A World Without Nukes #2 – The End of The World and Beyond

Posted: November 12, 2009 in advocacy, church, missional, nuclear disarmament, prayer, Two Futures Project

Another reason to work toward a world free of nuclear weapons is that all Christians ultimately believe that a world of unbounded peace and unity will eventually be. This is an eschatological reasoning. Perhaps John Howard Yoder can best articulate this point, but suffice it to say this: There will be a day in the future in which the lion will lie down with the lamb. There will be a day of complete, undisturbed peace. As a follower of Jesus, both my instincts and my calling are to live as if that day is this day. I am called to live my life to honor this coming and peaceable Kingdom. I am summoned to live as though – as Jesus said – the Kingdom of God is near.

Jesus taught his disciples to pray that God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6.9ff). Prayer, as always, is not only a petition to God, but also a call to local, global and real action. To pray such a prayer involves my decision to side with God toward the in breaking of God’s Kingdom.

If Christian people know that a day is coming without not only war, but also without the threat of war, annihilation, fear, forceful coercion or terror, we are to actively engage the bringing about of that day.  In stark contrasts, a world in possession of over 20,000 nuclear weapons opposes the vision of God for the earth and the vision of God for His children. The simple fact that I can thoughtlessly or easily live in a world that is made, shaped, and formed by such deadly and dangerous weapons, without giving voice to a more peaceful vision for humanity suggests – to me at least – that I do not take the Lord’s Prayer seriously.  As I do when I give a cup of water in the name of Jesus, when I pray and petition world leaders to reduce and  eliminate nuclear weapons, I stand as a voice in this world calling out for the initiation of the next world.

I cannot imagine, therefore, that there will be nuclear weapons in heaven – as I cannot imagine rape, abuse and murder – so I must oppose them here. I cannot imagine that lasting, hopeful peace will be instituted by the threat or commencement of violence. It has not worked for past superpowers and it will not last for the nations now in possession of nuclear weapons. These weapons are icons of our bent to destruction rather than peace. This is an inclination that God, I suspect, wishes we did not have.

Scripture teaches us that only peace is eternal, and not “peace” at the tip of the sword, therefore, let us together step into eternity’s peace…today.

  1. Kraig says:

    It’s not so much a world without nuclear weapons that is so attractive, but a world in which nuclear weapons are never used, right? A nuclear weapon isn’t like rape, abuse, or murder. It is just (more or less) a hunk of metal and some radioactive material. Neither is radioactive material inherently bad. God uses it to heat the earth. But you are right…every sane person would eagerly desire to live in a world in which nuclear weapons are never used.

    But if we can trust others in the world to destroy all of their existing nuclear weapons, and we can trust everyone to not make any more of them, then why can’t we just trust them not to use them? What’s the point of destroying them in a world in which practical wisdom suggests that we can trust others not to have them? If is it wise to trust others not to have them, then why isn’t it wise to trust others not to use them? But if we can trust others not to use them, then why do we care whether or not they have them? On the other hand, if we can’t trust others not to have them, then isn’t it wise to have them ourselves? I would like our government to have the means of protecting my daughter from those who would use them.

    Nothing I have said suggests that it isn’t wise to work towards reducing the number of nuclear weapons. I don’t know what the wise number of nuclear weapons for our government to have is. But it’s not zero.

  2. Sean says:

    Kraig, you raise some good issues, and as my closest friend, I know that we can have a thoughtful discussion about some of these things. I don’t know whether or not you’ve read my previous post in regard to this matter, but that might help you frame my thinking. Let me respond to the points you’ve brought up.

    1. Rape, abuse and murder are similar in that they are the stuff made of hell on earth not heaven. That’s my point, not what they’re made of (physical vs. material). As I said, these are things I don’t expect to find in heaven. I don’t suspect anyone does. I want to limit or reduce every aspect of my life that doesn’t reflect heaven’s reality.

    2. It’s NOT an issue of trust. Not at all. Built into the system of thinking of people like George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, William Perry and Sam Nunn is a complete LACK of trust. We now have at our disposals means in which to verify who has nuclear weapons and where they have them. What’s more, the means of doing so are becoming much more sophisticated.

    More than that, though, it seems to me that your thinking reflects that of deterrence i.e., “If they’ve got a bomb, I want one too.” This is good thinking and worked well during the Cold War, which is now over. The greatest threat to use a nuclear weapon isn’t a nation state. Most have decided that its use would cripple the world in foundational ways that would inalterable effect the country that used it. This is one reason why they are not used. The greatest threat is a non-nation-state actor. We know that terrorists group have been seeking a nuclear weapon for more than ten years. If they were to use the weapon, there is no one or no place to bomb back. And if there was, they would welcome the death it brought. Using an indiscriminate killing machine on the likes of Bin Laden is not a deterrent. His kind neither fears it, and we can’t locate a network like you can a capitol. As George Shultz, Reagan’s SecDef, said to me last, “The existence of nuclear weapons once reduced the likelihood of a nuclear war, but their existence now increases the chance of a nuclear attack.”

