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September 28, 2006

Comments

Luke Fitzsimmons

Nice work Steve. I think this particular piece out of the three addresses most directly a very critical point, motive.

What is the war to achieve? If it's global domination and/or genocide (Hitler, Rwanda, etc.), you'd be rather accurate in saying that's not in line with God's plan in accordance with NT teachings. Now, if it's liberation and justice, it could be seen as justifiable in line with Jesus' purpose on earth.

A very obvious speedhump to JWT from the Christian perspective would be, in my opinion at least, the sixth commandment, being that you can't be committing murder. Now as I mentioned in my post against part one, war isn't necessarily violent, nor does violence necessarily result in death, though modern weaponry tends to kill more often than not. Still, it's just a speedhump and not a roadblock.

Now, referring back to Matthew 26:52 that gets thrown around as a condemnation of violence... Could we possibly be interpreting this wrong? I've not read the original texts, but from reading a handful of translations I can only get so far without hearing the way Jesus actually intonated the sentence. From the amplified, I get "Then Jesus said to him, Put your sword back into its place, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword". Could this simply be a statement of cause and effect? A description of consequence? Take it in context and picture the scene...

Jesus and His close friends are in the garden, He knows His time is up soon and Judas has gone off to do the work. An armed warband comes to take Him away. Someone with Him draws a sword and lashes out at probably the easiest target (the bondservant) but also probably the least sensible (the bondservant to the high priest). The consequence of this would naturally be the imminent demise of the one who drew the sword, and given that there were only two swords to be had, odds looked rather dire for the rest of the group. Could Jesus possibly be just saying, "Put your sword down or you're going to die here"?

Now I'm not condoning the free use of weapons and the like, I am merely pointing out that Jesus may have been the calm voice of reason in a dire situation, thus saving the life of the one who acted rashly, as well as possibly preventing His own untimely demise (they were looking for the smallest reason to kill Him), so as not to void His work on earth.

To paraphrase quickly to the modern day, imagine you were out with a handful of your close friends and the SWAT team arrive to arrest one of the group. In the heat of the moment, someone draws a gun and kneecaps the 2IC of the SWAT team. I would figure life expectancy for the group as a whole is rapidly approaching zero.

Now while that may have seemed to wander off topic, the end point of that is merely to say that "those who live by the sword will perish by it" is not so much a commandment and/or condemnation so much as a statement of fact.

I'll relate one more thing before I leave it alone for now and that's God's demand for reckoning in the event of man's blood being spilled. Flick over Genesis 9:5-6. It says that from every man who spill's another's lifeblood, He will require reckoning, in other words He will require justification... the cause must be just, the war must be just. That's followed up by another statement of cause and effect, if you shed blood, your blood will be shed. That is also inherent to war, casualties and deaths on both sides, regardless of who's justified or not.

I echo your sentiment Steve, I abhor war and would not wish it on anyone, but in the arena of providing freedom and justice, the "Just War" could well be necessary.

Nicolas Legler

I like the way you are engaging the problem by the very practical and personal playground example. All of us can write great theories about the peace in the world and how we should as Christians live out pacific lives. This sounds all good and holy...but only if we stay far and removed from the scene! Most of us come from countries where we grew up without being directly involved in a war situation. We are surrounded by war conflicts but can observe them from a far and safe distance. It is easy to be a pacifist in this siutation...! But how about the situation of having to defend your loved - ones from foreign aggressors? Do we just watch and do nothing?

Because the Kingdom is here...we can (if not to say must) live out the Godly attributes of love and peace and make a difference in our society. But because the Kingdom is also not yet...total peace and love will remain an utopia and something that we are longing for to experience in the future glory with God. But exactly this future hope makes us act upon the injustice and repression in our everyday lives. This life in anticipation of the coming one becomes a life committed to build the Kingdom of God through its commitment to justice and peace in the world.

Kate Tennikoff

To agree with Luke, I also found Stephen's coverage of this topic the most helpful out of the three entries.

