ANNUAL FORTY DAY FAST
TRUTH OF GOSPEL NONVIOLENCE
Is withholding knowledge and/or information a Christian needs to make a moral decision, that is to do the will of God as revealed by Jesus, morally permissible in Christianity?
He said these things while teaching in the synagogue in Capernaum. On hearing it, many of his disciples said, “This is a hard teaching. Who can accept it?” . . . From this time many who were his disciples turned back and no longer followed him ( Jn 6:60, 66).
Jesus never wanted to drive away people, let alone drive His disciples away. Yet, that was exactly what happened when Truth Incarnate told people the truth. Jesus did not seek unity or a large following at the expense of truth. He sought unity and community in the truth. He did not try to attract followers by withholding the truth from them, and thereby making discipleship more culturally acceptable and more psychologically, emotionally, philosophically, economically, politically and theologically palatable. Jesus spoke to his listeners in terms of what He knew they really were, namely, sons and daughters of the Father in whose image and likeness they were created. He spoke to them as human beings who could not save themselves from evil—not as people who needed the evil in which they were ensnared religiously validated as the will of God by Him.
Countless times over the last forty-six years of trying to call the Churches back to teaching what the Nonviolent Jesus of the Gospels taught about violence and enmity, I have been told—by bishops, priests, ministers and pastors, male and female, heterosexual and homosexual, black, white or yellow, by leaders of reform movements within the various Churches and even by leaders of Christian Peace and Justice organizations—some configuration of the following:
“I agree that the Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is what Jesus taught. It is His Way. I know that the absurdity called “Christian” just war theory cannot be found in or logically derived from anything Jesus ever said or did. But I can’t say that to my Christian community. I would lose half my congregation before the sun went down. It would divide my parish (diocese) like nothing else could. I can’t teach that. It would destroy my Church. Jesus does not want that. And, I am not going to let that happen!”
The three negative assumptions behind such a statement are first of all a human calculation that “My people are not ready to hear this. It is too much for them to deal with.” Secondly, that it is good, proper and right to keep a Christian community together by lying to it via intentional omission and thereby permitting its members to do in clear conscience the opposite of what Jesus called them to do. And, thirdly, that the Word of God which “is living and effective, sharper than any two-edged sword, penetrating even between soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and able to discern reflections and thoughts of the heart” (Heb 4:12), cannot make a Christian congregation, community, organization or diocese ready and able to deal with the Gospel truth of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies by ways and means beyond human imagination. “The radical reality of the Gospels is the reality of grace,” writes the Biblical scholar Rev. John L. McKenzie as noted in the previous FAST FOOD Helping, “and there is just no calculating what grace can do,”
There is, then, never a need to eliminate anything that God, who is love (agape), communicates to the world through His Son, the Incarnation of Love (agape), for us and for our salvation. All of God’s communications through the Jesus of the Gospels, His Word made flesh, are grace. For a Christian to think and/or act otherwise is to be conned by the Prince of this world—“who is a murderer and a liar from the beginning” (Jn 8:44)—into abusing and wasting the gift of life and the gift of faith in Jesus Christ as Lord, God and Savior, the Way, the Truth and the Life.