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« What does the Hebrew Bible have to say about war and peace and faith and politics? | Main | I too am a theopaschite »


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Stephen (aka Q)

Thanks for sharing Klepper's very moving story.

If these are the things that matter, then God be cursed.

You're shockingly close to cursing God there. I know, you think you aren't. But you shouldn't have said such an awful thing.


You are probably right about the need to remove that phrase, Stephen. If I get one more complaint, it's out.

Justin (koavf)


While I don't want to undercut Stephen's legitimate concerns, nor your valid sensitivities, I think you're in the right. These things aren't the things that matter, therefore God would not be cursed. In the same manner that your right hand does not cause you to sin, and therefore you would not cut it off, this language is almost a safeguard against cursing God; it affirms His centrality in human experience.

Or at least that's what I got out of it.

A poignant and moving entry, John.


Sam Norton

Very moving. Speaking for myself, I don't have a problem with your language in the last paragraph.

I'm gaining a great deal from this series by the way, so thank you.


I like the wonderful phrases under Keppler’s Christmas hymn, I just impressed with your conclusion it matters a lot, thank you for a good conclusion Justin.

Peter Kirk

John, I am not going to attempt to carry on a conversation with you while you continue to caricature the kind of position which I hold and use ad hominem epithets like "naiveté", "tawdry" and "self-serving" in a pathetic attempt to discredit what you can't find any convincing proper arguments against.


Suit yourself, Peter.

But I would be happier if instead you turned 'round and said, "It is your position which is naive and self-serving, for the following reasons."

As you will have noticed, Jesus also engaged in what you call ad hominem attacks when he thought it necessary (get behind me, Satan; hypocrites).

There is, apparently, more than one way to turn the other cheek. Better put, Jesus himself and people in general have almost always understood the "evangelical counsels" to have less than unlimited scope.

A lot is at stake in these debates, and I will continue to comment and blog on your perspectives on war and peace whether or not you choose to return the favor.

Peter Kirk

Well, John, if you are positively asking me to call you naive and self-serving, I will do. You are naive because you fail to understand that at least many "soft pacifists" have genuine convictions on the matter, that they should be in the world, not cutting themselves off from it like some Anabaptists, and witnessing to the truth of Jesus' teaching in the world. You are self-serving because your militarist position is based on the desire to protect yourself and your great American lifestyle from any external threat without considering the effect of your military actions in ruining the lifestyles, and often taking the lives, of innocent people in other countries. I could go into this further, but I won't take the time to do so just now.


Thanks, Peter. That's more like it.

We still differ, of course, but at least we both are willing to call a spade a spade from our respective points of view.

Stephen C. Rose

I wonder if anyone reading this recalls the joint suicide attempted by Henry Pitney VanDusen and his wife in which only the wife was succcesful leaving Henry injured but conscious after the attempt. VanDusen was the head of Union Theological Seminary when I was a student there and I knew him directly as I had been quite critical of seminary life.

I think there is a world of difference between pacifism as a political position and an individual's voluntary and involuntary decisions relating to violence against others or against oneself. For example I think an individual has the right to do himself in but not to do another in unless it is a matter of so called mercy-killing in which there is conscious agreement.

A socio-political pacifism can be argued in many ways. I would argue that our inherited religion encourages us to go lightly on Biblical strictures not to kill and celebrates a deity who condones armed conflict, giving rise to a counter-hermeneutic which can justly claimed that such narratives are human constructs.

Reason is among the justifications for a pacifist position todayAnd as I have said this hardly precludes individual decisions made in the intimacy of ones relationship to Abba.


Thanks for stopping by, Stephen. From your blog it's clear you have a lively mind and keep up on things.

I am very familiar with a certain liberal ethos in which socio-political pacifism as you call it is second nature. 60% of the students in the high school I attended were Unitarians. I know all the right words and even the right gestures. But for a long time it has not been at all obvious to me, as it is to you, that pacifism of this kind is a particularly reasonable position.

Van Dusen was a liberal's liberal and I mean that as a compliment. But the views of the Euthanasia Society of which he was a member have never enjoyed wide currency beyond a few intellectual circles.

I would not hold up Van Dusen as an example (nor am I claiming you were). As a pastor, I have accompanied many people to their deathbed. Some of them knew far more suffering than did Van Dusen (I do not wish to make light of it), but chose a different way.

