on January 22, 2013
This amazing volume is as much a concise history of philosophy as it is an exploration of why we go to war
(and how we might avoid it). The author is conversant with relevant thought and events from twenty five centuries of
debate on this sorest of subjects. This volume is a 1980s re-issue of the 1960 original, not a new edition.
Good call by the publishers: Bainton's work could hardly have been improved upon. When you think about it, that's a
pretty good definition of a "classic," which this friendly book is.
Like an all-night conversation with a charming and erudite friend, this book will challenge your assumptions and clarify your mind.
on August 28, 2008
This is the one! Although only 260-some pages, you will see why many writers on pacifism and nonviolence refer to Bainton more than any other author. The early church, middle ages, enlightenment, renaissance, just war, crusades, peace churches, WWI and WWII, humanism and secular influences: it's all here.
This survey and re-evaluation keenly reviews historical emphasis on peace and war in Christian thought and practice, as well as the secular influences of the time. Written with exploratory insight into the early church, and a very interesting review on the Renaissance, though I was quite intrigued by his discussion on the 1800s (dubbed "a century of comparative peace").
Not exactly out of date, but starting here I recommend reading more recent works.
on January 1, 2005
Any scholarship that addresses the evolution of Christian perspectives on warfare generally references this book. Although the scholarship of this work is now outdated and critiqued, Bainton's work is foundational in the area. Bainton believes that the Christian community started out pacifistic, then developed the just war doctrine, and finally adopted holy war ideals. He traces this trajectory from the Early Church up through the wars and conflicts of the 20th century (this book was written in 1960). Finally, Bainton adds his critique of current militaristic ideas (especially in regards to atomic warfare). This book is well written and written for all audiences, however, it is best to supplement this book with more recent scholarship to get current ideas on Christian perspectives on warfare.