This is my response to this post and the comments that ensued.
I am a Hauerwas 'ilk' as douglas puts it. I'm a "anti-realist' pacifist as you put it. Frankly, I had a lot of stuff to work out before I committed to my conviction. I researched scripture, read ethics, studied history, and most importantly prayed. I wrote my final exegetical paper in NT Studies this semester on Matthew 5:38-48.
I believe that Christ did in fact call his FOLLOWERS to lives of nonviolence - he was not commanding everyone to such a life (he never did so with any of his teachings; he only gave instructions to those who wanted them) . And furthermore, I believe he demonstrated a life of nonviolence. I realize by death on a cross that he was atoning for our sins, but that doesn't invalidate the madates he gave on the Mount of Olives. I do agree with you that pacifists should do a better job of explaining their conclusions from scripture. I don't think that most however are skillful exegetcists. Most people think that it's some kind of a political thing, or even an emotional thing... but the pacifism I hold, I firmly believe in in scripture. It took me nearly 20 pages to write my exegesis on this passage... and I cut it short. But I have done the work and research (Greek and all)... and I DO believe that Christians are commanded to live lives holding to principles of nonviolence, if for no other reason than because it's what Jesus commanded.
Also, I must beg the question as to why I am labeled a nonrealist. I recognize that the Matthean community, and Jesus, were contextualizing everything within an eschatalogial framework. However, despite the reason that the Coming Good Age has not yet arrived, the Kingdom of God is at hand. So, why would it be unreal to obey the mandates of Christ. The only reason I could understand that we are 'nonrealists' is if you take us in the context of today's society and judge us from that viewpoint. However, Jesus said that his kingdom was not of this world. Therefore, we cannot judge ourselves and our actions in this regard, i.e., according to this temporary earthly standards. Futhermore, as Paul writes in Philipians: our citizenship is in Heaven. Throughout the NT, Christians are expected to hold to behavior that is not condusive to life in this world.
For example, in the book of Revelation, Christians were facing imminent persecution if they did participate in emperor worship (Rev. 13). But what does John say, "Well, it's not REALISTIC to hold to first commandment faithfulness, because if you do, you'll be killed"??? NO! He says that Christians are to nonviolently resist emperor worship, even unto death (Rev. 13.10). John didn't allow debate as to whether following the commands of God was REALISTIC or not. He simply said follow them.
But yes, I agree that proper exegesis is necessary when defending the pacifist conviction, and more pacifists should do so. But I must also ask why it's necessary to defend my "anti-realist" pacifist tendencies. It's like asking someone to defend their notion that Christians should love one another. Well, I offer the same two reasons 1) Commanded to do so by Christ, and 2) Demonstrated by Christ. I think the Early Church's pacifist tendencies were the CORRECT interpretation with regard to the issue of nonviolence, and it's just about come full circle, now the pacifists are the ones that must prove their conviction... ironic?, I'd say so.