Anarchy and Apocalypse: Essays on Faith, Violence and Theodicy (Wipf & Stock / Cascade Books, 2010)

Anarchy and Apocalypse Cover“This book is a bracing read for anyone trying to make sense of Christian witness in a violent world. Osborn ranges both widely and deeply, connecting insights from theology, history, literature, and political science in startling and inventive ways. He shows how violence creates its own momentum, and offers a wide range of resources for countering that momentum. Anyone interested in living creatively in a destructive world will benefit from this book. It is the kind of book that has the power to transform lives.”

William T. Cavanaugh, Professor of Catholic Studies, DePaul University, author of The Myth of Religious Violence

“Rich in subject matter and argument.  There is a stringency in Osborn’s thinking that is prophetic and liberating.  The collection consists of eleven essays published over a dozen years in a variety of journals and online publications. The chapters vary in length and theme and are, without exception, personal—that is, never mere academic exercises.  They reveal Osborn’s intellectual and spiritual engagement with all the topics he treats. A Bannerman Fellow in international studies at the University of Southern California, he has the skills and clarity of mind such a position requires. Still, each of the essays in this book deals with how a contemporary Christian might hope to respond to a situation of raw evil. Osborn’s treatment of Bonhoeffer’s pacifism is worthy of the complexity the German theologian/resister faced in the apocalyptic days of the Third Reich. There are no easy answers to this or any of the issues Osborn raises concerning faith, war, and the mind of God—and no easy answers are offered. Rather, he faces these issues with such candor the reader will be challenged to attempt to do likewise.”

—Patrick JordanCommonweal Magazine

“This collection of provocative essays on theological and political ethics, with special attention paid to pacifism, warfare, and violence, crackles with energy.  Osborn offers a trenchant critique of the industrial-military complex in the USA. What his dialogue partners have in common is the simple truth that war is madness. Once the logic of warfare is unleashed, perhaps even for good reasons, it breaks the bounds of all attempts to curtail, channel, and control it, a fact that calls into question even the noble tradition of ‘Just War.’”

—Religious Studies Review

“In reading Osborn you cannot help but think, ‘He has to be kidding. He has to be putting us on to suggest there is a connection between anarchy and that form of Christianity called Adventist.’ But he is not kidding. Rather he has written a book of lively essays to remind us that a commitment to peace is a challenge to any order based on violence. It was the Adventists, in their early formations, who reminded us that a commitment to peace cannot avoid challenging orders based on violence; that peace requires a different kind of order altogether. This is a call to the church to be that community based on the order of Christ’s peace.”

Stanley Hauerwas, Gilbert T. Rowe Professor of Theological Ethics, Duke Divinity School, author of War and the American Difference

“The Christianity of the American Empire has not only come to accept the normalization of violence; it often celebrates it.  How desperately American Christians need the keen insights regarding the demonic dynamics of power and violence that Ronald Osborn reflects in these essays.”

Greg Boyd, author of The Myth of a Christian Nation

“Osborn’s powerful and moving essays lay out profound social and political consequences of following Jesus, especially the Christian calling to be peacemakers.  He examines the moralizing and religious language used to defend violent American imperialism, the war in Vietnam and the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, contrasting the language that justifies violence with the Christian message of love, peace, and reconciliation.  His writing has the clarity and vision of an Old Testament prophet like Amos, or contemporary prophets like Jacques Ellul and Bob Ekblad.”

Kurt Armstrong, author of Why Love Will Always Be a Poor Investment

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