Dan Ott, assistant professor of philosophy and religious studies at Monmouth College, has had an article published in the American Journal of Theology and Philosophy.
Titled “Toward a Realistic, Public, Christian Pacifism,” the article stemmed from a conversation in a Reflections course Ott teaches called “Faith and Solidarity: American Perspectives on Religion, Ethics and Politics.”
“We were reading Reinhold Niebuhr’s essay ‘Why the Christian Church is Not Pacifist,’ and my students were largely convinced by Niebuhr’s arguments,” recalled Ott. “I began to argue against Niebuhr and for the genuine possibility of the abolition of war. That summer I decided to flesh the argument out. I later presented it at a conference of the Highlands Institute for American Religious and Philosophical Thought and subsequently submitted it for publication.”
Ott said his argument is that the debate about Christian pacifism is often framed by Niebuhr’s “realist” justification of war on one side and sectarian arguments for pacifism like those of Stanley Hauerwas on the other.
“The consequence of conceiving Christian pacifism in this frame is that Niebuhr’s justification of war is understood as the only wholly realistic view and counter-cultural and doctrinaire reasons for pacifism like those put forward by Hauerwas are seen as the only proper Christian reasons,” said Ott. “My essay offers a defense of Christian pacifism that is rooted in Christian theology but is publicly accessible, applicable and practicable. I try to open up space for the possibility of the abolition of war by using James’s meliorism, which defends the genuine openness of the future. I further argue that recent developments and successes in nonviolence provide some evidence for the possibility of resolving conflict and even opposing tyranny and oppression without war.”
Ott said the article is especially current because President Obama has called Niebuhr his “favorite philosopher.”
The American Journal of Theology and Philosophy is a scholarly journal dedicated to the creative interchange of ideas between theologians and philosophers on some of the most critical intellectual and ethical issues of our time.