Still More Facebook Conversation on Pacifism


Cody Cook Because a couple of people have brought up Romans 13, I think it might be worth discussing it from a pacifist position, or at least my own. Paul clearly creates a dichotomy between Christians who must forgive and let God do the vengeance-getting (Romans 12), and the pagan state which serves as a kind of punishing arm of God (Romans 13). I agree. And I would add that this "punishing arm" is (from the perspective of the human actors) is sinful. God used Assyria to take vengeance on Israel, but the punished Assyria for doing exactly what God "wanted" Assyria to do (steal, kill, pillage, rape, destroy, etc.). See Isaiah 10. It was a sin for anyone to enlist in the Assyrian army. It was not a sin (generally) to be conscripted into the army.
Paul clearly distinguished the Christians he is writing to from the state, and therefore some pacifists assume that Paul is implying a universal prohibition of Christians being involved in the state even if we have an opportunity to participate. This is one possible reading, but since Paul doesn't say that outrightly, it's very debatable. If by "very debatable" you mean "very unlikely," I disagree. We need to separate "state" functions from "market" functions. If you live in a Communist State, then the State runs the automobile plants and the farms. There's nothing wrong with building cars or growing food as an employee of "the State." The issue concerns uniquely "state" functions vs. "market" functions. "The State" often does what the market does, but the market condemns what the State does when done by the market. The state taxes, but the market considers this "theft" when done by market actors. The state takes lethal vengeance against enemies, and often leaves a a trail of "collateral damage." The market condemns this activity when undertaken by corporate CEO's.

Jesus prohibits His followers from engaging in all uniquely "state" activity.

However, what Paul does seem to have in mind in Romans 13 is what God communicated through the prophet Habakkuk--that He is sovereign enough to use pagan empires to serve His just purposes, even if these empires commit many injustices and don't know God. It is therefore a misrepresentation to argue that Paul is giving blanket support for the state as doing God's will intentionally or with praiseworthy motives. If he is, history refutes his naivete. God "Ordains" Evil, and then punishes those same evildoers  for doing what He ordained them to do.
Whether Paul would encourage Christians to participate in the state's functions is debatable, but the fact that he distinguishes Christians who forgive from the state which punishes at least *suggests* that he wouldn't support Christian participation in killing, since this is the key distinction which he brings out. There can be no doubt that Paul and Jesus would condemn anyone who voluntarily signed up to kill or steal with the State.
It's also possible that like Augustine, Paul would encourage Christians to kill for the state, but never in self-defense, but I don't think this reading is tenable or ethical. I can't think of any rational and plausibly Biblical argument that Paul would "encourage" Christians to kill for the Empire.
Steve Hays   
Kevin Craig:  "I have to believe that anti-pacifists are just engaging in good-natured but insincere "tough talk" about killing everybody who threatens them in any detectable way."  
I have to believe armchair pacifists are just engaging in cheap talk.  So you seriously believe that a Christian should KILL someone who wants to steal a TV?
"If a thief is killed while breaking into a house ... the one who killed him ... is guilty of murder."
Which conveniently ignores the fact that killing a nighttime intruder isn't classified as murder. 
"Do not kill a human being created in the Image of God."
A claim that's diametrically opposed to Gen 9. 
"These hypotheticals are worthless, in my opinion."
The purpose of hypotheticals is to consider a position in principle. Is the proponent consistent? Or does he resort to ac hoc exceptions when his principle is taken to a logical extreme. 
"You don't know with certainty what the future holds. You are not God."
I did not "conveniently ignore" the reference to "nighttime," and in fact suggested (without developing the argument in detail) that in the New Covenant we are no longer in the dark of night but in the bright day of the Sun of Righteousness (Malachi 4:2), and therefore it is always murder to kill a thief. It sounds like you are "conveniently ignoring" the fact that the hypothetical posed against pacifism was a theft of a TV during business hours, which Exodus 22 describes as murder, correct?

This claim (in Ex.22) is not "diametrically opposed to Gen. 9."

As I suggested, Genesis 9 (commanding the shedding of blood) is part of the "ceremonial law," and after the shedding of Christ's blood, must not be literally applied.

