Wednesday 15 November 2006

Why I am a Shalomite

Excerpts from a sermon by Kim Fabricius (read the whole thing here)

All my sermons have titles. I thought of calling this one “Why I Am a Pacifist.” But the term is too loaded to be of any theological use. So the title is, instead, “Why I Am a Shalomite.” It’s a term I made up – shalom, as you know, is the Hebrew word for peace, and includes the notions of human well-being and creation perfected. […]

As the American Methodist theologian Stanley Hauerwas puts it – because he puts it so much better than I could: “Non-violence is not one among other behavioural implications that can be drawn from the gospel but is integral to the shape of Christian convictions.” And further – and to the point of the point: “Nonviolence is not just one implication among others that can be drawn from our Christian beliefs; it is the very heart of our understanding of God.” You see I am a Shalomite – and I believe that at least all Christians and, in principle, all people should be Shalomites – not because of anything I know about the world or human beings, or through a calculus of war and peace, “but because of something I know about Jesus” (William Willimon) and because of something Jesus knows about God: namely, that God is a God of Shalom, that (to adapt what St John says about God and light and darkness) God is non-violent and in him there is no violence at all.

And what is Christian ethics, what is the very heart of following the way of Jesus, if not learning to be like the God of Jesus? And how do we learn to be like the God of Jesus if not by obeying the teaching of Jesus? And what is the teaching of Jesus if not: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven…. Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:43-48)?

We are called to be like God: perfect as God is perfect. It is a perfection that comes by following and learning to be like this particular man Jesus of Nazareth. That is why being a Shalomite is not an ethic of principles, laws, values, or consequences, but an ethic that derives from and demands that we attend to the life and teaching of this specific individual who challenged his culture of violence by engaging in active non-violence, and who ended up on a cross. End of story, you might say, because Jesus of Nazareth is indeed the end of story, the climax of the story, God’s story of creation and redemption: the crucified Christ who yet lives.

I don’t need to say anymore. That is my explanation of why I am a Shalomite. And I don’t intend, because I don’t need – and it is not in my power anyway – to try to persuade you to be a Shalomite too. At the risk of sounding presumptuous – the risk, in any case, that a preacher takes every time he climbs the pulpit and dares to proclaim the Word of God – only the Holy Spirit can turn you into a Shalomite. […]

This alternative world and alternative lifestyle described in the gospels and proclaimed and embodied in Jesus is the real world, a world of grace and truth – and, yes, peace – the real world compared to which the so-called real world, the world of power politics, of wars and rumours of war, is nothing but a grotesque shadow destined to disappear in the full glare of the sun of righteousness.

So my job today is done as I conclude, “Look! See! God’s New World! God’s New People!”


Anonymous said...

I love it ... Shalomite. It has an answer for those who think pacifism is just too passive and involves no resistence. And it rolls off the tongue quite nice. I'm sold. Mind if I spread it around, of course not as my own? :)

Anonymous said...

Spread it, brother!

Anonymous said...

I must say that I have appreciated Kim's contribution to this blog. I have posted numerous links in my own blog so that others may read her (I am assuming the "Kim" is a woman. Please correct me if I am wrong.) genius.

Thank you, Kim, for giving word to the thoughts of so many of us who have been called "pacifists" in a pejorative manner.

Ben Myers said...

Many thanks, Dustin. I always enjoy Kim's contribution too (and I should point out that "she" is in fact a "he"!).

Anonymous said...


Thank you for the correction. Many apologies to Kim. Assumption sometimes makes us look ignorant. Again, many thanks and apologies.

Anonymous said...

No apologies necessary, Dustin. I quite like feeling polymorphous! :)

And thank you for the overly kind words.


byron smith said...

A friend of mine is starting a new series responding to Kim's arguments over here. Will probably be three posts.

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