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Disciple of Peace: Alexander Campbell on Pacifism, Violence and the State [Paperback]

By Craig M. Watts (Author)
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Item Specifications...

Pages   165
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.38" Width: 5.54" Height: 0.36"
Weight:   0.45 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Oct 1, 2005
Publisher   Doulos Christou Press
ISBN  0974479683  
EAN  9780974479682  

Availability  0 units.

Item Description...
In DISCIPLE OF PEACE, Craig Watts offers the most comprehensive study ever done on the pacifism of Alexander Campbell. Watts not only provides a detailed examination of Campbell's pacifist thought, he sets it in the broader context of the antebellum American peace movement, showing that this towering figure was neither isolated nor idiosyncratic in his thinking. Campbell offered an important challenge to the religious world of the 19th century. Watts ably conveys Campbell's challenge to Christians facing war and violence in our time.

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Reviews - What do our customers think?
Disciple Of Peace was quite a surprise for me. In 1986 and 1987 I served as youth minister for Coachella Valley Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and I had a good grasp of the hawkish mind-set of that particular congregation. I was quite sure that Alexander Campbell, to whom the Disciples of Christ trace their origins, was himself a "hawk" given the pro-war stance of everyone I had known at CVCC. Also, I was baptized thirty-four years ago by a Church of Christ youth minister by the name of Craig Watts, the man who would one day author this book. Being therefore aware of the pacifist stance of Craig Watts, I thought his views were merely a fluke; that they did not reflect the views of Campbell because they did not reflect the views of the Church of Christ nor the Disciples of Christ which I had experience with. I was correct that pacifism is generally not the stance of those who trace their denominational origins back to the ministry of Alexander Campbell, but utterly wrong in my assumptions about Campbell himself. Campbell was, I'm happy to say, not the man I thought he was and the convictions of Dr. Craig M. Watts are no fluke. They mirror the heart and soul of a very peaceable spirit, that of Alexander Campbell.

War is at the very heart of the territorial and predatory nature of the human beast and it takes very little to provoke that beast to bare its fangs and talons. Human history is a gory testament to that ugly fact. Craig Watts has revealed an aspect of Alexander Campbell that was very much in defiance of the status-quo knee-jerk hawkishness that characterizes much of Christendom. Alexander Campbell was indeed a Disciple of Peace, as Craig Watts makes very clear in this lucid and highly readable, very engaging book.

Watts has not written a dull dry tome, not at all. I'm no longer involved with churches that trace their origins to the ministry of Alexander Campbell, yet even so I found Disciple of Peace a fascinating investigation. Watts has not given us a bald flat statement of Campbell's views, but instead takes us on a journey of discovery, a discovery of the evolution and maturation of Campbell's convictions on war. I found myself thinking, "Why isn't the mind of Alexander Campbell on this issue common knowledge and normative teaching among his spiritual heirs?" Why indeed. The reader is also treated to the views of Campbell on Eschatology and Christian relations with the secular state as they relate to pacifism, as well as his views on slavery and civil disobedience. One sees pacifism as integral to the very weave of Campbell's understanding of the Kingdom of God, a foundation stone of his Ecclesiology.

Chapter Three, Campbell's Eschatology and His Pacifist Ethics, really gets to the heart of what made Campbell "tick" so to speak, so I found it especially enjoyable. Also, I found Watts' rapidly moving discussion of the thorny and complicated issue of capital punishment as it relates to pacifism very thought provoking, causing me to reexamine my own convictions on this matter.

I felt a great deal of empathy with and sympathy for Campbell in his futile attempts to elucidate a clear, consistent, and compelling Christian position on slavery, because the NT itself is inconsistent and even contradictory on this issue. At least, that is my own deduction from my own attempts in this area of thought.

Campbell was certainly not an irresponsible rebel, but held very strong--perhaps overly so--convictions as to the necessity of Christian obedience to the State. As Watts states on page 97, "In his determined defense of full compliance with the law, Campbell violated his own dispensational principles of biblical interpretation. He chose Biblicist rigidity over the spirit of the scripture teachings, especially evident with his use of the Golden Rule. In the end, he opted for law and order over justice. How ironic it seems--at least from a twenty first century perspective--that the next year as he was singing the praises of Protestantism before the Philo-Literary Society of Canonsburg College in Pennsylvania, Campbell declared. `There is a moral heroism in non-conformity to unjust laws and unholy requirements.' " Even on the issue of slavery, however, it's clear that Campbell's heart was in the right place regardless of what his head told him.

The inclusion of Campbell's "Address On War" at the conclusion of the book is a treat. I came away with an understanding of and appreciation for why men and women were inspired to follow Alexander Campbell. He was a complex man living in complex times not unlike our own, and his thoughts are far from simplistic. The "Restorationist Movement" has a much more colorful history than I had supposed, as well as being far more intellectual in nature than I had surmised. It's nothing at all like the emotionalism of American revivalism. Campbell causes the reader to confront the stark contradiction between the life and teachings of Jesus Christ and the un-Christ like teachings and actions of those who merely profess to follow the Prince of Peace.

Disciple of Peace is not merely a cogent apologetic for Christian pacifism, it is especially a challenge to the spiritual heirs of Campbell: The Disciples of Christ and the Church of Christ, and by extension to the entirety of Christendom. Whether by design or by accident the truly Christ-like pacifist convictions of Alexander Campbell have apparently been all but forgotten, or at least shunted aside, by the rank-and-file of his spiritual heirs. That truly is a tragedy; because save for the voice of Jesus Christ Himself, Christian history is shockingly lacking in that Christ-like Spirit of Peace. The voice of Alexander Campbell is truly a voice calling out in the wilderness.

Thank you Dr. Watts for such an insightful and enjoyable book. I both hope and pray Disciple Of Peace becomes highly influential among the spiritual children of Alexander Campbell, and from thence to the wider Christian world.


An important and timely discussion   Mar 11, 2006
I've read Watts' Disciple of Peace, parts of it several times. I hope a lot of other people will read it as well. The topic is undeniably important and Alexander Campbell's position deserves careful consideration by all of us who are part of the great movement he helped start and by others as well. There is too much ill-considered -and unbiblical-thinking on the subject of war. Watts discusses the influences that helped shape Campbell's position, the scriptural foundation of his views, and related topics like church-state relations, civil disobedience and capital punishment. The chapter on how pacifism comes into play in relation to Campbell's eschatology is especially insightful. The final chapter, "A Future for a Pacifist Past" offers some criticisms of shortcomings and inconsistencies in Campbell's thinking and offers a well-reasoned constructive proposal that preserves the strengths and avoids the weaknesses in Campbell's position regarding war and peace. This book deserves a place high on your reading list.

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