Then I shouldn't hesitate to shoot the assailant. After all, I don't know with certainty that my gun won't jam.  Hard to continue taking you seriously.
"You cannot 'love' your neighbor if you kill him."
You love your neighbor by using lethal force to repel a murderous assailant. 
"They quake if the Spirit convicts them. "
Jesus said we are to love the murderous assailant. You cannot love your enemy if you kill him. "Thou shalt not kill."
And they don't if the he doesn't.   
"The Revolutionary War was a plain violation of Romans 13. It is an example of the "mentality" I spoke of."  
This is a reversal of Kevin's original contention: "I would say the mentality of…is what transformed America from a Christian republic…"  It's not a "reversal." It's part of the mentality that transformed America into the most evil and dangerous entity on the planet.
But that mentality antedates the republic. The republic resulted from the War of Independence.   
"It was all downhill from 1776."
As if Colonial Americans didn't fight the Indians. 
"We (i.e., neo-conservatives in U.S. government) supported terrorists in order to destabilize certain governments. Was it wrong for ordinary Russian civilians to use bombs and machine guns against their government (Romans 13)? I think so. So why was it OK for the U.S. to employ hired guns to do the same thing?"

Most of the slaughter of the Indians occurred as the U.S. become more secular, in the 19th century.
That's utterly confused. One gov't destabilizing another gov't is hardly at odds with Rom 13, for Rom 13 is about the duty of ordinary citizens in relation to the state, and not how one state deals with another state.  If it is wrong for you to engage in the violent overthrow of a government (and it is wrong_, why is it OK for you to "vote" for someone to destabilize a government by funding terrorists, or by directly staging a violent coup?
"Especially after the U.S. invested so much money and American lives to protect communism from Hitler's advances?"
i) I see that Kevin is drunk on the moonshine of That explains a lot.
ii) FDR didn't fund the Mujahideen. Kevin is careening between different events.
"Are you saying the commandment does NOT prohibit killing?"

That is totally an "ad hominem" argument, and does nothing to present contrary facts or even a probative argument.

I never said FDR funded the Muhajideen. (I don't deny it, I just didn't assert it.)

The commandment "Thou shalt not kill" prohibits involuntary manslaughter as well as murder.

Not unless you think the Bible contradicts itself.   
"On what basis is pacifism on my part refuted by an Old Covenant…"  
Capital punishment goes back to Gen 9. That's not the "Old Covenant" (which is synonymous with the Mosaic Covenant). Another picky and irrelevant point. Is circumcision (as given to Abraham) not part of "the Old Covenant?" What is the point of claiming that Noah was not a part of the Old Covenant?
Steve Hays The fact that Paul's "friends" included municipal magistrates (Acts 19:31) suggests that some Roman officials were already Christian, although they'd be discreet about it. Moreover, Cornelius became a Christian. He was an officer in the Roman army. No suggestion that he was required (by Peter) to resign from the military to be a Christian. Acts 19:31 is not necessarily about "municipal magistrates." The Liddell-Scott-Jones Lexicon defines the word as "priest of the Imperial cult in the province of Asia"

It is no more an argument against pacifism to say that Paul did not require soldiers to go AWOL than it is an argument against abolitionism to say that Paul never required slaves to escape from their masters. Soldiers in the Roman legion would be put to death for leaving.

Steve Hays   
Kevin Craig: "Especially after the U.S. invested so much money and American lives to protect communism from Hitler's advances?"  
Often, you can only fight one major enemy at a time. In fact, the US was fighting on two fronts: the European theater and the Pacific theater. We had our hands full.  The Communists in the Roosevelt White House were using U.S. GI's to support Communism in Eastern Europe and in China. The U.S. was on the side of Mao.
At the time, fascism (i.e. Nazi German) was perceived to pose a more imminent threat than communism.  Perceived by whom? Communism was not perceived as a threat at all by any of the communists in the Roosevelt regime.
One can debate that judgment call, especially in retrospect, but it wasn't irrational or malevolent. And, of course, policymakers at the time didn't have the benefit of hindsight. U.S. entry into WWII was malevolent on the part of U.S. commies, and blind stupidity on the part of most other participants.
Patrick Chan 1. You keep insisting "thou shalt not kill" indicates no killing of any kind. Not even killing in self-defense or in defense of victims against assailants. This is despite the fact that we've pointed out more than once that "thou shalt not kill" is in reference to "murder."  You've "pointed out" that the word in the 6th commandment means "Thou shalt not murder," which I've never denied, of course, But ignore the evidence I presented that the commandment also means "Thou shalt not commit involuntary manslaughter." All killing which is not directly commanded by God is prohibited by that verse.
2. Moreover, you keep insisting we shouldn't kill because we have other options like using a stun gun. This too is despite the fact that we have pointed out more than once that we could very well agree, but that's not the point, is it? The point is, if there are no other options except the use of lethal force, then can lethal force be justified in some cases? We're not talking about cases where stun guns or other methods short of lethal force are possible. We could agree. But it still doesn't affect the times when there are no other options but lethal force - what do you think about these cases? If there is no other option but killing, than you have "tragedy" on your hands, not an "opportunity." "Thou shalt not kill" is the operative commandment, unless God directly commands you to kill him because, e.g., he is a Canaanite in the Promised Land.

