It's "Just" War: Should Christians Fight?
On March 28, 2014, Anchor-Cross Publishing and Followers of the Way sponsored a debate on the subject of just war. We sought to bring leading thinkers together to discuss the issue in historic Faneuil Hall in downtown Boston. Speaking of behalf of just war were Dr. Peter Kreeft (professor of philosophy at Boston College) and Dr. J. Daryl Charles (Berry College). Speaking against just war and for biblical nonresistance were David Bercot and Dean Taylor.
Speaking in favor of Christians engaging in just war:
- Peter Kreeft (Ph.D. Fordham University) is professor of philosophy at Boston College. He is the author of over 67 books on philosophy, theology and Christian apologetics. A gifted thinker and speaker, he speaks at universities and churches all over the world. He draws inspiration from influential figures such as Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, and C. S. Lewis. His books include Making Sense Out of Suffering (Servant Books, 1986), Socrates Meets Jesus (InterVarsity Press, 1987), and a Handbook of Christian Apologetics (InterVarsity Press, 1994).
- J. Daryl Charles (Ph.D., Westminster Theological Seminary) teaches in the Honors Program at Berry. He has written 14 books on ethics, Christian engagement in the public square, and just war. He is widely regarded as a leading authority on the Christian just war tradition. His books include Between Pacifism and Jihad (InterVarsity Press Academic, 2005), War, Peace, and Christianity (Crossway, 2010), The Just War Tradition (Intercollegiate Studies, 2012), and America's Wars (forthcoming).
Speaking against Christians in war:
- David Bercot is an attorney (J.D., Baylor University), author, and speaker. He has numerous books on the subject of the early church, where he emphasizes the simplicity of biblical doctrine and early (pre-325 AD) Christian teaching over what he would call the complex and compromised body of theological understandings built up over the centuries that have come to be thought of as orthodoxy. His most well known books are Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up? (Scroll Publishing, 1989), and A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs (Hendrickson, 1998).
- Dean Taylor and his wife Tania were both in the U. S. Army when they realized that, as committed Christians, they had to come to grip with Jesus' teachings in the Sermon on the Mount on loving one's enemies. They ultimately left the Army in a new and sincere quest for truth, determined to follow Jesus Christ under the banner "no compromise." Mr. Taylor is a widely sought speaker who regularly addresses the question, "What if Jesus really meant every word He said?" His best known book is A Change of Allegiance (Radical Reformation, 2008).
- Finny Kuruvilla (M.D. Harvard Medical Schoool, Ph.D. Harvard University) has treated patients at Boston area hospitals such as Children's Hospital Boston, the Brigham & Women's Hospital, and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He served for many years in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and World Vision, a Christian humanitarian relief and development agency. He is the author of the book King Jesus Claims His Church (Anchor-Cross Publishing, 2013).
The Legacy of Nonresistance in the Churches of Christ.
In this talk, Mr. Pike challenges the Restoration churches (Stone-Campbell heritage) to return to their historic teaching against Christian participation in war.
Debate on Christianity and Voting
The governor of Massachusetts, Charlie Baker, publicly announced a couple months ago that he would not be voting in this Presidential election on moral grounds. Indeed, this election has caused many people in the church to question if and how Christians should vote. The Society for the Two Tasks held a debate on Saturday, November 5th, 2016, at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government. Speaking for Christian's getting engaged in politics and voting was Josh Good. Josh did his Master's degree at Harvard in Christianity and culture. He currently serves as team leader for the Faith, Work, and Economics Program for the Kern Foundation. Very knowledgeable about religion and politics, he has written for many publications such as the National Review, The Weekly Standard, The Washington Times, and Patheos. Josh covered important questions about principles of voting from a Christian perspective.
The other position is that Christians should not engage in earthly politics or vote, believing that it necessarily involves compromise that Jesus taught his followers to avoid. This view maintains that Jesus did not model involvement in earthly government, but rather prophetic witness. This view further argues that voting and political engagement actually defeats the church, which could have greater impact if it were to focus on service outside of government. This view was argued by Matthew Milioni, an excellent speaker and articulate advocate of the historic Christian position of nonviolence and Christians functioning as ambassadors to the nations of this world.
Recommended Follow-Up Reading and Audio to the Debate and Talks
- Finny Kuruvilla, King Jesus Claims His Church (Anchor-Cross Publishing, 2013). This book addresses nonresistance from within the Bible's larger teaching on the church. Available on amazon.com or from Scroll Publishing.
- John Howard Yoder, What would you do? If a violent person threatened to harm a loved one... (Herald Press, 1992). Definitively answers the age-old question on responding to personal threats of violence. Available on amazon.com.
- Dean Taylor, A Change of Allegiance (Radical Reformation, 2008). Taylor takes the reader on a journey through the Scriptures, Christian history, and his own life's story demonstrating the incompatibility of Christianity and war. Ultimately, Taylor challenges his readers to consider where their allegiance really lies. Available on amazon.com or Scroll Publishing.
- George Kalantzis, Caesar and the Lamb: Early Christian Attitudes on War and Military Service (Wipf & Stock, 2012). A professor at Wheaton College surveys the early Christian writings and concludes that the ante-Nicene (pre-325 AD) church was uniformly opposed to war. Available on amazon.com.
- David Bercot, What the Early Christians Believed about War (audio CD), available from Scroll Publishing.
- Leonard Verduin, Anatomy of a Hybrid: A study in church-state relationships (Eerdmans, 1976). A brilliant book on the relationship of the state and the church. Available on amazon.com or from Scroll Publishing.