In an interview in the March 17 issue of World, Duke's theologien provocateur Stanley Hauerwas expresses sympathy for the view that killing to protect the innocent is allowable, but refuses to let his sympathy budge him from his pacifist convictions.
It is never right to kill "to prevent another from being killed." If this puts him in uncomfortable position, it's one he's williing to accept: "Christian nonviolence is a harsh and dreadful love requiring at times we may have to watch the innocent suffer for our convictions." Apparently, sympathy for actual victims doesn't budge Hauerwas either.
Hauerwas wants to protect the innocent if he can, only he doesn't want to do it violently. Overcome evil with good, Paul says, and the pacifist leaps to the conclusion that Christians are prohibited from mounting violent resistance in any circumstances.
That assumes, however, an indefensible equation of violence with evil. Violence comes in such varied shapes, sizes, and contexts that it cannot be classed as one thing. One might borrow a page from Hauerwas himself and say that violence is always part of a story, and good or bad depending on its place in the plot.
posted by Peter J. Leithart on Saturday, March 17, 2007 at 12:10 PM
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