minded nations — is out to act on what its leaders (official and unofficial) believe is in its so-called best interests. If stability in one area is seen as good for America, then we promote “peace” (though most do not understand what real “peace” even means: Isaiah 59:8). On the other hand, if war between countries A & B is seen as good for America, then we promote war. The Bible counsels that “[t]here is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death” and that is the category in which such carnal machinations generally fall.

    Thanks, again —
    Wallace Smith

  17. Howdy, Mr. Schaefer & Mr. winkle!

    Thanks for both of your contributions and gracious attitudes. Mr. Schaefer, I agree with your dilemma. I don’t think it is a matter of having the right stance as much as it is communicating it properly — a dilemma which is part and parcel of why I posted this entry.

    Concerning those who out of love for family and country join the military and show themselves willing to fight (and kill) and die for our country, I have great respect, and I am thankful for their willingness to so sacrifice. However, it is in the context of their ignorance of the truth that I feel my respect. If a man is falsely presented with only two wrong options and chooses the more noble of the two — in full knowledge of the fact that his choice may entail great personal sacrifice — even though he was deceived into thinking that those two choices represented the complete universe of options, I believe that I can give him credit for the character he has displayed in that situation. But all that is conditioned on the fact that the man is ignorant of God’s true will on the matter.

    As we have said so long, this is a world held captive and the vast majority of people are under the spell of Satan, as Revelation 12:9 so clearly indicates. Do such soldiers sin? Yes, I believe they do, but it is sin in ignorance, a reality which Christ recognizes (Luke 12:47-48), and in the choice that a volunteer soldier has made in his ignorance — depending on the circumstance — he may be demonstrating the sort of integrity that God could use one day once it has been enlightened and redirected, when the veil of deception spread over the nations is lifted (Isaiah 25:7).

    In struggling to answer such questions as the one with which you were presented, I am reminded of what Paul says concerning the Jews: “[T]hey have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge.” I think Paul was trying to strike the same balance as we are: not excusing the sinful choices his people were making (rejecting their Messiah, etc.), yet putting their choices into perspective and painting a picture of God’s larger view of their mistake. And considering how much writing space he took up to make his similar point, I think we can be forgiven for giving a long answer to such short questions! 🙂

    I have enjoyed the opportunity to put these thoughts on paper (so to speak) and “iron” them out. Thanks, again, for y’all’s contributions!

    Best regards,
    Wallace Smith

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  19. opit

    These can go on for quite a while. I must admit, Ray has turned me ‘off’ on two counts. Firstly, he talks of what other people are thinking and decries that. I call that starting from a logical fallacy and a false premise. Othere people are not a homogenous mass nor are their opinions fixed – not liberal ones anyway.
    The second is tougher. My father always regretted going to war as a response to social pressure when he felt his proper calling was to the seminary. This was not in a church which excused ‘call-up’ by the state on grounds of conscience – which does not mean at all I question that. I have never been in danger of being drafted – yet have had a good deal of what one might consider training for a military life – and likely would have taken that path except for injury in an auto accident.
    Yet there is a false comparison happening. Duty to defend ‘hearth and home’ has nothing to do with the assignments of the day – which are rightfully viewed as exercises of Empire. Those I believe it unequivocably right to refuse.
    So our ‘battle’ is clear. Lies fly with great industry and abandon about our mortal peril. That is what they are. Lies.
    And the state is itself being taken over by a cabal of monsters.

  20. Greetings, again, opit —

    Thanks again for your comment. I’m afraid that what seems to be your chief focus (that the current conflicts in which our country is engaged) is beyond the scope of this post. On one hand, man is certainly carnal and his governmental systems reflect that carnality — including the current administration and legislature of the U.S. On the other hand, after much review and reading I have yet to see anything supporting the idea of a vast conspiracy of 100% falsehood to “invent” the danger that America is very truly in. Have lies and misleading statements been a part of the process? To be certain. Politics is normally rampant with such things. But complete deception? A false threat? I really don’t think so.

    (Not that there is not a conspirator at work — there certainly is. Revelation 12:9 says that Satan has deceived the whole world. As has been mentioned, there will not be a solution to this problem without God.)

    Again, all that is beyond the scope of this post. The question at hand concerns the use of the label “pacifist”. Your comments that are relevant are very much appreciated. You are right — we can often treat “liberal” and other such labels as too tightly confining the groups that bear such labels (just as we can do with “pacifist”). Still, Ray’s point is well taken. Even if all “liberals” do not feel the same way, it does very much seem to be true that most who publicly take on the label of “pacifist” are of that variety of human who believes in its own wisdom above all else and its own power to produce perfect peace in the world without the “meddling interference” of God. Such people have (to be kind) an unrealistic view of human nature — yet they are trapped with that view, for there is no greater substitute for them to worship.

    So, I appreciate your comments on the topic at hand, though I would rather not veer off into the world of theorized conspiracies and cabals to which some attribute our current military adventures. Even if such ideas were true (again, I do not believe them to true in the main), they would not impact what Mr. Schaefer had well addressed, which was the decision of an individual soldier to defend his country, not the decision of a political leader to send him or her to do so.

    Thanks, again —
    Wallace Smith

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