Intentional killing is always wrong.

3. For whatever reason, you keep ignoring our responses, and acting as if our responses never existed. However, if there's a reasonable counter-argument against an argument, then you need to respond to the counter-argument. You can't ignore it. Otherwise you're not debating in good faith.   
4. Another point about "thou shalt not kill." Moses authored the vast majority of the Torah where this command appears (twice). The Torah was written for the Israelites. Doesn't God himself sometimes command the Israelites in the Torah to kill others? We need to consider the command in light of the immediate context as well as the rest of the Torah as well as Bible.  I have completely granted the fact that God commanded some killings. But nobody in our day is commanded to kill Canaanites (or anybody else, based on any rational application of those commands) or to shed blood to make atonement.

Greg Bahnsen sums up the "Theonomic" position in these words:

We should presume that Old Testament standing laws26 continue to be morally binding in the New Testament, unless they are rescinded or modified by further revelation
26. Standing law" is used here for policy directives applicable over time to classes of individuals (e.g., do not kill; children, obey your parents; merchants, have equal measures; magistrates, execute rapists), in contrast to particular directions for an individual (e.g., the order for Samuel to anoint David at a particular time and place) or positive commands for distinct incidents (e.g., God's order for Israel to exterminate certain Canaanite tribes at a certain point in history).

Intentional killing is always wrong under the New Covenant

5. What do you make of Deut. 7:16, 19:13: "And you shall consume all the peoples that the Lord your God will give over to you. Your eye shall not pity them, neither shall you serve their gods, for that would be a snare to you...Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be well with you." The same concept (burning the guilt of innocent blood out of Israel) is also seen in Deuteronomy 21:8-9. We are not required to shed the blood of a heifer in cases of unsolved homicide, nor are we required today to shed the blood of a human being to "purge" or "burn" the guilt of innocent blood out of Israel. Only the blood of Christ meets the demands of Deuteronomy 19:13 and 21:8-9.
6. The following is from the NET Bible's footnote on Ex. 20:13: "The verb רָצַח (ratsakh) refers to the premeditated or accidental taking of the life of another human being; it includes any unauthorized killing (it is used for the punishment of a murderer, but that would not be included in the prohibition). This commandment teaches the sanctity of all human life. See J. H. Yoder, 'Exodus 20,13: "Thou Shalt Not Kill",' Int 34 (1980): 394-99; and A. Phillips, 'Another Look at Murder,' JJS 28 (1977): 105-26." All intentional killing under the New Covenant is "unauthorized." Genocide is unauthorized. Shedding blood to make atonement is "unauthorized."
7. It's possible if a murderer or rapist is allowed to live, then they could continue to murder or rape. Killing him is not the only way to prevent him from committing another crime.

If you believe someone is going to kill someone, then just like the owner of an ox that has shown a tendency to gore people, you have a responsibility (Exodus 21:29) to keep him under surveillance, or hire a security corporation to keep tabs on him, or something like that. You don't have the right to put a gun to my head and take my money to pay for your fence or security measures, but you do have the responsibility to prevent him from raping or killing if you believe that will happen.

