November 1, 2008

Non-Violence & The Kingdom of Heaven


Ok so I want to try something. I've been thinking about it for a little while now and came to the conclusion that in all reality nothing harmful can really come from it other than people having a better understand, at the vary least, of my particular beliefs. So here is where we start.

Most of you probably will never have heard of William Lloyd Garrison or the Society for the Establishment of Peace among Men, which existed in 1838 in the United States. He falls among the countless other marginalized voices throughout Christendom's history that have stood for truth with such blatant honesty that you will likely encounter their names upon the "heretic" list. But Garrison was a fiery abolitionist (the champion of emancipation among his more favorable titles) who came to the conclusion after wrestling with the most dangerous of scripture (i.e. The Sermon on the Mount) that the establishment of Christ's Kingdom rested on the open profession of the doctrine of nonresistance to evil by violence (now more well known as "nonviolence"). In 1838 Garrison pend an incredible declaration, from Boston, that was circulated and signed by a remarkable number of believers from various backgrounds including many of the members of the Society for the Establishment of Peace among Men. Immediately after which a Society for Nonresistance was founded, and a journal called the Non-Resistant began spreading. This declaration of Garrison's gave so powerful and eloquent an expression of a confession of faith of such importance to men, that one would have thought it must have produced a strong impression on people, and have become known throughout the world and the subject of discussion on every side. But nothing of the kind occurred. Not only was it unknown in Europe, even the Americans, who at the time held such a high opinion of Garrison, hardly knew of the declaration.

So this is my hope; to share in this declaration with you all. My desire is to spread this declaration of nonresistance as far as print & electronic media can and to gather signatures from as many as would adhere to such a confession. I will post it here and elsewhere, send e-mails and newsletters, and ask those of you who adhere your names to it to spread it as well. Simply add a comment wherever you find it (with your name) or return an e-mail with your wishes to be added to the list of signatures. After adequate time has been given for circulation I will print the declaration and combine our names with the names of believers who signed it in the 1830's. I will then send it to every armed-forces branch of the government as well as send letters to established congregations in support war and violence, not out of spite, but in declaration of our beliefs. Hurray how exciting! 

So many of you are already professing believers in nonviolence and many others of you are not. Still many more of you, I'm sure, have never concerned yourself with war and violence and the establishment of heaven on earth. Yet to all I say keep an open mind. If anything let this declaration of my beliefs be a conversation starter, and if you haven't studied nonviolence perhaps read up on it. Martin Luther King Jr, Mahatma Gandhi, Desmond Tutu, or anything by Leo Tolstoy are great places to start. But if you're really feeling dangerous check out Matt. 5-7!

A Declaration of Non-Violence 2008
(first introduced by W.L. Garrison in 1838)

"We the undersigned, regard it as due to ourselves, to the cause which we love, to the country in which we live, to publish a declaration expressive of the purposes we aim to accomplish and the measures we shall adopt to carry forward the work of peaceful universal reformation.

"We do not acknowledge allegiance to any human government. We recognize but one King and Lawgiver, one Judge and Ruler of mankind. Our country is the world, our countrymen are all mankind. We love the land of our nativity only as we love all other lands. The interests and rights of American citizens are not dearer to us than those of the whole human race. Hence we can allow no appeal to patriotism to revenge any national insult or injury...

"We conceive that a nation has no right to defend itself against foreign enemies or to punish its invaders, and no individual possesses that right in his own case, and the unit cannot be of greater importance than the aggregate. If soldiers thronging from abroad with intent to commit rapine and destroy life may not be resisted by the people or the magistracy, then ought no resistance to be offered to domestic troublers of the public peace or of private security.

"The dogma that all the governments of the world are approvingly ordained of God, and that the powers that be in the United States, in Russia, in Turkey, are in accordance with his will, is no less absurd than impious. It makes the impartial Author of our existence unequal and tyrannical. It cannot be affirmed that the powers that be in any nation are actuated by the spirit or guided by the example of Christ in the treatment of enemies; therefore they cannot be agreeable to the will of God, and therefore their overthrow by a spiritual regeneration of their subjects is inevitable.

"We regard as unchristian and unlawful not only all wars, whether offensive or defensive, but all preparations for war; every naval ship, every arsenal, every fortification, we regard as unchristian and unlawful; the existence of any kind of standing army, all military chieftains, all monuments commemorative of victory over a fallen foe, all trophies won in battle, all celebrations in honor of military exploits, all appropriations for defense by arms; we regard as unchristian and unlawful every edict of government requiring of its subjects military service.

"Hence we deem it unlawful to bear arms, and we cannot hold any office which imposes on its incumbent the obligation to compel men to do right on pain of imprisonment or death. We therefore voluntarily exclude ourselves from every legislative and judicial body, and repudiate all human politics, worldly honors, and stations of authority. If we cannot occupy a seat in the legislature or on the bench, neither can we elect others to act as our substitutes in any such capacity. It follows that we cannot sue any man at law to force him to return anything he may have wrongly taken from us; if he has seized our coat, we shall surrender him our cloak also rather than subject him to punishment.

"We believe that the penal code of the old covenant--an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth--has been abrogated by Jesus Christ, and that under the new covenant the forgiveness instead of the punishment of enemies has been enjoined on all his disciples in all cases whatsoever. To extort money from enemies, cast them into prison, exile or execute them, is obviously not to forgive but to take retribution.

