Fight
Fight explores violence in the Bible and challenges us to live out Jesus’ call to non-violence. With prophetic relevance, New York Times bestselling author Preston Sprinkle tackles the controversy surrounding violence and grapples with surprising conclusions. Anyone who has struggled with the morality of violence will appreciate this convincing biblical guide.

Fight Details

TitleFight
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseAug 1st, 2013
PublisherDavid C. Cook
ISBN-139781434704924
Rating
GenreReligion, Theology, Nonfiction, Christian, Christianity, Christian Living

Fight Review

  • Ben Geib
    January 1, 1970
    I just spent the last two hours in the local library devouring the last 80 pages of Preston Sprinkle's new book Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence. As I was on my way home, a silver truck plastered with bumper and window stickers pulled up next to me at a stop light. On the back window was a sticker of a cross draped in a ribbon boldly declaring, "We are set free". One on the bumper screamed, "Intelligently designed!" Clearly this person was familiar with religion. However, merely inches aw I just spent the last two hours in the local library devouring the last 80 pages of Preston Sprinkle's new book Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence. As I was on my way home, a silver truck plastered with bumper and window stickers pulled up next to me at a stop light. On the back window was a sticker of a cross draped in a ribbon boldly declaring, "We are set free". One on the bumper screamed, "Intelligently designed!" Clearly this person was familiar with religion. However, merely inches away from these stickers carrying messages of, assumed, Christianity, another sticker stood out despite the visual noise. Next to a picture of a man toting a gun it read, "I support the only amendment worth supporting!" Militarism and dogmatic gun control has burrowed its way into the very soul of American evangelicalism. Bumper stickers like these and religious tolerance of violence are surely two of the many reasons that led Preston Sprinkle to write Fight.I grew up in an Anabaptist Mennonite congregation that celebrated pacifism, a term Sprinkle disengages throughout the book. So when I heard rumors floating around Eternity Bible College--the school I attend and the one Sprinkle teaches at--of Preston writing a book on nonviolence, I was thoroughly intrigued. My interest multiplied when I heard Eternity graduate, teacher, aspiring scholar and friend, Andrew Rillera, was contributing his skills to the book. I was further blessed in receiving an early advance of the book before it's official release date on August 1st, although I've heard the book already found it's way into a few local bookstores. After spending the last two weeks reading and meditating on this book, the Scriptures within, and the practical implications the nonviolent lifestyle requires, and that Preston advocates, my support for Fight is resounding. Sprinkle and Rillera don't airbrush any topics, and they certainly don't shy away from running head-on into controversial territory. Starting with the Old Testament, Preston works his way through the Bible's treatment of violence. Having read Is God A Moral Monster? by Paul Copan myself, I can see a many similarities between the two apologies (Preston's and Copan's) for the Israelite conquest of Canaan. Preston adequately sums up Copan's work on the subject and applies it to his case on nonviolence. Turning from the land of the Old Testament, after a brief foray into the intertestamental period, Preston turns the book towards the New Testament, focusing not only on Jesus' commands for loving our enemies (Matthew 5:44) and other teachings, but also spending a great deal of time in tackling the formidable book of Revelation. Indeed, Revelation is seemingly full of violence done at the hands of God. Preston even goes outside of the New Testament and looks at how the early church dealt with violence. Utilizing the early church father's very own works, Preston continues building his case against the use of violence in both militaristic and practical lifestyles. Lastly, Fight lands on spending the remaining chapters looking at the "What if" questions, such as "What if someone breaks into my home and threatens to kill my family?" Capital punishment, police officers, and physical resistance are a few other specific examples that Preston addresses. Sprinkle pays meticulously attention to detail through Fight and leaves no stone unmoved. In summary, the case that Preston builds for nonviolence is solid and it's implications are dangerously momentous. The Bible is continually pointed back to as the foundation for all Christian living and the source of all of Preston's argumentation. In reality, the cross should change everything and require a more thoughtful approach to living rather than simply accepting cultural normalcy. Rehashing this concept, Preston adds,"If you haven't been stunned by the radicalness of Jesus' ethic in Matthew 5, and by Paul's counter-intuitive demands of Romans 12, and by the shameful road we are called to walk according to 1 Peter 2; if you haven't begged God for waterfalls of grace to love your local rapist who is also your enemy and desperately needs Jesus; if you aren't perplexed at the power of martyrdom as the very means by which God conquers the Devil; if you aren't bewildered by Jesus' example and His insistence that you, too, turn the other cheek and never retaliate with evil for evil and forgive the one who's beating your face in--against all human logic, against all cultural norms, against our innate sense of justice--then the cross may not appear as scandalous as it should" (215). Simply put, Fight is a challenging look at violence that lays everything on the table and demands to be taken seriously. Fight is available at all major retailers Aug. 1st. Pre-order your copy today!
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    I was a bit surprised by this book, as I expected it to be more of a pacifist tract than it was. Sprinkle spends most of the book arguing against the militarism predominant in modern America and comparing it to the Caananite warfare state. Sprinkle in fact shows that though many perceive the Old Testament to be a book full of violence and bloodshed, it is in fact a remarkable contrast from the surrounding cultures. Yes, God does demand that the Israelites cleanse the land of the pagan nations, b I was a bit surprised by this book, as I expected it to be more of a pacifist tract than it was. Sprinkle spends most of the book arguing against the militarism predominant in modern America and comparing it to the Caananite warfare state. Sprinkle in fact shows that though many perceive the Old Testament to be a book full of violence and bloodshed, it is in fact a remarkable contrast from the surrounding cultures. Yes, God does demand that the Israelites cleanse the land of the pagan nations, but he does not seek, or even allow, them to do it in the manner of the surrounding cultures. God actually institutes some very clear boundaries in how warfare is to be engaged.He even shows that the passages that speak of killing women and children, are very likely to be interpreted hyperbolically, not literally. The Israelites were not a bloodthirsty people, intent on genocide as so many argue. The fact is that the Israelites were restrained, even if the language used to describe the events does not seem restrained to our modern ears. Taken in the context of similar battle accounts from the Israelite contemporaries, it is easy to see the contrast.He writes, "the phrase “man and woman, child and infant” is used in 1 Samuel 15:3 as a rhythmic description of total defeat and is not meant to include every breathing Amalekite baby. It can’t. The text doesn’t allow this."Sprinkle shows that the Israelite army was intentionally weak, so as to ensure they place their trust in God, rather than in the power and might of their military. This is plain to see in the Bible if one is willing to look, but of course, this is in stark contrast to so much of what most of the Israelite kings practiced, that