A LOVE SUPREME

I am now blogging at a new blog: erdman31.com

If you post comments here at Theos Project, please know that I will respond and engage your thoughts in a timely manner.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Shoot me

A few years back, Dr. Dave Plaster, a professor of mine, relayed a story to our class of a time when he was at Dallas Seminary working on his Ph.D. several years back. Dr. Plaster is a Grace Brethren and a pacifist. That was a bit of a problem because he was in a classroom full of non-pacifists and his wily Professor who was a bit antagonistic toward pacifists. The Professor assigned topics for a research assignment that included defending one's thesis in the classroom. Naturally, the wily Professor assigned Dr. Plaster the topic of pacifism. When it was Dr. Plaster's turn to defend, he presented his case for pacifism and then the floor was open for fellow students to open fire, if you will, on his case against war. The Professor was first to interject and embarked upon a lengthy polemic against the points presented, expounding every jot and tittle whereby Dr. Plaster (and other pacifists) were so clearly mistaken.

Dr. Plaster absorbed the barrage and responded with a scenario and a question: Let's say that my country is at war, and that I am a soldier. Let us further suppose that I have the enemy in my sites, and that all I must do is pull the trigger and effectively eliminate the enemy's life. This, of course, is my job as a soldier and my duty to my country. But now let's suppose that the enemy is a fellow brother in Christ. Are you telling me that I am obligated to pull the trigger and kill my fellow brother in Christ?????

The Professor gathered together his few things, rose from his seat, and exited the classroom.

20 comments:

Emily said...

Interesting point. But most of the time, you're not going to know.

Daniel said...

you only know as much as you want to know...

Jonathan Erdman said...

"Know thyself"

Jonathan Erdman said...

Dr. Know

Jonathan Erdman said...

That's a know, know.

samlcarr said...

know it's knot. Anyway, your soldier could figure that the least harm scenario is to shoot the enemy anyway as this one will go straight to heaven.

It's the ones that haven't yet been saved whose souls we would want to be more protective of.

Daniel said...

Of the good, peaceable man

First keep thyself in peace, and then shalt thou be able to be a peacemaker towards others. A peaceable man doth more good than a well-learned. A passionate man turneth even good into evil and easily believeth evil; a good, peaceable man converteth all things into good. He who dwelleth in peace is suspicious of none, but he who is discontented and restless is tossed with many suspicions, and is neither quiet himself nor suffereth others to be quiet. He often saith what he ought not to say, and omitteth what it were more expedient for him to do. He considereth to what duties others are bound, and neglecteth those to which he is bound himself. Therefore be zealous first over thyself, and then mayest thou righteously be zealous concerning thy neighbour.

2. Thou knowest well how to excuse and to colour thine own deeds, but thou wilt not accept the excuses of others. It would be more just to accuse thyself and excuse thy brother. If thou wilt that others bear with thee, bear thou with others. Behold how far thou art as yet from the true charity and humility which knows not how to be angry or indignant against any save self alone. It is no great thing to mingle with the good and the meek, for this is naturally pleasing to all, and every one of us willingly enjoyeth peace and liketh best those who think with us: but to be able to live peaceably with the hard and perverse, or with the disorderly, or those who oppose us, this is a great grace and a thing much to be commended and most worthy of a man.

3. There are who keep themselves in peace and keep peace also with others, and there are who neither have peace nor suffer others to have peace; they are troublesome to others, but always more troublesome to themselves. And there are who hold themselves in peace, and study to bring others unto peace; nevertheless, all our peace in this sad life lieth in humble suffering rather than in not feeling adversities. He who best knoweth how to suffer shall possess the most peace; that man is conqueror of himself and lord of the world, the friend of Christ, and the inheritor of heaven.

Thomas à Kempis (The Imitation of Christ, book 2 chapter 3)

Daniel said...

The ant's a centaur in his dragon world.
Pull down thy vanity, it is not man
Made courage, or made order, or made grace,
Pull down thy vanity, I Say pull down.
Learn of the green world what can be thy place
In scaled invention or true artistry,
Pull down thy vanity,
Paquin pull down!
The green casque has outdone your elegance.
"Master thyself, then others shall thee beare"
Pull down thy vanity
Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail,
A swollen magpie in a fitful Sun,
Half bIack half white
Nor knowst'ou wing from tail
Pull down thy vanity
How mean thy hates
Fostered in falsity,
Pull down thy vanity,
Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity,
Pull down thy vanity,
I say pull down.

Ezra Pound (from Canto 81)

samlcarr said...

Great stuff Daniel, thanks for reminding me.

ktismatics said...

Sometimes, Erdman, it's hard for me to tell whether you're offering these things up with tongue in cheek.

Melody said...

I'm kinda with Sam on this one. It always concerned me more than non-Christians would be going to hell than that myself or another Christian would go to heaven "early" (though to be realistic I'm a really bad shot - so probably anyone I'm aiming at is safe).

On the other hand - it seems irresponsible, either as a soldier or a Christian, to take lightly someone who intends to kill other people, regaurdless of their religious affiliations.

In that scenario mine and the enemy solider's are not the only souls at stake.

samlcarr said...

Now Melody! I'm shocked...

Seriously, though I really thought I was trying to be cute.

I'm actually not for shooting anyone at any time and for any reason. Besides, the only one who knows who is actually heading for the ultimate pastures, isn't telling!

Melody said...

Seriously, though I really thought I was trying to be cute.

...

Hmmm - hard to tell with you.

I think there a certain situations which call for shooting - but I hope to never be in any of them.

ktismatics said...

On a related front, there's this on the WWI Christmas Truce.

Then there's the great line "Kill them all -- the Lord will recognize his own." Read about it here.

samlcarr said...

History is fascinating, but lest we forget, we are still made of the same stuff- for good or ill.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Ktismatics: Sometimes, Erdman, it's hard for me to tell whether you're offering these things up with tongue in cheek.

That's the beauty of the blog, is it not?

I am intrigued by the pacifist position, and it has been rolling around in my mind of late. I truly admire those who take a stand for peace based on principle. I do not admire over-doped hippies or cowards who thoughtlessly or fearfully back out of war. However, if you are a warrior, but as a warrior you choose to stand for peace, against all of your impulses, this is something that must be considered significant.

On the other hand, I have always wondered about violence. Is violence a necessary thread in the fabric of our world? Is violence, in and of itself, morally wrong? Or does it depend upon the nature of the violence and the "cause" for which one asserts violence?

Melody said...

Is violence, in and of itself, morally wrong? Or does it depend upon the nature of the violence and the "cause" for which one asserts violence?

I think it depends.

I wouldn't think twice about chucking something heavy at the scull or vital organs of someone who was attacking a child or really anyone else who couldn't defend themselves.

It's one thing if it's just you. Whatever, make your own decision on whether or not you'd be violent to save your life.

But I can't see where attacking someone to save someone else would be more wrong than abandoning someone who is defensless.

God rather frequently had people of faith use violence in the OT so I think I'd say it's something that can be used for good.

ktismatics said...

"I do not admire over-doped hippies or cowards who thoughtlessly or fearfully back out of war."

I presume your lack of admiration also extends to macho types who go to war to prove their manhood or to those cowards who allow themselves to get caught up in collective war hysteria.

Jonathan Erdman said...

Ktismatics: I presume your lack of admiration also extends to macho types who go to war to prove their manhood or to those cowards who allow themselves to get caught up in collective war hysteria.

Very good.

Daniel said...


Great stuff Daniel, thanks for reminding me.


What did I remind you of Sam?