Book Review: War, Peace, and Christianity by Charles and Demy

War, Peace, and Christianity: Questions and Answers from a Just-War PerspectiveWar, Peace, and Christianity: Questions and Answers from a Just-War Perspective by J. Daryl Charles

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In my circles people talk about just war all the time. But rarely was it defined or described. What is a just war? I bought this book hoping for two things: 1. It would give me the basic parameters of just war theory. 2. It would give a me a lot of footnotes that would point me to other sources. I got both of these in spades.

The authors use a question and answer format to describe what just war is, what it is not, some questions that still need answered, and the history of just war. They talk about just war in relation to philosophy/natural law, history, the statesman, the theologian, the combatant, and the individual.They rely heavily on Aquinas, Grotius, Vitoria, and Suarez. The also use a lot of O’Donovan and a current just war writer named James Turner Johnson. They address terrorism, nuclear war, humanitarian intervention, the UN, post war development of countries, non-lethal weapons, “turn the other cheek,” does war violate the command to not kill, did Jesus change our approach to war, is just war only a Christian idea or it can it be found in non-Christian sources, Bonhoeffer’s attempt on Hitler’s life, Ghandi’s pacifism, C.S. Lewis’ writings on war, supreme emergency, the early church on war, including Roland Bainton’s pacifistic reading of the church fathers, criteria for going to war, criteria within a war, private military contractors, ethical development of weapons, Romans 13, etc. etc. The great value of this book is how much ground it covers. You will not get an in depth chapter length discussion of terrorism and just war, but you will get some basic ideas on it. It is an excellent introduction to just war thought, though I doubt any reader will agree with all.

The only drawback I would note is there is a quite a bit of repetition. The reason would seem to be the nature of the book where the questions and answers in various sections overlap with questions and answers in other sections. There are other areas that I would have like more discussion on, such as what makes an authority legitimate, but the sources cited should give provide those if the reader wished to pursue them.

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