In a recent ABC News opinion piece, the esteemed professor of ethics at Duke University, Stanley Hauerwas, addresses the subject of the popular British Christian author C. S. Lewis and his position on war. Hauerwas begins his essay, titled, “Nonviolent Narnia: Could C. S. Lewis Have Imagined a World Without War?”

Many people are Christians because of the work of C.S. Lewis. With wit and wisdom, Lewis imaginatively exploded the hollow pretensions of the secular. More, he helped many for the first time see the world in the light of fact that “it had really happened once.”

It is, therefore, not easy to criticize Lewis when he has such a devoted following. Yet I must write critically of Lewis because here I want to examine his views concerning violence and war.

I am a pacifist. Lewis was anything but a pacifist. I want to show that his arguments against pacifism are inadequate, but I also that he provides imaginative resources for Christians to imagine a very different form of Christian nonviolence, a form unknown to Lewis, with which I hope he might have had some sympathy.

Before turning to Lewis’s arguments against pacifism, I think it important to set the context for his more formal reflections on war by calling attention to Lewis’s experience of war.

Those who are regular readers of know of my position on war and violence and that it aligns rather closely with Hauerwas’s. I think it is interesting to take a look at some of the most popular “Christian” literature in the English language and examine it from the perspective of Christian nonviolence.

Click here to continue reading the full-text…

Photo: Duke University

1 Comment

  1. I think every rational person wishes for a world without war, and I sincerely detest violence. Nevertheless, I have not yet found a pacifist who has articulated reasonable ways to respond to many of the world’s problems. For example, after sanctions failed to save lives in Darfur, what non-military intervention would have resolved the problem? On 911, what non-violent resolution should have been used on Flight 93 when the passengers knew for certain that the plane they were on was going to be used as a weapon? Normally, these questions are just deflected with statements like, “Oh, the more important question for us to ponder is, ‘In what ways have we created an environment in which people hurt others?'”. That question is certainly important, but it is merely a way of sidestepping a very difficult reality.

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