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Blessed are the Pacifists: the Beatitudes and Just War Theory

, by Thomas Trzyna. Herald Press, 2006. Review by Claire Evans.

Most readers of Signs of the Times will not need another book to convince them that wars fought by the U.S. in the past half century do not meet the criteria of the Just War Theory. If you do need to be reminded of that theory’s eight principles and how the U.S. role in the two Iraq wars, Vietnam, and even World War II did not measure up, Trzyna will tell you that. More valuable and compelling, however, is his analysis of the Beatitudes and his assertion that they unequivocally form the centerpiece of Jesus’ call to engaged nonviolence. Trzyna, an English professor at Seattle Pacific University, points out that the word “blessed” – so troublingly rendered as “happy” in some translations – likely has the same root in English as “bloodied.” This “suggests that the condition of being blessed is to be bloodied in some sense, as in ‘bloodied but unbowed’” – a concept that resonates with CPT’s sense of costly peacemaking. Writing from outside the historic peace church tradition, Trzyna declares that the Gospel is a manual for life, and the Beatitudes are the heart of the gospel. Not just theory or good words, but “practical wisdom that must be applied now.” It’s a good book. Beware, though. It may demand more of you than the few hours of your time it takes to read the mere 136 pages.

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