it is easy to lose sight of what was intended. Sprinkle puts it best when he says, "Some things are described in the Bible that aren’t meant to be prescribed."We must not confuse history with ethics. The kingdoms of Israel and Judah were fraught with sin and syncretism--what they did and what they should have done were at odds more than we probably realize. With this in mind, Sprinkle shows very clearly that Israel was never meant to have the kind of army they did under their monarchs. This was a sin and was condemned and led to judgment. But this is easy to miss, as our militaristic culture praises the very things the Bible condemns, and in our culture this is easy to overlook.Sprinkle helpfully shows why it was that God demanded that the Israelites remove the pagan Caananite nations from the land. He writes, "He sought to drive them out of the land because the land would become God’s residence on earth. This means the Canaanites were having sex with prostitutes and sacrificing babies to foreign gods right there in God’s living room. Put simply: the Promised Land would become God’s new home on earth."In one of the more insightful passages in the book, Sprinkle writes:"If America, for instance, used the Bible to shape its warfare policy, that policy would look like this. Enlistment would be by volunteer only (which it is), and the military would not be funded by taxation. America would not stockpile superior weapons—no tanks, drones, F-22s, and of course no nuclear weapons—and it would make sure its victories were determined by God’s miraculous intervention, not by military might. Rather than outnumbering the enemy, America would deliberately fight outmanned and under-gunned. Perhaps soldiers would use muskets, or maybe just swords. There would be no training, no boot camp, no preparation other than fasting, praying, and singing worship songs. If America really is the “new Israel,” God’s holy nation as some believe, then it needs to take its cue from God and His inspired manual for military tactics. But as it stands, many Christians will be content to cut and paste selected verses that align with America’s worldview to give the military some religious backing. Some call this bad hermeneutics; others call it syncretism. The Israelite prophets called it idolatry."But then, in one of the more confused passages in the book, unfortunately right after the above quote, he writes, "Let me make this clear: I do not think that America should use the Bible to construct or defend its military program, because America is not the new Israel, nor is it a Christian nation." This is the kind of schizophrenia that plagues the church--acknowledge the Bible's teaching on a matter, and then ignore it. Sprinkle falls prey to this kind of thinking in many places in the book and it dampens the power of his argumentation.He continues, and shows he is at least willing to rebuke America's military programs from the Bible: "What the Old Testament does do is critique the massive wave of Christian support for America’s unbridled militarism. Such allegiance is misplaced; such support is unbiblical. The nations—like Assyria—were ruled by militarism, but God’s people should never celebrate military power, and we certainly shouldn’t find our hope and security in it. If God warned Israel against having a strong military—and it was God’s nation—how much more should God’s people today not put stock in the military prowess of a secular country? Jesus said that the gates of hell will not prevail against God’s kingdom, and no band of terrorists, fascist government, oppressive dictator, or disarmament program will trump Jesus’s promise. Seeing America’s military strength as the hope of the world is an affront to God’s rule over the world. It’s idolatry."But why should we receive a rebuke from the Bible, and not positive instruction? He doesn't say, and again, this is a glaring weakness in the book.After Sprinkle reviews the troublesome passages of the Old Testament, he moves on to more personal matters, and again, his argumentation is fairly good and troublesome for those that instinctively seek justice according to their own, and the world's definitions of justice. But Sprinkle shows that the Kingdom ethic is according to God's pattern--given through Christ--where we ought to be willing to be wronged, where vengeance is the Lord's, and not ours. Again, I largely agree with him. Sprinkle helpfully distinguishes between violence and self-defense. Self-defense that is undertaken without deadly force is not violent. But when lethal measures are taken, it becomes violent. He defines violence at the outset of the book, calling it, "a physical act that is intended to destroy (i.e., injure) a victim by means that overpower the victim’s consent." With that in mind, it helps us distinguish between what we can or cannot do.Unfortunately, this is not a biblical definition or delineation. For example, Sprinkle nowhere addresses Exodus 22:2-3, "If a thief is found breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there shall be no bloodguilt for him, 3 but if the sun has risen on him, there shall be bloodguilt for him." This verse clearly asserts the right to self-defense, even lethal measures. But Sprinkle does not address it. I can imagine what he would say, but I can also imagine not buying it.The book is largely very good, and is the kind of book that America desperately needs to read, but the many weaknesses in the book will make it far too easy for critics to dismiss, and that is really too bad.
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  • Adam Ross
    January 1, 1970
    In this book, bestselling co-author of Erasing Hell (with Francis Chan) comes out in favor of non-violence. It is unusual to hear of Reformed theologians who do this: non-violence is generally considered too simplistic and "hippie-dippie" for Reformed theology, which has for the most part been in favor of violence and just war theory. The book is vital reading for anyone who is Reformed, whether you already lean toward a non-violent stance or think the whole thing is simplistic and silly. If the In this book, bestselling co-author of Erasing Hell (with Francis Chan) comes out in favor of non-violence. It is unusual to hear of Reformed theologians who do this: non-violence is generally considered too simplistic and "hippie-dippie" for Reformed theology, which has for the most part been in favor of violence and just war theory. The book is vital reading for anyone who is Reformed, whether you already lean toward a non-violent stance or think the whole thing is simplistic and silly. If the thought, "How could anybody possibly believe in non-violence and still read the same Bible I do?" then you need to drop what you're doing and get this book. At the very least, it will show you that the non-violent position is a real interpretive contender and has real theological teeth. Unlike many books on non-violence that ignore or disparage the testimony of the Old Testament in favor of Jesus, Sprinkle works his way through the whole narrative of Scripture from Genesis to Revelation, with three or four meaty chapters on the OT. He doesn't pull his punches, and he doesn't shy away from tackling the problem passages. He does so with verve and a calm, reasonable position that does justice to the Biblical narrative and to the OT, and presents a convincing case that God has been nonviolent from the beginning. If you've ever wondered about Gen. 9:6, the passage that supposedly supports capital punishment, or the conquest of Canaan, his answers are as wise as they are surprising. Likewise, his presentation of the violence in the book of Revelation is equally compelling (though I differ in his identity of the false prophet and harlot as Rome - they are clearly and undeniably Jerusalem). His chapters on what to do if somebody breaks into your house showcases the same tight reasoning, and his appendix on the problems inherent to just war theory was also compelling and challenging. If you want to be challenged in some good (though albeit uncomfortable) ways, this is the book to read. I firmly believe every pastor and layperson in the Church ought to read it.
