Thursday, March 13, 2014

Preston Sprinkle's "Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence"

This is the first of a series of posts I intend to write on Preston Sprinkle's book "Fight."  The posts will be critical but I want to begin by saying a few positive things about the book before I begin my criticisms.

First, I should begin by saying that I am friends with Preston.  Or, if only hanging out with him and talking to him as seldom as I have aren't enough for our relationship to count as one of friendship, perhaps I should say that I am confident we would be friends if we were in closer proximity to one another.  I like Preston and we agree about way more than we disagree about.  And we have similar interests outside of academia.  I like Preston!  I just disagree with him about some key things in the book.

Second, I think his book is well written and ably covers a lot of ground.  His survey of the Bible and Church Fathers on the issues of killing and violence are interesting and his interpretations are not obviously false.

Third, I think he achieves his aim of writing a book for both scholars as well as non-scholars, but especially the latter.  His style is conversational enough that non-scholars should find the material both interesting and readable.  In addition, the book is well organized.

Finally, the book is fairly nuanced.  Preston is careful to refine his view when needed, and he presents and responds to a number of important objections to his view.  All in all it is a good book and one which counters an uncritical outlook by some Christians who don't take seriously what the Bible and Christian teaching have to say against some forms of killing and violence.

Having said all that, I do think there are some problems worth considering.

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