Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence

Fight cover pictureFight by Preston Sprinkle is a book that’ll really make you think. Even if you don’t agree with all of his conclusions, as I do not, I think you’ll be challenged by the case he makes. I would especially recommend it to any Christian thinking of going into or in the military or law enforcement. And if your church has an American flag in it, give a copy to your pastor, yesterday.

So if I disagree with him, why do I recommend it? First, because he very aggressively tackles American Christianity’s affair with American militarism.  He gives excellent treatment to the mistreatment of Israel’s conquest texts (primarily Joshua) in our current military contexts and makes a multi-prong assault on American flags in churches.

Second, because he’ll make you really face the texts in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus tells us not to resist evil people and work on breaking down some of the excuses and exceptions you might have for why it’s ok for you to fight back in this case. He get’s really personal here – how will you resist someone breaking into your house at night? With a gun or prayer? Which do you REALLY trust? (I’m still wrestling with this, Jesus is the king of the universe, but he uses means right?)

Third, because he’ll challenge you to really critically think about how the world’s and the inner cities’ problems should be fixed. Do you know when standing police forces came into being? When they got armed in America? Do we have a problem of police over use of force in America? What is just war theory and how well does it work? Or is it really considered and applied by our or other nations? What wars are or were really necessary and actually brought peace and stability? Do we always hate war, think it’s terrible, and wish there was another way? (As an aside here, I think WWII was morally necessary.)

Where do I disagree? I believe the government has been given the sword as an agent of God’s wrath against wickedness and the word sword pretty clearly includes lethal punishment. (I agree with him that this authorization doesn’t extend beyond a nations’ borders.) Should Christians abdicate that position of refuse to be the one to execute that role? Or are Christians perhaps the best qualified to be agents of God’s actual justice – rather than godless oppressors. Theoretically at least, Christians are informed by God’s revealed law in Old and New Testaments, especially Proverbs and Israel’s civil code and therefore know what God considers just and what he considers appropriate penalties. I also believe there are cases we are able to defend ourselves or others who are weak or oppressed with force – see the sixth commandment’s positive and negative requirements in a catechism or the Psalms (WWII, gunman shooting people, IS). But again, he makes one think that who gets involved when might ought to get serious thought.

Thought-provoking
  • Challenge
  • Conclusions
  • Exegesis
3.7

Summary

On exegesis, gotta say, he does a good job helping us not use OT war texts for our own wars, does a good job on the Sermon on the Mount, but turns some other (esp NT) passages too hard into his own point.

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