Mark J. Schreiber

Nailed! Moral Injury: A Response from the Cross of Christ for the Combat Veteran. By Mark J. Schreiber. Parker, CO: Outskirts, 2021. 323 pages. Paperback. $28.76.

Reviewed by David P. Scaer on 01/25/2024

In his published and easy-to-read seminary PhD dissertation, lifelong and now retired Navy chaplain, CTS alumnus Captain Mark J. Schreiber brings together the experiences of wounded veterans from the Korean War, Vietnam War, and Iraq Wars. Christians who serve in the military are faced with the ethical dilemma that with the full knowledge that taking life is disallowed in certain cases by the fifth commandment, yet in defending the national interest and in their oath to the constitution, they are compelled to take life. This is not without physical, psychological, and spiritual consequences. In response to this dilemma Schreiber provides thoroughly informed theological chapters on lawful killing, imaginary forgiveness, the conscience of Christians, and the just war, among other moral and ethical issues (1–136). The remainder of the book is devoted to interviews with veterans, which are analyzed by Schreiber. Advances in medical science have reduced the number of fatalities on the battlefield and thereby increased the number of survivors with incapacitating wounds, some psychological, that can be alleviated but not permanently resolved. For the rest of their lives, combat-veteran sailors live with their physical wounds and memories as constant reminders of their time in military service. As a pastor who has known military combat and worked with the men and women who have endured the combat and suffered the physical and psychological consequences of battle, Schreiber addresses these issues from a Christian perspective, especially in relation to the sufferings of Jesus, which is the author’s unique contribution to ministering to veterans. Christ’s sufferings have both spiritual and physical aspects in that he is offered to God as a sacrifice for sin, which is at the heart of the Christian faith, and that, like common criminals in the ancient world, he was executed by crucifixion, which is arguably the most extreme and prolonged devised form of being put to death. Those who are still suffering from the effects of combat can, and may more likely, see and compare their own personal experiences to what Christ endured. In ministering to the active military and veterans, pastors have here a valued and accessible book in working with their parishioners who have served in the military and their family members. Schreiber opens the door into a world with which most are unfamiliar, but to which our pastors minister. The plight of veterans is coming to the surface in homelessness and the potential for suicide. Here is a way in which we can begin to address the issue and do something about it—and it is easy to read.

David P. Scaer
David P. Scaer Professor of Biblical and Systematic Theology
Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Indiana