The person who taught me how to die more than anyone else was a minister I had while still a teenager. A graduate of Boston University who marched with MLK, he was every bit as liberal in the good old-fashioned sense (that is, the kind of liberal that now seems prim and conservative compared to John Shelby Spong) as was Van Dusen (whose respect for Hammarskjold I share). But when he was dying of cancer, he chose to minister to his congregation to the end. His unbreakable spirit and faith touched many in the hospital and he arranged to be taken to speak to his congregation one last time. So they brought him in an ambulance and on a stretcher (how he got permission to do this, I don't know), and wheeled him into fellowship hall. His voice was strong and feeble at the same time. By now he, physically speaking, was nothing more than skin and bones. But with the microphone at full volume his words were clear. I can't remember a single word he said, but I remember the strength and conviction in his voice. He died a few days later. If life is a series of gestures, this gesture was powerful indeed.

Rev. Dale Strong was his name. He chose how he died as well.

Thomas Renz

Die Nacht ist vorgedrungen, has long been one of my best-loved hymns. Jochen Klepper may have written it as a Weihnachtslied but it is usually sung during Advent. Johannes Petzold's tune is maybe not "joyful and triumphant" enough for Christmas.

Since you wrote this three years ago, the German essay to which you link has moved to


Hi Thomas,

Thanks for noting the changed link. I am teaching a class this semester at the UW-O in which I will lecture on "War and Peace" in the Bible and in the world as those who read the Bible see it.

This post will be on the assigned reading list.

Chariots of Fire 2

Every time I read or learn about the Nazi's and the genocides I'm still fathomed by the fact that this only took place a mere 60 plus years ago. I think that a lot of families felt this way and I can't even imagine being separated from my family. If I put myself in Klepper's shoes I think I would have the same thoughts. He felt helpless, angry, and powerless to do anything to keep his family together. I'm not saying I agree with what he did, but he knew what was going to happen to his family and he did what he thought was best.


Cette step doit être junkie - nike tn série de couleurs noires et jaunes populaire que l'appel, a donné le ton preserve le noir supérieure, couvre-chaussures systèmes de revêtement nouvellement développée take place down in buckets pitchforks le dessin en noir, tandis que la semelle extérieure combinée avec des détails décoratifs - tn pas cher et jaune, et logo de Nike et de la stabilité en TPU talon de la feuille d'argent avec les films, - nike tn requin la put together globale est exaltent les gens.

Pulp Fiction 5

The main question that this post brings to my mind is, did Klepper do the right thing by committing suicide? From my understanding of Jochen Klepper and his life, he had two options near the end of his life. He could have stayed alive and almost certainly faced a long and painful death in a Nazi concentration camp, where he and his family would have been separated and never seen each other again. Or he could have done what he did and committed suicide ending life much more quickly and much less painfully. I believe that Jochen did what he did because he loved his family very much and he couldn’t stand to see them suffer in a concentration camp. If you look 1 Corinthians: 13 then you will understand that what he did was most likely the right thing to do. 1 Cor: 13 essentially says that if you do not love then you are and have nothing. This makes me think that what Jochen did was the right thing.

Would it have been better if he had fled the country with his family when he had a chance? I don’t know the answer to that question. I know that he would have most likely survived much longer in life but was it the right thing to do in God’s eyes? Would leaving the country that he obviously loved to save himself and his family been right? I think God would have looked down on that just based on the book of Jonah from the Bible. It seems like the story is similar to Jochen’s situation. Jochen was doing what he could, by staying, to support his country even though he disagreed with the leader. When it comes down to it I believe that Jochen took the lesser of two evils. He did the honorable thing by staying and trying to help the country but he would have done no good by going to a concentration camp with his family.

Chariots of Fire 1

It doesn’t make sense to me why they would commit suicide. I understand that they didn’t want to suffer or be separated, but if they struggled that much with the idea of suicide and whether or not God would approve, wouldn’t it make more sense from a spiritual standpoint to NOT commit suicide and just die in the concentration camp and be reunited in heaven? I wouldn’t want to risk it. Plus, they could have looked at going to a concentration camp as an opportunity to share God’s love and forgiveness to the prisoners there. It would have been hard, but they could have spiritually helped people out.


Suicide is a very tough subject. I believe it’s ultimately up to God on whether or not the act was the right thing to do. Klepper was faced with a task that most of us couldn’t imagine and I pray that none of us do. One decision he could have chosen was to watch his family get tortured and finally put to death in a concentration camp. Klepper chose what he thought was the most honorable one and arguably the quickest to an inevitable death. I can’t help but wonder if this was a test for Klepper. I’m not saying he passed or failed, but I believe God tests all of us. Was it likely that they would have been taken to a camp and killed? Yes, but we don’t know for sure what God had in store for them. I feel like suicide is almost not trusting in God to take care of you.


It is a thrilling story full of twists which briefly describe in this post. I argue that in a situation where, as Goldhagen has shown that most Germans were Hitler's willing executioners, the family lived a decent life.

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