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In this book, Allan Turner observes that since the Vietnam era, there has arisen, in America and the whole of Western society, a way of thinking that argues against all war. Consequently, a book discussing the question of a Christian’s participation in war and other related issues in light of this emerging consensus seems not just appropriate but necessary.
The threat of world wars and global holocaust which loomed during the Cold War, although still quite possible today, seems to have dimmed with the passing of the twentieth century. Even so, some of the worst features of twentieth-century warfare continue to comprise our thinking about contemporary war-fighting. These have been articulated as:
What Folks Are Saying
the understanding of war as an all-or-nothing conflict that can only end when one side is entirely victorious and the other entirely vanquished or driven into unconditional submission; the conception of the enemy as including all members of the opposing society, making a distinction between combatants and noncombatants irrelevant; the use of atrocity as a means of war; the use of ethnic, religious, or other cultural differences in much the same way as ideology was earlier employed to make the enemy appear less than human and, in any case, totally in the wrong (James Turner Johnson, Morality And Contemporary Warfare, 1999, p. 5).
Thus, contemporary wars are still viewed within the framework of “total war” thinking—a way of thinking that views war as immoral and therefore all war-fighting, even when deemed “necessary,” as nothing much more than “a necessary evil.”
In an environment where war is, by definition, immoral, it is difficult for “good,” “decent” folks to think positively about war-fighting. This book is an effort to correct such thinking and to instruct the interested reader as to what the Bible actually says about this most important subject.
Even so, there will always be Christians who, struggling with the complexities of what it means to be a true follower of Christ, will simply opt out of history and straightaway relinquish the business of government (which includes waging war, when necessary) to those who, all too frequently, have no overriding moral compunction to do what is right. Although this tradition has been well represented within Christendom, particularly among those who can be identified with what has been called The Restoration Movement, I am convinced that such thinking was, from the beginning, and is, now, a terrible mistake that forces those who hold it to extend love to aggressors but not to their victims. Like the clergy of medieval days, these think the religion of Christ somehow lifts them above time, place and people. They think that Jesus’ teachings, particularly those in the Sermon on the Mount, when coupled with His meek and humble life, effectively condemn the use of force and believe, I think quite erroneously, that the use of force is always wrong.
Those who feel this way argue that although they believe the police-military power of the state is “necessary” to protect law-abiding citizens, they nevertheless believe all such “dirty hands” tasks should be carried out by worldly sinners, not Christians. These elitists assert that there doesn’t exist a governmental act involving the use of coercive, violent, or deadly force that does not demand repentance. Sin, they argue, is always committed when force is used, even when this force is implemented for just ends.
The author demonstrates why he believes such thinking to be not just wrongheaded, but completely unbiblical as well. No matter what your position may be on this subject, you can expect to be challenged by what you will read in The Christian & War. Although the author writes in defense of a particular point of view, his ultimate intention is not to just vindicate his view, but to glorify Jesus as the Lord of his life. After reading this book, we think you will view his efforts as an honest and thoughtful attempt to do just that.
"Balance" is the word that comes to mind when reading The Christian and War. Turner avoids the total abstinence from punitive agencies offered by some extreme pacifists, and the indiscriminate killing demanded by the war-mongering, "war is hell" activists. Balance is also shown by the author in his exegesis of the biblical texts related to the war question. The Christian and War is highly recommended reading. Turner brings calm and reasoned argumentation to the often heated and volatile debate. Christians everywhere and on all sides of the war issue will profit from this reading. —Chris Reeves, in his Bookmark series of reviews in Truth Magazine, September 2008, Vol. LII, Num. 9, p. 22.
When Brother Turner told me that he had just finished writing a book that he thought I would be interested in and told me the subject matter, I told him that I would like to read it. I had to believe that it would only confirm what I had already come to believe on the subject.
I was right, but reading this book served to give me a much better understanding on the subject. This book is also very informational on the history and events leading up to the war on terrorism as well and where we are, currently, in this great and noble endeavor.
From a law enforcement perspective, as a former Chief of Police in a small southern city for sixteen years, I would recommend this book to any Christian, young or not so young, who is either working in law enforcement or who is thinking about working in the law enforcement field.
There is no doubt in my mind that if we had more Christians working on our police forces, whether small town or large city, we would not be facing the problem of trying to figure out the difference between the bad guys and the police.
This book will also provide valuable insight to a Christian soldier who is struggling with the hard decisions that he or she must make in the performance of his/her duties. —Former Chief Fred D. Johnson, Corinth, Mississippi
The “war question” was thrust into the minds of many when they were but babes in Christ. As young men with an abject dearth of information and prejudicial advice given them, they quickly found themselves forced to make a conscience decision...a choice that in all probability was an uneasy and unsatisfying one. Either patriotism or Christianity seemed to be the only options. Are they disjoint and mutually exclusive? They are not and Allan Turner explains why. He does this by explaining how one can be a patriot without doing so blindly and be a Christian without being a pacifist. In his recent publication, The Christian And War, he explores in depth the alleged dichotomy between being a patriot and being a Christian. Turner’s rich background of being in the military, being a policeman and above all an astute Bible student allows him a perspective that is quite unique. You will be challenged, enlightened and probably surprised at the author's candid and common sense solution to this question. One that has baffled the ripest of scholar's who have tried and failed to grasp the “war question.” It is my judgment that you will find his book refreshing and interesting. In that spirit I heartily commend it to you.
—Charles G. Goodall, Ph.D, retired college professor, author, gospel preacher, and elder in the Lord's church.
With the events taking place currently in the world along with the fact that I am a Christian this book caught my attention. I was very quickly engrossed in the book and the author's approach to the subject. He posed questions and then explained them with scripture and reason. Although I agree with the overall book it definitely challenged my thinking...and I’m still thinking. Definitely worth your time. —Holly T. Johnson, a national human resource manager for one of the big-four accounting firms.
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