(I certainly needed to read all three entries as I have tended to avoid thinking about this topic, placing it conveniently in the "too hard basket".) Yet having read the discussions, I have been able to develop some initial thoughts on the topic.

For me, what springs to mind in any discussion on war is Henri Nouwen's quintessential 'nuclear man' which he depicts at the beginning of his book 'The Wounded Healer'. This 'nuclear man' is a person devoid of any real hope, due to the fact that he lives in a time where at any moment, the world could end because of nuclear holocaust. This is the situation we find oursleves in today becasue of a history of violence breeding violence.

The simple fact that we live in an age that spends billions of dollars on the development of nuclear arms has to say something to us about our sinful nature .

($441.6 Billion spent by the US alone on nuclear arms in fiscal year 2006- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/military_of_the_united_states#Expenditures)

I would have to agree, therefore, as Stephen suggested that "it is humanity's sinful nature that causes war".

I found it interesting that Caroline asked the question as to whether non-violence ALWAYS overcomes aggression?
In respose, my question becomes whether war EVER overcomes aggression?

From my limited knowledge of history, it would seem the answer must be No! Whilst violence might be temporarily abated, it woud seem that 'aggression' itself is only increased by warfare.

Whilst JWT implies that 'fighting a war can be morally superior to overlooking it'... we are left with the difficulty of defining a 'just cause'. Once again history would point the the subjectivity of such a concept, as evidenced in the Crusades and today's Islamic extremist's 'Holy War'/Jihad. Living in a fallen world, a 'just cause' is always subject to distortion.

Nevertheless, having said that, I can also see significant difficulties with a staunchly pacifist stance. Once again, this is simply due to the fact that we are living in a 'fallen' world. As Drea and Nicholas mentioned, we live in the time of the now-but-not-yet. Our hope is for the eschatological kingdom, yet we live in the here and now, where violence is a reality. As such I agree with Stephen that fighting a war in some circumstances might be morally superior to overlooking it.

Nevertheless violence must be a last resort. We need to defend the helpless against injustice. Not to do so would be an abhorrent crime. Yet as much as possible this should be sought through non-violent means. Aggression it would seem breeds aggression. Yet at times it may be required, in the pursuit of justice. I guess I am advocating a non-absolutist approach. Is war always the answer? Clearly not. Is a pacifist response always appropriate? Well... perhaps not always. Every situation needs to be evaluated individually.


Anna B Chandra

Of all the global problems which confront the human race today none is graver than the threat of a nuclear holocaust. What we are discussing here is the very survival of the human race and of our planet. The question of war should therefore lead us all into action.

Violence was introduced into human experience by Satan. It erupted first in Cain and has been the common experience of man ever since. Time magazine notes that in the last thirty-five centuries of recorded history, only one year out of fifteen has been without a war. In the 5 560 years of recorded human history there have been 14 531 wars, or 2.6 a year. Of 185 generations only ten have known peace. And it is getting worse: “Since 1900 almost 100 million men have died in 100 wars – compared with 3 845 000 in the 19th century.”[1] This is our reality.

As Christians we believe that Jesus is God’s rule of righteousness and peace. Jesus proclaimed that in God’s Kingdom we are to hunger for righteousness, pursue peace, forbear revenge, love our enemies, in other words to be marked by the cross. Peace and righteousness is our primarily commitment, but the quest for peace with justice is much more costly than appeasement. I agree with Wall, stating his proposition that, “one cannot have a truly “just war”, however I do believe that war may be justified if it meets various principles or scenarios and these need to be met before a nation can engage in it.” A just war might then be a necessity, although it should really be our last resort.

We are all responsible for our behaviour, individually and corporately, but God is in sovereign control and will bring his purpose to a successful conclusion, whether through human instrumentality, just or unjust, or through divine intervention. Justice and righteousness will truly triumph at last, and in this confidence we can rest, whether oppressed or free.


[1] Time, 9 March 1970, 46-47

Blake Nuto

Right action, right timing, and right reasons. There must always be a valid reason for action and everything must be done to limit unnecessary tragedy and confrontation.