"The history of mankind is crowded with evidences proving that physical coercion is not adapted to moral regeneration, and that the sinful dispositions of men can be subdued only by love; that evil can be exterminated only by good; that it is not safe to rely upon the strength of an arm to preserve us from harm; that there is great security in being gentle, long- suffering, and abundant in mercy; that it is only the meek who shall inherit the earth; for those who take up the sword shall perish by the sword.

"Hence as a measure of sound policy--of safety to property, life, and liberty--of public quietude and private enjoyment--as well as on the ground of allegiance to Him who is King of kings and Lord of lords, we cordially adopt the non-resistance principle, being confident that it provides for all possible consequences, is armed with omnipotent power, and must ultimately triumph over every assailing force.

"We advocate no Jacobinical doctrines (i.e. Just War Theory). The spirit of Jacobinism is the spirit of retaliation, violence, and murder. It neither fears God nor regards man. We would be filled with the spirit of Christ. If we abide evil by our fundamental principle of not opposing evil by evil we cannot participate in sedition, treason, or violence. We shall submit to every ordinance and every requirement of government, except such as are contrary to the commands of the Gospel, and in no case resist the operation of law, except by meekly submitting to the penalty of disobedience.

"But while we shall adhere to the doctrine of non-resistance and passive submission to enemies, we purpose, in a moral and spiritual sense, to assail iniquity in high places and in low places, to apply our principles to all existing evil, political, legal, and ecclesiastical institutions, and to hasten the time when the kingdoms of this world will have become the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ. It appears to us a self-evident truth that whatever the Gospel is designed to destroy at any period of the world, being contrary to it, ought now to be abandoned. If, then, the time is predicted when swords shall be beaten into plowshares and spears into pruning hooks, and men shall not learn the art of war any more, it follows that all who manufacture, sell, or wield these deadly weapons do thus array themselves against the peaceful dominion of the Son of God on earth.

"Having thus stated our principles, we proceed to specify the measures we propose to adopt in carrying our object into effect.

"We expect to prevail through the Foolishness of Speaking. We shall endeavor to promulgate our views among all persons, to whatever nation, sect, or grade of society they may belong. Hence we shall organize public lectures, circulate tracts and publications, form societies, and petition every governing body. It will be our leading object to devise ways and means for effecting a radical change in the views, feelings, and practices of society respecting the sinfulness of war and the treatment of enemies.

"In entering upon the great work before us, we are not unmindful that in its prosecution we may be called to test our sincerity even as in a fiery ordeal. It may subject us to insult, outrage, suffering, yea, even death itself. We anticipate no small amount of misconception, misrepresentation, and calumny. Tumults may arise against us. The proud and pharisaical, the ambitious and tyrannical, principalities and powers, may combine to crush us. So they treated the Messiah whose example we are humbly striving to imitate. We shall not be afraid of their terror. Our confidence is in the Lord Almighty and not in man. Having withdrawn from human protection, what can sustain us but that faith which overcomes the world? We shall not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try us, but rejoice inasmuch as we are partakers of Christ's sufferings.

"Wherefore we commit the keeping of our souls to God. For every one that forsakes houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands for Christ's sake, shall inherit everlasting life.

"Firmly relying upon the certain and universal triumph of the sentiments contained in this declaration, however formidable may be the opposition arrayed against them, we hereby affix our signatures to it; commending it to the reason and conscience of mankind, and resolving, in the strength of the Lord God, to calmly and meekly abide the issue."

Sign Bellow
......

STEVEN SCHALLERT

3 comments:

Ryan & Jeanette said...

Steve! Add us our names to this please. Jeanette and I are so on par with this "non redemptive violence" idealogy...we are excited to see what else you are going to do for the kingdom!
Ryan and Jeanette

Shmuel said...

I was there for nearly every word of this. I was wondering what your thoughts are on this passage though:

"Hence we deem it unlawful to bear arms, and we cannot hold any office which imposes on its incumbent the obligation to compel men to do right on pain of imprisonment or death. We therefore voluntarily exclude ourselves from every legislative and judicial body, and repudiate all human politics, worldly honors, and stations of authority. If we cannot occupy a seat in the legislature or on the bench, neither can we elect others to act as our substitutes in any such capacity. "

No voting? No participation in politics what-so-ever? Am I wrong in feeling like this is just a small step too far?

Steven Schallert said...

Hey Samuel, I actually don't think it is wrong at all to feel some of these statements have pushed too far. In contrary I hope people can press into some of these ideas and come to their ow conclusions.

On the subject however I personally do not vote as a practice. I personally take such actions as voting to represent and allegiance to a system I inherently believe the cross has done away with. Participation for me says that I agree with this system of power in it of itself & that I believe if the right people are in office or the right legislation is passed then all will be made new. To me that conflicts with my allegiance to a Cross and the people of God. But I really don't place much emphasis on such things. Instead I try to set about imagining NEW possibilities outside of the system. So that my Christian imagination can be stirred to believe that equality is possible, love can triumph over power, and a system of Government that inevitably will serve itself dose not hold my allegiance.

In context of this declaration, however, I believe the author is speaking more to a "trickling down affect" than a subversive statement. Saying that since we inherently believe in the practice of nonviolence we cannot participate in a system that brings about so much of it. To hold office inevitably means ones participation in the violence the office produces...

Thats part of the ongoing salvation I am continuing to work out in fear and trembling, & really thats all I hope others to do as well...

Because He Lives,
STEVE

p.s. - Where are you from? Spain?