The argument the author makes is amazingly naive. For example, he writes, "Human beings cannot be expected to survive in a political system meant for angels, nor is there any biblical warrant for them to attempt such a system." By this he is referring to pacifism, but it is entirely unclear where he is pulling the idea that peace is an angelic ideal, not a human one.
At one point he examines what he calls the "failure of pacifism" from several points of view: facts, intuition, reasoning, and authority. Take a look at some of his points.
"Intuition provides a stronger case for pacifism. We seem to feel very strongly that love and helping are good, while hate and harming are bad. What this intuition fails to tell us, however, is how we are to love and help the innocent who are being treated unjustly by the wicked without using force on the wicked. So intuition in this case leads us astray because it does not see (not immediately at least) what reason sees: that you can love and use force at the same time."
First, the author is supposed to be demonstrating the failure of pacifism under the criterion of "intuition." How does he do so? He states upfront that intuition seems to support pacifism. Then, he goes on to abandon intuition altogether and judge intuition's conclusion by reason. How does this demonstrate pacifism's failure using intuition as a criterion? It doesn't. If anything, this demonstrates pacifism victory on the grounds of intuition, and reason's failure to support our intuition. If our reason goes against our intuition, this author directs readers to jettison their intuition entirely. However, it could just as easily be argued that the author's "reason" or "logic" is just as much an "intuition," since the instinct that killing is not love certainly has a "logical" and "reasonable" grounding.
"Authority, too, is against the pacifist. Every human society has said that some wars are good and that every citizen benefits from some wars (most obviously, wars of self-defense). The Christian tradition since the fourth century has declared that some wars are good.
Yes, opinion was divided in the first two centuries, but not nearly as much as popular opinion would have us believe. The first Christians were held in suspicion by the Roman authorities, and, to make matters worse, participation in the Roman army meant engaging in pagan rites such as emperor-worship. But we find little evidence of the earliest Christians rejecting military service on account of a moral aversion to bloodshed. Most of the early church fathers who speak on the subject of just war speak with approval.
In fact, the 'pros' clearly have it over the 'cons.' Clement of Alexandria, Origen (who was unique in limiting Christian support to prayer for the troops to succeed), Eusebius, Basil, Ambrose, Chrysostom, and Augustine all admit to the goodness and usefulness of just wars. Only Tertullian can be listed on the pacifist side. The great early Reformers, such as Tyndale, Luther, and Calvin, were all proponents of the just war. Only the radical reformers rejected the notion of a just war."
Second, the author scrutinizes pacifism under the criterion of "authority." Of course, what the author means by authority is unclear. Apparently, he appeals to history as authority rather than Scripture. Not a single verse is cited. And even the author's use of Church Fathers is amateurish at best. The fact that he begins his case for the Church's support of war with a statement that starts this support in the "fourth century" and only claims "some" wars are good, does not make a strong case. The obvious questions this statement begs are: What about the preceding centuries, closer to the time of Christ? And, if all wars have not been good, which wars were not good? The author does not answer the second question, and misrepresents the facts to address the first. He claims that there is a lack of evidence in support of Christian nonviolence before the fourth century, and that more early church fathers supported a concept of just war than were opposed. In fact, he counts Origen as a supporter of war because he taught that we should pray for soldiers. However, he erroneously adds that Origen taught we should pray for soldiers' victory in battle. In contrast, Origen argues that if, as Celsus hypothetically pondered, all Romans were Christians, then war would be unnecessary because through prayer God would destroy Rome's enemies.
"We say that if two of us agree upon earth concerning anything that they shall ask, they shall receive it from the heavenly Father of the righteous... For they will pray to the Word, who said of old to the Hebrews when they were pursued by the Egyptians: ‘The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall be silent’; and, praying with all concord, they will be able to overthrow far more enemies who pursue them than those whom the prayers of Moses—when he cried to God—and of those with him overthrew...But if, according to Celsus’ supposition, all the Romans were to be persuaded, they will by praying overcome their enemies; or (rather) they will not make war at all, being guarded by the Divine Power, which promised to save five whole cities for the sake of fifty righteous. For the men of God are the salt that preserves the early order of the world; the earthly things hold together (only) as long as the salt is not corrupted."
- Against Celsus, 8.70
Furthermore, the author claims that opinions differ on the early church's stance toward war before Constantine. However, the only detractor from the overwhelming consensus is himself. Cadoux writes,
"The early Christians took Jesus at his word, and understood his inculcations of gentleness and non-resistence in their literal sense. The closely identified their religion with peace; they strongly condemned war for the bloodshed which it involved; they appropriated to themselves the Old Testament prophesy which foretold the transformation of the weapons of war into the implements of agriculture; they declared that it was their policy to return good for evil and to conquer evil with good."
- John C. Cadoux, The Early Christian Attitude to War: A Contribution to the History of Christian Ethics, 245.
Finally, the authors' implementation of reason as a demonstration of pacifism's failure is perhaps the most disturbing. His reasoning proceeds thusly:
1) Pacifists take Jesus' nonviolence teachings at "face value."
2) This is clearly a mistake because we don't take other teachings of Jesus literally (e.g. selling all our possessions to give to the poor, and not burying family members.)
3) Thankfully, Paul and Peter show us that what Jesus meant was not to exact vengeance.
"Reason is clearly against the pacifist on all fronts, except, perhaps, one: the teaching of Jesus that one should “turn the other cheek” (Matt. 5:39). Lewis readily admits that it is hard to deal with people who base their entire theology on a few verses—this in itself seems to go against reason—but he does have a response. If we are going to take all of Jesus’ commands at face value, then pacifists should also sell all their goods and give them to the poor. They should also quit burying their loved ones (“leave the dead to bury the dead,” Matt. 8:22).
Fortunately, we have the Apostle Paul to help us here. When Jesus tells us to turn our cheeks when struck, he means that we should not retaliate out of vengeance. We leave vengeance to God, who works his vengeance on the evildoer through the State’s use of the sword. Christians are called upon to support the State, which has been ordained by God just for the purpose of using the sword to establish and maintain justice (Rom. 12–13). This better accords with the rest of the New Testament—not to mention the Old Testament, where God commands killing on quite a number of occasions! Pacifist logic leads us to say that Paul, Peter, and the writer of Hebrews (who, in the eleventh chapter, commends to Christians as people worthy of imitation those Old Testament warriors who waged war for justice) all misunderstood the teachings of Jesus."
The author's hermeneutics are pathetic. Placing the saying "let the dead bury their own dead" in the same category as "love your enemies" is intellectually dishonest. Jesus clearly mourns the death of Lazerus, to the point of shedding tears for him—knowing full well that he would be raised to life. Furthermore, it is clear from the context that Jesus' hyperbole was meant to emphasize the urgency and unrelenting resolve discipleship and Kingdom citizenship demand. It is comparable to Christ's hyperbolic teaching to cut off offending body parts. Christ's command to love our enemies is not at all hyperbolic. God loves his enemies. Godliness requires that we act in accordance with the divine nature.
It is also important to note that Romans 12 contains stark examples of Paul's full acceptance of Christ's nonviolent ethic. This includes the command to "Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse" (v.14) as well as "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." (v.18) If we are commanded to bless our enemies and live at peace with them as far as it depends on us, then we have no justification for violence. This sets the stage for Paul's comments about living under worldly governments. We must never think that ours is a role in society of exacting judgment. Rather, ours is a role of peace, reflecting the Kingdom of God where swords will be beaten into plows.