Christian perspectives on war and peace
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Christian Perspectives on War and Peace. Holy War Early Christian attitudes towards war. Christian Pacifism Christian support for Just War. Holy Wars: past & present. Judaism: conquest of Canaan Islam: conquest of Mecca Christianity: crusades. Common Features of Holy Wars.

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Christian Perspectives on War and Peace

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Christian Perspectives on War and Peace

  • Holy War

  • Early Christian attitudes towards war.

  • Christian Pacifism

  • Christian support for Just War

Holy Wars: past & present

  • Judaism: conquest of Canaan

  • Islam: conquest of Mecca

  • Christianity: crusades

Common Features of Holy Wars

  • Absolute and unlimited goals

  • Conflict between forces of good an forces of evil

  • Destruction of the enemy at any cost

  • Any means are justified

  • No moral responsibility for the victims

Problems with Holy Wars

  • Mistaken view of God: God does not care for my enemies

  • Mistaken view of the world: black & white picture

  • Lack of moral restraint

  • Holy wars always fail to achieve their goals

Biblical Support for Pacifism

  • It is always wrong to go to war

  • ‘You shall not kill’ Ex. 20: 13

  • Words of Jesus:

    • “Do not resist an evildoer. But if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also.” (Mt 5: 39)

    • “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt 5: 44)

  • “Overcome evil with good, rather than return evil for evil.” Rom 12: 17

Isaiah’s vision of world peace

He [God] shall judge between the nations, and shall arbitrate for many peoples; they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.Isaiah 2: 4.

Pacifism in the Early Church

  • Took these teachings of Jesus and the apostles very seriously. Strong pacifists.

  • Claimed citizenship in heaven, considering themselves as strangers and aliens on the earth (Heb 11:13-16 and I Peter 2:11).

  • Believed that the governments were given by God, to be obeyed when it did not conflict with obeying God (Acts 4:19; Rom 13:1-6 and I Peter 2:13-14).

  • Could not be judges nor soldiers as this would place them in positions where they may be responsible for taking someone’s life.

Pacifism throughout history

  • Franciscans

  • Mennonites – Personal Pacifism

  • Quakers

Christian Pacifism Today: The Quakers

  • We utterly deny all outward wars and strife and fightings with outward weapons, for any end or under any pretence whatsoever, and this is our testimony to the whole world.

    Quaker statement to King Charles II, 1660

  • War, in our view, involves the surrender of the Christian ideal and the denial of human brotherhood.

    London Yearly Meeting, 1916

Arguments for Pacifism

  • Reflects teachings of JC ‘Love enemies

  • Reflects the practice of the Early Church – refusal to serve in military, allow persecution

  • Pragmatic argument: “pacifism works”

    • Martin Luther King

  • Nonviolent means are sometimes more effective

  • Reminds that violence is costly: further alienation; human lives; financial expenses of war

Read the story of St Martin.

Identify as much evidence to support him being the Patron Saint of Conscientious Objectors

St Martin

Is there an alternative to Pacifism for a Christian?

  • Just War Theory

  • What are the criteria?

Christian Support for Just War Theory

  • Ex 20 v13 Commandment says DO NOT MURDER.

  • The principle of Self Defence from criminal attack.

  • Defence of the weak / innocent

  • Government – reflects a primary aspect of God – ORDER

  • God has commanded war in Hebrew scriptures, and soldiers not condemned in the NT

Debate: Can a Christian ever justify supporting a war?

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