This is agapeism in practice. I agree with Stephen that there truly is not such thing as a Just War; selfishness plagues us. But will Agpaeism, when in its purist form, look at another and see their unjustified persecution and say, 'Violence is wrong, I can do nothing but suggest an alternative.'? I hope agapeism will say, 'Violence is wrong! Therefore I recognise the terrible inconvenience of this situation but I must take right action, with right timing, for the right reasons. In doing so I will take every precaution to eliminate any unnecessary tragedy and confrontation, but this injustice is wrong and I must do something!'

A just war will never exist but a fight for justice must, by whatever selfless means necessary.

Tinky Mulchandani

Life isn't as simple as we desire for it to be. Every new phase in life brings with it its own questions, dilemmas and uncertainties.It seems to me men has made a complete mess of God's prime purpose. But then again, God could have altered the situation yet He chose not to. Along this line, if God is peace then why do we often read of battles amongst nations that have taken place upon God's mandate in many of the OT books? Stephen's contribution on the subject of war has taken a middle ground. He makes a deliberate attempt to find peace between the absolutism perception of war and peace. Some questions do not call for direct answers. Many times we need to think through the various things involved prior to our decision - making. At the very beggining of his essay,a scenario was presented urging us to exercise our thoughts and to enumerate in our minds about some of the expected reactions and responses of a parent in order to protect his daughter. War is not necessarily wrong when it is pursued with the right motive. I have to contend with Stephen's statement "a just war is the last and final action that is to be taken." When everything else has failed and war seems sensible, there is no condemnation in God. In our imperfection we might have opted for the easy way out diregarding other possible alternatives in our dealings, even then I believe God's forgiveness cannot be exhausted. David fought in the light that peace will constantly dwell in the nation. Perhaps, the very thing that has been deciphered dangerous is in actuality the path to peace. Scriptures have shown that war was neccasary if God's purpose was for the nation to be abounded by peace and joy. Morale and ethics are, certainly, elements of life but they do not fully define our personhood. They are not to be worshipped only applied. Having said that, the application of ethics requires God-given wisdom and intercessions.

jdowton

Stephen, I am very interested in your 'playground scenario.' As I read this scenario it seems clear to me that you are somewhat confused as to the true nature of pacifism.
In my understanding pacifism is not 'being passive' and merely letting violence be perpetuated, but it is the non-violent confrontation of violence.
Why is it that the parent in this scenario must react with violence to this situation, instead of merely putting themselves in between the offender and the child, as I believe a 'good' parent should?
If this means that the parent takes a punch in the face on behalf of the child, then so be it.
I think that you need to re-think your understanding of pacifism as being non-activity.
Ghandi, for example, was extraordinarily active in his pacifism.

David McAuley

Having lived in a war torn environment for most of my life, I know first hand the carnage and agony war causes, and the depravities that humanity can go to. I have read Caroline’s comments on the pacifism arguments, and believe there are situations when governments will listen and change their policies; we only have to look at how pacifism worked for Gandhi and Martin Luther King.
However, there are times when Pacifism will not work. I don’t believe Nazism could have been brought down had “Christians and others not averted their gaze for so long.” United Nations sanctions only hurt the individual citizens of Iraq; they didn’t in any small way hurt Saddam or his government.
Unfortunately, we live in a fallen state, and war, depravity, injustice and “mans inhumanity to man” will continue to exist. This inevitably means war. Nicolas is correct to say JWT comes down to three conditions relating to the beginning, the conduct and the end of a war:
(1) Its cause must be righteous.
(2) Its means must be controlled.
(3) Its outcome must be predictable.
The question we must ask ourselves is how should we (Christians) react when we know our governments are involved in wars for non-just reasons, or in the case of Iraq, the government has not given adequate thought to the above questions? Or the government have double standards.
As Christians we are called to love God and love our neighbours (Matthew 22:37-40). Ask yourself the question, is standing by and doing nothing, while people are being killed and suppressed by cruel dictators and governments, truly loving.
War is brutal, and even the most professionally trained soldiers can become deprived. However, intervention can also be the just and loving thing to do, provided we remain focused on humanity and remember to show compassion.

jdowton

I would like someone to give me at least one example of a war that has had:
1) A righteous cause
2) A controlled means
3) A predictable outcome

I'm pretty sure that many people feel that the disgusting preemptive strikes against Iraq were a 'just cause' because of 911 (whatever the link is there I'm still yet to understand), and that the 'shock and awe' tactics were seen as both controlled and as having a predictable outcome.

