Monday, July 10, 2006

Bishops Banning Bombs

This is a nice little book. Some people have read it and don't get it; some only needed to read the title and got it.

There is a long letter from various Bishops in today's Independent. They make some strong practical, moral and economic arguments for not renewing the Trident programme. I can't help feeling though, that in arguing in the market place, the phrase which they chose to use, that the possession and use of nuclear weapons are 'anti-God acts' does not help their case.

If I say that your behaviour is anti-God then the answer 'There is no God' ends the argument. I cannot respond. It gives you a chink. I am becoming more and more convinced that as a Christian my relationship with God is not something I can use to add weight to an argument on matters of ethics or morality unless it is to do with matters concerning Christians alone.

I may believe, deeply and profoundly, that God has told me something I must do or say (I don't, usually) but in arguing with those who do not share my faith I do best appealing to logic and reason alone.

Many of my blog-friends are people with whom I have no common ground of spirituality or faith. I notice them being profoundly irritated, sometimes when commenting at Mustard Seed Shavings but more often at other sites and chat-rooms, where assumptions about God are made to them, or more often, at them. Then an argument ensues that goes, to summarise:

God says this...

No he doesn't there isn't a God.

Yes he does; it says so in the Bible.

What's the Bible got to do with God? People wrote it.

But it's God's word...

Continue ad absurdum

I believe in God, in my own way, and will gladly explain to anyone who is interested the complexities and peculiarities of how that works for me, but I am sure we can find enough non-theological reasons to defer upgrading Trident. If we can't, maybe we should upgrade Trident. Trying to second-guess God on the matter seems to me to over-complicate things.

I notice that one of the signatories to the letter is my current Diocesan Bishop and another will shortly be my new Diocesan Bishop so how intelligent is this post?


Martin said...

My logic argument against trident.

1) Do we think that other countries should have nuclear warheads?
2) In light of this, is it hypocritical to have nuclear warheads ourselves.

I am intrigued, which of our two Diocesan Bishops signed the letter?

St said...

The letter is from 20 bishops; 8 diocesan and 12 suffragen. Bishop of Coventry is my current Bishop.

Rich Burley said...

Very interesting point about the use of "Christian" morality in constructing / defending your positions. I kind of agree and kind of don't.

On one hand you're totally right that Christians often start with assumptions which others can just dismiss and that these have to be disregarded in dialogue with them sometimes. But do we want to get to the point where our faith can only make a difference to our beliefs about religious matters? I have no strong opinions about Trident but surely on many political issues my belief in God will lead me down a different path from someone who doesn't share that belief> Got me thinking anyhow.

Martin said...

Steve - The reason I asked which bishop is because I wasn't sure if ours was the Bishop of Warwick or Coventry.

Steve & Rich - Perhaps we need to know BOTH. ie. where our logic takes us, and how much further than this our faith takes us. We can then say point out when something doesn't logically make sense, and even when something does, why we still disagree on a moral matter.

Mike said...

Totally agree on the 'anti-God' comment. As for bishops, hey why worry - they shouldn't knock you for speaking the truth.

Here's a few reasons:

1) Nukes cost a fortune we could spend on removing poverty from the people who might resort to nukes if all their people remain victims of injustice.

2) Using a nuke kills lots of people you don't want to hit, as well as the people you do (assuming you think the use of force is ever justified.) They also tend to increase cancer everywhere, so use of such a weapon eben kills your own people.

3) If we've got them, how can we knock North Korea or Iran for wanting them?

There. That's a Christian arguing against nukes without any direct reference to God (although I personally credit him with my ability to live/reason/think ethically.)

Simon said...

Was watching the CH4 doc on Monday "War of the World" about how the Allies resorted to using the Axis methods of racial hatred and killing civilians. Next episode is about the "Cold War". Which made me think, doesn't the term "cold war" actually = "peace"?

The invention of nuclear weapons created an enforced peace. At least, we can not afford to have any more world wars, because we will all surely die.

So maybe, logically, Christians should be in favour of nuclear weapons...

Ali Campbell said...

There is a place and time for speaking prophetically into a situation (regardless of the beliefs of others), the problem the church faces is whether it can be authentic and consistent. We could just as well have had another letter from 20 OTHER Bishops in support of the next nuclear thing!

Martin said...

Nice profile pic Ali :-)

St said...

Simon, if you ever get a chance to read Francis Schaeffer's 'The Great Evangelical Disaster' you will find an anti-abortion, pro-nukes and, I recall, a pro-death penalty Christian. Completely inconsistent. Your kind of guy?