This paper is an attempt to tackle the theory of war as a tool of state formation. Though I use the tools of my discipline to refute the theory in its contemporary manifestation, the paper is motivated by a theological belief regarding the sinfulness and depravity of war. I begin the paper by thoroughly exploring the benefits of strong states from a comparative historical perspective, since this has been critical to the theory's revival. Then I will discuss the theory that war makes strong states, looking first at the work of Charles Tilly, the best-known theorist in the area of European state formation, then at Jeffrey Herbst's application and expansion of the Tilly thesis in the African context. In the second section of the paper, I will articulate the Mennonite perspective regarding both war and the state and discuss why the idea of war as a tool of state formation is fundamentally problematic from a Christian and Mennonite perspective.1 I will also justify a rejection of the revival of the war and state formation theory from the viewpoint of comparative political science.

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Copyright © 2004 Christian Scholar's Review. This article first appeared Christian Scholars Review 33:2 (2004), 181-196

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