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Fall 1987 · Vol. 16 No. 2 · pp. 73–74 

Book Review

The Power of the Lamb

ed. John E. Toews and Gordon Nickel. Winnipeg, MB and Hillsboro, KS: Kindred, 1986. 183 pages.

Reviewed by Duane K. Friesen

The Power of the Lamb is a collection of essays by leaders in the Mennonite Brethren Church on the biblical and church teaching on the issue of peace. The book is a response to “a request for clearer and more systematic teaching on the peace position” that grew out of the 1980 Minneapolis conference of United States churches.

The book is organized as a study guide for churches (it is divided into thirteen short chapters of about 10 pages each) and is written in a style that is readable by lay people. The book includes an appendix of Mennonite Brethren statements on war and peace in North America since 1902.

The chapters bring together biblical, historical and theological reflections. John Toews writes three chapters on the New Testament basis of peacemaking, and Elmer Martens two on the Old Testament. John Fast’s chapter surveys the various positions on war and peace throughout church history. Mervin Dick has two chapters on the Anabaptists, while Henry Schmidt surveys Mennonite Brethren history. Howard Loewen engages the just war position in two chapters. And Wesley Prieb concludes with a creative essay which uses the image of the power of the lamb to contrast with “tiger power.”

The biblical chapters rightly view the teaching on peace not as something optional in a Christian understanding, but as central to the Christian life and mission in the world. The chapters on the Old Testament creatively explore the central role of the peace theme in what is often assumed to be a more militarist document.

The chapters on just war appropriately criticize the theory, but do not adequately recognize the positive role of just war thinking. For example, could one sustain the statement on page 110: “Never has a body of bishops or official denominational body officially condemned a war?” The principle of noncombatant immunity needs to be stated more clearly: that the deaths of noncombatants should never be directly intended.

As a whole the book does not explore enough the central {74} connection of peace to justice in the Bible and the positive role Christians can play in the world in working together with other Christians in the struggle for justice. I highly recommend the book to churches for study.

Duane K. Friesen
Professor of Bible and Religion
Bethel College
N. Newton, Kansas

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