Cody Cook Steve Hays - Your point about Cornelius is an argument from silence, in contrast to my argument from exegeting what is in fact in the scriptures.  
Even so, as Preston Sprinkle noted:
"serving in Rome’s military entails partaking in various idolatrous practices, and yet Peter doesn’t address the issue of idolatry when Cornelius gets converted. And as a centurion, Cornelius (as well as the centurion in Matt. 8) would not only be pressured to worship foreign gods, but also be responsible for leading various ceremonies on behalf of his cohort. As a centurion, Cornelius would essentially function as a pagan priest! True, Peter doesn’t forbid Cornelius to use violence. But neither does he forbid him to perform pagan duties. Because that’s not the point of the story. Acts 10 and other soldier-salvation passages highlight one basic point: the gospel pierces the hearts of unlikely people— even Roman military leaders. These passages simply don’t give us all the details about what these soldiers did after they got saved" (Sprinkle, Fight).
John the Baptist prohibited soldiers from committing violence.

And the soldiers likewise demanded of him, saying, And what shall we do? And he said unto them, Do violence to no man, neither accuse any falsely; and be content with your wages. (Luke 3:14)

Doing violence, of course, is exactly why soldiers are hired by conquering empires.

But I agree, that the point of the Scripture on these occasions is to show that Gentiles have more faith than Israel.

Steve Hays "Kevin Craig: The Bible says 'Thou shalt not kill.' I choose to obey that command."  
Actually, he chooses to disobey the command to love your neighbor by protecting your neighbor against wrongful aggression. I have repeatedly said we have a duty to protect people. But not by violence, and especially not by  intentionally killing attackers. (I wouldn't think this concept was so difficult to apprehend.)
"I don't see any qualification of that command that says it's OK for me intentionally to kill."  
There are lots of qualifications on that. Take the command to execute a murderer (Gen 9). Take the authority of the state to "wield the sword" (Rom 13). I've discussed Genesis 9 repeatedly. You're not paying attention.

Romans 13 tells us to be subject to evil empires, not that evil empires have carte blanche to kill people. Romans 13 is not an exception to "Thou shalt not kill."

"But there are many other things a person can do to deter or prevent an attack besides killing, and I would choose one of them."  
Yet Kevin also opinions that:   
"You don't know with certainty what the future holds. You are not God."  
But in that event he's in no position to assert that there are always non-lethal or non-violent options. He can't say that in advance, for he doesn't know the future circumstances.  I'm not "predicting" or "soothsaying" that there are no circumstances in which intentionally killing will not be justified, I'm talking about moral certainty. There are no occasions when adultery will be an "option." If someone said to you, "If you don't commit adultery with your neighbor's wife, I'm going to steal your TV," committing adultery is never an option. Neither is killing the guy. Not a prediction; a moral absolute.
"I don't have the right to decide who will live and who will die."  
i) Kevin is one of those types who likes to spout pious nonsense. But that doesn't make you truly devout. It's just spiritually ostentatious playacting.  I've met a lot of anti-pacifists like you.
ii) Once again, take the command to execute murderers.  Take the command to slit the throat of a heifer. Take them both. Away.
iii) Likewise, suppose a passenger ship capsizes. You can swim but some passengers can't. You can't save them all. So you must pick which ones to save and which ones to let drown.  You have no right to INTENTIONALLY KILL anyone. Even if they don't have a life preserver. Good grief.
"Your hypothesis is that there is NOTHING ELSE I can do but violate a command of God. I will not accept that resignation, even if others do. There will always be a way of avoiding sin (1 Corinthians 10:13)."  
Once again, Kevin is one of those types who's emotionally incapable of responding to an opponent on the opponent's own grounds. I don't see any "anti-pacifists" on this thread suggesting that sin is the only live option. So Kevin fails to engage the actual argument. He's just talking to himself.  You're saying it's not a sin to murder someone if you can't think of any other way to protect someone from him. I'm saying it is sinful to intentionally kill someone. God does not require us to intentionally kill anyone. Ever.
"You also assume that I just happen to possess some kind of lethal weapon, which I don't own."  
Something needn't be a weapon by design to function as a weapon. Once more, Kevin is too wrapped up in his script to anticipate even the most obvious counterexamples to his sloppy claims. I've met a lot of anti-pacifists like you.

If you can think of some creative way to kill someone without a weapon manufactured for that purpose, why can't you think of some creative way to prevent him from killing that doesn't involve you killing him?

