Christian Nonviolence: An Incomplete List of Recources on Biblical Pacifism

Menno Simons
Image via Wikipedia

Rhett asked me today about books I’ve found helpful on the subject of Christian nonviolence, which reminded me that I had planned on doing a post about some of my favorite books on the subject for quite some time. Here’s a list of books I recommend on the subject, they are in no particular order other. If you have your own favorites please post them below.

  1. A Declaration on Peace: In God’s People The World’s Renewal Has Begun by Douglas Gwyn, George Hunsinger, Eugene F Roop, and John Howard Yoder. A book focused on an ecumenical dialogue between Brethren, Quakers, Mennonites, and the Fellowship of Reconciliation. Discusses not just pacifism but a “renewed vision of the entire purpose of God in the world.”
  2. Biblical Pacifism by Dale W. Brown. This book covers important biblical passages on peace.
  3. Binding the Strong Man by Ched Myers. A very helpful commentary on the Gospel of Mark which looks at the nonviolence of Jesus.
  4. Transforming the Powers: Peace, Justice and the Domination System edited by Ray Gingerich and Ted Grimsrud. A collection of theological and ethical essays rooted in Walter Wink’s idea that “the powers are good; the powers are fallen; the powers must be redeemed.” Among other things the book looks at how the powers might be redeemed through the nonviolence of Jesus.
  5. Jesus and Nonviolence by Walter Wink. A small yet very influential book on understanding Jesus as a nonviolent revolutionary. Walter Wink’s trilogy on the powers including “Engaging the Powers” also cover these issues.
  6. The Peaceable Kingdom by Stanely Hauerwas. Christian Ethics rooted in how the church is to live as an alternative peaceable community in the world.
  7. Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context by Glen H. Stassen and David P. Gushee. Stassen and Gushee base their ethics in the Sermon on the Mount and the “transforming initiatives of Jesus,” then move on to look at key ethical questions from war, to abortion, euthanasia, gender roles, marriage, etc.
  8. Peace by Walter Brueggemann. An Old Testament look at the shalom of God.
  9. What About Hitler? Wrestling with Jesus’s Call to Nonviolence in an Evil World by Robert W. Brimlow. Among the many questions pacifists get asked is What About Hitler? Brimlow tackles this question head on and does so with a thorough use of Scripture.
  10. What Would You Do? If a violent person threatened to harm a loved one by John Howard Yoder. In this short collection of essays a number of authors look at hypothetical questions in ethics and other ways to respond to violence.
  11. Nevertheless: Varieties of Religious Pacifism by John Howard Yoder. Yoder dispels the myth that there is only one version of pacifism by explaining the nineteen different versions of nonviolence throughout history.
  12. The Politics of Jesus by John Howard Yoder. The most important book written on the nonviolence of Jesus in recent history Yoder shows that Jesus’ nonviolence was not simply a personal piety but the very political character of the kingdom Jesus announced and enacted.
  13. Strength of Love by Martin Luther King Jr.  This is a short book of King’s sermons all profoundly moving and deeply committed to nonviolence.

If you just want a couple of the basics I would recommend these three: The Politics of Jesus, Jesus and Nonviolence, The Peaceable Kingdom.

Edited: April 6th 6:40am

23 responses to “Christian Nonviolence: An Incomplete List of Recources on Biblical Pacifism”

  1. I heart you Wess 😉

    Awesome list…

    That's probably why when I interviewed you people didn't know how to respond. I think many Christians when faced with the possibility of living out an alternative ethic, and in fact, see others doing it…are speechless.

    nice work…you continue to influence me greatly.


  2. "Exclusion & Embrace" by Miroslav Volf

    "Justice and Only Justice" by Naim Stifan Ateek which is less of a summa on non-violence than a commentary on the "other" side of violence in the Middle East.


  3. I love Exclusion and Embrace. I'm not a pacifist, but have been influenced by many who are, and Exclusion is perhaps the book that has brought me closest to that view. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it.

  4. 1. G.H.C. Macgregor, The New Testament Basis of Pacifism. Absolutely fundamental, if a bit dated (originally published in 1936)

    2. John Lamoreau and Ralph Beebe, Waging Peace: A Study in Biblical Pacifism. Actually a 62-page pamphlet-type publication. An excellent summary, from a Christian Quaker perspective (Ralph Beebe is a retired history prof at George Fox U., and uncle of Gayle Beebe).

    3. Daniel L. Smith-Christopher, Jonah, Jesus, and Other Good Coyotes: Speaking Peace to Power in the Bible. A fresh and original approach — recognizing that the Bible is actually an ongoing dialog among contrasting voices — a dialogue that continues for us to enter today.


  5. Daniel – I would add Jesus and the nonviolent revolution by Andre Trocme. Trocme was a pastor in a French village during WW2 and lived what he preached. This is Walter Wink's endorsement of the book.
    "One of the most important writings on nonviolence ever penned. Trocme not only lays out his principles with astonishing clarity, but he lived them out at great risk. I can think of no better place to begin the study of this timely subject."

  6. Hey Wess, I don't know if you'll still see this as this conversation appears to be dead, but I wanted to mention Richard Hays's Moral Vision of the New Testament. For my money this is the best exegetical argument for pacifism.