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 .

Articles by Mark Misulia

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