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Faith and Force

A Christian Debate about War

"This book began in an argument between friends surprised to find themselves on opposite sides of the debate about whether the United States and the United Kingdom should invade Iraq in 2003. Situated on opposite sides of the Atlantic, in different churches, and on different sides of the just war/pacifist fence, we exchanged long emails that rehearsed on a small scale the great national and international debates that were taking place around us. We discovered the common ground we shared, as well as some predictable and some surprising points of difference....When the initial hostilities ended, our conversation continued, and we felt the urgency of contributing to a wider Christian debate about whether and when war could be justified."
—From the Preface

So began a dynamic collaboration that developed into a civil but provocative debate over matters of war and peace that is Faith and Force. From the ancient battles between Greek city-states to the Crusades to the World Wars of the twentieth-century to the present-day wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and the Middle East, aggressors and defenders alike have claimed the mantle of righteousness and termed their actions just. But can the carnage of war ever be morally grounded? And if so, how?

These are the questions that David L. Clough, a Methodist proponent of pacifism, and Brian Stiltner, a Catholic theologian and just war adherent, have vowed to answer—together. With one voice, Clough and Stiltner outline and clarify issues of humanitarian intervention, weapons proliferation, and preventative war against rogue states. Their writing is grounded in Christian tradition and provides a fresh and illuminating account of the complexities and nuances of the pacifist and just war positions.

In each chapter Clough and Stiltner engage in debate on the issues, demonstrating a respectful exchange of ideas absent in much contemporary political discourse—whether on television or in the classroom. The result is a well-reasoned, challenging repartee that searches for common ground within the Christian tradition and on behalf of the faithful promotion of justice—yet one that also recognizes genuine differences that cannot be bridged easily. Intended for a broad audience, Faith and Force is the perfect foil to the shrill screeching that surrounds partisan perspectives on military power and its use.

To help with using the book in a classroom context, the authors have provided Questions for Reflection and Discussion for each chapter. You can download these questions in PDF format at press.georgetown.edu.

About the Author

David L. Clough is a professor of theological ethics at the University of Chester, UK. He is the author of Ethics in Crisis: Interpreting Barth's Ethics, coeditor of Creaturely Theology: God, Humans and Other Animals, and a Methodist lay preacher.

Brian Stiltner is an associate professor and chair of the department of philosophy and religious studies at Sacred Heart University. He is the author of Religion and the Common Good.


"The dual perspective limns the strengths and the weaknesses of the two traditions, exposing both the risk that pacifists will embolden agressors and the danger that just-war advocates will fight unnecessary wars. A cogent analysis of both immediate and long-term relevance."—Booklist

"Rarely does one encounter a text that approaches Christian doctrine on war with as much clarity and energy as David L. Clough and Brian Stilner's Faith and Force... [the] dialogue segments, as well as the book's inviting introductory style, lend the text a refreshing, even exciting feel."—Politics and Religion

"Here is an innovative and eminently effective way of presenting the ethics of war and peace... Clough and Stilner have produced what must be one of the most pedagogically useful texts on the Christian deliberation over war."—Reviews in Religion and Theology

"Faith and Force helps us understand war and conflict in a new way. We're challenged to examine our personal thoughts and views in an effort to find alternatives. This is important work for citizens living in a free and democratic society."—Theological Book Review

"This is a well-writen and well-crafted book that brings familiar Christian debates, with the subtleties of differences even within Just War theory and pacifism, and applies them to new situations, challenging the wider political and intelligence communities to focus on ethical issues."—International Journal of Intelligence Ethics


"The presentation of issues is clear, the analysis of opposing views is searching, and the engagement between them is both thoughtful and candid. Far from a sterile textbook survey, this is a model of careful and honest dialogue, generating lively heat while shedding fresh light."—Nigel Biggar , professor of theology and ethics, Trinity College Dublin

"Engaging, highly readable, literally conversational...in touch with the conversation its readers will carry out inside themselves....I do not know of a more readable text on the topic, or a text so current, or such a mutually respectful conversation and debate on the topic."—Glen H. Stassen, Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics, Fuller Theological Seminary

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