Review Of "The Gods Of War: Is Religion The Primary Cause Of Violent Conflict?" By M. Pearse

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Pearse (Houghton College; Why the Rest Hates the West, 2004) succeeds in showing that religion was rarely the primary cause of war, but argues that religion as a part of culture can be used to justify many kinds of war. His range is enormous: ancient, medieval, and modern history, biblical exegesis, just war theory, pacifism, Islam, Christianity, communism. Sections on the roles of "tribal Gods" in Serbia, Russia, and England are very good. However, the book is flawed by Pearse's complaints against secularism and multiculturalism. He insists that only religion can protect the sanctity of life against atheism and agnosticism. When Christianity supported or justified war, this was not true Christianity. On Islam, his conclusion is the opposite. Pearse blames the four most costly wars (WW I and II, the T'ai-ping rebellion, and the Communist revolution in Russia) on modernist secularist ideologies. Yet the T'ai-pings were not secular, and the strongest opponents of early-1914 European militarism were the secular socialists of France, Britain, and Germany, as contrasted with professedly Christian monarchs of Europe. This book will appeal to evangelical Christians who share the author's biases, but others will find it difficult to separate the sound scholarship in several chapters from Pearse's theological beliefs. Seminary libraries only. Summing Up: Not recommended.


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