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Farewell Preston Sprinkle: A Review of _Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence_

Author: Preston Sprinkle
Format: Paperback
Publisher: David Cook (2013)
Language: English
Pages: 275
ISBN: 9781434704924


An Overview of Fight

Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence (hearafter, just Fight) opens with a graphic description of a genocide in Mozambique that is reminiscent of the opening chapter of Mere Discipleship by Lee Camp. Only, in Camp's book, the genocide described was in Rwanda. This is a bit of a "shock and awe" technique. Few U.S. Americans, let alone evangelicals, will be bothered to read detailed accounts of such atrocities, yet end up holding strong views on the subject of war. Sprinkle clearly wants to challenge this comfort, and suggest that we should see war for the horrific, dehumanizing, demonic nightmare that it truly is, before we even attempt to construct an ethical position on the subject. I think Sprinkle's instincts here are correct. Far too much writing on violence and war from U.S. evangelicals is written through rose-colored glasses. Sprinkle will expose some of this as well.

After that, Sprinkle spends three chapters examining the nature of warfare in the Old Testament, the violent passages, and puts forward several theories of interpreting them. I think this section is the book's weakest by far, but I'll get to that shortly. Before leaving the Old Testament entirely, Sprinkle adds a chapter about themes in the Hebrew Bible which point to the developing ethic of nonviolence that more fully appears in the New Testament—particularly in the life and teachings of Messiah Jesus. This capstone chapter is titled for the prophecy found in both Isaiah and Micah of the coming Messianic age when "swords will be beaten into plowshares." 

When Sprinkle turns his attention to the New Testament, Fight turns into an outstanding book. With the next four chapters, Sprinkle will cover a lot of ground, but manage to do it in a way that is both scholarly and yet highly accessible. He covers the nonviolent ethic of Jesus, the nature of Jesus's "kingdom," our citizenship in Jesus's kingdom, the nonviolent meaning of Revelation, and more. These chapters alone are well worth the cost of the book. But for added value, the final third of the book includes a survey of the early church fathers' attitudes toward war, militarism, military service, and killing; responses to several common objections to Christian nonviolence; and an imaginative parable that illustrates the type of cruciform discipleship he's been teaching throughout the book. To top it all off, he even throws in an appendix on Just War theories. Truly, Fight is closer to a library of resources on Christian nonviolence than merely a book. I think readers will be thankful.

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Why C. S. Lewis Was Wrong About Pacifism

C. S. (Clive Staples) Lewis lived from nearly the turn of the 20th century to the early 1960's. He was a British Christian scholar and author. More specifically, he was an expert on medieval European literature, history, and mythology. In practice, Lewis was an Anglican layman. He was not a clergyman nor an academic theologian.

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Ask a Pacifist FAQs - Hitler and Home Invasion

Since I'm a Jesus-disciple, I'm committed to Jesus's nonviolent Way. Since Jesus's nonviolent Way is not typical in Americanized Christianity, I naturally get asked a lot of questions—often the same few questions. What follows are a few responses I've given lately to two of the questions I'm asked most frequently.

1. What should Christians have done during WWII? (a.k.a. "The Hitler Question")

As far as WWII goes, I think two of the biggest fallacies out there are: 1) Bonhoeffer abandoned pacifism when he resorted to violence; and 2) War was the only possible way to stop Hitler from killing all the Jews and taking over the world.

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Review of "Does God Expect Nations to Turn the Other Cheek?" by Greg Boyd in _A Faith Not Worth Fighting For_

Greg Boyd has written an important chapter in the new book (unfortunately) titled A Faith Not Worth Fighting For 1. Boyd's chapter is titled, "Does God expect Nations to Turn the Other Cheek?"

In his brief essay, Boyd manages to make a very concise and compelling argument in such a small space. He does so by making his arguments very direct. For example, he tackles Romans 13 head-on, summarizing much of John Howard Yoder's exegesis from The Politics of Jesus. He also summarizes much of his arguments from The Myth of a Christian Nation regarding the distinctiveness of God's Kingdom reflected in its unique "power under" in contrast to the kingdom of the world's commonplace use of "power over".

The piece that makes this essay stand apart and what makes it essential to the dialogue between Christian pacifists and Christian Just War theorists is the refinement of Boyd's distinction between what he calls "Kingdom Pacifism" and "Political Pacifism" and greater detail on the expectations of Kingdom Pacifism for the violence of nations.

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Good Stuff Around the Web (January 2012)

  1. Zach Hoag, pastor of Dwell Church in Vermont (and a neo-Anabaptist, New Perspective scholar) offers a straightforward assessment of three positives that can be attributed to the otherwise awful Neo-Reformed movement in the US. His insights are particularly relevant as one who was formerly among them.

  2. Over at Jesus Creed (Scot McKnight's blog), guest author "T" discusses nonviolence and the authority of the State, raising some critically important questions. He compares the evil-restraining authority of the State to the concession of divorce God permitted in the Mosaic law:

    "I would like to offer an analogy for additional consideration and discussion. Divorce is permitted and even ‘ordained’ in God’s law. But Christ makes it clear that divorce was ordained only as a concession to our hard-hearted wickedness. It is not God’s preference or ultimate intention by any stretch of the imagination, even though it can bring a measure of “peace” to a warring couple. God hates divorce, even though he has it as an option in is law, and even Jesus permits it, in limited cases.

    How much is violence, even violence by a human government, the same as divorce in God’s eyes? Consider how much God was willing to take upon himself in order to have real reconciliation, not just between sinful man and himself, but also among “warring” men?"

  3. Derek Ouellette, of Covenant of Love fame, has written a review of a book on humility. From his review it sounds like a book we can all recommend to our arrogant friends.

    Please direct copies for me to my P.O. box :)

  4. Carson T. Clark, the evangelical Anglican blogger extraordinaire, is asking whether Calvin would be a Calvinist by today's standards, but more specifically if Beza (a student who followed Calvin) is more responsible for "Calvinism" than Calvin.

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Remembering Dr. King

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.Today is the nationally-recognized holiday dedicated to the memory of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. (even though his actual birthday is January 15th).

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Welcome to

Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.

T. C.

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