War: A Primer for Christians

War: A Primer for Christians

War: A Primer for Christians

War: A Primer for Christians

Synopsis

War: A Primer for Christians provides a concise introduction to the main approaches that Christians have taken toward war and examines each approach critically.

Some Christians have supported their country's wars as crusades of good against evil. Others, as pacifists, have rejected participation in or support for any war. Still others have followed the just-war tradition in holding that it can be justifiable under some conditions to resort to war, but that then Christian love must limit the conduct of war.

In an updated preface and new afterword, Allen explores aspects of current international relations that have a special bearing on the context of war.

"Joseph Allen's War: A Primer for Christians is just that: a succinct, fair-minded, wonderfully reasoned, and accessible account of the major Christian traditions on war-Just War, Holy War, and the Pacifist renunciation of violence. His book is also a primer in the further sense, that it will prime the pump for further discussion and debate as to when wars are just and how a nation might keep the means employed under restraints."-William F. May

Excerpt

Wars continually occur and are studied in many ways: how the war came about, how it might have been avoided, the strategies and tactics of the warring nations, the weapons used, the military effects of technological developments, and so on. Along with valuable studies like these, we also need to think through what would be an appropriate response when wars occur: an ethic of war. We need to think about war from the standpoint of our most fundamental beliefs. For Christians, this calls for reflecting on war in the context of their faith.

Various resources are already available to help Christians think about war. The Bible frequently speaks about this subject, directly and indirectly, and yet its speaking lends itself to conflicting interpretations. Church bodies have often made pronouncements on war, both in the distant and the more recent past, but the reasons for their judgments have not always been clear, their positions have sometimes been insufficiently self-critical, and their guidance has not always been fully consistent or sufficiently informed about the circumstances they were addressing. Moral theologians have long given serious attention to the moral issues of war, and yet their work is not easily accessible to those who are not specialists in theology.

Christians need a basic introduction that (1) explains in a nontechnical fashion the main approaches in the Christian tradition toward war and (2) examines each one critically. These are the aims of this book. Because conscientious Christians have responded to war in different and conflicting ways, it is not possible to present one framework that they all can affirm. Some Christians have supported their country’s wars as crusades of good against evil; some, as pacifists, have rejected participation in or support for any war; and some have followed the just-war tradition in making discriminating moral judgments about wars. Some or all of these responses may be evident in the approaches of other religions and of those who affirm no religion.

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