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Non-Violent Action

Author: Ronald Sider
Published By: Brazos Press (Grand Rapids, Michigan)
Pages: 191
Price: £12.99
ISBN: 978 1 58743 366 5

Reviewed by Alun Brookfield.

As a young convert to the Christian faith in the 1970s, Ron Sider’s Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger challenged and changed my sense of global morality, so I was delighted to have the chance to review this, his latest book. With the subtitle “What Christian ethics demands, but most Christians have never tried”, I expected a solid, and biblically rooted, argument in favour of non-violent action.

Sadly, I was disappointed. This book consists almost entirely of the history of occasions when non-violent action actually worked. All very well, and informative, but, with no examples of when non-violent action didn’t work (and surely there must be plenty!), I found the book hard going. Interesting though the narrative is, as a believer in non-violent action, I craved more analysis, more reflection on why non-violence is often effective and why on some occasions it isn’t. I finally got some on pp.157-162, and on pp.172-173, but that was it.

I’m glad this book was written – we need to have the historical narrative to remind us of the many times when non-violent action has worked in both distant and recent past – but I doubt if this book would convince, say, the UK parliament to vote in favour of non-violent action against Daesh. Anecdotal evidence is good, but we also need hard, theological, rational argument alongside it.

Alun Brookfield

Editor of Ministry Today

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You are reading Issue 66 of Ministry Today, published in March 2016.

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