8.         PACIFISM

Shane’s pacifism is in some ways much less complicated in that it requires far less examination of what he says than of some of the other matters I have mentioned. He makes no secret of it.  Shane is a militant pacifist, as is his community at The Simple Way. Co-leaders of his community have been imprisoned for their opposition to the war in Iraq.

Although Shane particularly criticises the Iraq war, that is a fairly unexceptional position: there are many who believe that either this war is wrong or the way it is being conducted is wrong, without sharing Shane’s consistency as a dedicated pacifist. But Shane goes further.

Shane does not believe there is ever a just war. He goes so far as to decry the 1944 bomb plotters[1] who attempted to stop the war by assassinating Hitler and blames them with causing even more Jewish deaths by stirring Hitler’s renewed determination, escaping death, to pursue his violent aims.[2] As his historical abilities are suspect, I won’t elaborate further on the details of that argument which can be found on YouTube.[3]

Shane does not believe that you should take up arms – ever. Not in the Second World War, not if your home was under attack and your loved ones are about to be violated. Never.  His solution to violence in our fallen world is simple:

The more passionately we love our enemies, the more evil will diminish. (p.249)

The Simple Way, on its website, and in daily life, encourages American soldiers to leave the army and break their oath of allegiance. They provide legal and moral support for those who do.

Too often we just do what makes sense to us and ask God to bless it.  In the Beatitudes, God tells us what God blesses – the poor, the peacemakers, the hungry, those who mourn, those who show mercy – so we should not ask God’s blessing on a declaration that we will have no mercy on evildoers.  And we know all too well that we have a God who shows mercy on evildoers, for if he didn’t, we’d all be in big trouble, and for that, this evildoer is very glad.  Rather than do what makes sense to us and ask God’s blessing, we’d do better to surround ourselves with those whom God promises to bless, and then we do not need to ask God’s blessing. (p.219)

(on Christian Peacemaker Teams and his trip to Iraq) I went to Iraq to stop terrorism.  There are extremists, both Muslim and Christian, who kill in the name of their gods.  Their leaders are millionaires who live in comfort while their citizens die neglected in the streets.  But I believe in another kingdom that belongs to the poor and to the peacemakers. (p.207)

My problem with this is not in Shane’s pacifism. He is welcome to hold these views and to promote them. The difficulty is that he has been given a position of prominence gggggggggg      from which he has subtly promoted that doctrine without that view being made public. We should have no objection to him coming to talk mmm, if he is announced as a pacifist. But I would expect a “just war” theorist to be given exactly the same prominence.

Shane fggfg dgd gd d gdf gd gd gd ff entranced many dg dgd fd gdf dfg dg dfg g d g g dg dg dfg dfg fgdf dg df df  with his radicalism. When he told of how he had joined a Christian Peacemaker team in Iraq it sounded hip, cool and brave. Young people love hearing about radical adventurers. However, he did not at any point, as far as I am aware, discuss that viewpoint, argue his pacifism from scripture, etc.  It was romantic but was it right?  Ggdgd d dg dg d df gd fgd fgd fg dfg dfg df gd fgd fg dfg dfg d fd fg dfg dfg df df d fg dfg df d d fgd fg d sd sd fgsd fg sd gs dfg dg sf d fg dfg dfg df gd d fgd fgd g dg d gd fgd g df gd fgd fg df gd g dfg df gd g f f.

G dg dfgd g dfg dg dfg df gd gd gs gsfgd g dfg df gd fgd fg sdgd d fg dfg dd  dg df [Shane’s pacifism is not argued anywhere in the book. If it had been, we would be able to see that it stems from his univeralist perspective on the nature of mankind. While many who are seduced by his romantic appearance and antics are be drawn to his pacifism, they are adopting a viewpoint which has its foundation in a heretical interpretation of scripture about man and sin. Understanding that should be enough to persuade them not to swallow the pacfism without thinking it through. It isn’t. Romanticism overrules logic.] gdg dfgd fgdf gdf gdfg dfg dfgdfg df df gdf df gdf sdfsdrgsegegsegsegs dfg sdfg sdg serg ser ger gs ge g erg erg g e g g  dfg sdfg sd gsd gs dfg sdf gsdf gsd fg sdfg sdfg sdf gsd fgs dfg dfg sdf gsd fgd fgsdfgsdfgsdf gsdf gsdfsdfg sdfg sdfgsd fgsd fgsd ffg

The package has sold the message, not reason or theology

Fhd hd fh ghd gh dgh dfgh dfgh dfg hdf ghdhd fgh fgh dgh dg hdf hf gh dfgh dfg hf ghd fgh dfgh fg hf h fgh fgh dfg hfd hdf gh fgh dfgh dfg hdf hdf gh fgh fg hdf hdf gh dfg hf hf gh dfgh df ghdf gh dfgh dfg hd fh dfgh dfg hdf ghd fgh dfgit. Shane has been with Mother Theresa; Shane has been in Iraq risking his life amidst the bombs. To them, a parent who questions Shane’s assertions is tantamount to suggesting that Mother Theresa wasn’t a saint.[4]

CONCLUSION   (Deleted)

APPENDIX

There are a few remaining comments I wish to make which cannot be included in the main paper:

1.  Endorsements for The Irresistible Revolution

A number of notable figures in the church have endorsed this book. This includes Tony Campolo, Ron Sider, and Tom Sine whose voices are widely heard and respected in the evangelical church.  Their endorsements appear on the flyleaf.

