Saturday, April 4, 2009

Taking the Prince of Peace Seriously

The title of Thomas Woods review of Laurence Vance's book at

Christianity and War, and Other Essays Against the Warfare State

Several years ago, Congressman Sam Johnson (R-Texas) told parishioners at Suncreek United Methodist Church in Allen, Texas, something he had said to President George W. Bush: “Syria is the problem. Syria is where those weapons of mass destruction are, in my view. You know, I can fly an F-15, put two nukes on ’em and I’ll make one pass. We won’t have to worry about Syria anymore.”

Johnson later claimed he’d been joking. But the congregation wasn’t laughing – it was roaring with cheers and applause.

These were all Christians, you understand – you know, people who are supposed to be concerned about the wrongful taking of innocent human life.

It’s not just Protestants; a substantial number of Catholics are guilty of the same cavalier attitude toward war, which is ipso facto just if waged by the U.S. government. They will spend their time tracking down whatever slivers of evidence they can find in support of their leaders’ war propaganda, a practice they would have laughed at if they’d observed it in the Soviet Union. As a Catholic myself I have been mortified to think that a neoconservative death cult is what is being projected to the non-Christian world as Christianity.

This is why the second edition of Laurence Vance’s Christianity and War, and Other Essays Against the Warfare State (which is nearly four times as long as the first edition) is at once both good news and bad news. The good news is the book itself, which eviscerates the self-justifying nonsense that passes for moral reflection among so many Christian supporters of war. The bad news is how rare such a book is these days: a theologically conservative Christian’s powerful, unrelenting case against war, militarism, and an eagerness to believe whatever propaganda will promote war and cast those politicians who support it in a favorable light....

Vance is no pacifist and would not oppose Christian participation in the armed forces if the U.S. military were actually used for defensive purposes. But that has not been the case for quite some time...

Not just among Christians but among conservatives more generally, all critical thinking and curiosity cease when the subject turns to war. Moral relativism and utilitarianism, which Christians supposedly oppose, take the place of serious moral argument....

Vance’s book is refreshingly – at times even shockingly – radical, but I am unable to identify any flaws in his unrelenting exposition. He says what all Christians, especially those who boast of their fidelity to the Bible, should be saying....


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