“Peace, Peace, but there is No Peace”: A Critique of Christian Pacifist Communitarianism

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Abstract

The communal elements of Christianity are of increasing concern to religious thinkers. Indeed, for some religious thinkers, the importance of community is paramount in Christian belief and practice, especially as these communitarian views interact and enhance Christian pacifism. The community of Christians as the “peaceable kingdom” becomes the core element of Christian life. But is this pacifist communitarian Christianity tenable? In this article, I will argue that pacifist communitarianism leads to unexpected and objectionable consequences. Specifically, I will consider the views of John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas. By explicating the weaknesses of their pacifist views, most especially on the issue of coercion and the notion of “Constantinianism,” I will show that both thinkers tend toward a view of Christian separatism vis-à-vis the secular world. Both thinkers' systems present problems in communicating truth to those not already in the community. Finally, their communitarian views conflict with their pacifism, in the end requiring those not within the community to act as if they were members.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-435
Number of pages25
JournalPolitics and Religion
Volume1
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2008
Externally publishedYes

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ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Religious studies
  • Sociology and Political Science

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