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Between Pacifism and Jihad: Just War and Christian Tradition Paperback – May 25, 2005

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Editorial Reviews


"Contemporary Christians tend to approach questions about the proper use of force in international relations naively, as though no one had reflected about them until our own time. In a fallen world, such ignorance is not only intellectually inexcusable but an invitation to moral disaster. Between Pacifism and Jihad is an excellent resource for evangelicals who desire to reacquaint themselves with the 'consensus' tradition on the ethics of justified war." (J. Budziszewski, Professor of Government and Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin, and author of Written on the Heart: The Case for Natural Law and What We Can't Not Know: A Guide)

"In this erudite, timely and helpful book, Daryl Charles surveys the landscape of just-war thinking, past and present, and helps us to understand why war should not be severed from ethical considerations and constraints. His book is a wonderful introduction to just war as well as a major contribution to the contemporary debate." (Jean Bethke Elshtain, The Laura Spelman Rockefeller Professor of Social and Political Ethics, The University of Chicago)

"Few people are reconsidering the just-war theory in light of the threat of radical Islam. Fewer still are doing it with the biblical insight, historical depth and careful moral analysis of J. Daryl Charles. An indispensable book in our age of terror." (Joseph Loconte, William E. Simon Fellow in Religion and a Free Society at the Heritage Foundation)

"This is an important book. Daryl Charles helpfully surveys Christian perspectives, past and present, on the issues of war and peace. Then he offers some wise counsel about how we are to reappropriate just-war theory for the unprecedented challenges of our own day. And best of all he shows us why all of this requires careful theological reflection." (Richard J. Mouw, President and Professor of Christian Philosophy, Fuller Theological Seminary)

"Here is an intelligent, articulate presentation of just-war thinking by a leading evangelical scholar. The lure of pacifism and the call to holy war have both found their champions in the Christian tradition. Daryl Charles draws on the wisdom of Niebuhr, Ramsey, Elshtain and others to present a mediating position: the sanction of force by the state as a means of justice bearing peace. An important evangelical engagement with this debate." (Timothy George, Dean, Beeson Divinity School, Samford University, and executive editor, Christianity Today)

"Daryl Charles has read widely and thought carefully about the role of government and the place of warfare in Christian thought. Arguing for a view that neither baptizes force whenever it is used for patriotic purposes nor rejects force when it is needed to serve just ends, Charles provides both helpful historical background and probing moral argument. Christians who want to reflect more carefully about these matters will find here a valuable resource." (Gilbert Meilaender, Duesenberg Professor of Christian Ethics, Valparaiso University)

About the Author

J. Daryl Charles (Ph.D., Westminster Theological Seminary) is director and senior fellow of the Bryan Institute for Critical Thought & Practice, Bryan College, and served as the 2007-1008 William E. Simon Visiting Fellow in Religion & Public Life, James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, Department of Politics, of Princeton University. He is the co-author (with David D. Corey) of Justice in an Age of Terror and (with David B. Capes) of Thriving in Babylon: Essays in Honor of A. J. Conyers and the author of Retrieving Natural Law. The translator of Roots of Wisdom by Claus Westermann, he serves on the editorial advisory boards of the journals Pro Ecclesia and Cultural Encounters, and is contributing editor of the journal Touchstone.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 197 pages
  • Publisher: IVP Academic; Print-On-Demand edition (May 25, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0830827722
  • ISBN-13: 978-0830827725
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

J. DARYL CHARLES (PhD, Westminster Theological Seminary) is director of the Bryan Institute for Critical Thought and Practice and author of ten books.

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35 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Bill Muehlenberg VINE VOICE on August 9, 2005
Format: Paperback
Over 20 years ago Christian social commentator Michael Novak wrote a book entitled Moral Clarity in the Nuclear Age. In it he urged us to think clearly and with moral discernment about the issues of nuclear deterrence, justice and warfare. This volume serves a similar function, except in the context of the modern dilemma of international terrorism.

The main focus of the book however is to provide a thorough description and defense of classic just war theory. Written by a Christian ethicist mainly for the Christian community, the author lays out the various options relating to issues of war and peace. Of course the two major options throughout church history have been pacifism and just war doctrine. The former, while always a minority opinion, has had many champions throughout the ages.

The latter position, just war theory, has had a long and honorable heritage, both in religious and non-religious circles. The position holds, in brief, that there are some occasions in which a war may be fought with moral justification. It stipulates some of the reasons why it may be just to enter into such a conflict (jus ad bellum) and how such a war may be justly waged (jus in bello).

Charles traces the development of this doctrine through Christian history, and seeks to defend it in the face of numerous objections. Like Novak before him, he especially seeks to sharpen our moral clarity concerning the difficult questions raised in the debate, and equip believers to think deeply and critically about how their faith intersects with such contentious social and political issues.

And like Novak, he is unhappy with the sloppy thinking and muddied moral waters that often occur in these debates.
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18 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on August 18, 2007
Format: Paperback
By incorporating the word `Jihad' within the title of his book, one might think that Daryl Charles intends to critically evaluate, in light of Just War theory, the US-led "War on Terror" against a postulated emergence of a global fundamentalist Muslim movement. However, if this is one's expectation, the reader will surely be disappointed. Instead, this book is little more than an extended polemic against Christian pacifism, and a veiled apologetic for US foreign policy in the wake of the events of September 11.

At several points Charles emphasizes his familiarity with Christian pacifist thinking, since his father was from the Anabaptist tradition, and a conscientious objector. Yet, his interaction with pacifist thinking is egregiously lacking. He frequently makes claims that "Pacifists believe this," or "Pacifists say that," but he never actually cites a pacifist thinker who actually says or believes those things (though he quotes Just War theorists extensively). The only pacifist that he engages with at any length is John Howard Yoder and his book, "The Politics of Jesus." This is hardly a substantive engagement, though, since he thoroughly trivializes Yoder's argument, and completely neglects the theological discussion which lies at the heart of his argument. You might think, after reading through Charles' book, that all pacifists prefer to seal themselves off into their own little room, complaining when any murderer is tried and put in prison (or even worse, executed), self-righteously denouncing foreign wars, while not lifting a finger to try to help the oppressed and persecuted in this world. This is a gross distortion of the truth, derived from a methodology hardly befitting one with a PhD after his name.
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