Monday, July 27, 2009

OK, one more before we leave the gate: Episcopal "Peace" means sacrificing inconvenient people to the ruthless

Many actions of the General Convention of the Episcopal Church are laughable - but sometimes they are truly vile. A sect that is ambivalent or dismissive toward its own Scripture and Creeds speaks with absolute blind faith on its political positions, as evidenced in Resolution A042,

Resolved, the House of Bishops concurring, That the 76th General Convention condemn in any nation the first use of armed force in the form of a preventive or pre-emptive strike that is aimed at disrupting a non-imminent, uncertain military threat; and be it further

Resolved, That the Convention strongly admonish the United States Government to renounce its 2002 policy that asserts the right to act, by armed force if necessary, to "forestall or prevent" threats even if "uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy's attack"; and be it further

Resolved, That ordained and lay leadership of The Episcopal Church promote the renunciation of "first use" military action as the established teaching of our Church, encouraging parish study and public witness.

Well, here's something to study and witness about: one of the regimes that this resolution seeks to protect and enable tests its biological and chemical first strike weapons on disabled children. And before you shriek about "right wing bloggers," the news of this first appeared on AL JAZEERA. (h/t Transfigurations)

FWIW, here's the policy for which TEC "admonishes" the United States and against which those of us in the Episcopal Church are supposed to "teach," evidently as an article of faith. You might not agree with this policy, but it is certainly a more realistic and responsible effort than a bunch of conventioneers dabbling in issues between visits to Disneyland.

I sense my fellow retreatant (ahem) about ready to get going, but I think it worth reflecting on the Al Jazeera story in light of the Episcopal Presiding Bishop's assertion of corporate/political salvation over personal/spiritual salvation. The individual "duty" to the collective and all that. Also in light of the Episcopal Seminary Dean who calls abortion "holy work" (although she states this in terms of radical individualism - why the PB inconsistently declines to contest that I will leave up to you to ponder. OK, gone. Out the door. I think.)


Anonymous said...

So is a first strike biblical or not?

TLF+ said...

The NT does not lay out a specific military policy (all the more reason for churches to be cautious when attempting to do so), although Romans 13 makes clear that the state wields "the sword" to terrify the wrongdoer - and does so with God's permission.

So, we are thrown back on "just war" theories and in the case of first strike, some applications would include doing only enough to mitigate a threat (in other words, not using the strike to grab land or resources), proportionality (not wiping out a whole country when destroying a facility would do the job) and preventing a greater evil from taking place (destroying military infrastructure - even with collateral damage - versus allowing WMDs to be used against cities.)

Ugly and imperfect - but isn't that politics and war? Isn't that the human race?

Jesus says that in the Kingdom's value system, "Blessed are the peacemakers." So anything that truly builds peace between people is blessed. On a worldly level, Winston Churchill, no pacifist, said, "Jaw jaw is better than war war." If WMDs and other evils can be restrained by real peacemaking, that's best. If by negotiation, good. If by international pressure and sanctions, good again. If by military force, better than the alternative. And even the 2002 policy document that TEC attacks says that first strike is not the option to use when other means can prevent WMD proliferation.

Being useful idiots for a militaristic madman who starves his own people to develop WMDs is not peacemaking.

Also risable is TEC calling this "teaching." "Blessed are the peacemakers" or any call for pacificism and vulnerability can only appeal to the Kingdom values carried by the Prince of Peace - a case that "We call for this because it is what the Lord wants." But TEC will not acknowledge the Biblical and traditional testimony to Jesus - TEC does not recognize that kind of authority in Jesus.

And so this resolution stands or falls on General Convention's experience and credibility in international relations and military theory. I'll just let that hang in the air for a bit...

Jeffersonian said...

I think you miss the point here, Tim. Did TEC snap into action on this when Russia flattened Grozny? Did they rise in righteous anger when the janjaweed were slaughtering folks in Darfur by the tens of thousands? When Hamas was launching thousands of missiles into Israel? Please.

No, if you want to stir the wrath of the port side (and let's face it, TEC today is at prayer), just let the US or Israel try anything that can be even remotely deemed aggressive and they'll spring the length of their chains in a heartbeat. It isn't about lives, property or's about fixed enemies.

TLF+ said...

Jeffersonian: the number of resolutions directed against Israel affirm your point.

The "peace and justice" gang are about something else altogether.

Anonymous said...

Is a first strike biblical?

Ask Goliath.

Even better, ask David.

Matthew said...

I hate to be cynical, but since when has GC gone deeper than slogans?

GC resolutions typically look a great deal like astro turfed political action committee press releases.

Part of the appeal of ACNA to me is how quickly and expeditiously they held their convention. As near as I can tell, no political resolutions of any kind were considered.

TLF+ said...

Matthew - I think that is one of ACNA's appealing features - evangelism, disciple making and congregational development don't need resolutions to affirm orders already posted to the church in Scripture.

The sheer volume of GenCon resolutions (around 500?) momentarily obscures but ultimately reveals the gaping hole where the church's heart should be.

"When in danger, when in doubt, run in circles, scream and shout."