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  • John Martindale
    January 1, 1970
    I thought Sprinkle made an extremely strong case from the New Testament and the early church that Kingdom people are to be committed to non-violence. It was interesting hearing his thoughts on Revelation and I thought he gave some good responses to common objections to pacifism, also his critique of just war theory was great. The first part of the book was on the Old Testament, One thing I did appreciate from his section was his focus on Israel's peculiar war policy, about how they were not to s I thought Sprinkle made an extremely strong case from the New Testament and the early church that Kingdom people are to be committed to non-violence. It was interesting hearing his thoughts on Revelation and I thought he gave some good responses to common objections to pacifism, also his critique of just war theory was great. The first part of the book was on the Old Testament, One thing I did appreciate from his section was his focus on Israel's peculiar war policy, about how they were not to stockpile weapons; horses or chariots, nor have large armies, nor were the kings to declare war, but only YHWH through the prophets. Also, many stories emphasize God winning Israels wars, with very little or no activity from the completely volunteer Israeli army. It is interesting that for Israel, a number of the writers of the bible wanted Israel complete defenseless amiss their strong and powerful enemies, so if they ever won a war, they'd know it was by their strength and might, but instead God's power on their behalf. I wonder if this is a little glimpse of God working in their situation, trying to ween a very barbaric people off violence, in very gradual ways.So though, I thought all I've mention so far to be really good, I do think Sprinkle underplays some of the violence in the Old Testament, and the extent that the biblical authors portray God commanding evil and acting wickedly. Sprinkle wants to try show Israel relationship to violence, war and their laws were step forward from the pagan neighbors. He seeks to contrast the bible from Assyrians that gloried in their brutal, gory and bloody conquest. Sprinkle claims the scriptures don't glorify it all. Though, I think this is often the case, sometimes it doesn't seem to be the case. Recently I was reading Habakkuk, and when Habakkuk complained of the evil and violence, God was like “you ain't seen nothing yet!” And goes on glorying and marveling at the power, carnage and evils committed by the Babylons, and how they were unstoppable and brutal because God was empowering them and taking great pleasure as they slaughtered, conquered and enslaved. It was incredibly twisted. Habakkuk was uneasy of course about God's response, until God reassures him that he will eventually do in Babylon as well, because they gave credit to other gods, when their power to do evil was from God himself. Often the prophets were graphic, they'd write about the God would cause men to rip babies from the mother's womb, and would make parents eat their children and children cannibalize their parents, among numerous other atrocities. In summarizing Israels war policy, after reading the text, he only mentions the positive aspects, not the fact that it approves of unprovoked attacks upon their neighbors, and the peace terms they were to offer them to choice between slavery and slaughter. If the people didn't want to be slaves, they were to kill all the men, and take the virgin woman and children as booty, I.e sex slaves. Sprinkle speaks of the advances for those in slavery under the Mosaic law, yet he failed to mention these were only for their fellow Hebrew slaves, as for foreigners, not only could Israel support the foreign slave trade by buying foreign slaves, but these victims were their property for life, without rights and could be treated with harshness according to Leviticus, unlike Hebrews slaves. Sprinkle's claim that Israel's law required no mutilation isn't correct, if in defense of her husband a woman grabs the attackers balls, her hand was to be cut off. Also, remember the eye for an eye, limb for limb command. Fortunately, Israel's code was better in some regards, yet as some who study Ancient Mesopotamian culture have noted, in other regards, according to modern standard, Israel and their law were more brutal, unjust and retrograde than their neighbors of the time.       I can't believe the author is comfortable and would cheer the sons of Jacob who deceived and slaughtering a whole city, because one member of that city raped their sister.     Fortunately, Sprinkle isn't comfortable with innocent toddlers and babies being dashed to pieces as an act of worship to YHWH in Israel's unjust war of aggression. And yet he has to bring up that if Israel actually obeyed God, then the pesky Canaanites wouldn't have lead Israel into idolatry, which was that rational for slaughter of the innocent given by biblical writers. Which is an ends justify the means evangelical justification of evil that would sit well with a Hitler or Stalin. Sprinkle doesn't leave it with this though, and mentions a few ways to try to wiggle out of the command to slaughter little children, which I am not sure really work. We have the story where the writer has God wanting Saul to murder every infant, child, woman, and man of the Amalakites, because, get this, the Amalakites attacked the Israelis FOUR CENTURIES earlier! This is pure unjust and evil revenge for something their long dead ancestors did. This would be like African Americans committing genocide against all the whites in New Orleans, because of they were enslaved by our ancestors. But yeah, this story is pure unadulterated wickedness, the genocide of a people because a sin their ancestors did 400 years ago. But yeah, in the story we have Saul being for condemned by Samuel for failing to thorough enough in the genocide and for keeping some of the loot. Sprinkle tries to whitewash the story. And claims Saul was not condemned for leaving some people alive but for keeping the spoils, but looking at the text however, the text clearly has him losing his kingdom for both, right after which Samuel goes and hacks the king to pieces whom Saul had left alive. Even if the command to murder every infant, toddler and mother for something their long dead ancestors did, is hyperbole, and the genocide wasn't complete, it doesn't matter, even if one toddler was killed, the text has God command an absolutely sick and grotesque evil.     It is interest that the reason Judges gives for why God didn't kill all the Canaanites, is he wanted to leave them there, to force Israelite to learn war. Something that sadly goes against Sprinkle's thesis. Somehow for the author of Judges, God wanted to make sure all of Israel would get to experience hacking people to pieces, having their conscience scared and deep psychological damage from war. From Sprinkle's understanding of inspiration, he has to somehow reconcile and synthesize the violent Old Testament with what we see revealed in Christ. Though he did have some good insights, I still think his synthesize solution ultimately doesn't work.
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  • Carl Jenkins
    January 1, 1970
    I hated this book. That may be a strong word, but at the least, I disliked it and the affect it had on me, mainly because it argued its case so well.This is a challenging book, but I do believe it has the best response to the age old questions of, "What about when an intruder comes after you?" or "What about Hitler?"One of the best things about this book was the style of writing. Sprinkle doesn't address this issue from the standpoint of a lofty theological lecture. Rather it's like listening to I hated this book. That may be a strong word, but at the least, I disliked it and the affect it had on me, mainly because it argued its case so well.This is a challenging book, but I do believe it has the best response to the age old questions of, "What about when an intruder comes after you?" or "What about Hitler?"One of the best things about this book was the style of writing. Sprinkle doesn't address this issue from the standpoint of a lofty theological lecture. Rather it's like listening to a friend explain his position to you. It's down to earth, and most importantly honest. Sprinkle is honest about the conclusions he's come to and the difficulties they pose for him and his life. He's honest about the fact that he doesn't know everything. He's honest about the fact that even though he has striven to understand this issue from a Biblical perspective, that there is wiggle room for discussions and disagreements. It helped make the book enjoyable and easy to absorb. Regardless of where you stand on the issue of Christian non-violence, I recommend this book. Even if you don't agree, you will get a clear, and Biblically based reason for why Sprinkle is where he is.
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  • Lynn
    January 1, 1970
    This was an interesting take on a hard topic. I agreed with most of what Sprinkle had to say about how to love enemies and that Christ called us to love and forgive everyone. But the main thing that we disagreed on is self-defense. That is because Sprinkle is coming from the place that all self-defense is violent and I do not. I think that if someone is defending themselves they do not have intent to do harm just to not die. I think that God will understand if you have to defend yourself. But if This was an interesting take on a hard topic. I agreed with most of what Sprinkle had to say about how to love enemies and that Christ called us to love and forgive everyone. But the main thing that we disagreed on is self-defense. That is because Sprinkle is coming from the place that all self-defense is violent and I do not. I think that if someone is defending themselves they do not have intent to do harm just to not die. I think that God will understand if you have to defend yourself. But if you wondering about Christian pacifism then give this book a look and see what you think about it.
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  • Andy
    January 1, 1970
    I don't agree with everything the author sets forth in Fight, but Sprinkle sure gives you a lot to think about as far as how Christians should view non-violence, war, the death penalty and more from a biblical standpoint. Contrary to what another reviewer posted, Sprinkle does use a lot of Scripture in this book. Be sure to read the accompanying notes, which are very helpful, if not essential.
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  • Jacob Davis
    January 1, 1970
    Sprinkle makes a very good argument for nonviolence, from a very scripture-centered perspective. At times, I found myself coming to different interpretations of certain passages, however his overall argument is compelling and should contribute to a discussion Christians need to be having. While one may come to different conclusions or to differing nuances of the same conclusion, Sprinkle's book is an excellent starting point for reckoning with the subject of violence in the Christian life.
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  • Sharon Hardin
    January 1, 1970
    I'm still processing this thought-provoking book, but find myself resonating with Sprinkle's conclusions in general.
