Reviewed by Mitchell A. Tyner, associate director and legal counsel, Department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

If you espouse pacifism or noncombatancy, you won't be happy with the conclusions of this book. But if you are a proponent of the Strategic Defense Initiative, you'll be quite pleased with it.

The authors begin with some relevant questions: How can a nuclear age Christian fulfill the biblical call to be a peace maker? How do we properly reconcile the requirements of national security with religious values? They then survey six major positions taken by Christians over the centuries on our proper relationship to government. From the Left to the Right, they are (1) nonresistance, (2) historic pacifism, (3) radical pacifism, (4) nuclear pacifism, (5) traditional just war, and (6) preventive war. The remainder of the book tells you why the authors believe numbers 1 through 4 won't work, and then merge 5 and 6 into the authors' proposed solution.

The authors proceed from two basic presuppositions: "It is clear from Scripture that government has been given the responsibility to exercise force when necessary in protecting the innocent and punishing evil or unjust behavior. It is equally clear that Christians have been commanded to support their government in carrying out its God-ordained responsibilities." They conclude that the biblical support for pacifism is exceedingly weak and that the current need for a nuclear deterrence is clear and compelling.

From this they synthesize the position that they say Christians should support: "A just defense--a transition to defenses that would move the U.S. away from reliance on offensive forces while building up defensive forces." This is, on a more advanced level, like a father advising his son to learn to fight, not because he intends to start a fight, but because he should be able to finish successfully whatever someone else starts. Not offensive--just retaliatory; not aggressive--but definitely not turning the other cheek.

The authors admit that "it is not clear that effective defense against nuclear threat is possible. However, the Strategic Defense Initiative has, since 1983, been attempting to address these technical questions."

If you like Star Wars, you'll love this book.


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Reviewed by Mitchell A. Tyner, associate director and legal counsel, Department of Public Affairs and Religious Liberty, General Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.

July 1989

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