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Fall 1989 · Vol. 18 No. 2 · pp. 119–20 

Book Review

The World at War, the Church at Peace: A Biblical Perspective

Jon Bonk. Winnipeg, MB and Hillsboro, KS: Kindred, 1988. 85 pages.

Reviewed by Marlin Adrian

This brief 13-week study of biblical peacemaking is a collection of Sunday school handouts prepared by Jon Bonk, Missions Professor at Winnipeg Bible College and Theological Seminary and a minister at the Evangelical Mennonite Church in Kleefeld, Manitoba. Asserting that “each generation must examine the Scriptures carefully” in order to strengthen “noble traditions” and modify or correct the “dubious ones,” Bonk attempts through these lessons to promote a greater understanding of and commitment to “biblical non-resistance.” Bonk argues “that it is wrong for God’s people today to destroy the life of another person.” He bases his study on the suppositions that the arena of human conflict is merely a shadow of the cosmological conflict between God and Satan, and, that the position of the Church is “in the world, but not of the world.” These assumptions are classic expressions of the “anabaptist” world view.

Although Bonk identifies the central argument as the taking of human life, his fundamental concern is clearly the role of the Christian in relation to the State, particularly in time of conflict. Bonk directs his review of the Old and New Testaments, the Early Church, and the major traditions of the Reformation toward the question of whether Christians should participate in war. Little or no space is given to personal violence and conflict resolution. Personal and social issues are treated as if they were one and the same.

The biggest problem with this book is the organization of material. The historical discussion begins with the Early {120} Church and then reaches back through the Scriptures. Next, Bonk addresses the subject of “the Christian and the State” from a New Testament perspective. He follows this with a brief synopsis of the attitudes on this subject by major Christian traditions during the Reformation period. I realize that this is a collection of lessons, but one expects a logical and clear presentation in a book designed for Sunday school use. Everything about this volume, from its multitude of blank pages at the end to its glaring lack of an index, indicates a hurried production. A little extra effort would have made this a significantly more useful resource.

Marlin Adrian is a student in the Religious Studies Department of the University of Virginia.

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