Is Iraq a 'just war' then?

How can we possibly claim any war is faught with just intentions when we go on about how depraved we are? What's more, most governments aren't influenced by the cause of God, but the cause of power, greed and money.

In my mind the notion of a just war being entered into with pure intentions is a contradiction!

Joy Oon

In my opinion, there is no "Just War". People go for war is because they make it an option to do it. The military decided to go for war for certain reasons. It may be to save people life from being destroyed or vanished. Life is precious and Jesus treasures life and He still do treasures life. Jesus came to give life and life abundantly. Man are a sinful nature. They like to fight and sometimes they fight for without any reasons. They argue, quarrel and have hatred in their heart. These show that mankind is totally corrupted in their own ways of thinking. They do not look to God for the answer. They thought that war is the quick fix things to justify a nation which is in tumour. People of the world are fighting and they have forgotten that the Life Giver who is God Himself our Creator has created us life for a reason. Definately God has not created us to go for war. Basically war is about killing, egos, revenge, hatred and about destroying someone who they have no control in. No one is to suppose to control anyone but God. Everyone should look to God for help and not to murder or take someone life away with their hands through killing. This has to be stopped. Jesus is against murderer. The scripture says "See how Jerusalem, once so faithful, has become a prostitute. Once the home of justice and righteousness, she is now filled with murderers. Once like pure silver, you have become like worthless slag. Once so pure, you are now like watered-down wine. Your leaders are rebels, the companions of thieves. All of them take bribes and refuse to defend the orphans and the widows." Those people who were involved in any war whether it is a just war or whatever they want to call it, have forgotten the one who has breathed life into their nostril. God has breathes his breadth into every moving being on this earth. We are created by the Almighty God. He has a purpose and a plan for each and everyone of us, irregardless of who they are. Whether they are man, woman, children, toddler, rich, poor, young, old, beautiful, handsome, educated, uneducated, physical well or disabled, God has created everyone of them in His own image for a reason. Who are we to decide who to live long on this earth or who are not going to live long on this earth. Who are we? We are all equal. We are all human. We strive to live, to care for our family, friends and relatives because as human we are so understand about our needs for one another while we live on this earth for such a time as this. I think every war that has ever been fought has its own agenda in sight, for it is humanity's sinful nature that causes war. Jesus is against violence. He said that if someone slap you turn the other side of your cheek to be slaped by them too. Jesus heart is all out for the widow, the fatherless, the lost and the poor. Where there is war, people will definately suffer. They suffer from hunger, thirst, pains, lost of love ones,children losses parents and husband loose their wife or wife loose their husband for without any reason because of the evil of war. Does war justify anything in the end. Where and how will the people who lost someone in the war will ever survive in a peace of mind ever again. They will have to suffer all their lives on thinking and grieving of their spouse,children,families, friends and relatives who were unexpectedly vanished in the war. The Scripture says "If a man pays back evil for good, evil will never leave his house.(Proverbs 17:13) In my opinion, war should be stopped and every weapon of destruction should be destroyed immediately before more lives being destroyed and suffering increases. In Exodus 20:13 says "Do not murder". God forbid murder, animals that kill people must die, and any person who murders must be killed. The commandments against adultery and murder and stealing and coveting-and any other commandment are all summed up in this one commandment: "Love your neighbour as yourself". In conclusion, war is war and there is not definition of just war.

Georgena Atallah

War always has its casualties. The author gave a scenario of a child being verbally taunted by a man. However, how many children get caught in the cross fire of war and end up being just another causality. Understandably, no parent would remain passive while the child is being abused, but how many children die and moreover, suffer physically and emotionally due to the outbreak of war? How many parents and children loose loved ones due to war and can do nothing but remain passive.

