Christian Pacifism against C.S. Lewis

on September 5, 2012

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By Mark Tooley 

Stanley Hauerwas of Duke University, America’s most influential Christian pacifist, has a new article respectfully critiquing famed Christian apologist C.S. Lewis’s support for Just War. The piece is worth reading both because Hauerwas is guru to so many clergy and because few pacifists in the church have the verve to challenge Lewis so directly.

Hauerwas recounts Lewis’s service in World War I, in which he was wounded, and his support for Britain’s role in World War II. He emphasizes the former, which includes Lewis’ horror of what he saw and experienced. Not as much does Hauerwas describe and challenge Lewis on WWII, for which Lewis was a thoughtfully ardent enthusiast. Instead he cites Lewis’s discomfort during WWII over a clergyman’s citation in public prayer of the nation’s stance as “righteous,” which Lewis thought presumptuous. But in fact Lewis did think British resistance to Hitlerism was quite righteous. And perhaps Hauerwas is more comfortable in addressing WWI, in which the consequences of Allied defeat were not as morally dramatic as in WWII.

In his 1940 talk, “Why I Am Not a Pacifist,” on which Hauerwas focuses, Lewis speculated on the unpleasantness of a “Germanized” Europe absent Allied resistance in 1914. How much more Lewis must have believed so later in WWII when the full horrors of Nazism were unveiled.

Read more here.

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