NonViolent Action and Faith

by John Murtari

Read the complete article on Civil Disobedience. Take a moment and slowly read some of the Psalms. Remember that probably the two greatest proponents of Non Violent Action in the 20th Century were Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Without faith in a loving God, their actions and those of their followers, make little sense — but somehow they overcame tremendous obstacles.

To a large extent almost all of us have some faith in God, but especially among the studied and educated the idea of God can become a philosophical construct.  We see God as the “first cause”, the “prime mover” of creation, an all encompassing force.  By trying to be logical and understand things like “why bad things happen to good people” — we trade our faith in a loving and ACTIVE God. We  become passive and almost “stoic” in our approach to life — these concepts would certainly be rejected by Reverend King.

If we look at Old Testament writings and what they say about the faith those people had, we see quite a different lesson.  Time after time God expects blind faith from his “chosen people”. They are never to believe that their own strength saved them. In perhaps one of the most powerful stories we see God commanding Abraham,”… Take your only son Isaac, the one whom you love — and sacrifice him to me…”  

I read a unique explanation of this which contrasted this final act of Abraham with his prior behavior.  Abraham had always been the talker and deceiver (even passing off his wife as his sister), but in this final major event he is reduced to silence.  In their final walk together Isaac asks, “Father, we have fire and wood, but where is the sacrifice?” — and as he must have held back tears, Abraham replies, “don’t worry Son, God will provide.”

As Christians, we only have to look at the lesson of Christ in the “Our Father”.  A prayer which starts with the word “Abba” (not really our word for father, but more of papa or daddy). We are to see God as a loving parent who cares for us and will answer our prayers.   We should not forget that!

My decision to protest required great faith.  We are called to act humbly and with faith. While I continue to work for Justice I draw the line at violence or anger toward others — that is not my job.   The “terrorist” takes the power of God into his own hands, and many believe their violence fulfills the divine plan. 

If you follow Non Violent Action, you can rest assure you will have no regrets from your actions. Our actions may not achieve the goal we set out — but you can be sure you have set a powerful example of faith to all who will meet you.

One thought on “NonViolent Action and Faith”

  1. There are numerous examples throughout history of effective nonviolent action. Nonviolent protesters defied the Soviet Empire’s communist rulers, Gandhi’s nonviolent revolution defeated the British Empire, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s peaceful civil-rights crusade changed American history. Recent scholarship shows that nonviolent revolutions against injustice and dictatorship are actually more successful than violent campaigns. In this book, noted theologian and bestselling author Ron Sider argues that the search for peaceful alternatives to violence is not only a practical necessity in the wake of the twentieth century–the most bloody in human history–but also a moral demand of the Christian faith. He presents compelling examples of how nonviolent action has been practiced in history and in current social-political situations to promote peace and oppose injustice, showing that this path is a successful and viable alternative to violence.
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