The author examines the ‘just war theory’ by St Augustine and outlines the criteria of a just war. The criteria set down is brief and vague. In agreement with the author “every war that has ever been fought has its own agenda in sight.” Every individual has a different worldview and their individual bias will inevitably affect how they interpret the criteria set to ensure a just war.

The author’s section on Jesus and war is great and presents many good insights. Jesus came and taught the people an elevated theology of appropriate living towards God and one another. He most assuredly became a peacemaker between sinful humanity to God. However, He himself did not come to bring peace but a sword, He would set “a man against his father, a daughter against her mother-in-law and a man’s enemies will be the members of his own household (Matthew 10:34NIV).”

Like the author I too hate war, but while it means freedom and liberty for some, many others are held in bondage (whether physically or emotionally). While one party triumph, another mourns. While one country rejoices, another buries its dead. While we cannot deny the reality of war, as we still live in a fallen world, we must therefore recognize the reality of war and accept it could never be just, at least not for all.

Joshua Ballard

In response to Josh Dowton's question: "Is Iraq a Just war?"

My response comes in the form of another question:

What does Iraq, or American foreign policy have to do with the ideals taught by a Just War theology?

My first thought would be not a lot, except that conservative republican politics demands that Americans can give a "just war" face to thier foreign policy efforts.

Just like Hitler calling himself a Christian was a misappropriation of the title...so would most wars (I'm trying to leave room for some that I don't know about) that have been fought throughout history, have not been "Just Wars" even if they called themselves that.

The mistake would be to assume that just because we can't identify any wars that have ACTUALLY been just with completely pure motivations, that there could not possibly be an appropriate just motivation for warfare.

In a better defined just war framework, we could possibly (or even most probably) find that the bulk of American, or even the rest of the international community's military action is actually unjust. Surprise, Surprise.

I think at this point, I would parrot Georgena's statement, that Just War will never be just for ALL parties.

Two completely Just parties cannot contradict each other...in a conflict, if one IS just or "right" then the other must be "wrong".
Of course, if both are "unjust" or "wrong", then neither party needs to be right.

Determining WHO is "right" and who is "wrong" is another issue altogether. Just because we have difficulty working this out...does not mean that we should abandon the theory of just war.

Cynthia Asante

To comment on Stephen’s conclusion, the fact that he hate war but if it would bring freedom and liberty then he has no objection, in this case I think his conclusion is very straightforward. Since that conclusion is something that can be on every person’s mind for not being involved and taking responsibility of what’s going on concurring other nations. Meaning nations that go through war day in day out is something that we should consider. However in my opinion throughout the years we have seen that there is still no peace and freedom. Thus the question is ‘is it worth still going for war’? The things that we hope to get out of war are still not reaching completely. Perhaps we should consider something different then war. Furthermore Stephen continues saying that as long as sin and selfishness are not removed in a human the possibility of not having war is impossible and I totally agree with him.

Ash Jensen

Steve’s argument is good. However, the analogy of the child in the park was I believe lacking. I think there could be other analogies better fit for the topic. This child in the park analogy draws on injustice and punishment. From what I understood, it paints a picture that war is justifiable, and we are an innocent, child-like victim, and our enemy is completely wrong. After reading the pacifist and middle ground arguments, and taking to account the millions of innocents that die due to war conflict, I am torn.

