Dominica, the publication of the Dominican students of the St. Joseph Province, features Br. Bonaventure Chapman, O.P. weighing in on Stanley Hauerwas’ pacifism:
Although I am not a pacifist, there are certainly compelling reasons for being one. In the first place, Jesus seems to recommend the practice on a number of occasions, as when he refuses permission to James and John to call down fire from heaven to consume the Samaritan town that rejected Jesus (Luke 9:51-56); or when he rebukes Peter in the Garden and heals the servant whose ear had been cut off (Luke 22:47-53). Most powerfully, Jesus refuses to call down angels to save him before Pilate and, instead, suffers crucifixion for the sins of the world. This act of non-violence is what saves the world from sin and death, and it is this act that Hauerwas argues should be the paradigm for all Christian practice…This emphasis on martyrdom as the Christian practice is echoed by Hauerwas: “I really believe, since I’m a Christian, that you always live in a world at risk. Indeed, what Christianity is about, is always learning how to die early for the right reasons.”
In contrast, he also cites C.S. Lewis’ short piece, “Why I am not a Pacifist,”
“[In trying to become a pacifist,] I should find a very doubtful factual basis, an obscure train of reasoning, a weight of authority both human and Divine against me, and strong grounds for suspecting that my wishes had directed my decision . . . It may be, after all, that Pacifism is right. But it seems to me very long odds, longer odds than I would care to take with the voice of almost all humanity against me.”
Eric Cohen’s review of Hauerwas’ new book War and the American Difference: Theological Reflections on Violence and National Identity can be found in First Things’ April issue here.