Sunday Terminology: Pacifism


Pacifism: A term, derived from the Latin word for peacemaking, that has been applied to a spectrum of positions covering nearly all attitudes toward war. On one extreme pacifist designates any person who desires peace, thus describing those who wage war as much as those who refuse participation in war. On the other extreme pacifism also describes renunciation of force and coercion in all forms. A mediating definition sometimes distinguishes nonresistance, which renounces force in all forms, from pacifism, which rejects participation in war but allows the use of nonviolent kinds of force. It makes most sense to reserve the term “pacifism” for that part of the spectrum which includes at least a refusal to participate in war.[1]

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[1] Walter A. Elwell, Evangelical dictionary of theology (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1984), 813. Print.

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