Reality is that we dwell in the “now, and not yet”. Perfect peace will only be seen in paradise. That doesn’t mean that we don’t try out best to achieve peace now... but does war bring peace? I doubt it. We can’t forget that the act of war itself is an invitation for retaliation. It is never-ending. However, the realist in me says that we can’t sit back when injustice constantly knocks at our door. This is where I particularly like point 5: it has to be the last resort and all other alternatives must be exhausted. If all other possibilities are exhausted, and no other options surface, than what can we say? We must do what must be done.

autumn hardman

To comment on the statement, "is there such a thing as a just war" we are really asking, do we inflict pain and suffering for the greater good.... are we not? I don't think there can be an absolute answer, try as we might.
What about in the OT when God commanded the Israelites to kill others - members of their own community? Was that just? It was murder.... it went directly against the 10 commandments. Which was right? Either option posed disobedience to God in some form. When we look at the present world situations, is it ok to cross justice for a moment in order to have justice in the end? Another perteninent question might be -where is the punishment/discipline for wrong doing in the world, and by whom is it regulated?
Certainly not questions I presume to know the answer to but think they are worth raising.

jared shaw

the road to distinguishing the justification of war is one well troden. if there is one point worth restating, it is that war is horrible. if in any case it can be avoided, then undoubtedly that seems the right course of action. Throughout Scripture we can see story after story of wars and battles. A good point made was of the apocolyptic war to come. i am left with this conclusion... war as a whole cannot be judged itself. and futher, each particular war needs careful examination. evidently, judgements are made about different wars without knowing all the facts. in fact, is it possible to undertsand fully the different minds and motives that are going into each encounter? it would be unreasonable to state that all war is sin, and the opposite would be equally unreasonable. our theolgy has much to say, but in the end, each different situation has its own motivations and biases. a pacivist at heart, i beleive war should be avoided wherever possible. Having said that, i would take action to rescue my little girl every single time without doubt. in end, if it cant be resolved through other means, some things are worth fighting for..

Alex Landmann

First of all, I think your blog about the jwt is absolute brilliant. As I understand the jwt, this theory seeks the justification of a war. Fortunately do we have seven criteria we first have to fulfill, before we are permitted to use military force. These seven criterias are as mentioned above:
1. having just cause,
2. a good reason for going to war,
3. being formally declared by a proper authority,
4. possessing right intention,
5. it has to be the last resort and all other alternatives must be exhausted
6. having a reasonable chance of success,
and
7. the end being proportional to the means used

How good is that, finally we find a legitimation for a just war, just give me a second to apply these criterias quickly:

1. Having a just cause - Yeah, God is just and a foreign force occupies our country
2. Good reason for going to war - well, the war came to us, reson enough
3. Being former declared by a proper authority - is there a higher authority than Allah?
4. Possessing the right intension - the intension is to fight for a free Muslim World, this is the highest intension one can have
5. last resort - people have the opportunity to convert in peace, if they do not, we have to use force
6. chance of success - Allah will give us victory
7. the end justifies the means - sure

With this sarcastic illustration I do not want to attack or insult neither the author of this blog nor any Muslim. What I illustrate is that the application of this theory is possible for anybody, even for Terrorists, as this JWT is subject to subjectivism as anything else. It is just not practible, because who is the one who decides if these criterias are given? War is not a soccer game with a referee who makes sure that the match remains fair, just and reasonable. In case of war, there is no neutral opinion that is capable to decide whether these principles apply. Therefore, these principles are nice but useless.
Still, sometimes humanity has the responsibility to care for each other and we cannot and must not close our eyes if a tyranic and oppressing government of a country kills its own people and threatens the rest of the world. Action has to be taken, decisions have to be made, but the words "just" and "war" in one sentence remain theory.

Joshua Ballard

Alex, the question is not whether or not someone can bend JWT to suit their own particular theology, but whether or not the war is (or can be) ACTUALLY just.

Christians (or perhaps less controversially, "Non-Muslims") would have a subjectively "JUST" reason to respond to a Muslim aggression which is framed on such criteria.

This is not the point.

The question is can there ever be a legitimate reason for warfare? JWT argues that there can be. Do the criteria that even JWT proponents use to regulate what is definable as a "Just War" actually work?

Perhaps not.

Personally, I'm not a fan of the criteria...there seem to be too many holes to be poked in the 7 steps or whatever.

This does not mean that Just war theory is faulty in and of itself. The details definitely do need to be re-defined, and after all...the Just War theory was developed by Christians for Christians.

