Love Your Enemies: Discipleship, Pacifism, and Just War Theory

Love Your Enemies: Discipleship, Pacifism, and Just War Theory

Love Your Enemies: Discipleship, Pacifism, and Just War Theory

Love Your Enemies: Discipleship, Pacifism, and Just War Theory

Synopsis

Questions of pacifism and just war, which have preoccupied Christian thinkers from time to time over the past 1700 years, are given distinctive treatment in this book as it discusses biblical sources for the questions, builds on historical examples both of just war theory and of pacifism, and shows how Christian pacifism is a live option in many contexts. Lisa Sowle Cahill examines the theological bases of just war theory and pacifism, especially in light of the concept of the kingdom of God, as that motif illuminates Christian discipleship. Differences between the theory and just war and the practice of pacifism are highlighted in the overview of the history of Christian thought on the subject, and the inclusiveness of the ideal of the kingdom for pacifism is emphasized.

Excerpt

This book is about Christian discipleship. What does it mean today to live as a follower of Jesus? More specifically, this book is about the relationship between discipleship and the moral life. What is the primary context in which the Christian works out concrete moral action—the kingdom of God as disclosed and brought near by the Sermon on the Mount, or the networks of natural human relationships whose ambiguities and conflicts are mediated by moral rules and political institutions?

The Christian tradition's struggle with questions of war and peace is a test case or lens for these questions. the challenge to decide about violence, especially state-supported and institutionally perpetuated violence, has been with Christians from the beginning. Christians are not only believers within a religious community, but citizens and members within social, cultural, and political communities. the pluralism of their identity has always posed the problem of where they are to place their allegiance, or how they can reconcile competing allegiances and responsibilities.

The questions of the sea or the church, Scripture or philosophy, conversion in Christ or natural law, the formation of an inclusive community of moral discourse or of a witness against the wider society, are not only perennial topics for Christian ethics. They have puzzled me at a personal level for more than two decades, since my days in graduate study at the University of Chicago Divinity School. I think primarily of the seminars of James M. Gustafson, whose approach to theological ethics managed to be penetrating and balanced, field-surveying and eclectic at the same time. While conducting a trimesterlong study of, for instance, Barth and Aquinas, he would challenge both Roman Catholic students like me and also my Protestant classmates to reappropriate our own traditions with a new appreciation of the depth that could be achieved if one listened carefully to the critique posed by a contrasting theological . . .

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