God and War

The Church of England and Armed Conflict in the Twentieth Century

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  • Edited by Stephen G. Parker, University of Worcester, UK and Tom Lawson, University of Winchester, UK
  • Despite narratives of secularization, it appears that the British public persistently pay attention to clerical opinion and continually resort to popular expressions of religious faith, not least in time of war. From the throngs of men who gathered to hear the Bishop of London preach recruiting sermons during the First World War, to the attention paid to Archbishop Williams' words of conscience on Iraq, clerical rhetoric remains resonant. For the countless numbers who attended National Days of Prayer during the Second World War, and for the many who continue to find the Remembrance Day service a meaningful ritual, civil religious events provide a source of meaningful ceremony and a focus of national unity. War and religion have been linked throughout the twentieth century and this book explores these links: taking the perspective of the 'home front' rather than the battlefield. Exploring the views and accounts of Anglican clerics on the issue of warfare and international conflict across the century, the authors explore the church's stance on the causes, morality and conduct of warfare; issues of pacifism, obliteration bombing, nuclear possession and deterrence, retribution, forgiveness and reconciliation, and the spiritual opportunities presented by conflict. This book offers invaluable insights into how far the Church influenced public appraisal of war whilst illuminating the changing role of the Church across the twentieth century.

  • Contents: Introduction: God and war: a century in the politics of religion, Tom Lawson and Stephen G. Parker; Winchester, the clergy and the Boer War, Mark Allen; The Church and the First World War, Stuart Bell; Reinvigorating Christian Britain: the spiritual issues of the war, national identity and the hope of religious education, Stephen G. Parker; Preaching morality: sex, the Church and the Second World War, Andrea Harris; Anglican peace aims and the Christendom group, 1939-1945, Philip M. Coupland; The Church of England and the Cold War, Dianne Kirby; The Church and the Bomb: Anglicans and the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, c.1958-1984, Matthew Grimley; The Church of England and the Falklands War, Cliff Williamson; Military intervention in the post-Cold War era, Peter Lee; Bibliography; Indexes.

  • About the Editor: Stephen G. Parker is Head of Postgraduate Studies in Education at the University of Worcester, UK.

    Tom Lawson is Professor of Holocaust Studies at the University of Winchester, UK.

  • Reviews: ‘A timely, wide-ranging and fascinating exploration of approaches to war in the twentieth-century Church of England. Given the importance of its subject, this book is also essential reading for all students of British Christianity in this period.’
    Michael Snape, University of Birmingham, UK

    'God and War examines important questions about the changing relationships and tensions between the Anglican Church and people in twentieth century Britain, seen through the lens of the interaction of the church with military conflict in that century. One of its central tenets is that voices raised for and against war by the church during these conflicts had a significant impact on the influence of the church in an increasingly secular society.' Birmingham On War blog

    'As the editors to this collection of essays on the response of the Church of England to armed conflict in the 20th-Century point out, the church has enjoyed an enhanced national role during times of war and debate about war when its role as moral conscience becomes clearer. But, as the editors also point out, there has also been a diversity of opinions when a Church plays host to a number of views about war… This is a book that sheds light on a number of topics and raises many questions.' Church of England Newspaper

    'God and War is an important and pioneering study of Anglican reactions to conflict from the Boer War to those of the 1990s.' Church Times

    'Overall, this is a worthwhile volume that adds a great deal to our understanding of the role of the Church of England through a century of unprecedented conflict… this is a valuable and important volume which helps in the reappraisal of the role of the Christian Churches in time of war.' Journal of Anglican Studies

    'I highly recommend this volume, and hope that others follow its lead by publishing similar work for their own denominations.' McMaster Journal of Theology

    ‘…this volume contains well-written essays … it makes a valuable addition to a social history library.’ Journal of Contemporary Religion

    ‘…with the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the First World War …there is much here to stimulate and inform a credible reflection across the churches today. If we are to move beyond our usual platitudes towards a more creative reflection on God and war, this is quite the sort of thing that needs to be read.’ Modern Believing

  • Extracts from this title are available to view:

    Full contents list

    Introduction

    Index