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Ergun Mehmet Caner and Emir Fethi Caner: Christian Jihad


Theologically, Caner and Caner make their case in Appendix A through an overview of the classical Christian doctrine of “just war” initiated by Augustine and developed further by Aquinas. They defend the right of nations to go to war, in carefully qualified cases, and of Christians to thus serve in positions of military and civic responsibility. They support the recent war in Afghanistan and Iraq, reminding us that they have relatives in those places being offered unprecedented freedom. Perhaps that is a much-needed perspective for balancing out some of the mainstream media’s biased reporting!

The Caners distinguish between pacifism, just war, and holy war/jihad. Pacifism fails, they think, because it will not work in a fallen world. Holy war/jihad, war for religious purposes offering fighters eternal salvation in reward, is both blasphemous and disastrous. The just war doctrine allows for the necessities of nations, including self-defense or rescue of oppressed others, but guards against abuse and excess. Following Caner and Caner as they explicate the concept of just war and establish principles of discernment regarding religion and violence alone is worth the price of the book. They make a good case with perhaps one exception: they do not really address the tendency of people and nations to unjustly justify their warlike actions, that is, to manipulate conditions to match the just war criteria (cf. Lu 10:29; 16:15).

Early Pentecostalism had a certain pacifist strain but the movement has not historically maintained a strong pacifist stance. Some may see this as compromise to cultural mores and others as a natural and necessary move toward more centrist values. Strict pacifism aside, many Pentecostal/charismatics are recognizing the need for more social and political involvement, almost inevitably leading to conflicting concepts of war and peace. Witness the recent organization of The Pentecostal Charismatic Peace Fellowship (see In another example, on the third anniversary of September 11, 2001, I was the only Pentecostal in a group including Jewish, Christian, and Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Sikh representatives. We met in New York City and hammered out a statement for a joint press release condemning religion-related violence. Such events are admittedly a small start but they are a step in the right direction. An important Evangelical work, Christian Jihad by Caner and Caner is a book bound to be of help in the process of clarifying one’s views on religious violence. It is highly recommended.

Reviewed by Tony Richie


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Category: Living the Faith, Summer 2006

About the Author: Tony Richie, D.Min, Ph.D., is missionary teacher at SEMISUD (Quito, Ecuador) and adjunct professor at the Pentecostal Theological Seminary (Cleveland, TN). Dr. Richie is an Ordained Bishop in the Church of God, and Senior Pastor at New Harvest in Knoxville, TN. He has served the Society for Pentecostal Studies as Ecumenical Studies Interest Group Leader and is currently Liaison to the Interfaith Relations Commission of the National Council of Churches (USA), and represents Pentecostals with Interreligious Dialogue and Cooperation of the World Council of Churches and the Commission of the Churches on International Affairs. He is the author of Speaking by the Spirit: A Pentecostal Model for Interreligious Dialogue (Emeth Press, 2011) and Toward a Pentecostal Theology of Religions: Encountering Cornelius Today (CPT Press, 2013) as well as several journal articles and books chapters on Pentecostal theology and experience.

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