Faith and Force: A Christian Debate about War

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Georgetown University Press, Jun 4, 2007 - Religion - 320 pages

"This book began in an argument between friends surprised to find themselves on opposite sides of the debate about whether the United States and the United Kingdom should invade Iraq in 2003. Situated on opposite sides of the Atlantic, in different churches, and on different sides of the just war/pacifist fence, we exchanged long emails that rehearsed on a small scale the great national and international debates that were taking place around us. We discovered the common ground we shared, as well as some predictable and some surprising points of difference....When the initial hostilities ended, our conversation continued, and we felt the urgency of contributing to a wider Christian debate about whether and when war could be justified."—From the Preface

So began a dynamic collaboration that developed into a civil but provocative debate over matters of war and peace that is Faith and Force. From the ancient battles between Greek city-states to the Crusades to the World Wars of the twentieth-century to the present-day wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Middle East, aggressors and defenders alike have claimed the mantle of righteousness and termed their actions just. But can the carnage of war ever be morally grounded? And if so, how?

These are the questions that David L. Clough, a Methodist proponent of pacifism, and Brian Stiltner, a Catholic theologian and just war adherent, have vowed to answer—together. With one voice, Clough and Stiltner outline and clarify issues of humanitarian intervention, weapons proliferation, and preventative war against rogue states. Their writing is grounded in Christian tradition and provides a fresh and illuminating account of the complexities and nuances of the pacifist and just war positions.

In each chapter Clough and Stiltner engage in debate on the issues, demonstrating a respectful exchange of ideas absent in much contemporary political discourse—whether on television or in the classroom. The result is a well-reasoned, challenging repartee that searches for common ground within the Christian tradition and on behalf of the faithful promotion of justice—yet one that also recognizes genuine differences that cannot be bridged easily. Intended for a broad audience, Faith and Force is the perfect foil to the shrill screeching that surrounds partisan perspectives on military power and its use.

To help with using the book in a classroom context, the authors have provided Questions for Reflection and Discussion for each chapter. You can download these questions in PDF format at


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Faith and force: a Christian debate about war

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The Iraqi war has inflamed "just war" and "pacifist" feelings throughout the world. Clough (ethics & systematic theology, St. John's Coll., Durham, U.K.;Ethics in Crisis ), a Methodist proponent of ... Read full review



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Page 21 - You have heard that it was said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.
Page 21 - Bless those who persecute you, bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep Live in harmony with one another, do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly...
Page 21 - But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.
Page 21 - You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...

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About the author (2007)

David L. Clough is a professor of theological ethics at the University of Chester, UK. He is the author of Ethics in Crisis: Interpreting Barth's Ethics, coeditor of Creaturely Theology: God, Humans and Other Animals, and a Methodist lay preacher.

Brian Stiltner is an associate professor and chair of the department of philosophy and religious studies at Sacred Heart University. He is the author of Religion and the Common Good.

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