  • Benjamin
    January 1, 1970
    I was honestly torn on what to rate this book. On the one hand, I think his work is a much needed counter balance to the "God, guns and glory" motif that is over the proverbial (or literal) mantlepiece of one too many American homes. He rightly tackles an attitude that simplistically rejoices over the destruction of any who dare oppose American might or its narrative of democracy-whether-you-like-it-or-not. However, at the end of the day, I had to rate it only two stars because its theological a I was honestly torn on what to rate this book. On the one hand, I think his work is a much needed counter balance to the "God, guns and glory" motif that is over the proverbial (or literal) mantlepiece of one too many American homes. He rightly tackles an attitude that simplistically rejoices over the destruction of any who dare oppose American might or its narrative of democracy-whether-you-like-it-or-not. However, at the end of the day, I had to rate it only two stars because its theological arguments are not solid, lop-sided, and twisted (I'll assume not deliberately.) It was interesting to engage with, but a prior knowledge of the issues and arguments is necessary to not be swept away in his telling (which he does well.)First, the forward by Shane Claiborne was almost enough to make me not read the rest of the book. Maybe that's just me, but I find Claiborne pretentious. His tone in the forward is much more condescending than the respectful and weighted tone of the author. The author tackles the subject from a biblical theology/chronological approach, which, while capturing the arc of the ultimate plot better, makes the book unnecessarily long at times. Sprinkle begins by stating that war, violence and killing were not part of the original plan of God. This is something that any Christian ought to be able to agree with, whether an advocate of nonviolence or just war theory. Death is a result of the fall. Period. However, he goes on to attempt to minimize just about every occurrence of violence in the OT. Some of the explanations are valid and serve to underscore the purpose of the law of Moses as restraining the sinful tendency of man, rather than stating an ideal (this much is true). However, some of it goes beyond honesty in an attempt to erase the violence and warfare that was condoned by God in the history of OT Israel. In this book, it is a MUST TO READ THE FOOTNOTES! Sometimes his statements in the main text are stated in a way that can only be described as intentionally misleading. Often these points will be weighed out better in the footnotes, though not always. He basically ends this section by making an analogy. The OT law allowed war, killing, death penalty, etc. However, it also allowed for things like polygamy, slavery and divorce which the NT also later points to as things that God does not approve of. However, the thinking reader must pause here. The 3 examples of polygamy, slavery, and divorce are actually dealt with very differently in the NT. While we can recognize that ALL of them (as with war and violence) are results of the fall, and ALL are things that will ultimately be done away with in the fullness of the kingdom, the question is, at what point? Polygamy, for example, is immediately forbidden by Christ's statement of marriage as being between ONE man and ONE woman, and further explanations in the epistles. However, slavery is not openly condemned in the NT. There are a number of nuances to this that cannot be delved into right now, but suffice it to say that the NT sets a trajectory that must ultimately lead to the rejection of slavery, though not immediate in the instillation of the New Covenant. Third is divorce. While a tragedy and not God's ideal for creation, Jesus makes clear that there is/are extreme case(s) where divorce is allowable for a believer. The problem with Sprinkle's reasoning on this is that he automatically equates war/violence with the first example of polygamy, rather than the last example of divorce: something tragic and not ideal but justified in extreme circumstances. But there is no grounds given as to why he should chose this analogy over the other.He moves on to the gospels, of course stopping at the infamous "turn the other cheek" passage. Unfortunately, he gets it all wrong. The one who wishes to examine the original language and historical context will find that the passage is referring to a slap with the open hand. The passage refers to not responding with insult to insult. Jesus does not say, "If a man stabs you in the right cheek, turn to him your left also." This verse is not about self-defense, but about non-retaliation for offense (very different things). He moves into Revelation, again trying to minimize the violence of Jesus the conquering King and Judge at His coming. He makes the strange statement that the blood on Jesus' robe in ch. 19 is His own. Sprinkle is either careless or dishonest here (for propriety's sake I'd assume the former). A simple cross reference search for "garments" and "blood" would quickly lead to Isa. 63“I who speak in righteousness, mighty to save.”Why is Your apparel red,And Your garments like one who treads in the winepress? “I have trodden the winepress alone,And from the peoples no one was with Me.For I have trodden them in My anger,And trampled them in My fury;Their blood is sprinkled upon My garments,And I have stained all My robes.For the day of vengeance is in My heart,And the year of My redeemed has come."This passage is directly drawn on in Rev. 19 and shows clearly that the blood on Jesus' robes is NOT His own, but that of His enemies. This is just one example of the author's approach to passages that rather clearly rip apart his non-violence bent. He does acrobatics to avoid the obvious implication of the text.His book was at least consistent in its nonviolent position for the majority. Then at one point, in discussing the "armed murderer at the door" scenario, he finally gives way to some innate sense of justice and says that, if it comes down to it, "hitting, kicking or tackling" the intruder would be okay. I ask, is that nonviolent? He goes on to say that its acceptable since the intruder is not killed and the force used was not lethal. Well, following that logic, can I use a baseball bat on him? What about a crowbar? What if I just use my handgun (I don't actually own one) to maim him rather than kill him? Does THAT fall into the scope of "nonviolence"? Hardly. It also contradicts the definition of "violence" he uses in the beginning of the book. It seems the author at some sane, gut level WANTS to say, "YES! Protect your family! That IS right!" but is conflicted by the pacifist/nonviolence position he has adopted. Now, had his book simply sought to balance out the way too many Christians (especially American Christians) worship the indiscriminate violence of the state and called instead for the use of minimal necessary force, I would agree. But that would make the author more along the lines of a just war theory advocate, rather than an advocate of nonviolence.Incidentally, his appendix on just war theory, while at least presenting another "close" to feasible position as he sees it, is really a straw man treatment of the theories. It was Augustine who said, "They say, 'The wise man will wage just wars.' As if he would not all the rather lament the necessity of just wars." A study of the theory would be beneficial for anyone reading this book.With that said, if you are into studying this topic in depth, Sprinkle does a decent job of presenting the arguments for his position, though the evidence from Scripture is ultimately lacking. Just don't let this be the only book you read on the matter.
