(Click Here to Read my Redeemed Natures Series from the start)
There are a few books that I would recommend to you for different reasons and different purposes. Some of these will be an easier read than others, but I think they will serve you well. I have not read every book in the field, so please take that into consideration, but these are the books that I would recommend to you after reading them myself. I don’t necessarily agree with these authors 100% in every area, but overall, I am thankful for their contribution to this field of study.
If my book was the first book that you have read on the subject, and you would like a second step in the direction of going through the Old Testament, I recommend:
Fight: A Christian Case for Non-Violence
-Preston Sprinkle, David C. Cook Publishing 2013.
Preston is an evangelical/reformed minister who came to Nonviolence later in life through his study of the Scriptures. I really appreciate his contribution to the discussion because his approach to the bible is something that is needed. He attacks the hard questions, and goes into more depth than I could in my own writing. Too many nonviolent writings and spokespeople stop at Jesus, but unfortunately, more people need more of a defense for a radical idea besides Christ’s words.
He might push you to think in new ways, and you may not agree with his approach in some things, but I truly appreciate his writings, transparency, and in standing for nonviolence in the evangelical area of the Church.
Preston also blogs at “Theology In The Raw” on Patheos, and has a podcast by the same name.
If my book was the first book you’ve read on the subject, and you’d like another book to read that hones in more on Christ’s teachings and example, and how that is in contrast with the world, I recommend:
A Farewell to Mars: An Evangelical Pastor’s Journey Toward the Biblical Gospel of Peace
-Brian Zahnd, David C. Cook Publishing 2014
Like Preston Sprinkle, Brian Zahnd is an evangelical pastor who also came to nonviolence later in life through his own study of the Scriptures. Zahnd even writes about how he used to preach in favor of our nation’s wars, and told of how his nationalism/patriotism affected his theology. I liked his contribution because it shows the contrast between this radical teaching of Christ, and the world’s ideas of justice.
For those who really want to dig deeper in this field of study on a more intellectual level, I would recommend the following books:
The War of the Lamb: The Ethics of Nonviolence and Peacemaking
John Howard Yoder, Brazos Press 2009
What Would You Do?
John Howard Yoder, Herald Press 2012
John Howard Yoder is a big name in the nonviolence field of study; particularly among Mennonites. Yoder contributed well-thought out and well-backed up arguments to the discussion, and his legacy continues. The first book is a good summary of his beliefs on nonviolence as it’s a collection of essays and other writings placed together in a coherent order. The second book is the theologian’s response to the famous situational ethics question that so many raise.
A quick note for transparency’s sake: John Howard Yoder was accused of sexually abusing, harassing, and assaulting women during his time as a professor. He was never tried for his crimes, but was eventually placed under church discipline. In short, I cannot recommend the Man to you, but I maintain that the writings which the flawed man produced are valuable.
For those who enjoyed the chapter on the early church and nonviolence, I completely recommend picking up a copy of the source book that I used:
The Early Church on Killing:
A Comprehensive Sourcebook on War, Abortion, and Capital Punishment
Ronald J. Sider, Baker Academic 2012
If you are looking for even more examples of how the early church viewed the issue of killing/military service, Sider’s book is truly a masterpiece that anyone studying the subject should pick up. I also really appreciated the holistic scope of the book in also including early church father quotes on abortion and infanticide.
To learn more about religious Conscientious Objectors who refused to fight because of their faith, I would recommend:
Peace Was in Their Hearts: Conscientious Objectors in World War II
Richard C. Anderson, Correlan Publications 1994
As someone whose Grandfathers on both sides served in CPS out of a religious objection to war, I believe it is important to learn from these men who stood for nonviolence when everyone else told them that the needed to fight.
From a secular and historical perspective on the idea and movements of nonviolence, I would recommend:
Nonviolence: The History of a Dangerous Idea
Mark Kurlansky, Modern Library 2009
I appreciated that the author, a journalist who has written on a variety of subjects, took to writing about nonviolence; he showed how various faiths have accepted it, and his coverage on Christianity was good in that an outsider saw how a strict following of Jesus’ teachings would necessitate an abandon of violence.
There obviously other books to look at and read, but the ones I recommended here should be a good start to you if you would like to continue your own study. I would also recommend steeping yourself in the Gospels, and studying how Christ interacted with others, what he taught, what he did, and how his followers followed him.