Ain’t Gonna Study War No More: Biblical Ambiguity and the Abolition of War

by Albert C. Winn

Dr. Winn is Pastor Emeritus, North Decatur Presbyterian Church, Decatur, Georgia, and President Emeritus, Louisville Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky. He is the author of A Christian Primer: The Prayer, the Creed, the Commandments. Published by Westminster/John Knox Press Louisville, Kentucky © 1993.

Published by Westminster, John Knox Press, Louisville, Kentucky. Copyright 1993 by Albert Curry Winn. Used by permission of the author.


This book is a rich, well-documented resource that is honest, trenchant, evocative and energizing on peace. The message offers the best of evangelical faith and Biblical scholarship in a way that is accessible and convincing.


  • Foreword by Walter Brueggemann
  • Preface

    The author expresses his concern over the ambiguities of the Bible, particularly over war and peace. He concludes that both in war and in peace people need to work out together their conflicting sides and find positions faithful to the central thrust of scripture.

  • Introduction: Paralyzing Ambiguity

    The author’s attempt is to understand the mind of Jesus in regard to war and peace.

  • Chapter 1: Jesus: “Not Peace, but a Sword”

    A majority of Christians in the developed nations feel comfortable with a military Jesus as found in a number of passages of scripture, but there is another side to this ambiguity.

  • Chapter 2: Jesus: “Put Away Your Sword”

    The author admits the ambiguity of the biblical picture of Jesus as being real, but for him, it is impossible to conceive of Jesus as approving the horrors of modern war.

  • Chapter 3: Israel: Warlike People

    Jesus was the progeny of a people who were continually at war and who never seemed to question its necessity. They saw their God as deeply involved in it.

  • Chapter 4: Yahweh: Warrior God

    Dr. Winn believes that war in any form is cruel, barbarous and deadly, and we cannot say with God the end justifies the means when we know it does not work out that way with humans.

  • Chapter 5: Yahweh: Giver of Shalom

    The word shalom has a far wider mean than the word “peace.” The author describes those many meanings of shalom in this chapter.

  • Chapter 6: The Prophets: Champions of <I>Shalom</I>

    There is ambiguity regarding war and peace in the prophets of the Old Testament, but they give a high value on shalom, and Yahweh is the Giver of that shalom.

  • Chapter 7: Predictions of War

    The Old Testament prophets aided the kings and their wars and predicted that Yahweh would use war to punish and assert moral authority. In this chapter the author states that although predictions of war far outnumber predictions of peace, these references are not the last word.

  • Chapter 8: Promises of Peace

    The author focuses upon further promises of shalom in the earlier writings. As a boy, Jesus pored over the ancient history that dripped with the blood of battle, but also with the sweet wine of peace.

  • Chapter 9: Jesus Revisited

    Jesus is very clear about how his followers are to behave: They are not to participate in the divine wrath or war against other nations, but war against hypocrisy, greed, cruelty and injustice — war against all demonic systems that pervert the humanity of human beings.

  • Chapter 10: The Church: Part of a Violent World

    This chapter looks at one side of the Bible’s ambiguity where we see a church in which many first-world Christians of our day could feel comfortable and undisturbed: a church that lives without question or resistance in a state founded on violence and made prosperous by the exploitation of less fortunate nations.

  • Chapter 11: The Church: Christ’s Peaceful People

    The modern church may be undisturbed by its comfort with a state founded on violence, yet the early church did not wage war but waged peace and was thus a subversive community within the Roman Empire and was persecuted for that stance.

  • Chapter 12: An Ambiguous Apocalypse

    There is remaining ambiguity in the Book of Revelations, but it expresses the faith that sustained the church in its faithfulness to Jesus’ teaching.