    Which brings me to another point. It’s not hippies smoking pot in the back of a VW Bug who dreamed this up. It was the dream and articulation of Ronald Reagan, has been reaffirmed by John McCain and Barack Obama; supporters are people such as Schultz, Henry Kissinger, and a large part of national and international security insiders. They believe we should have none. What’s more, this past year a resolution in support of global zero was unanimously consented to by the U.N. Security Council.

    At issue is to rigorously work together to verify that everyone plays, and continues to play by the rules. We reduce and verify a little at a time. On the upside, the materials needed to make such a weapon are hard to come by and hard to work with. Terrorist groups can’t get the materials and make one without the cooperation of people who already have them. As crazy as it sounds, it’s not a pipe dream, it is possible and serious men and women, with worldwide clout are behind it. It’s one of the reasons the worldwide community is working so hard to make sure Iran doesn’t get the bomb. If they do, then all bets are off, but they have to get the materials from somebody or somewhere that already has them. That’s the problem. The elimination of the weapons are the only way to ensure these groups don’t eventually get them. And they will get one and use it. Again, this is not about trust. I have a daughter as well, two of them in fact, and I trust NO ONE to simply do what they say they will do in this matter. It will take a worldwide effort — which is already under way — just as it did to produce the weapons in the first place.

    I’m under no illusions, this will not likely happen in my lifetime. But it is the safest thing that can happen. If we still lived in a world where deterrence worked, I’d say keep them all. But as George W, Bush said, we now face new threats and must operate under different guidelines when it comes to security. Knowing that the greater threat to my life are extremists rather than the Societs, the elimination of indiscriminate killing machines, in my mine, make zero, the only wise number.

  3. kraig says:

    You make a really good point that we currently are under a far greater threat from radical groups, not nations, when it comes to the use of a nuclear weapon. And those groups can’t get their own radioactive material, they need to get it from a nation. So, if we could get rid of all existing weapons, we would face a far smaller threat. That seems right.

    I’m not sure the current situation will always be the case. There may (in all liklihood, will) come some future threat of a nation using a nuclear weapon. In that case, it would be nice to cause them pause under the threat of retribution. Of course, nothing prevents us from responding to some future threat by building more weapons if the need arises.

    Still, I don’t trust our ability to know whether or not other countries have destroyed and are not developing nuclear weapons. That might just be because I am ignorant of the technology that allows us to be so assured.

    So maybe you’re right. (But, I’ve got to say, the fact that nuclear weapons won’t be in heaven is no good reason to want them elimated. I’m pretty sure tortillas won’t be in heaven; I don’t want them eliminated.)

    I enjoyed your posts. Tell Ro and the girl’s hi.

  4. Sean says:

    You are sooooooo…. wrong. There will be tortillas in heaven. And a Pappasito’s.

  5. Ian Turnbull says:

    I’d like to add to this discussion, because I hear here the longing for peace and goodwill to prevail in our world, while being yet accepting of the nuclear technology.

    I’ve a parallel take on this whole subject. Indeed, it is the very wholeness of nuclear energy and the Atomic World – which is where this lovely stuff lives and comes from – that I would place firmly on the agenda of this ‘World without Nukes’ inquiry.

    You might think I’m being mischievous with my wording. Not so. My curiosity about the nuclear subject has brought me to see that nuclear fission is remarkable in the way it allows us to glimpse the social and spiritual nature of the forces in the particle world.

    To see the images that speak for this account, I need to ask you to look in at a web site I’ve created quite recently. The address is: http://www.catholicnuclear.com

    Nuclear fission provides us with pretty good insight about the whole symmetrical and living structure of our Universe. Which is summarised by the modern expression – holographic Universe.

    Nuclear fission shows how the same (four) universal forces are active in each of the (three) dimensions that we now know form our Universe. If we hadn’t seen it before, we now have another rewarding sight of the whole and holy nature of this place we are in.

    Three of these four force, by the way, are forms of Love. The other is more imbued with qualities of Light, and what we might call God’s Will.

    There is so much distress and fear around the nuclear subject. And yet it offers us a view of the profound nature of our Universe, and ourselves. Hope you’ll have a look at the images that turn(ed) me on.
    We men need some confidence in our instinctive, possibly animal, nature. That’s what we are looking at. And we are more than that !

    Okay. Hope this catches your interest. My generally sceptical left brain is content to know that I am within an intelligent and symmetrical Universe. Which is full of loving forces, because it was designed to be so. And nuclear fission provides the details.

    Trusting this model, I now think there are new spiritual technologies waiting to be discovered or claimed, which will allow us to respond and be responsible for the nuclear issues that we have created or inherited.

    Thanks and good wishes

    Ian Turnbull

  6. […] is increasingly becoming a passion of mine.  I have previously blogged about the issue here and here. And Countdown To Zero has only increased my desire to invite you to join in this cause along with […]

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