I don’t know Walter Wink, and have not read his book. I just copped his title because I liked it, but it frames up the subject I am looking at right now.
Is there anything redemptive about violence, about war? Is war sometimes a “good thing”? Is it ever a “Just War”? From a governmental standpoint, maybe. You can expand your borders, improve your revenues, tax new citizens, and gain strategic assets. And if you win big, you can enter center stage on the world political scene, have your agenda affirmed. Because in this darkened world, might makes right. But from a christian perspective, no, I don’t think there is anything redemptive about violence, except that done to Christ himself. We forget which kingdom we belong to. Governments can’t have the mind of Christ. We can…
I’ve read several of John Eldridge’s books now, and I do realize that when he talks about warfare he is speaking about spiritual warfare. Yet the message that men might mistakenly hear is about how to swagger a little bit more, how to swing your sword, how to feel macho, how to blow smoke rings, all in a godly fashion. Some of this is to enable men to feel comfortable again with how they are made. With who they are. Not that this is exactly what all men should be like. Eldredge is no muscle bound dude. But he is an authentic man. The hyper-masculine stuff is what John refers to as “posing”, like a body builder in a mirror. All show and no “go”. I do think biblical manhood has been hunted down and snared, true masculinity has been taken captive by the overwhelming sense of bridal imagery within the church, and put out on the back steps by pink battalions within our own culture. But I don’t think we reclaim it by looking to images of the world in order to see it more clearly. That will result in more confusion and hurt. Those of us who are “Wild at Heart” do need to regain our masculine hearts, understand how and why we were made. Battle is a fact of life, it will present itself to you in one form or another, sooner or later. But the the battle that matters most is taking place 6 feet above our heads, unseen in the heavenlies. Angels are locked in mortal combat, they are Heavens Hosts. Heaven Army.
I think for us to see a clearer picture of New Testament manhood we need to look at the lives of the Apostles, and early Saints like Polycarp, Telemachus, Justin Martyr, Ignatious, and Origen. These men understood their times, and stood resolutely on the Word, filled with the Spirit and glorifying God to the end.
Redemptive Violence is an illusion, one fostered by the notion of a State Church. It gives us temporary satisfaction because we paid the so and so’s back, but it does not leave room for God’s vengeance. We get satisfaction now, incomplete and blood stained, and help the cycle to spin just a little faster. And most importantly, we have no reward later and do nothing to help spread the kingdom.
There will always be battles, and plenty of warriors to sacrifice to Mars, the god of War. But I don’t believe that christians should be among them, at least not by our own hand. Give room for God to do his work, for surely His perfect justice will be wrought on the face of this earth. Vengeance is mine, says the Lord. And we will all see it.
Blessed are the Peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.