The Just War, Part 1: Introduction

Catholics and Protestants alike sometimes refer to the “just war”. Some have tried to justify the war in Iraq by invoking this clause, even. The Just War theory is an official teaching by the Catholic Church, but it has proponents amongst secular humanists as well.

According to Wikipedia’s “Just War” article, there are 4 conditions:

  • the damage inflicted by the aggressor on the nation or community of nations must be lasting, grave, and certain;
  • all other means of putting an end to it must have been shown to be impractical or ineffective;
  • there must be serious prospects of success;
  • the use of arms must not produce evils and disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated. The power of modern means of destruction weighs very heavily in evaluating this condition.

Some have pointed to the authority granted to the state by God in supporting the notion of the just war.

1Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

2Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

3For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

4For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.

5Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. (Romans 13:1-5, King James Version)

The point Paul is making here is that a Christian should obey the governing authorities. Otherwise, he or she could find themselves in serious jeopardy. However, that passage is fairly ambiguous when it comes to dealing with those outside of a nation and not subject to the laws of that particular authority.

So, what is God’s view of war? Some Bible verses point to God as a warrior and Christians as soldiers. Other verses tell of a Messiah who was led like a lamb to the slaughter and tell Christians to turn the other cheek. Does God have a split personality? Why the seeming contradiction in Scriptures? Finally, what should we as Christians do? Should we take up arms? If so, why? Should we put our weapons down? If so, why?

This may or may not change as we go along, but here is a rough outline of what I want to cover:

  • Why War?
  • Who Was Supposed To Conquer Canaan?
  • The First Murderer
  • God’s First Command For Government
  • Why Did Israel Have To Fight?
  • Being Like the Other Nations
  • Then Would My Servants Fight
  • Politics of the World
  • Willing Servants of Sin?

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