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A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace Paperback – June 1, 2014

4.6 out of 5 stars 173 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“Brian Zahnd fuses his vocation as prophet and pastor into a powerful evocation of the Prince of Peace, Jesus the Peacemaker. … And the writing is simply brilliant — not a dull sentence in the book.”
Eugene H. Peterson, professor emeritus of spiritual theology, Regent College, Vancouver

--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

About the Author

Brian Zahnd is the founder and lead pastor of Word of Life Church, a nondenominational congregation in St. Joseph, Missouri. Brian is a passionate reader of theology and philosophy, an avid hiker, mountain climber, and authority on all things Bob Dylan. Brian and his wife Peri have three adult sons and three grandchildren.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: David C. Cook (June 1, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0781411181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0781411189
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (173 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #181,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I deeply appreciate and enjoy Brian Zahnd, and that appreciation extends to his efforts in this book. That said, there are gaps in this work that keep it from a higher rating.

First: It does not substantively engage the "sanctioned" violence in the biblical text. Allusions are made, and if I were to guess at Zahnd's response to the Canaanite cleansing, David's violence, or the pending eschatological battle (depending on your theological system), it would be: "That's the Old Testament and speculative eschatology, and Christ is the full revelation of God while neither of those is." The fact that I need to guess at his response is indicative of how lacking I found the book in that regard.

Second: Zahnd does not engage other prominent Christian voices that deeply disagreed with the accuracy of Christ-based pacifism. Perhaps the best example is CS Lewis's essay "Why I am not a Pacifist" in The Weight of Glory. It is deeply compassionate and rigorously logical while offering a Christ-compatible view on war. I reread it immediately after finishing Zahnd's book, and the comparison leaves A Farewell to Mars (sadly) decimated.

Third: Zahnd makes many bold statements but comes up short when it matters most. He doesn't accept the label of "pacifist", though it is hard to read the book in any other way.

Fourth: There is a complete lack of a suggested ethical system other than, perhaps, total non-violence.

Summary: The book is well-written and compelling despite the above flaws. Despite my deep respect for Zahnd, however, I deeply and respectfully disagree with his conclusions. My grandfather was the most Christ-loving man I've ever known.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Like most Americans, I spent some time on Memorial Day contemplating the sacrifices made by the men and women of our armed forces. In fact, I got to spend some time with my nephew, who was home on leave after serving with the Air Force in Africa. But I also spent a good portion of the day reading Brian Zahnd's new book, Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor's Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace.

Zahnd, pastor of Word of Life Church in Saint Joseph, Missouri, describes how his thinking changed when he "encountered Jesus in a fresh and new way" and he "began to take the 'words in red' seriously." He repented of his voyeuristic cheerleading during the broadcasts of the events of the first Gulf War, and of his "war prayers and war sermons," particularly after 9/11. It is not unusual to hear theologians and pastors on the theological left decrying war and preaching peace, but Zahnd seems to be otherwise in line with more a conservative, evangelical theological grounding.

The problem he points out is that "the gospel of peace is being obscured by a church that has long been more interested in serving as a chaplain to its host superpower than embarking about the risky path of following Jesus as the Prince of Peace." Christians have tended to overlook, ignore, water down, or outright reject those parts of Jesus' teachings that decry war and violence. Justify our interpretations of the Sermon on the Mount as we might, but "at some point, you have to decide what Jesus did mean with his kingdom imperatives on nonviolence and enemy love."

Zahnd makes a convincing case, forcing any follower of Jesus and believer in the Bible to carefully consider what he says.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I first saw this book when it was on sale, and quickly picked it up, wanting to read a book like this for some time. I am an American living overseas currently, and have realized that God is much bigger than my American worldview would allow.

To start with, I disagree with some of the basic theological premises of eschatology, but I am open to various views (Amillennial, Postmillennial, Premillennial, Preterist), and hope that this doesn't taint my review.

First the good points:

1) I agree with Mr. Zahndr's view that God doesn't have his favorite nations. America is not given a special place in God's heart, anymore that Iran, Iraq, or Nigeria. Christ's Kingdom has not - and never will be - set up by a human government.

2) Mr. Zahnd makes a good case for Jesus being the savior of the world, not just the savior of individuals. The idea here is that Christ's death on the cross was not just about saving people from hell, but also includes the redemption of the entire cosmos.

3) Again, while disagreeing with Mr Zahnd on eschatological views, I agree with him that our focus when studying end time events should not be plagues, judgments and numerical tattoos, but rather the hope of Christ that is redemptive and restorative. As he quotes Thomas Merton in chapter 2, "Eschatology is not an invitation to escape into a private heaven: it is a call to transfigure the evil and stricken world."

4) Chapter 3, "Christ Against the Crowd", was by far my favorite chapter. In this chapter Mr. Zahnd deals with crowd mentalities, and how, in a crowd, the individual often looses his self to the collective.
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