Sunday, July 22, 2012

A Faith Not Worth Fighting For Addressing Commonly Asked Questions about Christian Nonviolence; Summary and Review(1)

(2012-05-17). A Faith Not Worth Fighting For: Addressing Commonly Asked Questions about Christian Nonviolence (The Peaceable Kingdom Series) . Cascade Books, an Imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers. Kindle Edition.

“We begin this book with the audacious hope that you will accept our proposal to concede that following Jesus could demand a lifelong commitment to nonviolence” (6). In this book editors Justin Bronson Barringer and Tripp York invite readers to journey into the ever-popular and important concern of “what would you do if” objections to this claim. This first volume in “The Peaceable Kingdom Series” offers thorough yet accessible essays from a variety of contributors to address these matters from a center of what we might call Christological Realism. Stanley Hauerwas, in his forward to this volume, identifies this center as the legacy of the great Mennonnite theologian John Howard Yoder. These essays may then be considered a furthering of the tradition of Christological pacifism for which Yoder is justly famous.

The editors’ aims are to “discuss why refusing to employ violence is so important to Christian discipleship” (4) and to address why “how we respond to our enemies reveals the reality of our ultimate commitment” (4). This is a crucial and effective strategy given the ease with which we in North America conclude that the benefits of contravening Jesus’ command to live nonviolently are evident.

This command to so live is rooted in a theological conviction, the basic theological conviction of Christian theology: “To be clear, we stress nonviolence not because we are against something called ‘violence,’ rather, we emphasize nonviolence because we believe Jesus is resurrected from the dead. For in light of his resurrection, what else can we do but follow him? (p. 6)

In light of this conviction, indeed this unfathomable reality, the editors claim that we must thus attend to “the important questions that often tempt us to ignore, neglect, explain away, or flat-out reject the difficult teachings of Jesus that could potentially require us to give up our lives, and those of the ones we love, at the hands of our enemies” (6).

The volume is brought to a fitting conclusion with a consideration of the martyrs from whom this faith of ours was not worth killing for but most certainly worth dying for (7).

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