Posted by: sean | May 8, 2007

Larry Mattera: The Eschatological Community of Peace

Evangelical Approaches to Christian Participation in War: An Inquiry and a Proposal by Larry Mattera, M.A. (Oxon.), M.A.Th., The Journal for the Radical Reformation, Vol 3 Issue 4. Online here.

A biblical ethic of Christian participation in war must derive from a holistic reading of Scripture. The bare fact of warfare and warrior images of God in the OT does not legitimize war or Christian participation in war, but points beyond itself to the God active in human history. The hermeneutical key for unlocking the meaning of these motifs is Jesus Christ and the new community. Jesus is the culminator of the old aeon and the inaugurator of the era of fulfillment. The new community is the eschatological community of the Kingdom already emergent in history. In Jesus Christ, God introduces onto the horizon of human existence a New Order with a new way of living and acting in history. It is the Way authorized by Jesus of Nazareth, the way of the future exploding into the present.

In Jesus Christ, then, new possibilities, new potentialities emerge for human existence. The person who attaches himself or herself to Jesus Christ adopts a new history and a new disposition, a fundamentally changed attitude, and a wholly different scale of values. To be “in Christ” is to be “in the Spirit” and to live “by the Spirit” that is the very antithesis of war’s violence, hatred, and strife (Gal. 5:16, 17; Rom. 8:12, 13, cf. Matt. 26:52). God’s loving act in Jesus Christ is thus the final, definitive word on the Christian’s relation to war. It repudiates worldly pragmatism, defies political realism, and appeals to us to bind ourselves in faith, whatever the cost, to God’s pattern of dealing with enemies, to God’s way in the world—the way of the inbreaking new epoch of the Spirit.

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