War and Peace. D’oh !. The Problem of War. War presents a major challenge to the morality of the modern world; in our age of progress and reason, why is it that the human race is so self-destructive? Can armed conflict ever be justified?
Many Christians have pointed out that Jesus seems to condemn all forms of violence in the New Testament: “blessed are the peacemakers”, he said (Matt 5). Jesus did not oppose those who crucified him.
However, things are a bit different in the Old Testament, and this might help Christians to justify war. God commands a number of wars against Israel’s enemies. Meanwhile, in Exodus 15 it is said that “the LORD is a warrior”. This implies that God sometimes approves of war, particularly in the case of idolatry and fighting against foreign gods.
So, Augustine developed what is now known as just war theory, basing his arguments upon the belief that God commanded justified wars in the Bible.
Augustine divided his theory into two main parts: jus ad bellum – just reasons for going to war, and jus in bello – just practice while at war.
Much later, in the 13th century, Augustine’s ideas were taken up a developed by the philosopher Thomas Aquinas. He sought to formalise and expand upon Augustine’s ideas. Like Augustine, Aquinas was a major Church authority and saint (known as ‘Doctor Angelicus). His ideas were hugely influential in the Church and in history as a whole.
The Catholic Bishops: theory, basing his arguments upon the belief that God commanded justified wars in the Bible.jus ad bellum
Wars are rarely just, because they are usually one-sided. Governments seldom think of their enemies when waging war.
Despite my rude gestures, I (Winston Churchill) should probably be regarded as just authority. Britain was a parliamentary democracy, and I governed with the consent of its people.
In 1939, the German army made an unprovoked attack on Poland. Britain and France wanted to protect their ally, which was unfairly treated. Arguably, this gave them just cause.
Throughout the war, I (Adolf Hitler) led Germany with my fascist and racist National Socialist Worker’s Party (Nazis). The Allies wanted to remove me from power, which suggests that they had a just intention.
The war started quite badly for the Allies and they were desperate for success. They would try anything to get an advantage, including the bombing of large civilian areas such as Dresden. This makes it questionable as to whether they fought with proportionality.
Britain did everything it could to avoid war with Germany, including intensive negotiations between Hitler and Neville Chamberlain. So, it is fair to say that war was a last resort.
To begin with, the Germans were successful, having greatly superior military technology. So, the Allies were unsure as to whether they would win. Still, they had a reasonable chance of success.
Today, Germany is a successful and peaceful democracy. Arguably, this has directly resulted from the Allied victory in the war. Since the German people have benefited from the destruction of the Nazi party, one could claim that comparative justice was served.
Overall, it seems that a fairly good case can be made for the Allies fighting a ‘just war’ in World War II. They had the right authority, cause and intention. The war was a last resort and, although it was quite risky, the Allies still had a fair chance of success. The strength of modern Germany also suggests that comparative justice was served. However, even this war has a real problem in terms of the criteria: was it really proportionate? Thousands of German civilians lost their lives, often unnecessarily.
Certain types of behaviour and virtues are expected during war: courage, loyalty, fairness, etc. Of course, these apply to Christians; there would be no rules to protect Muslims during Crusades.
Learning Objectives :
1. To UNDERSTAND the history of Pacifism
2. To LEARN the basics of Pacifism
“Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5).
“They that take the sword shall perish with the sword.” (Matthew 26).
Religious, Christian Pacifism
“We totally oppose all wars, all preparation for war, all use of weapons and coercion by force, and all military alliances.”
(Quaker Peace Testimony)
Other the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” (Matthew 5).
Having once been a Pacifist, Reinhold Niebuhr changed his mind after he witnessed the evil perpetrated by Germany in the Second World War.
He adopted ‘Theological Christian Realism’ – the view that the collective character of all humans contains a natural disposition to do evil. In his book Moral Man and Immoral Society, Niebuhr wrote:
“Evil is not to be traced back to the individual, but to the collective behaviour of humanity.”
For Niebuhr, this meant that lawful and legitimate governments would need to use violence to restrain the evil tendencies of some human beings. The Allies needed to defeat the evil of Nazi Germany.