If there has been one consistent question or critique about A Faith Not Worth Fighting For, it is that the title seems to devalue Christian faith. Stanley Hauerwas even addressed this in his foreword, writing, “I confess I do not like the title, because I think that there is a way to fight nonviolently.”
We also acknowledged this in our the book’s introduction. “It was suggested that A Faith Not Worth Fighting For conjures negative and polemical images that may be antithetical to our project. This is certainly a valid concern. Such a title can be off-putting and runs the risk of alienating a potentially larger audience. At the same time, we think the title is worth the risk. First of all, it is a negative title. It is negative in the sense that we wish to avoid doing something in particular: violence (though we also have no desire to be defined by what we are against). Second, it is polemical inasmuch as it purposely strives to attract critical readers with the hope that we can offer an explanation as to what we mean when claim that Christianity is not a faith worth fighting for.”
But, why would we say that Christian faith is not worth fighting for, instead of saying that it is worth not fighting for?
While we were still putting the book together we decided to do some crowd-sourcing to see if we could find an interesting title. Justin’s friend Jeremy Spainhour, jokingly I think, suggested A Faith Not Worth Fighting For. We discussed using this title and switching the places of ‘not’ and ‘worth’ then finally decided on the current title. But why?
The simple answer is that Tripp wanted to finish the book with a chapter called A Faith Worth Dying For, and that we thought the title as it is was more provocative.
The more helpful answer is two-fold.
- Any faith that does not take the Lordship of Jesus serious enough to at least be the starting place for Christian ethics is a faith that is not worth fighting for (in any sense) because it is an impotent faith. (Not implying that my Just War friends don’t take the Lordship of Jesus seriously).
- Christian faith is not worth fighting for (in a violent sense) in that employing violence undermines the faith itself. In other words, it is not worth doing something that undermines the telos one has. The means and ends must be tied together. Often in Christian history, and contemporary Christian culture, it has been argued, both implicitly and explicitly, that Christian faith is so valuable that it is ‘worth’ contradicting the life and teachings of the very One who the faith is founded upon. In order to protect our faith we wage holy wars and culture wars, but somehow this looks nothing like the life and teachings of the GodMan who went silently to his death, rather than calling ten thousand angels to defend him.
As we wrote in the intro, “We do not think it is worth fighting for if fighting suggests that we can maintain the radical path of Jesus while simultaneously employing violence as a means of dealing with our enemies.”
Simply put our faith is not worth fighting for, because our Lord does not want us to fight. Faith itself means nothing apart from Jesus, it is literally worthless.
We know this won’t be a satisfactory response for some of you. So, you wanna fight about it?