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  • John
    January 1, 1970
    Sprinkle's book was so impactful to me that it inspired a shift in my consideration of nonviolence. Below is the first of five blog posts prompted by Sprinkle's Fight where I reconsider nonviolence in light of the Bible. For more, see www.thebeehive.live. I remember the first time I had a conversation with a dyed-in-the-wool Christian pacifist. I was on an immersive backpacking trip with classmates the month before I entered my freshman year at Gordon College. Our guide, a student at Gordon, and Sprinkle's book was so impactful to me that it inspired a shift in my consideration of nonviolence. Below is the first of five blog posts prompted by Sprinkle's Fight where I reconsider nonviolence in light of the Bible. For more, see www.thebeehive.live. I remember the first time I had a conversation with a dyed-in-the-wool Christian pacifist. I was on an immersive backpacking trip with classmates the month before I entered my freshman year at Gordon College. Our guide, a student at Gordon, and one of the freshmen on the trip were both Mennonite and were staunchly pacifist. I had never really heard a strong argument for pacifism. My dad came of age during the Vietnam War and shared stories with me as a kid of his opposition to the war, an opposition that he came to see as well-intentioned, but naïve. My natural response to war was similar: war is bad, but inevitable, and if our country can intervene for the betterment of those involved, we ought to do so. My freshman ears were intrigued by the argument, but ultimately unmoved. I would encounter Just War Theory in a philosophy class and that would become my anchor point for processing the use of violence.When a friend urged me to pick up Preston Sprinkle’s Fight: A Christian Case for Nonviolence, I was intrigued but didn’t expect much to come of reading Sprinkle’s book. But, in a way that rarely happens at this stage of my life, I’ve found my perspective on nonviolence has changed pretty significantly over the past months as I’ve read and processed the book.Over the course of these posts, we are going to examine a biblical perspective on violence. This is a difficult topic and from the start I want you to hear my voice as one who is still working these things out. Our church doesn’t have a stance on these matters, and our Senior Pastor, Greg LaVine and I have discussed this difficult topic and are on different sides of the matter. No matter what side of the matter you land on, we all agree that all violence is heartbreaking and we long for peace that only God can bring. There are countervailing opinions about whether or not violence is escalating or de-escalating. But whether you are of the opinion that violence is waning or that violence is increasing, everyone agrees that we have a significant problem with violence, but as a nation and as a global community. As evangelicals, our politics and our Christianity are, in many ways, enmeshed. We are patriotic, pro-family, pro-life, and pro-military. But to what level have we allowed our politics to inform our theology and not vice versa? “Scripture protests militaristic zeal,” Sprinkle asserts. Even if you grant that statement reflects the ministry of Jesus, you might have an internal reaction against how that statement squares with the rest of Scripture. God, after all, told Israel to make war on its enemies, did he not? What is the biblical perspective on violence: from the personal exercise of violence to the national exercise of violence? The Bible opens with the Garden of Eden, where we see that God’s intention is for humanity to experience shalom: true and whole peace. It was God’s intention that Israel be unlike any other nation. Where every other nation was controlled by a king and a few elite nobles, all Israelite families were entitled to own land (except the house of Aaron, because of their priestly call). Similarly, where every other country with any power had a standing army, Israel not only did not have a standing army, it was forbidden to have a standing army. God was Israel’s army. “God doesn’t need a human army to protect His land. He is quite capable of defending the land Himself, as He demonstrates time and time again.” When an army was called together, anyone who didn’t want to serve in the army did not have to, and the army’s objectives were severely limited (they only went to war if God called them to do so, the city rejected peace, and once in war, noncombatants were not to be killed and even fruit trees were not to be destroyed). When Israel won (because of God’s intervention), they were told to hamstring the horses that were captured (rendering them useless for war) and burn their chariots. In fact, the number of times Israel’s army actually fights in the Old Testament is much less than one might suspect. Consider the Red Sea where God destroyed the Egyptian army, or Jericho where God brought down the walls or Gideon’s army’s “battle” against the Midianites where God turned them against each other, or when the angel of the Lord destroyed the Assyrian army encamped outside of Israel under Hezekiah’s reign. Or consider the lesser known event when God defeated Ammon and Moab without Israel even engaging in battle. Jehoshapat, frightened as the invading armies near, “asked the Lord what to do.” God spoke through a Jahaziel, who said, “So here’s what you must do. Tomorrow the enemy armies will march through the desert around the town of Jeruel. March down and meet them at the town of Ziz as they come up the valley. You won’t even have to fight. Just take your positions and watch the LORD rescue you from your enemy. Don’t be afraid. Just do as you’re told. And as you march out tomorrow, the LORD will be there with you.” Jehoshaphat turns his army into a praise troop, and as Israel sings, her enemies are destroyed. As soon as they began singing, the LORD confused the enemy camp, so that the Ammonite and Moabite troops attacked and completely destroyed those from Edom. Then they turned against each other and fought until the entire camp was wiped out! Beyond God’s intervention is his strong rebuke that to depend on military might is idolatry. Ezekiel blasts Israel for “playing the whore” in trusting in military alliances and that exercising brute military force is a characteristic of those destined for hell. The Psalmist reminds us that “The king is not saved by his great army, a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue.” But what do we make of God calling Israel to commit genocide against the Canaanites? Does not God show his true colors in commanding this violence? First, Sprinkle insists, “The Canaanites were not innocent peasants.” In fact, they were “a particularly wicked people.” God warned the Canaanites that he would bring judgment against them as far back as Genesis 15, when we learn that God would grant the Canaanites 430 years before God would give the Israelites the land. In other words, God treated the Canaanites just like he treated the Israelites: he called them to repentance and warned them if they did not repent then judgment would come. And just like judgment would come against the Israelites through the Assyrians and Babylonians, judgment came against the Canaanites through the Israelites. Further, the Israelites did not commit genocide against the Canaanites when they inhabited the land. Sprinkle carefully walks through the text and concludes that the killing was targeted and bloodshed was minimized. Most importantly, it is clear that Israel’s conquest of the Canaanites is a one-time event, ordained by God and not to be repeated. All of this is particularly shocking in light of the nations around Israel. Even a glimpse at descriptions of war written by the Egyptians, Babylonians, Persians, and Assyrians makes a reader blush. Where the nations boasted in their military might and delighted in the taste of blood, Israel looked to God as protector and toward the peace he brought.The picture of God and violence in the Old Testament, then, is not of a God who calls his people to militarism, but rather a God who calls his people to trust him in the midst of violent threats. I don’t believe the case has been fully made at this point that God calls us to pacifism, but at this point I hope some of the caricatures of God and violence in the Old Testament have been erased. And the texts certainly should make us pause when we think about military might as an idol God takes very seriously.
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  • Graham
    January 1, 1970
    Preston Sprinkle examines violence in Scripture (both Old and New Testaments), and in Early Church history. He argues that although there are violent images in Scripture, violence is ultimately no in line with Scripture. Sprinkle argues (and argues well, in my opinion) that Jesus is a model of non-violence, and cruciformity. Jesus conquers not by overwhelming violence with stronger violence, but with sacrificial death and resurrection. The "violence" of God in overcoming the violence of the worl Preston Sprinkle examines violence in Scripture (both Old and New Testaments), and in Early Church history. He argues that although there are violent images in Scripture, violence is ultimately no in line with Scripture. Sprinkle argues (and argues well, in my opinion) that Jesus is a model of non-violence, and cruciformity. Jesus conquers not by overwhelming violence with stronger violence, but with sacrificial death and resurrection. The "violence" of God in overcoming the violence of the world is not the sword, but his word of judgement, declaring sin, violence and death vanquished because Christ has overcome.This is a good resource, which honestly handles the tension of the OT passages which seem to support militarism. He admits the tension, and wrestles openly, arguing that although books like Joshua and Judges seem to be dripping with violence sanctioned by God, God is ultimate restraining the violence imposed by Israel, and grieves all violence.The prose is easy to handle for most readers, but it is densely researched and referenced (but sadly uses endnotes not footnotes). Sprinkle is a capable scholar, writing several very technical academic works, but also able to write for a laity level elsewhere.But this book will stir up some folks, and I'm sure Sprinkle has likely received a lot of pushback. But, coming into reading this book, I did share the views Sprinkle espouses, so I found myself simply agreeing with most of the argument. So this is helpful in engaging the counter-argument to the non-violent position.
