“I have fought the good fight, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness.”
Ashland is a swell of Anabaptism. There is a church affiliated with some strand of Brethren denomination on virtually every corner. The other 35% are composed of your run of the mill mainline church or generic non-denominational church. This, I feel, is the reason for the great spiritual lethargy in my town.
One of the main tenets of all of these groups is that of pacifism. The pride of Anabaptism is her pacifism. They make it one of their foremost defining doctrines. Mainliners are basically pacifists too. They are your liberal types that forfeited the fight for truth and justice long ago. Non-denom.’s are of the same stream. They sprouted up as a result of the mainline apostasy. They thought they were fighting, but really they were bailing out of the fight by running away from denominations in order to create their own little independent island where they wouldn’t have to fight anyone.
Which brings me to my point: I wonder if this pacifistic/non-resistance belief is the reason why there is such a spiritual lethargy in this town. In my opinion, pacifism, and its ever more pliable cousin non-resistance/non-violence, is nothing more than appeasement. It shrinks from the fight and surrenders ground to the enemy. His motto is, “Let us keep peace!” Rather than fight to keep peace, he backs away. He would rather have the strained and tenuous peace that comes with an appeased tyrant than a free and robust peace that comes through warding off the enemy.
All in all, such is an act of forfeiture.
This is what takes place on the battlefield, of course (well, actually nothing takes place on the battlefield, but you know what I mean). I can’t help but think though that it translates into the everyday world around us. I feel that the spiritual battle is often lost because of the constant recoiling in the name of “peace.” The battlefield of the mind and heart is repeatedly forfeited because no one wishes to yield the sword of the Spirit by standing up to the encroaching evils and false teachers. Such would be a skirmish and clash, and that is intolerable because it is in all reality a crusade in miniature.
To put it another way, wars are simply ideas fought with weapons. It may be fought with machine guns and cannons, or it may come to blows on a lesser scale with a pen and one’s lips. Either way, it is a war, and pacifists will let evil triumph to avoid both.
 A friend of mine attempted to clarify this. He said: The Brethren would split hairs and contend that it is more aptly called “non-resistance.” I respond by saying, 1) I’d like to glue the hairs back together and 2) I really don’t think that pacifists /non-resistance types contend.
If you really would like to split hairs, let’s think of it this way: Pacifists are willing to take a stand and get slaughtered while doing holding their ground. Non-resistance people will continually concede ground in the name of appeasement and keeping the peace.
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Matt is blessed to be a husband, father, and pastor in Ashland, Ohio.