Force & Christian Responsibility

What is Christian responsibility in a world in which the innocent are increasingly under lethal assault? Grappling with a range of issues including Christian pacifism, the just war tradition, and protestant and Catholic theological teaching on military ethics, the nature of sovereignty, and the use of American power, “Force & Christian Responsibility” brings together leading Christian thinkers and practitioners to address enduring questions of timely importance. The Institute for Human Ecology and Providence are partnering to offer this day-long private symposium for scholars.


H. David Baer, Professor of Theology and Philosophy, Texas Lutheran University.

Edward T. Barrett, Ph.D., Colonel USAFR (ret.) is Director of Strategy and Research at the Stockdale Center for Ethical Leadership at the US Naval Academy.

Nigel Biggar is the Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology at the University of Oxford, where he also directs the McDonald Centre for Theology, Ethics, and Public Life. Among his publications are In Defence of War (Oxford, 2013), Behaving in Public: How to Do Christian Ethics (Eerdmans, 2011); Religious Voices in Public Places (Oxford, 2009); Aiming to Kill: The Ethics of Suicide and Euthanasia (DLT, 2004); Burying the Past: Making Peace and Doing Justice after Civil Conflict (Georgetown UP, 2003), and Cities of Gods: Faith, Politics, & Pluralism in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Greenwood, 1986). His most recent book, Between Kin and Cosmopolis: An Ethic of the Nation, was published by James Clarke/Wipf & Stock in 2014.

J. Daryl Charles is the author, co-author or editor of 14 books, including (with Mark David Hall) America’s Wars: A Just War Perspective(University of Notre Dame Press, forthcoming), (with David D. Corey)The Just War Tradition: An Introduction, (with Timothy J. Demy) War, Peace, and Christianity, and Between Pacifism and Jihad.

G. Scott Davis works at the intersection of philosophy, religion, and politics. His most recent book is Believing and Acting (Oxford, 2012).  Among recent articles are “Justice, Intention, and Double Effect,”(2014) “Islam Observed: Another Neglected Classic of Comparative Religious Ethics,” (2015) and the forthcoming “Understanding the Warrior Spirit: William James on Nature, Virtue, and the Will to Empire,” in Jacob Goodson, ed. William James, Moral Philosophy, and the Ethical Life.  Since 1994, Davis has been the Lewis T. Booker Professor of Religion and Ethics at the University of Richmond.

Debra Erickson holds a Ph.D. in Religious Ethics from the University of Chicago. She is co-editor of the forthcoming volume: In Search of the Ethical Polity: Critical Essays on the Work of Jean Bethke Elshtain.

John Kelsay serves on the faculty of the Department of Religion at Florida State University, where he holds the title of Distinguished Research Professor.  His publications include Arguing the Just War in Islam (Harvard 2007), Islam and War:  A Study in Comparative Ethics (Westminster/John Knox, 1993) and other works focused on the ethics of war in Muslim and Christian traditions.  Professor Kelsay holds degrees from the University of Virginia (Ph.D. in Religious Ethics, 1985), Columbia Theological Seminary (D.Min., 1980), and Old Dominion University (B.A. in History, 1976).  A recipient of fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Foundation (2002-03), the Princeton University Center for Human Values (2002-03), and the Institute for International Integration Studies at Trinity College, Dublin (2006-07), Kelsay’s current research interests include the import of the just war tradition for U.S. foreign policy, particularly with respect to the jihadist challenge, as well as studies of the life and career of the abolitionist John Brown.

Dr. Peter Kilner is a retired Army officer who believes in the moral standing of the profession of arms, yet recognizes its shortcomings. He served in the Army from 1984-2017, in the infantry and on the faculty at West Point. As a researcher of combat leadership and ethics, Dr. Kilner interviewed hundreds of Army leaders in Iraq and Afghanistan between 2003-2011.

Chaplain Mallard is a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and holds the following degrees: B.A. (Stetson University); M.Div. (the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary); Th.M. (Columbia Theological Seminary); M.S.St. (U.S. Army War College); and the Ph.D. in Christian Ethics (the University of Wales Trinity Saint David). A member of the International Society of Military Ethics and the International Dietrich Bonhoeffer Society, he is a graduate and Grierson Prize recipient as Distinguished Army Master Strategist (U.S. Army Command and General Staff College) and is a graduate and former Eisenhower Fellow (U.S. Army War College). Since 1988, Chaplain Mallard has deployed to combat as a Battalion, Brigade, and Division Chaplain, including with the 101st Airborne and 1st Infantry Divisions and holds the Bronze Star Medal (two awards) and the Combat Action Badge. He currently serves as the Director of Recruiting and Endorser Relations in the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, the Pentagon, VA.

Captain Joseph J. McInerney, USN, Ph.D. is the Chair, Department of Leadership, Ethics, and Law United States Naval Academy.

Keith Pavlischek Keith Pavlischek is a Senior Editor at Providence and holds the following degrees: B.A. Waynesburg College; M Phil, Institute for Christian Studies; Th.M. Westminster Theological Seminary and the Ph.D. in Religion, Ethics and Society (University of Pittsburgh). He is a retired U.S. Marine Colonel having deployed to Desert Storm, Bosnia, and Iraq and has served at the NSA, U.S. Central Command and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. He also has served three separate tours in Afghanistan as a civilian military advisor. He was the Executive Director of Civitas, a program for Christian Ph.D. students focusing on Faith and Public Policy, and a Senior Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy. He plays bluegrass banjo, enjoys hunting and spending time with his six grandchildren.

Daniel Strand is a postdoctoral fellow in the Center for Political Thought and Leadership at Arizona State University. His scholarly interests are in history of political thought, religion and politics, and the thought of St Augustine of Hippo.

James Turner Johnson (PhD, Princeton), was the Distinguished Professor of Religion and Associate of the Graduate Program in Political Science at Rutgers – The State University of New Jersey, where he was on faculty for more than forty years. His research and teaching have focused principally on the historical development and application of the Western and Islamic moral tradition related to war, peace, and the practice of statecraft. He is the author of numerous books on Christian ethics and war, including Can Modern War be Just?, Ethics and the Use of Force, The Quest for Peace, and Morality and Contemporary Warfare.