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  • Joe Tobias
    January 1, 1970
    I enjoyed this book very much. Preston was both thorough and accessible in his treatment of the Biblical evidence and deals with the common objections with honesty and humility. I would recommend this book more to Evangelicals, than Non-Evangelicals, but I still feel like the book is a fair and accessible treatment of the subject.If you are an Evangelical I would highly recommend this book, as Preston approaches the subject from an Evangelical position, and handles the Bible accordingly. I would I enjoyed this book very much. Preston was both thorough and accessible in his treatment of the Biblical evidence and deals with the common objections with honesty and humility. I would recommend this book more to Evangelicals, than Non-Evangelicals, but I still feel like the book is a fair and accessible treatment of the subject.If you are an Evangelical I would highly recommend this book, as Preston approaches the subject from an Evangelical position, and handles the Bible accordingly. I would bank on the fact that the book would offer a challenging and compelling critique of American Evangelicalism's preoccupation(idolatry?) with Nationalism/Militarism and Violence.If you are not an Evangelical, or someone who may not be convinced by arguments regarding Biblical Inherrancy and such, then you may find some of his argument tedious, and unnecessary. However, I still think the book offers some good insights, and highlights that we (Evangelicals and non-Evangelicals) have some common ground on these matter. His Cruciform focus resonated with me, as a large basis for responses to things such as Capital Punishment, and retaliation and I feel like there is a lot of overlap in this area with his Non-Evangelical brothers and sisters.Overall, a good book, from someone who I know to have a good heart and passion for the Gospel!
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  • Pathway Midland
    January 1, 1970
    Wonderful Book!!! I thought Sprinkle did a great job covering the topic. In this book God's view of violence and therefore non-violence is explored from both Old and New testament passages. The practices and beliefs from the early Church (mainly before Constantine) are also taken into account. Sprinkle tries to take the text of Scripture and let it speak for itself. I didn't really get the sense that he was trying to write his beliefs into this book (or read them into scripture), but this book d Wonderful Book!!! I thought Sprinkle did a great job covering the topic. In this book God's view of violence and therefore non-violence is explored from both Old and New testament passages. The practices and beliefs from the early Church (mainly before Constantine) are also taken into account. Sprinkle tries to take the text of Scripture and let it speak for itself. I didn't really get the sense that he was trying to write his beliefs into this book (or read them into scripture), but this book does seem to represent the one position. It would be interesting to read the other side of the argument.Toward the end of the book the author digs into some questions about applying these teachings on non-violence to our lives and what it might look like in our modern day context. I valued his logic as he entertained common questions regarding non-violence. Also, I appreciated his Kingdom centrality throughout the book.Sprinkle cites his many sources which is great for those who are more studious or who want to dig deeper. But don't let all the citations scare you - this book is highly readable. This was not written off the cuff to make a buck, but it appears that much research and study were applied in it's writing. Thank you Sprinkle for your time and effort and for sharing the results of that labor with us.-- Curtis
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  • Chris Lee
    January 1, 1970
    Great introduction to the reasoning behind Christian non-violence that seems to be directed at an evangelical crowd that doesn't hear about this topic enough (me). The first half of the book was more compelling than the second, but I appreciated Sprinkle's honesty in his struggles with the tough questions (a whole chapter is dedicated to the "attacker at the door" scenario). I also appreciated Sprinkle's clear effort into researching a breadth of Christian traditions on this topic. The presence Great introduction to the reasoning behind Christian non-violence that seems to be directed at an evangelical crowd that doesn't hear about this topic enough (me). The first half of the book was more compelling than the second, but I appreciated Sprinkle's honesty in his struggles with the tough questions (a whole chapter is dedicated to the "attacker at the door" scenario). I also appreciated Sprinkle's clear effort into researching a breadth of Christian traditions on this topic. The presence of a chapter on the early church's views on violence pleasantly surprised me. At its best points, the book went beyond the non-violence question and solidified my understanding of just how incredibly fundamental forgiveness and love of enemy are to Christianity. On a personal level, reading this book helped me spark conversations about violence with friends who range from martial arts fans or war veterans. It's down-to-earth tone and honesty about not having all the answers lends itself to that.
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  • Hannah
    January 1, 1970
    Whether you agree or not with the end result, I think this is about as clearly as you could put it. It does a nice job of tackling a lot of the sticky issues with choosing a stance of non-violence and explains how that position can fit into a Christian worldview. Preston Sprinkle also writes this very humbly, as someone sharing his findings but not judging or pressuring those who disagree and with a lot of respect for the difficulty of the choice.
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  • Elliot
    January 1, 1970
    Excellent introduction to nonviolence for a popular evangelical audience. Challenges violence-is-just-fine orthodoxy by arguing primarily from the Bible, and also church history. Also answers common questions, like "What about Hitler?" and "Can a Christian be a soldier or a police officer?" Evangelicals need to take a good long look at their ideas about violence in the light of the Bible, and this is the best book I've read for that purpose.
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  • Christina
    January 1, 1970
    A thorough and accessible look at a Christian case for nonviolence. A great book for pro-military evangelicals to read, but this pacifist also enjoyed it. He didn't totally convince me with his explanation of Old Testament violence, but nothing really has, meaning I'm still troubled by it. I think that might be something we see through a mirror dimly...
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  • Marc
    January 1, 1970
    This book will definitely be provoking. If you want to say one thing amongst Christians that will surely get you thrown into a furnace then start talking about nonviolence. Preston Sprinkle's case for nonviolence will make you think again. What does the Bible really say, he asks. The answers might astound you but they make much more sense in the light of the gospel then what I grew up believing.
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  • Jessie
    January 1, 1970
    My favorite books take ideas we don't even realize we have and then turn them on their heads. No matter where you land on the issue when you finish the book, you'll have your eyes opened and your heart challenged in the process. Highly recommend this book!
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  • Paul,
    January 1, 1970
    More on this later. Well-worth reading, and I think I agree with Sprinkle's argument. But it is not done with the attention to detail and exegetical rigor that I have come to expect from Sprinkle.
  • Christa Pettis
    January 1, 1970
    Changed the way i view the O.T.Excellent. Loved every word.
  • Josh Begin
    January 1, 1970
    Really changed my mind on the topic of non-violence.
  • Evan Kirby
    January 1, 1970
    This book is painful to read, because it exposes the violence I've done, and sometimes done with "biblical" justification. American Christians need this. It's necessary to their salvation.
  • Dennis Beery
    January 1, 1970
    A Christian manifesto of biblical non-violence. A call to put down your guns and pick up your cross and follow Christ. One of the best books I've read in the last 10 years.
  • Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    I had overall a mixed reaction to this book. I was not a pacifist when I came to this book, and I still am not. However, its more positive elements have given me a lot to think about.A lot of what I think about the book has already been covered in the handful of 2 and 3 star reviews.Positives- It really does make me think, as a Christian, about the militarism and love of violence in American culture.- Some of the parts on the New Testament are quire relevant. It does give me a lot to think about I had overall a mixed reaction to this book. I was not a pacifist when I came to this book, and I still am not. However, its more positive elements have given me a lot to think about.A lot of what I think about the book has already been covered in the handful of 2 and 3 star reviews.Positives- It really does make me think, as a Christian, about the militarism and love of violence in American culture.- Some of the parts on the New Testament are quire relevant. It does give me a lot to think about that Jesus is held up as an example specifically in sections on being mistreated is significant. Although his unwillingness to resist could itself be attributed to the fact that his purpose was to die, the fact that he is still pointed as an example and not an exception does give me something to think about.- Sprinkle gives an introductory case to the argument that the texts that seem to suggest God commanded killing all people of a nation, including women and children and infants, were not meant to be taken literally (and were not taken as such by those who heard the command). I have not looked into this in depth, (Matthew Flannigan and Paul Copan's Did God Command Genocide? is on my reading list for 2016), but his argumentation at least made sense.Negatives- Sprinkle's handling of the Old Testament is probably the weakest part of the book. Unlike many pacifist authors today, Sprinkle is not a red-letter Christian (known in some circles by the unflattering designation "neo-Marcion"). He is an evangelical who accepts the entire Bible. That means he cannot write off all the passages in the Old Testament where God commands killing and violence as being lies or just a bunch of backwards savages who thought they were doing God's will but were not. And he does attempt to fit in the text of the OT within a coherent framework of God condescending to mankind and progressively expecting more and more from His people until Jesus comes.The problem is, in order to make this work, he has to strongly underplay the extent to which God was honored by some of the violent acts in the OT. The more violence was actually commanded or approved by God, the harder it is to say that God's approach to violence became "turn the other cheek and love your enemy - no matter what" when Jesus came. So Dr. Sprinkle attempts to show that a lot of the violence in the Old Testament is actually sinful and not approved by God. For example, he attempts to write off Samson as some degenerate who wasn't an example to follow and who maybe wasn't saved anyway. The problem is, the OT text in Judges 14-15 explicitly tells us that when he did his acts of violence, it was when the Spirit of the LORD came upon him (his final killing of Philistines in chapter 16 doesn't say it explicitly, thought I think the implication is clear). And in case there was any doubt, this man whose only recorded acts are sexual immorality and killing Israel's enemies when strengthened by God is included Hebrews 11 in the the commonly-titled "hall of faith." And I doubt it is for the sexual immorality...In this vain, a number of his claims are either false, or are at least questionable (not in the sense of actually lying, but in the sense of misunderstanding in light of bias). Exodus 22:2, the quintessetial self-defense text of the OT, doesn't even come up int he chapter on the OT (even though it is probably the most relevant passage in the whole Law on this topic). It only comes up in footnotes in a later section, where Sprinkle concedes that it likely (i.e. definitely) allowed for self-defense under the old covenant (though not the new because Jesus).Also, exactly how modern countries are supposed to learn from Israel and its relationship with God is confusing. Sprinkle points out that Israel was kept weak so that in military battles, they could win by the power of God. Therefore, having a big strong military is to fail to trust God, and it would be wrong of America to do so. But modern nations do not have the covenant with God that God will protect them and help them in battle. And he admits this much! At the end of chapter 3 he even says "I do not think that America should use the Bible to construct or defend its military program, because America is not the new Israel, nor is it a Christian Nation." He fails to see how this defeats his whole argument that we should not build up our military because God commanded Israel to stay weak and trust God to be protected from earthly, military threats.- Like many pacifist apologetics works, this book repeatedly conflates using force to protect oneself or others (i.e. to prevent continued harm) with retaliation (harming the wrongdoer because of past harm they caused). It is even labeled “vengeance” to kill an armed intruder who is attempting to kill your family (event thought the point is to prevent an act, not punish it after it happened). Self-defense and vengeance are not the same thing. If they were, the same God who commanded the Israelites not to avenge themselves in Leviticus 19:18 (what? you thought idea that was new with Jesus?) would not have given them Exodus 22:2-3. Even if self-defense is never allowed under the New Covenant, simply pointing to the clear passages against self-avenging is insufficient to make that point.- When Sprinkle addresses the key question of whether it is okay to kill someone who is breaking into your house to kill you and your family, it's just uncomfortable to read. He tries to be like "well, maybe shooting the intruder isn't a good idea because you might miss and make him mad...maybe you can talk it out." He ultimately says that non-lethal force would be okay because it doesn't count as violence (even though the definition of violence he gives at the beginning totally includes non-lethal force). He even concedes that morality is hierarchical and sometimes doing what is normally wrong is justified in certain circumstances. And yet he won't say that killing an aggressor to save others would be such a circumstance. He ultimately ends up with this sort of waffling response where he isn't quite willing to say it is definitely sin, but discourages using lethal force in that situation. As has been pointed out before, you can almost see Dr. Sprinkle squirming, as if he feels in his heart that of course it is okay to kill an aggressor to protect your family, but he can't justify it in his mind, having adopted this pacifist paradigm where the command to love your enemies takes precedence over absolutely all other moral concerns.- Some of his anecdotes miss the point. For example, in Chapter 7 there is a story about Martin Luther King Jr. A man from the American Nazi party punched him in the face, and MLK did not fight back. “The man proceeded to pound King in the face until the crowd intervened and hauled the Nazi off to another room. Shortly after, King visited the Nazi in the room and reassured him that there would be no harm done to him.” Sprinkle concludes with “Sometimes nonviolence more effectively defeats violence.” Although this is a great example of forgiveness in King’s response at the end, the non-violence aspect is greatly diminished by the fact that what saved the non-violent King was the fact that other people stepped in and protected him by using violence and doing what he was not willing to do himself.ConclusionThere are a lot of specific points I could make on both the pluses and minuses of this book, but the handful above should give a good feeling for what I found to be the good and bad of this book. it really does cause the non-pacifist to think in places, and in that sense Dr. Sprinkle has made progress. I just think that another reviewer was correct that some of its weaker points leave it to open to criticism for it to be effective in more hostile audiences. It is an okay book, and perhaps some good can from it despite some shortcomings.
