Have Christians gone soft?
"Among Protestants, the entire theological tradition of using martial metaphors to describe God's glory has fallen into massive disrepute," writes J. Bottum in the current issue of The Weekly Standard. "Righteousness has come to seem the equivalent of self-righteousness, and hardly anyone believes in genuinely righteous anger any more. If the United States goes wobbly in its war on terrorism—if the campaign peters out in self-doubt and confusion after a few months of bombings—Christian feeling in America will have had something to do with it." Bottum acknowledges that there are real pacifists in the pews—folks with real conviction. But most of the Christians wringing their hands over fighting back against terrorism aren't real pacifists like the Quakers and Mennonites of old, Bottum says. Instead, American Christians are accepting a "soft pacifism … which lacks both the stern Christian pacifist's willingness to accept martyrdom and the hard Christian realist's willingness to use coercive force."

This pacifism without conviction, Bottum concludes,

is dangerous to a nation facing enemies without any softness or tradition of pacifism. It is as well a threat to American Christians, who can fulfill their religious duty either by accepting the suffering that H. Richard Niebuhr called "war as crucifixion" or by taking up the sword in righteous anger to guard the sheep against the wolves—but not by dithering between the two.

Repent, for the day of judgment is nigh Bottum's article also has the requisite slamagainst Jerry Falwell's retracted comments, but he tags last week's World magazine editorial by Joel Belz as just as "over the edge" and "contemptible." In that editorial (noted in a Weblog last Friday), ...

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