Patrick Chan "Your point about Cornelius is an argument from silence."  
If it was wrong for Cornelius to be a non-pacifist, to serve as an officer (no less) in the Roman military, then there's the positive presumption Peter would've asked him to repent of this when Cornelius became a Christian. It is wrong to voluntarily avoid the responsibilities of a free man and become a slave (1 Corinthians 7:23). It is wrong to sign up with the Mafia or "the State" to kill or to steal. It's not a sin to be kidnapped, and if conscripted onto a firing squad, you should intentionally miss the target, and if conscripted into the military, you should not kill "the enemy" or do violence to anyone
As an aside, Cornelius isn't the only example. There's also the centurion that Jesus said had "great faith." There's also John the Baptist and soldiers coming to ask him what they must do to repent. John the Baptist didn't ask them to repent of being soldiers. Paul rubbed elbows with some Christian soldiers as well as magistrates and other officials who (if I'm not mistaken) according to Roman law could impose capital punishment.  
Not to mention Paul wrote the epistle to the Romans which says in Rom. 13:4: "for he is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer."  It is sinful for people to do what God "ordained." It was sinful for Assyria to rape and pillage Israel (Isaiah 10), even though God "ordained" it.
If someone recognizes the state as a legitimate authority, then according to God they need to accept that the state can use lethal force in certain situations. Paul presumably knew some Christians who worked for the state including some who were in a position to exercise such authority. "The State" is not morally legitimate. We should work for its abolition, like slavery.
Cody Cook Patrick Chan - I get a strange feeling that you may have only read the first sentence in my post.  
Steve Hays Cody,  
The problem with your comparison is that the apostolic church didn't a ready-made position on how much Christian participation in pagan civil religious customs was permissible. That had to be hammered out. Paul thought that was often a matter of indifference in principle, but for prudential reasons, he advised a more tactful policy in practice. Likewise, the Council at Jerusalem staked out a compromise position, based on prudential considerations.   
And, indeed, it's inherently difficult to draw the line in terms of how much complicity is too much complicity give the fact that some complicity in evil is unavoidable in a fallen world. It's question of degree, with many borderline cases. Easier to draw the line in more extreme cases.  
By contrast, the pacifists I've read think the apostolic church did have a ready-made position on nonviolence: one that went right back to Jesus.   
Moreover, pacifists think that issue is pretty clear cut. Much easier to draw the line.  
Patrick Chan "I get a strange feeling that you may have only read the first sentence in my post."  
Hi Cody,  
Hm, even if this were true, not sure why that's a problem if that's what you're implying? I think my main point is still valid.  
However, the simpler explanation is I just felt like responding to what you said. Not the quotation.  
Steve Hays I've read that Kevin Craig is a "Christian anarchist" running for political office. That could hardly be more self-contradictory.  What better way abolish the State than by doing so from the inside? In fact, since I oppose violent revolution, I can hardly think of a better way -- except to pray for spontaneous resignation en masse by all politicians and government employees.
In addition, the Bible is not anarchistic by any stretch. The Bible is Anarchistic from Cover to Cover
Cody Cook Steve Hays - On the issue of participation in pagan rituals, perhaps I'm ignorant in the area of Roman customs, but it seems that Paul was not giving permission for Christians to participate in pagan religious rituals, but simply to buy meat that pagans had sacrificed to idols. Buying meat that polytheists prayed over is very different from functioning as a pagan priest. I'm not sure that the comparison is an equitable one. In any case, we have only an argument from silence that Peter didn't address either issue, particularly since that wasn't really the point of the story.  
Patrick Chan - I do think that responding to my entire post in your response would have been better since if my later points were valid, it would have undermined your response. Since you didn't deal with the quotation, I don't think your response is meaningful. That Paul "presumably" knew some Christians who killed for the state and supported them is just that--a presumption. Sprinkle's rejoinder on this point still stands, at least in my estimate. As for your point in Romans 13:4, I think I dealt with that in my post earlier today on Romans 13. If there is some flaw in my response that you have a rebuttal for, let me know and I'll deal with that.   
Patrick Chan All you said was: "Your point about Cornelius is an argument from silence."  
What I said was enough to indicate otherwise.  
But anyway Steve responded to the rest of your point.  
Cody Cook I would contest that you indicated otherwise (as you know), but I agree that Steve addressed my point. As an aside, and to avoid being solely negative, I agree with you whole-heartedly about ratsakh in Exodus 20:13. The only foundation for the argument of the normativity of non-violent ethics in the Old Testament is Marcionism. No, the argument is based on the premise that shedding blood is part of the "ceremonial lawm" not the "moral law.
I think your side makes some compelling arguments when it comes to how humans assume evil has to be dealt with, but I have yet to come across a strong exegetically based argument for just war, self defense, etc. War is never "just."

