Featured: Christian Peace and Nonviolence – Michael Long, Ed.

January 2, 2012 — Leave a comment

 

“Renouncing Violence and
Following the Peaceful Example of Jesus”

A Review of
Christian Peace and Nonviolence:
A Documentary History

Michael Long, Editor

Reviewed by Chase Roden.


Christian-Peace-and-NonviolenceChristian Peace and Nonviolence:
A Documentary History

Michael Long, Editor
Paperback: Orbis Books, 2011.
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In this remarkable collection, Michael G. Long, associate professor of religious studies and peace and conflict studies at Elizabethtown College, chooses representative works from a diverse collection of authors throughout the history of the church to present a surprisingly coherent voice of peace and nonviolence from the body of Christ. As Long demonstrates, the message of peace is not a minor theme in the history of the church, but an essential element of our origins and future.


Organized roughly by historical period, Long presents the writings of 116 authors. The editor provides concise, vital introductions to each of the writings included. Well-read students of pacifism will find many of the expected voices: John Howard Yoder, Stanley Hauerwas (who provides the book’s foreword), George Fox, Menno Simons, Dorothy Day, Martin Luther King Jr., Oscar Romero, to name a few. But many of the selections are quite surprising, as Long doesn’t limit himself to the names usually associated with Christian pacifism. He notes that many of the early church writers were not strict pacifists, but he includes their writings so long as they “strongly emphasize and extol the virtues and practices of Christian peace and nonviolence.” This inclusivity pays off with writers like Tertullian, Origen, and Basil of Casesaria, whose works have not always been accepted by pacifists. Basil, for instance, is treated in an excellent essay by Eastern Orthodox scholar John Anthony McGuckin — an essay which explains well the context that would allow Basil to prescribe ecclesial punishments for men who participate in war while Basil apparently does not take issue with certain church fathers who appear to be accepting of such violence. Other gambits pay off similarly; for instance Long admits into the collection Pelagius, famously banished as a heretic, who is represented here in a beautiful writing on the connection between wealth and violence.

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