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Lessons from Sun Tzu, Jomini, and Clausewitz

Throughout much of America’s military history, its strategies of warfare have been based to varying degrees on the teachings of three great military men: Sun Tzu, a Chinese philosopher and military strategist who wrote The Art of War around 500 B.C.; Antoine-Henri Jomini, a French general who published Treatise on Grand Military Operations in 1838; and Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian general whose work On War, published posthumously in 1832, emphasized the moral (psychological) aspects of war. Many of these men’s teachings are applicable to the believer’s spiritual combat, as the following excerpts from Combat! Spiritual Lessons from Military History attest.


The transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next, Sun Tzu taught, was the key to long-term military success. . . . [The Bible] enjoined parents to teach their children at every possible opportunity . . . and pastors were to teach their congregations. . . .

[One] Jomini principle is that offensive actions are generally most advantageous. Rather than letting the enemy determine when and where to fight and being forced to fight on his terms, Jomini declared that the safest policy was to take the battle to the enemy, allowing yourself to determine the time and place of battle. . . . [H]it the enemy first, nipping temptations and sins in the bud.

Clausewitz believed in recognizing the realities of the battlefield. . . . Similarly, in our spiritual warfare, we must keep our thinking “rooted in reality,” keep it practical, not purely theoretical and theological.

(From Combat! Spiritual Lessons from Military History by Dennis L. Peterson, available from Amazon at

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