Intentional killing is not justified "defense."

Patrick Chan Fair enough. Thanks, Cody.  
Patrick Chan If I can, I'd be happy to address some of these issues if you have specific questions.  
Cody Cook This post is getting a little messy. I'll send you a friend request and I'm sure we'll have an opportunity to discuss it in future. I hope that in my attempt to be direct I was not short or disrespectful.  
Steve Hays Cody,  
To "participate in pagan rituals" is a matter of degree in a heathen culture where civil religion is pagan and pervasive. That's part of the warp and woof of the socioeconomic and political system.   
In Judaism, it was easier to draw the line because you have various categories of forbidden contact with ritually impure people, food, customs, &c.  
But the new covenant didn't retain those detailed purity codes. It wasn't separatistic to the same degree as Judaism. Not even close.   
Indeed, that was one of the early controversies. Where to draw lines. Certain things were verboten, like sexual immorality or direct participation in the imperial cult. But there were many gray areas. Outright idolatry was forbidden, but invidious associations are not so clear-cut. As a missionary to the Gentiles, Paul had to finesse the difficult issue of how much Christians can function in a pagan society. Some involvement is necessary. Too much is compromising.  
Cody Cook And functioning as a pagan priest would have been considered a gray area?  
Gene Pineda "Once again, Kevin is one of those types who's emotionally incapable of responding to an opponent on the opponent's own grounds. I don't see any "anti-pacifists" on this thread suggesting that sin is the only live option."  
This sums up my feelings quite well.   
I have found the bible to be more complex than a literal rigerous approach that pacifists take. It seems to me that the only way to find a way to the conclusion of pacifism is to falsely corner the non-pacifism position into a corner that it does not accept - it's sin to kill a person who's about to or is killimg millions.   
Even using language like "anti-pacifism" is a bit misleading. It's not as though non-pacifists don't have an appreciation for peace and non-violence. The real difference is that, in this fallen world, sometimes the right decision is a hard one that we don't really want to make. Polarization often leads to strawmen, and that's what I see going on - you must love violence if you argue agains pacifism - False. I certainly try to avoid strawmen. Let me know specifically where you see me failing.
Steve Hays "Cody Cook And functioning as a pagan priest would have been considered a gray area?"  
i) What are you referring to? Does St. Paul talk about that? Or is this just a hypothetical that you are floating?  
ii) The tricky thing about the ethics of participation in pagan civic religious events or customs is that we're basically dealing with symbolism: symbolic gestures. This is the argument of 1 Corinthians 8.
Likewise, the religious element may be fairly incidental. So it's ambiguous to say that's religious. Some ceremonies are specifically and centrally religious. But in a pagan culture, there's a lot of spillover. For instance, the days of the week are named after pagan gods.   
As a rule, symbolism isn't intrinsically right or wrong, good or evil. What it stands for may be good or evil, but the symbol itself isn't good or evil. Rather, it has a socially assigned meaning. So this comes down to evaluating intentions, motivations, and the "message."  
Whether that's compromising or innocent is something we'd have to assess on a case-by-case basis. I don't think there's a uniform value-judgment. Indeed, that's why Paul's discussion is so nuanced.   
iii) Let's take a comparison: many Indian and Asian restaurants have idols. Now a lot of customers barely notice them. And if they do notice them, they view them as purely decorative statuary. But that's not necessarily how the proprietors view them.  
Are you participating in paganism when you eat at an Indian or Asian restaurant?  
Patrick Chan "This post is getting a little messy. I'll send you a friend request and I'm sure we'll have an opportunity to discuss it in future. I hope that in my attempt to be direct I was not short or disrespectful."  
Hi Cody,  
I don't think you were short or disrespectful towards me. And I hope I wasn't towards you either! I often reply via my phone or tablet device while I'm on the go, which can force me to be concise or curt. But I don't mean any disrespect or anything!  
Patrick Chan "Paul clearly creates a dichotomy between Christians who must forgive and let God do the vengeance-getting (Romans 12), and the pagan state which serves as a kind of punishing arm of God (Romans 13)."  
