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Christians and War: Three Viewpoints. Holy War A crusade of Good against Evil Just (justifiable) War Limited war that is tragic but necessary for the cause of justice, freedom, and peace Pacifism Nonviolent love. Christians and War: Three Viewpoints. Common Ground

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christians and war three viewpoints
Christians and War:Three Viewpoints
  • Holy War
    • A crusade of Good against Evil
  • Just (justifiable) War
    • Limited war that is tragic but necessary for the cause of justice, freedom, and peace
  • Pacifism
    • Nonviolent love
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Christians and War:Three Viewpoints
  • Common Ground
    • Holy War and Just War = God occasionally calls His people to kill enemies
    • Just War and Pacifism = Initial instinct against violence
    • Holy War and Pacifism = Clear biblical examples
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Christians and War:Three Viewpoints
  • Common Ground
    • All three agree that nothing is worth living for that is not worth dying for
    • All three agree that courage is necessary if one wishes to follow God faithfully
    • All three value sacrifice
    • All three believe that Christians should love their enemies
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Christians and War:Three Viewpoints
  • Christian responses to war are not about “positions”
  • No Christian has a stake in defending any “position” in and of itself
  • Christian responses to war are about faithful discipleship
just war
  • Limited war that is tragic but necessary for the cause of justice, freedom, and peace
  • Primary advocates
    • Augustine of Hippo (354—430 AD)
    • Thomas Aquinas (1225—1274 AD)
  • History:
    • Constantine (306—337 AD) Christianized the Empire
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  • The Theory
    • Humans are obligated not to act out of selfish desire (individuals: turn the other cheek)
    • Humans have a duty to act out of the desire to help other people
    • In order to love the innocent and protect victims, killing is occasionally necessary
    • Governments have a divine calling to restore justice, freedom, and peace
    • War is, at times, a lesser of two evils—though it remains a tragedy
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  • Scriptural Justification
    • If anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also. —Matthew 5:39
    • Love your neighbor as yourself. —Matthew 22:39
    • Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God. —Matthew 5:9
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  • Scriptural Justification
    • Let every person be subject to the governing authorities; for there is no authority except from God, and those authorities that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists authority resists what God has appointed. . . . [The authority] is God’s servant for your good . . . [The authority] does not bear the sword in vain. It is the servant of God to execute wrath on the wrongdoer. —Romans 13:1-2, 4
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  • Scriptural Justification
    • Soldiers asked him, ‘And we, what should we do?’ He [John the Baptist] said to them, ‘Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusation, and be satisfied with your wages.’ –Luke 3:14
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  • Just War Criteria
    • War is distinguishable from murder and massacre only when restrictions are established.
    • The presence of one of the criteria does not make a war just; the absence of one makes it unjust.
    • Lists have varied throughout history; the following lists are generally agreed upon both across borders and across time.
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  • Just-War Criteria
    • Reasons for war
      • Justifiable cause
        • Defend a just political order; restore rights; protect the innocent
      • Legitimate authority
      • Last resort
      • Declaration of war aims
      • Proportionality
        • Negative effects of war must not exceed the positive results
      • Reasonable chance of success
      • Right intention
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  • Just-War Criteria
    • Justifiable means in war
      • Discrimination
        • Noncombatants: civilians, civil officials*, prisoners, servants of combatants (medical personnel, chaplains)
        • Discrimination hinges upon one’s role, not one’s loyalty
        • Intentional attacks and unintentional side effects are distinguished (judged by likelihood of civilian casualties and the effort used to avoid harming noncombatants)
        • Direct attack only (even if indirect attacks shorten the war and seemingly saves lives)
      • Proportionality
        • Attack effectively with the least possible destruction
        • Limited by discrimination
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  • Strengths of Just War
    • Recognizes the persistence of conflict among people, especially in international politics (there will always be war)
    • Takes seriously the moral perplexity of war (war is not a battle of good versus evil)
    • Considers moral issues both before and throughout the war
    • Seeks to protect rights and virtues
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  • I say to you, ‘Love your enemies.’ —Jesus
    • The way in which one opposes injustice is to be shaped by the inner spirit of love and the circumstances of injustice
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  • When choice must be made between the perpetrator of injustice and the many victims of it, the latter may and should be preferred. What do you think Jesus would have made the Samaritan do if he had come upon the scene while the robbers were at their fell work? Love bids us to interpose ourselves between oppressor and oppressed, even if it requires the use of armed force. —Paul Ramsey, The Just War
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  • In Response to Holy War
    • All people are created in the image of God and therefore never beyond redemption
    • One’s neighbors include one’s enemies
    • The command to love one’s neighbor is satisfied when injustice is checked
    • War is a tragedy meant to restrain injustice and protect innocence, not perpetuate killing
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  • In Response to Pacifism
    • Sin reigns in this world; realism demands action, occasionally violent action
    • The church’s responsibility and the responsibility of the State are two different things
    • If we always refrain from violent resistance, we shall have refused to accept our responsibility
    • Pacifism fails to demonstrate love towards innocent victims
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  • In Response to War with Iraq
    • Our cause is just, and it continues.–President Bush, State of the Union Address
    • If definitive proof of a first strike is offered . . .
    • If all nonviolent means have been exhausted . . .
    • As long as the war is not for “political” reasons (i.e., to demonstrate resolve and strength; send a warning; etc.) . . .
    • Then a limited war is justifiable