Kim Frabricius’ sermon, “Why I am a Shalomite”

Okay, this is the second time I’ve come across something by Kim Frabricius and the second time I’ve been delighted by his use of words. First was “Scribo, ergo sum.” Now it’s coining “Shalomite” to describe a Christian who responds to God’s revelation that we find our true goal and selves in Jesus Christ, in imitating Jesus Christ, and therefore in a God-designed kind of pacifism.

This sermon — “Why I am a Shalomite: a sermon for Remembrance Sunday” — is worth summarizing, for the quick summary of types of pacifism “from below”, for the reminder of God’s revelation to us about Shalomic pacifism, and for Kim’s wonderful language.

First, there are the various types of “pacifists” — (a) the ones insulted as cowards (though “it would be as unfair to accuse all pacifists of cowardice as it would be to accuse all soldiers of brutality.”); (b) “humanist” pacifists whose reason is pragmatic — a reverence for life which is the only stance which makes sense in the face of ongoing violence; (c) Christians who emphasize the sanctity of life (e.g., Schweitzer) — but, as Frabricius rightly points out, this focus is on human life more than it is on God. “It is an argument from creation rather than the Creator, and certainly than the Redeemer.”; (d) Quakers (and others from the historic peace churches) who, says Frabricius, maintain a position “distinguished by a specific vision of the relation between the church and state” [but that’s not doing it for me — I’d like to understand the Quaker’s view a little better]; (e) anarchist pacifists, like the JWs, “who have no real vision for society at all, not least because they think it aint gonna be here very much longer.”

Finally, (f) there are the “post-just war pacifists.” They respect traditional Just War theory, but may’ve allowed for the possibility of some wars in the past being acceptable when certain rules of conduct are abided by. But, now, in an age of nuclear weapons and WMDs, they figure it may be impossible to ever guarantee those rules of conduct ever again. Again, their reasons, like the humanist pacifists’ is utilitarian. “It is based on reason rather than revelation, no substantive appeal is made to the Bible or to Jesus.”

Frabricius concludes by saying that he is a Christian pacifist, a Shalomite, because, basically, Jesus shows us God, and God is a God of Shalom. He gives a great quote by Stanley Hauerwas (though no citation): “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: “Nonviolence is not just one implication among other that can be drawn from our Christian beliefs; it is the very heart of our understanding of God.” YES YES YES. We should all be Shalomites because we should all be following Jesus, and Jesus taught us to love our enemies, etc. And I love this: “God is non-violent and him there is no violence at all.”

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.

Only God can give us our marching orders, says Frabricius, “from the cross… not from the Union Jack or the Welsh Dragon.”

[This] alternative life-style described in the gospels… which is the real world, a world of grace and truth… 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.

Wonderful stuff. Wonderful wording. One question, though, is whether Frabricius really mean to imply that the cross was the end of the story? He must’ve assumed we’d assume the resurrection answering the cross.

Other responses: (1) I like the point that unlike the other “pacificisms”, this pacificism – Shalomitism – is the one that can’t be argued, it’s the one we can’t convince each other of. The others can be argued with evidence. This one can only be offered as divine will. (Or, can it? Isn’t there some effect of the behavior of shalom? And F actually does say that there is, somewhere.) (2) I wished he had extrapolated or imagined what would happen — even if just a little — what DOES happen, when Christians imitate their God of peace. I’m sure I’m not alone among his audience in craving some vision of how practically to apply shalom… to envision how exactly we got about it. Do we advise our 20-year-olds to avoid the military? Do we encourage the soldiers already in the service to get out? Is it just maintaining a peaceful heart?

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