The Christian and Warfare
Jacob J. Enz. Scottdale, PA: Herald, 1972. 95 pages.
Professor of Old Testament at Mennonite Biblical Seminary, Elkhart, Enz traces major biblical themes in both Old and New Testaments in reference to the theology of peace. The key, he feels, is to see the impact of the incarnation, in which “we find the basis of loving God and neighbour as himself. . .The refusal to take the life of another. . .is the inescapable essence of Christianity’s most distinctive and foundational conviction—the incarnation” (pp. 62, 63).
He also points out how the New Testament writers took phrases from the two strong Messianic psalms (2 and 110) and turned the militaristic metaphors into a “pacifist news story” (p. 91).
One wishes Enz would have given more attention to the specific wars of the Old Testament and the sense in which they were “commanded”; was the nature of the command a functional misunderstanding on the part of the people? All he says of the wars is contained on one page, where he points out that this “sometimes involved complete destruction of the foe in a kind of sacrifice” (p. 52). The concept of ‘cherem’ is not entirely unambiguous when applied to Davidic wars, which had no prophetic (known) utterance against them.
Enz’s book remains a careful theological treatment of biblical themes that takes seriously the Reformational hermeneutic seeing the relation of Old and New Testaments as lying in the latter’s being the culmination of—and successor to—the former.