Facing Terrorism: Responding as Christians

By Breitenberg, E. Harold, Jr. | Interpretation, January 2006 | Go to article overview

Facing Terrorism: Responding as Christians


Breitenberg, E. Harold, Jr., Interpretation


Facing Terrorism: Responding as Christians by Edward LeRoy Long Jr. Westminster John Knox, Louisville, 2004. 112 pp. $12.95. ISBN 0-664-22760-0.

FEW ASPECTS OF CONTEMPORARY life affect us more profoundly than terrorism. Yet there has been surprisingly little theological and ethical reflection about it. In this timely work, Edward Long offers a much-needed consideration of the topic, informed by his extensive knowledge of Christian theological ethics and his many decades of practical engagement with it.

In the first half of the book, Long discusses what terrorism is, considers its possible causes, and examines models for countering terrorism, noting the significance of the model under which we choose to operate. In the second half, he explores negative effects of our responses to terrorism; suggests connections between religious faith and practice and the different models for responding to terrorism; and reflects on challenges terrorism poses to our ability to be faithful to basic Christian commitments.

Long's treatment is premised on his "realization that terrorism is a form of violence that differs from warfare" in both manner and extent. This requires "a reconsideration and probable modification of the moral categories that Christians have used to think about the use of violence for political purposes and strategies for curtailing or overcoming such violence" (p. vii). Going beyond descriptions of terrorism, its causes, and ways to deal with it, Long considers "how terrorism defines the present world and us as part of that world" (p. …

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