Just a quick comment on this. I'm not so sure "Paul clearly creates a dichotomy" here. For example, Doug Moo notes in his commentary on Romans: "In contrast to the loosely connected series of exhortations in 12:9-21, we find in 13:1-7 a coherent and well-organized argument about a single topic: the need for submission to governing authorities. This argument comes on the scene quite abruptly, with no explicit syntactical connection with what has come before it — and not much evidence of any connection in subject matter either...Rom. 13:1-7 is viewed as an 'alien body' within 12:1-13:14." I disagree, and other commentators to as well. Paul's argument in Romans 13 is the direct continuation of his argument in Romans 12: submit to evil rather than using evil against it.
Also, Moo says, "vv. 8-10, highlighting the centrality of love for the Christian ethic, seem to relate to vv. 9-21, which also focus on love and its outworkings." And not unrelated to arguments in Romans 12
Patrick Chan "And functioning as a pagan priest would have been considered a gray area?"  
It's one thing to debate whether a Christian should attend the wedding of Buddhist friends, or celebrate Chinese New Year, etc. But it's quite another thing for a Christian to become a Buddhist monk or a daoshi.   
Steve Hays BTW, Cody, here's a pertinent verse:
18 In this matter may the Lord pardon your servant: when my master goes into the house of Rimmon to worship there, leaning on my arm, and I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, when I bow myself in the house of Rimmon, the Lord pardon your servant in this matter.” 19 He said to him, “Go in peace” (2 Kgs 5:18-19).
This is indeed pertinent.
Steve Hays Cody,  
Regarding the "argument from silence":  
i) Cornelius isn't my first line of defense. I'm simply responding to you on your own terms.   
ii) As you should know, the argument from silence can be strong or weak depending on the expectation, or lack thereof. Just to dismissively label it an "argument from silence," as if that has no evidential value, is inaccurate as a general principle. Take "the dog that didn't bark" in Sherlock Holmes.  
iii) The self-defensive impulse is deeply engrained in human nature. I daresay that's a cultural universal. Pacifists I've read admit that pacifism cuts against the grain of human nature. Self-defense is the norm. Vengeance is the fallen norm. One can "defend" without intentionally killing.
So in that event, if self-defense is incompatible with new covenant ethics, we'd expect NT writers to harp on that.  No pacifist opposes self defense. Pacifists oppose needlessly violent and lethal "self-defense."
To take a comparison: idolatry was pervasive in the ANE. That's why there's a sustained polemic against idolatry in the OT. It takes relentless vigilance to root out something that popular.  
By the same token, if self-defense is sinful, there ought to be more than a couple of highly debatable prooftexts which pacifists constantly resort to.  Locking one's door is "self-defense." The issue is intentional killing, and pacifists have more than  "a couple of highly debatable prooftexts" on that issue.
Now there are other arguments against pacifism. Some of these are on display in this very thread.  
Cody Cook Steve Hays - I was referring to Sprinkle's comments. A quick Google search turned up this entry. Look under the heading "Religion and the Military": 
I think that I could be willing to grant the premise that participation in cultural rituals in a pagan society could often lead into some gray areas for Christians. However, there are also areas that were less gray, such as the requirements to offer sacrifices to Caesar and other gods. Despite the fact that these were part and parcel with military duty, no one in the New Testament addresses this issue. The church immediately after the NT did, but interestingly enough they were more concerned with the killing than the pagan rituals, judging by the attention they gave to both issues in the writings of the fathers. To your point about gray areas, these fathers did in fact acknowledge some gray areas for participation in the military, as some soldiers apparently didn't have the opportunity or requirement to kill. This comment is repeated four or five times.
Cody Cook Patrick Chan - I'd like to come back on the relationship between Romans 12 and 13. I'll respond soon on that point.  
Patrick Chan I think another point to keep in mind with regard to pacifism is there are different degrees of neighbor love. For example, we have in general more of an obligation to love our immediate family members than we do complete strangers.

