Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Brief Note on Supreme Emergency and Christian Eschatology

If the only discernible path to military victory over murderers is to resort to murder, and the only foreseeable outcome of defeat is the annihilation of the political community, then there is no other choice open to the Christian but defeat, and therefore the death of the community. It is understandable why Michael Walzer, a non-practicing secular Jew, and those who share his commitments about the world's makeup and ethical matrix would argue that it is morally justified to act immorally to defeat an imminent and severe threat of communal destruction by an utterly blasphemous evil force. It is not understandable, and indeed it is indefensible, for followers of Jesus Christ to argue in such a way, for Christians are that people constituted by the knowledge that the meaning of history is not determined by the perpetual preservation of human life as such, but is revealed instead in the cross and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, which are the hope and promise of salvation for the world's history in time. If we must make a holocaust out of those who make a holocaust of others, if we must murder our way into a future built on the sanctified murder of worse murderers than we, may God's mercy swiftly bring an end to whatever community is left on the earth; but may we die in the trust that it is better to die innocently than to murder for good.

The indefinite perpetuation of the human species is not and cannot be the summum bonum of human purpose and life in the world. Christians, more than anyone, ought to know, and must act according to the knowledge, that their own lives, and those that make up the political community, are absolutely unabsolute. The source and end of all life, of the whole of human history, is God the creator, God the sustainer, and God the redeemer. In light of that confession, may we never so make idols of ourselves that we become the evil we detest to save what will precisely at that moment not be worth saving any longer.

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