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  • Joseph
    January 1, 1970
    Positives- It really does make me think, as a Christian, about the militarism and love of violence in American culture.- Some of the parts on the New Testament are quire relevant. It does give me a lot to think about that Jesus is held up as an example specifically in sections on being mistreated is significant. Although his unwillingness to resist could itself be attributed to the fact that his purpose was to die, the fact that he is still pointed as an example and not an exception does give me Positives- It really does make me think, as a Christian, about the militarism and love of violence in American culture.- Some of the parts on the New Testament are quire relevant. It does give me a lot to think about that Jesus is held up as an example specifically in sections on being mistreated is significant. Although his unwillingness to resist could itself be attributed to the fact that his purpose was to die, the fact that he is still pointed as an example and not an exception does give me something to think about.- Sprinkle gives an introductory case to the argument that the texts that seem to suggest God commanded killing all people of a nation, including women and children and infants, were not meant to be taken literally (and were not taken as such by those who heard the command). I have not looked into this in depth, (Matthew Flannigan and Paul Copan's Did God Command Genocide? is on my list for 2016), but his argumentation at least made sense.Negatives- Sprinkle's handling of the Old Testament is probably the weakest part of the book. Unlike many pacifist authors today, Sprinkle is not a red-letter Christian (known in some circles by the unflattering designation "neo-Marcion"). He is an evangelical who accepts the entire Bible. That means he cannot write off all the passages in the Old Testament where God commands killing and violence as being lies or just a bunch of backwards savages who thought they were doing God's will but were not. And he does attempt to fit in the text of the OT within a coherent framework of God condescending to mankind and progressively expecting more and more from His people until Jesus comes.The problem is, in order to make this work, he has to strongly underplay the extent to which God was honored by some of the violent acts in the OT. The more violence was actually commanded or approved by God, the harder it is to say that God's approach to violence became "turn the other cheek and love your enemy - no matter what" when Jesus came. So Dr. Sprinkle attempts to show that a lot o the violence in the Old Testament is actually sinful and not approved by God. For example, he attempts to write off Samson as some degenerate who wasn't an example to follow and who maybe wasn't saved anyway. The problem is, the OT text explicitly tells us that the Holy Spirit gave him strength to do what he did, and Hebrews 11 even includes him in the the commonly-titled "hall of faith." In this vain, a number of his claims are either outright false, or are at least questionable (not in the sense of actually lying, but in the sense of misunderstanding in light of bias). Exodus 22:2, the quintessetial self-defense text of the OT, doesn't even come up int he chapter on the OT (even though it is probably the most relevant passage in the whole Law on this topic). It only comes up in footnotes in a later section, where Sprinkle concedes that it likely (i.e. definitely) allowed for self-defense under the old covenant (though not the new because Jesus).Exactly how modern countries are supposed to learn from Israel and its relationship with God is confusing. Sprinkle points out that Israel was kept weak so that in military battles, they could win by the power of God. Therefore, having a big strong military is to fail to trust God, and it would be wrong of America to do so. But modern nations do not have the covenant with God that God will protect them and help them in battle. And he admits this much! At the end of chapter 3 he even says "I do not think that America should use the Bible to construct or defend its military program, because America is not the new Israel, nor is it a Christian Nation." He fails to see how this defeats his whole argument that we should not build up our military because God commanded Israel to stay weak and trust God to be protected from earthly, military threats.- Like many pacifist apologetics works, this book repeatedly conflates using force to protect oneself or others (i.e. to prevent continued harm) with retaliation (harming the wrongdoer because of past harm they caused). It is even labeled “vengeance” to kill an armed intruder who is attempting to kill your family (event thought the point is to prevent an act, not punish it after it happened). Self-defense and vengeance are not the same thing. If they were, the same God who commanded the Israelites not to avenge themselves in Leviticus 19:18 (what? you thought idea that was new with Jesus?) would not have given them Exodus 22:2-3. Even if self-defense is never allowed under the New Covenant, simply pointing to the clear passages against self-avenging is insufficient to make that point.- When Sprinkle addresses the key question of whether it is okay to kill someone who is breaking into your house to kill you and your family, it's just uncomfortable to read. He tries to be like "well, maybe shooting the intruder isn't a good idea because you might miss and make him mad...maybe you can talk it out." He ultimately says that non-lethal force would be okay because it doesn't count as violence (even though the definition of violence he gives at the beginning totally includes non-lethal force). He even concedes that morality is hierarchical and sometimes doing what is normally wrong is justified in certain circumstances. And yet he won't say that killing an aggressor to save others would be such a circumstance. He ultimately ends up with this sort of waffling response where he isn't quite willing to say it is definitely sin, but discourages using lethal force in that situation. As has been pointed out before, you can almost see Dr. Sprinkle squirming, as if he feels in his heart that of course it is okay to kill an aggressor to protect your family, but he can't justify it in his mind, having adopted this pacifist paradigm where the command to love your enemies takes precedence over absolutely all other moral concerns.- Some of his anecdotes miss the point. For example, in Chapter 7 there is a story about Martin Luther King Jr. A man from the American Nazi party punched him in the face, and MLK did not fight back. “The man proceeded to pound King in the face until the crowd intervened and hauled the Nazi off to another room. Shortly after, King visited the Nazi in the room and reassured him that there would be no harm done to him.” Sprinkle concludes with “Sometimes nonviolence more effectively defeats violence.” Although this is a great example of forgiveness in King’s response at the end, the non-violence aspect is greatly diminished by the fact that what saved the non-violent King was the fact that other people stepped in and were willing to act with violence to protect him.ConclusionThere are a lot of specific points I could make on both the pluses and minuses of this book, but the handful above should give a good feeling for what I found to be the good and bad of this book. it really does cause the non-pacifist to think in places, and in that sense, Dr. Sprinkle has made progress. I just think that another reviewer was correct that some of its weaker points leave it too open to criticism for it to be effective in more hostile audiences. It is an okay book, and perhaps some good can from it despite some shortcomings.
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  • Scott
    January 1, 1970
    Very compelling, Biblical argument for nonviolence in a follower of Christ’s personal life, and to be against the military actions of one’s government. I was already leaning toward nonviolence just from my simple reading of the Bible, but the author shows a deep study of the Biblical language and differentiating between the descriptive or prescriptive texts in the Old Testament, should push a Christian firmly into that lifestyle.
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  • Mike Riddell
    January 1, 1970
    Been a while to read through this book (originally started as reference material for a Bible College essay on War).Sprinkle has a great name, an easy to read writing-style and some compelling arguments. I appreciate his willingness to engage with other perspectives to his own- but he is still clearly writing from a set position.Will have to read some different viewpoints to better unpack and consider those contained within this book.Would definitely recommend this book though!
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  • Victor Gentile
    January 1, 1970
    Preston Sprinkle in his new book, “Fight” published by David C. Cook shows us A Christian Case for Non-Violence.From the Back Cover: What are we fighting for?“I’m an evangelical Christian. And I am not Amish, Quaker or Mennonite. I own several guns and still believe that the smell of a recently fired shotgun on a crisp fall morning comes darn near close to paradise. Bit I’ve tried my hardest to understand God’s Word and the divine perspectives of those who read it. And the more I study, the more Preston Sprinkle in his new book, “Fight” published by David C. Cook shows us A Christian Case for Non-Violence.From the Back Cover: What are we fighting for?“I’m an evangelical Christian. And I am not Amish, Quaker or Mennonite. I own several guns and still believe that the smell of a recently fired shotgun on a crisp fall morning comes darn near close to paradise. Bit I’ve tried my hardest to understand God’s Word and the divine perspectives of those who read it. And the more I study, the more I discuss, the more I’ve become convinced: Christians shouldn’t kill or use violence–not even in war.”With these words, Preston Sprinkle jumps into a compelling, passionate study of God’s perspective on violence. Examining both the seemingly angry, violent God of the Old Testament and the peacemaking Jesus of the New. Preston takes us back to Scripture to discern how God really called His people to think and live in the midst of a violent world. He asks us to join him in inviting God to challenge our presuppositions, to set aside our biases and backgrounds and fears…and to seek above all else to faithfully follow the Savior who humbly submitted to God in the face of injustice and violence.We not only live in a violent world, but our Bible is filled with violence. How, then, can Jesus seemingly prohibit Christians from using violence. And does this apply to all Christians in every situation? This is what Mr. Sprinkle is looking at; why The Bible contains so much violence and he addresses how the Church should live out Jesus’ call to non-violence. In thirteen chapters issues are raised: How God’s desire for non-violent peace remains the ideal–even when confronting injustice and enmity, How to reconcile what seems like a vengeful, wrathful God of the Old Testament with the forging, nonviolent Christ of the New Testament. These and more thought provoking issues are all explored. Mr. Sprinkle challenges us to take what we may have possible believed all our lives and re-examine them in this new light and re-evaluate if we are still going to believe them or change and conform our thinking to these new thoughts from The Bible.You can find “Fight” at a discount at http://www.deepershopping.com/item/sp...If you would like to listen to interviews with other authors and professionals please go to www.kingdomhighlights.org where they are available On Demand.To listen to 24 hours non-stop, commercial free Christian music please visit our internet radio station www.kingdomairwaves.orgDisclosure of Material Connection: I received this book for free from David C. Cook for this review. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
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