Yes but we can't kill someone just because we're not related to them.

Galatians 6:10 As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
Steve Hays Cody,   
i) I was responding to your statement about 1C Christian participation in the state functions.  
ii) I don't know how you think the Wikipedia entry supports your side of the argument. Given the ubiquity of pagan religious customs in the Roman Empire, Christians could not consistently avoid activities associated with paganism if they were to continue living in a pagan society.  
iii) Likewise, when you bring up "participation in pagan rituals" in reference to alleged 1C Christian pacifism, that appeal backfires. If, say, 1C Christians avoided military service to avoid the imperial cult, or related pagan rituals, then their objection to military service wasn't motivated by opposition to violence, but opposition to idolatry.   
In that case, even if we grant that 1C Christians disdained military service, that's not a testimony to Christian pacifism. That connection is adventitious. The real reason was to circumvent participation in idolatrous activity, not participation in violent activity. So your argument is counterproductive to your position.   
iv) Finally, I've read David Hunter contend that early Christian views on military service were not monolithic.  
Steve Hays Cody Cook:  
Even so, as Preston Sprinkle noted:
"serving in Rome’s military entails partaking in various idolatrous practices, and yet Peter doesn’t address the issue of idolatry when Cornelius gets converted. And as a centurion, Cornelius (as well as the centurion in Matt. 8) would not only be pressured to worship foreign gods, but also be responsible for leading various ceremonies on behalf of his cohort. As a centurion, Cornelius would essentially function as a pagan priest!"
i) And as I just pointed out, that appeal actually boomerangs against the pacifist, for in that event the underlying objection was not to involvement in violent activity but involvement in idolatrous activity.   
ii) Keep in mind, too, that even before Cornelius was a Christian, he was a Godfearer. He was a worshiper of Yahweh. He prayed Jewish prayers.   
So he already had some way of finessing the "idolatry" issue. And he was not alone in that respect. Lk 7:1-10 is analogous. And not coincidentally, both occur in the Lukan corpus.  
Steve Hays I'd also like to touch on property rights. Some people act as though, even if it's permissible to use lethal force to protect human life, it's immoral to use lethal force to protect property. And certainly there are many isolated situations where it would be immoral to use lethal force to protect property.  
However, that dichotomy is far too facile. Sustaining human life depends on provision for certain physical necessities, like food and shelter. Protecting a farm or supermarket protects property, but it likewise protects a necessary food source. Protecting a water plant protects property, but it likewise protects a necessary source of public drinking water. Protecting an apartment complex from arson protects property, but it likewise protects humans from the elements. Same thing with a gas station, power station, bank, &c.  The Son of Man did not have a place to lay His head.

The lilies of the field do not intentionally kill.

Do not kill the loser who is trying to steal a TV.

Although society can absorb a certain amount of theft and vandalism, it that was allowed to go unchecked, society would become unlivable. No pacifist anywhere, ever, says to allow violence to "unchecked." But there are ways to "check" evil-doers other than intentionally killing them. They do not require violence, they do not require "the State."
Free Market Dispute Resolution Organizations


Vaughn Shideler And in case there's any question, the Bible does honour private property rights: Ezekiel 46:16-18  
Patrick Chan This may or may not apply to the pacifists in this thread:

"NB [Nigel Biggar]: One of the major theological problems that I have with Christian pacifism is this. Christian pacifists often assume the classic Anabaptist position: on the one hand, government’s use of force to punish the wicked is ordained by God, but, on the other hand, that is not the role of Christian believers. That role is to bear witness to an alternative society so completely governed by God as to lack need for the sword. But this distinction of roles seems incoherent. If such a “peaceable kingdom” were currently practicable as an alternative to the “coercive kingdom,” then presumably God would have ordained the former instead of the latter. I say “presumably” because a benevolent God would not ordain unnecessary coercion. Since, however, God has ordained it, he evidently thinks it necessary. The implication is that, under the current, spiritually and morally ambiguous conditions of this secular age, the “peaceable kingdom” cannot be alternative; it can only be parasitic. This puts pacifist believers in the intellectually incoherent position of contradicting in principle what they depend upon in practice, and in the morally inconsistent position of being able to keep their own hands clean only because others are required to get theirs dirty."


God ordains evil as a judgment against evil, not as a salutary social influence.


The State "serves" (Romans 13:4) God's purposes and is therefore not ultimately "unnecessary," but all violence is morally unnecessary and condemned by God. God "ordained" Assyria's rape of Israel, but also condemned it (Isaiah 10).

It is not "necessary" to have a State or for anyone to participate in it. The world would be a whole lot more peaceful without it. But that will take revival and worldwide repentance.