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Choosing Against War: A Christian View Paperback – August 1, 2002

4.6 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Roth wrote this short, simple introduction to Christian pacifism "out of a conviction that the gospel of Jesus Christ does indeed speak to the crises of our day with a perspective that is both distinctive and unique." Very much in the tradition of Christian apology, the book isn't likely to convert readers with Nietzschean inclinations, whom it often seems to be arguing against. But those curious about Christian pacifism and the strains of the Christian tradition, particularly the historic peace churches (Mennonites, Brethren, and Quakers), which understand that nonviolence lies at the heart of the gospel, could do worse than to start their learning here. Steven Schroeder
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Publisher

A new book by a leading writer and thinker. How might Christians look on the world differently if they—actually!—believed that God’s love was indeed stronger than our fears? In fresh, confessional language, Roth shares his convictions about Christian pacifism, inviting others to consider this possibility, all the while humbly admitting the difficulties.

What would happen if Christians assumed that their allegiance to God, their identity with Christ, and their commitment to the church would inevitably lead them to respond to the world’s pain differently because of their faith? In the face of violence, are there any options open to the Christian believer other than the "default" impulse toward patriotic unity and a steely determination to exact "an eye for an eye"?

A must-read for anyone concerned about the endless cycles of wars and violence, and the possibility that God’s love is stronger than our society’s current answers.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 206 pages
  • Publisher: Good Books (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1561483591
  • ISBN-13: 978-1561483594
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 0.5 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,403,827 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By J. Mulholland on January 16, 2003
Format: Paperback
John Roth has written a theologically sophisticated and yet wonderfully readable book about pacifism as a Christian response to war. While John Howard Yoder is probably the most powerful advocate of the pacifist position, his books are not always accessible to the ordinary reader. Roth, on the other hand, has written a book that should be studied by every Sunday School class in America. He invites us to consider an option many of us have ignored.
This book balances careful theological thought, effective stories and illustrations, a historic survey, and questions of practical application. Roth works hard to support pacifism while rejecting the elitism that often colors many anti-war manifestos. He faces head on the difficult question of how to be a Christian and a citizen. While his position is well articluated, he acknowledges other views without ridiculing them.
My hope, in this time of war and rumors of war, is that many will discover this fine book and share it with their friends.
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Format: Paperback
This book does to Christian Nonresistance what Stephen Hawkings does to cosmology. It's an easy read laying out important Christian priciples and practical applications. It is a highly challenging topic that I resisted at first, but after reading through my Bible and other authors, I know it's true. This other "review" by someone who hasn't read the book should be ignored, they really ought to read the book themselves, it answers their questions. They make it sound that since some people aren't peacful, we ought not to be either. That contradict's Jesus's teachings. "Blessed are the peacemakers, they are the children of God." This book really is a must read, if you disagree or not. Too many are opposed to pacifism who haven't an understanding of what it really is.
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DO NOT BUY THIS BOOK if you believe that the Bible stops at "an eye for an eye".
If you are willing to be challenged by the way of the cross, this book will give you a powerful challenge and inspire you to further growth, both on a personal level as well as on a social and a political level.
The book bases itself on the Bible, particularly on the words and the life of Jesus, with helpful examples of real life applications of the gospel through the ages.
"The resurrection was the vindication of God's ultimate triumph of love over the forces of violence. It guarantees to all those who follow in the humble way of Christ, that in the end -against all odds and contrary to the logic of human reason- Shalom will indeed prevail."
The book is well written and easy to read and would be a good start for any congregation to look at its own position toward the use of force and violence.
The reader from Canada who wrote the one star review above must not have read the book. John Roth does refer specifically to the Old Testament. " The Old Testament story offers a series of powerful hints regarding God's desire to reconcile humans to each other and Himself. But the fullness of God's revelation to humanity is to be found in Christ and the message of the NT gospel. This may seem like an obvious point for most Christians, but it is especially relevant for those who see in the violence of the OT a justification for Christians to participate in war today."
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I read this book because some people that are pacifists wanted to discuss both sides (I served in the Marine Corps before becoming a pastor).

What was unforgettable was the author's story about a change of heart rarely seen this side of heaven. Though I appreciate his discussion about war, I will remember the book for the story that I have now shared with hundreds of people, Roth included it as an alternative to revenge, it is breathtaking, my recount follows:

When Nelson Mandela was released from an African prison and became the leader of his country, he established panels to investigate acts of brutality that had taken place under apartheid. One particular case involved a woman who was forced to watch her family be killed by soldiers led by a man named van der Broek. The atrocities had been committed eight years earlier, and now her torturers were brought to trial, and she was asked by the judge what their punishment should be.

Unconscionably the soldiers had burned her son and her husband in front of her eyes as living torches. They then danced and laughed as the men suffered and their bodies turned to ashes. Before her husband died he told her, "Forgive them."

So what would your answer be to the judge? This is not a hypothetical question, but a living, breathing moment of anguish on the cutting edge of raw human emotion. Reporters in the court room recorded what happened next. I first learned of the amazing story from writer John Roth.
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"I want three things," the woman said calmly. "I want Mr. van der Broek to take me to the place where they burned my husband's body. I would like to gather up the dust and give him a decent burial.

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I read this book hoping to hear a well thought out and biblically based reason for pacifism. I was let down. I felt that the author began with the innate assumption that Christians should be anti-war, and then used very little scripture (which was often taken completely out of context) to support his claim. It seemed to be much more of an appeal to emotion, rather than a conclusion that follows from reading the Bible. I also felt that this book should have addressed some of the counterarguments to pacifism. It didn't. I really believe that the author had the agenda of pushing pacifism, and was hoping that the reader wouldn't take the time to critically analyze his suppositions and arguments.
I would instead recommend reading some of the works of John Howard Yoder, which seem to be much more thought out and supported.
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