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The Pacifist Option: The Moral Argument Against War in Eastern Orthodox Theology Paperback – May 27, 1999

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The Pacifist Option is a work of first-rate historical and theological scholarship. If you are looking for a good solid read that will help shore up theological underpinnings of you work as a military chaplain, I highly recommend this book. It will also serve well as an Orthodox Christian moral theology, for those unacquainted with the Orthodox tradition.>>> (Chaplain (CPT) Isaiah R. Gillete The Army Chaplaincy)

Likely to provoke discussion within Orthodox circles, this work contributes to the growing literature which tries to make the Orthodox tradition relevant to contemporary social concerns.>>>> (Religious Studies Review)

Likely to provoke discussion within Orthodox circles, this work contributes to the growing literature which tries to make the Orthodox tradition relevant to contemporary social concerns. (Religious Studies Review)

The Pacifist Option is a work of first-rate historical and theological scholarship. If you are looking for a good solid read that will help shore up theological underpinnings of you work as a military chaplain, I highly recommend this book. It will also serve well as an Orthodox Christian moral theology, for those unacquainted with the Orthodox tradition. (Chaplain (CPT) Isaiah R. Gillete The Army Chaplaincy)

About the Author

Alexander F.C. Webster is a Professorial Lecturer of Religion, American University and a Parish Priest, St. Mary Orthodox Church, Falls Church, VA.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 366 pages
  • Publisher: International Scholars Publications (May 27, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573092436
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573092432
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,455,008 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By matt on October 13, 2003
Format: Paperback
"[T]he fight for our planet, physical and spiritual, a fight of cosmic proportions, is not a vague matter of the future; it has already started. The forces of Evil have already begun their decisive offensive.... Even if we are spared destruction by war, life will have to change in order not to parish on its own. We cannot avoid reassessing the fundamental definitions of human life and human society. Is it true that man is above everything? Is there no Superior Spirit above him?" Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Harvard Commencement Address, June 8, 1978.
Since the Orthodox tradition does not have, to my knowledge, a systematic doctrine of just war theory akin the Roman Church, this book is highly useful in formulating an informed opinion on the subject, arguing the Eastern approach has a strong tendency toward justice through peace.
I still struggle with this philosophically and, now that we are in Iraq, the question becomes practical. When does violence ion order to protect become legitamate? This book is VERY helpful for me. As a counterpoint, read C. S. Lewis' essay "Why I am not a Pacifist".
The author, an Orthodox priest and sometimes-military chaplain, is also a Lecturer of Religion at American University.
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Format: Paperback
The Pacifist Option is the revised edition of the author’s doctoral dissertation. It is highly academic, complete with extensive endnotes and bibliography. I have a college degree and have done graduate studies in theology, and I found this volume a challenge to read, but it was worth the effort.

Webster presents the pacifist trajectory within the Orthodox Christian faith, and cites supporting documentation from Scripture, Patristic writings, canons, lives of the saints, devotional literature, and even the fiction of Dostoevsky. Pacifism has solid roots in the Orthodox Christian faith, and this book proves it. But the author also sees it as one of two antinomies, or tracks, with the other being the “justifiable war trajectory.” In the end the author has chosen to subscribe to this latter position, and this second undercurrent is evident throughout the book.

Having said that, the roots for pacifism are deep and strong within the Church, starting with the teachings and example of Jesus Christ. A secular reviewer on NPR recently described Christianity as a “peaceful, non-violent religion.” That should certainly be the ideal.

Given his bias, I believe the author has done an admirable job of presenting this “option,” with plenty of supporting documentation. Since I was a conscientious objector during the Vietnam War, I encountered many of the sources (including Catholic, Quaker and Mennonite) that I used to defend my position back in 1970, even though I was not an Orthodox Christian at the time.

My favorite quote in the book comes from Dostoevksy, when Zossima says, in The Brothers Karamazov:

“Love a man even in his sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth.
Read more ›
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1 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
The same author grew in his understanding and presented a balanced perspective on Orthodox view of Virtue of War in his later book entitled "The Virtue of War [...].

While there is a time to not fight, there is also a time to fight out of love for our neighbor. But always must be done within Orthodox Christian boundaries as shown by the lives of our great Saints in his other book, and as taught by our LORD to The Orthodox Christian Church via those wonderful examples.

If your neighbor's daughter is being raped by a man, and you do NOTHING to help her, or condemn police for stopping the violence on the little girl, you have totally misunderstood Christ's call to love our neighbors. Out of love for our enemies, we must always work for God's good and thank God for granting to us the Grace of government authorities who are given to us as punishing evil and rewarding good so evil will NOT triumph over good and The Orthodox Christian Gospel is lived out in holiness. One day our LORD will ask us: Why did you not help me when I was being raped in that little girl, and the pacifist will be ashamed to have accepted a perverted view of loving our neighbors by justifying pacifism in the face of evil. If you can pray in faith and have the guy disarmed , do it. If you can have a police officer with a gun stop him, do it. If he tries to murder the police officer & the little girl, the rapist should NOT be allowed to continue his path of evil that is detrimental to others AND TO HIS OWN SOUL!

Love always. Love never fails. But LOVE is NOT passive! LOVE is active in Christ Jesus.

Kyrie Eleison.
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