Sider writes ‘Desperately Urgent. Profoundly Biblical’. Campolo says that this is ‘authentic Christianity’.

I am frankly staggered by such remarks from leading Christians. On the basis of the material I have reviewed, I cannot see how they reached their conclusions.

I am NOT saying they are heretics, but it raises another question, as we ourselves seek to become a more radical community ministering to all levels in society. What else do Campolo, Sider and others endorse that we have accepted because of their endorsement? We must take nothing on the recommendation of others alone but search the scriptures and pray for discernment in every area of the church’s life and future strategy.

2.  Dubious People Shane Mentions Uncritically In His Book

There are some very suspect characters that Shane mentions approvingly in his book and website. Their inclusion in any Christian book is questionable but, given his limited ability as a historian, he may not realise this:

Michael Moore.   This contentious left wing ‘humorist’ and documentary film maker in Bowling for Columbine cut and spliced film with complete disregard for truth in order to portray people as acting in the opposite way to the way the acted, and saying things which were the reverse of what they actually said. Even those on the left who approve of his politics have criticised his methods. Moore gets one passing mention (an approval of a scene in one of his films) but was recommended on The Simple Way website. That link has now been removed but I have found old cache copies of past pages from the website (it is possible to track these down). The link was there for some time (at least July 2003 to August 2004) so its inclusion was clearly deliberate, not accidental.

Emma Goldman. ‘In our living room, we have an Emma Goldman quote: “If I can’t dance, then it is not my revolution.”’ (p.313) Emma Goldman was an anarchist agitator who defended the assassin who shot US President McKinley and was imprisoned for her anarchist activities in the US. Finally deported to Russia, she initially supported the Russian Revolution (carried out at the cost of thousands of lives including the Tsar and his family), before falling out with the Bolsheviks. She expressed deep hostility to the church in essays such as ‘The Philosophy of Atheism’.

Che Guevara.  ‘It was Argentinian doctor and pop-Revolution icon Che Guevara who said, as he was leaving Cuba for Africa, “let me say, at the risk of seeming ridiculous, that the true revolutionary is guided by great feelings of love.”’ (p.295)  Six months after he saying this, Che was in Moscow laying a wreath on flowers on the tomb of Stalin, one of the greatest mass murderers in history. Three years earlier,  Khrushchev famous ‘Secret Speech’ had made the horrifying extent of Stalin’s purges a matter of public record. Some urged Che’s not to lay the wreath, but he insisted on doing so. Che remains an icon to radical youth in spite of a murky past which also includes an involvement in the executions and purges which followed Castro’s revolution in Cuba.

Malcolm X ‘What always happens to the saints and prophets who are dangerous: we bronze we train them of their passion and life and trap them in stained-glass windows and icons, confining them safely in memories of the past.  St Francis becomes a bird bath, Malcolm X is put on a stamp’ (p.38)   A saint or a prophet??   Malcolm X was neither. For many years he was a leading figure in The Nation of Islam, a racist, anti-semitic cult. It purported to be Moslem but believed that its founder who died in 1930 was Allah himself and that black scientists had written the Bible and Koran.


[1] One of whom, the previously pacifist Dietrich Bonheoffer, he criticises for his involvement in the plot

[2] On the You Tube clip (reference in next footnote), Shane says Hitler’s massacre of the Jews and the Rwanda genocide arose partly from ‘bad theology’ (Hitler ‘had the bible in his hand’ and used it to justify the holocaust). The implication is that we must be suspicious of theologians, the worst of whom lead the world astray or divert the church from its radical calling.

[3] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e721SeUeRJM The comment comes at approx 2m 30sec into the clip.

[4] One further comment needs to be made in relation to Shane and  Mother Theresa – the implied holiness implicit in following the monastic self-sacrifice that Shane and Mother Theresa illustrate. As long as their example inspires Christians to be more wholehearted in their dedication to Jesus and to shun the attractions of the world, it is good. If, in the lives of our younger church members, it becomes something that contradicts the principle of salvation by faith alone, the Galatian heresy, it must be resisted.  It is NOT more holy to be a Mother Theresa or a Shane than, say, a Christian businessman or politician, if that is what God has called you to be.

2 Responses to “Claiborne Paper – The Irresistible Revolution (3)”

  1. Buck Eichler Says:

    It would be wise to see the forest, not just the trees.
    You don’t have to agree with everything Shane says, but the overall spirit of his essays are exactly what we need today.
    I notice you refer to “left wing” as if that is proof of a lack of orthodoxy. You refer to just war theory as if it is a scriptural principle. It is not.
    Do you have the ability to look at the cultural saturation of our faith? It is right wing, militaristic, and supports economic predation.
    Christians need to shake themselves loose from our Americanized version of Christianity, and seek true authenticity with our Lord. Shane moves us in that direction. Do I agree with each little point? Probably not. Do I agree with the overall thrust? Every born again believer ought to. Period.

  2. Anonymous Says:

    There is no such thing as the Just war principle if you believe what Jesus teaches. He said if you are angry it is murder and sinful. Retaliating or engaging in war is murder and sinful according to Jesus. A new command. Those who believe in Just War don’t believe in Jesus or the power of prayer to give peace.


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