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Christian Responses to War
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Adult Study, Adult Study
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Long before the beginning of written history, human beings struggled with how to respond to perceived danger and threat from an outside source, to difference and disagreement both within their close community and beyond it, and to situations of local conflict and full-scale war. Contemporary Christians faced with headline news about both civil wars and international wars around the world continue to wrestle with how to respond to the events and practice of war. How does a Christian think about events of war, whether it is a civil war in another country, a war between nations in another part of the world, or a war in which our own country is engaged? How does Scripture shape our questions, inform our thinking, and guide our responses in thought and action?

The author quickly points out that we will be disappointed in both the biblical witness and the history of the church if we are seeking a clearly consistent pronouncement about how to respond to war. It is not that simple, and Christians need to wrestle with this matter in a way that avoids harmonizing Scripture to provide a single perspective as guidance on the complex issues of dealing with conflict and war.

Session 1 looks at a sampling of biblical texts that talk about war, including passages that speak of God's vision of peace. Session 2 examines the history of the Christian movement and the various responses to the question of what is a Christian response to war: pacifism, just war doctrine, and holy war (or crusade). It also looks at just peacemaking. The third session concentrates on becoming peacemakers and outlines four ways to pursue this goal in our personal and corporate lives.

Barbara L. Battin currently serves as Minister of Sinclair Campus Ministry, an ecumenical ministry at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio.

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