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Cover for the book Speak Up for Just War or Pacifism

Speak Up for Just War or Pacifism

A Critique of the United Methodist Bishops’ Pastoral Letter “In Defense of Creation” Paul Ramsey
  • Copyright: 1998
  • Dimensions: 6 x 9
  • Page Count: 240 pages
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-0-271-00619-2
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-271-00639-0
“Paul Ramsey’s provocative criticism sets the united Methodist bishops’ peace pastoral in the context of a much broader discussion of the church’s role in society. He reminds us, as he has done before, that good intentions also require clear thinking about where one stands in a tradition. Stanley Hauerwas’ epilogue, written from a quite different pacifist perspective, accents the scope of Ramsey’s issues. Speak Up for Just War or Pacifism should be of interest to everyone who cares about how churches think about public issues.”
“Paul Ramsey offers a cant-exploding critique of the particulars of the Methodist document, and, in doing so, elaborates many of the broad insights into just war theory that have characterized his work over the years. His contrast of "In Defense of Creation" with the Catholic Bishops’ pastoral "The Challenge of Peace" is especially helpful. The book is excellent both as a guide to current debates and as a general introduction to Christian ethical reflection on war and peace. It ought to be welcomed by pacifists and exponents of just war alike.”
“This is an important book and it is bound to become a significant reference point in the debate over morality, war and peace.”

This searching critique of the United Methodist Bishops’ pastoral letter on war and peace in a nuclear age, by America’s foremost Christian ethicist, exposes theological flaws from which flow gaps in moral argument and strangely utopian politics. Never before has In Defense of Creation been more thoroughly analyzed.

At the same time Paul Ramsey gives a full-length and detailed comparison of the Methodist document with The Challenge of Peace by the U.S. Catholic Bishops. Issues of nuclear ethics, as seen by the leaders of two major churches, are set fully in view for the first time in a single volume.

This “ecumenical consultation” is broadened by drawing extensively on the writings of Mennonite theologian John Howard Yoder. The book’s larger purpose is to construe an encounter between Christian just-war tradition and Christian pacifism. This comparative discussion of Christian ethics should be of interest to any reader concerned about the nuclear crisis.

Some of the questions confronted in these pages are: What do people mean by “nonviolence”? Should we never kill another human being, or never kill another human being unjustly? Do Christian pacifism and Christian just-war teachings have anything in common in their understanding of the Christian moral life? Do different interpretations of the person and work of Jesus Christ give rise to Christian pacifism and to just-war participation? Are these irreducibly different options equally valid for followers of Christ? Do the tests of discrimination and proportion lead to the same prohibitions on war and limits in war in a nuclear age?

With an epilogue by Stanley Hauerwas, this volume offers the unusual event of two Methodist laymen engaged in lively debate over their church and the modern world.

Paul Ramsey is a member of the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, New Jersey. He is Harrington Spear Paine Professor of Religion, Emeritus, Princeton University. His books include The Just War: Force and Political Responsibility (2002) and War and the Christian Conscience: How Shall Modern War Be Conducted Justly? (1961).

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