By Anna

There is argued to be two to four types of pacifists in this world:

  1. Universal Pacifist who prohibits all killing
  2. Universal Pacifist who prohibits all violence
  3. Private Pacifist who prohibits personal violence and killing
  4. Anti-War Pacifist who allows self-defense, but against all types of war

To put anyone within the confines of a definition is difficult, but in order to develop a case for Christian pacifists (yes there are Christians not in support of military action!) here are some thoughts on what these four types of Pacifists might say from a Christian perspective:

Type I:  The Bible teaches a strong guidance for the sanctity of all life (Genesis 1:27). What many non-Christians or not-yet-Christians argue against is the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) stories and commands from God for the Israelites to destroy entire groups of people. The Old Testament is an important part of all Christian studies because God’s covenant is formed with Abraham in Genesis and expanded on as a New Testament Covenant from Jesus.

Type 2: The Sermon on the Mount as well as Jesus’ entire lifestyle is anti-violence.

Type 3: Augustine attempted to reconcile the ideas of the Sermon on the Mount with military force as an option. An acceptance throughout the Bible that communal defense is valued, but private violence/defense is wrong.

Type 4:  The most commonly used example for Anti-war Pacifists is WWII. These types would most likely agree that going into Germany was the best course of action, not only for the United States, but for the Jews. The problem Anti-war Pacifists face is if we do fight a defense war, what do we do with all the casualties and death of civilians?

I’m writing about pacifism today because of my continual confliction between “supporting the troops” and disagreeing with any involvement in military activity. How do we claim a belief in an all-loving God, yet kill? Whether it is the death of an innocent life or a military life, how can violence be an acceptable response to violence?

In spite of my research and projection of pacifism onto you, I can’t really say which type I am. I could never say that I would never inflict a violent act upon someone, though I hope I never do, but I am also very anti-war, though as soon as I say that I think about the violence and pure hatred of Hitler Germany in the 1930s and 40s. How can we reconcile our non-violence with violence? And what is it about humanity that requires us to be saved, but only through death?