If we want to go around developing just war theories for Muslims, all you need to do is look to Pope Benedict's recent statements on Reason's (logos) role in Christian theology vs. the role of Reason in Islamic thought.

Stephen Wall

Thanks for your thoughts Alex,

And your alternative is? :)

Sarcasm is great but in the reality of imminent war, an invasion, a coup d’etat or terrorism, I think we need a little more than a sarcastic stance or it will backfire on us. :) So what is yours?

You say 'just' and 'war' in a single phrase is a theory. I agree wholeheartedly with you... I would be a fool to disagree - you see if you look at the phrase JWT it say at the end... theory! [1]

Yes it is a theory - Unfortunately so is much of what we claim to know in life yet we still have to move foreward and still have ideas, theories and methods for action or we will regress and become stagnant as people. Humanity evolves[2] or regresses depending on thinking. Some ideals have pushed humanity forward like no other whilst other ideals or ideologies have taken humanity in on itself and brought death, hurt and pain and regression in society. (ie, the dark ages)

These theories need to constantly be evaluated and sharpened so that humanity has the opportunity to live the "ideal" life. One of freedom and abundance that Jesus promised. An ideal we do not yet see displayed in the world today if we are honest - unless my understanding of abundant life is incorrect. Ideals and theories are what we put forward to obtain peace, justice and stability, however nothing happens as the ideal would have us think but does that mean we stop thinking or working towards a better end.

JWT is one of them - the JWT, though not fool proof by any means. By that I mean that fools can take it out of context, and use if for their own greed, sinister fantisies or power struggles. [3] I am not pinpointing any race or religion because all have the potential for good or evil - even those who claim to be CHRISTians. This could be the case in every field of life; even under pacifism where people willingly lay down their life to be seen as a martyr or to be seen as a hero. Look at Church history where martyrdom became seen as a heroic act even when it was not actually necessary in certain situations. Unfortunately on the left or right you get the "crazy ones".

The problem with theories, concepts and ideologies in all spheres of life, be it in this case the JWT, Middle Ground or Pacifism is that they are thought out by thinkers who probably have never fully experienced what they are thinking about, or have experience and are embittered over the situation and therefore appoach it with a bias or bent, or if they have experienced it, are now far removed from that which triggered their thoughts in the first place. There is a lot more i could say here but wont do so.

Alex, we live in a peaceful contry were war is out of sight and often not a true reality in our personal daily existence. We know war is going on, and we express our concerns, horrors and our well wishes over the situation, then go on about our daily lives and foget about it. Why, because we are not experienceing the situation first hand to be able understand its harsh realities, and the pains or separations of war, yet neither are we seated in the place of those who have been opressed over years and want like we all do, to have a chance to be free to make choices for their own lives and families without fear of death, jail, or beatings etc.

Yes, I feel there are times when non-violence is applicable, but I also know there are times when war or force is necessary if all else has failed. To protect and maintain stability sometimes this may be required - even if it is not without pain or death. Unfortunately we can never know the final outcome only a predicted one.

So I guess we agree on something and there is a start. :) "War" and "Just" are not synonomus and probably are not the best fit to go together, but I still maintain that war, can be justified if right reasons or criteria are met.

[1] Theories need to be developed and honed and I ageee this theory does need refining.
[2] not in the sense of natural evolution but in the sense of a revolution of thinking, ideals, or as you say theories etc
[3] I am not calling anyone who disagrees with me a fool, rather those that twist this theory to engage in illegitimate war.

Doreen van der Spek

Stephen, I like your conclusion and I fully agree with your take on it. Reading the previous two articles on the issue of war vs. pacifism and commenting on these blogs, I have come to conclude that I take situationalistic approach in these matters.
I think war can be just, but these two words indeed seem to very much contradict each other. I wish we were able to get black and white answers on these kind of issues, but the reality is that we don't. Arguments from both sides are very compelling and therefore I again state that for now I take a middle ground position, where I believe that in some cases it is more acceptable to go to war than in other situations. Ideally, I would also rather live in a world where people would get along with each other and be humble and not selfish, but as you stated as well, this is certainly not the case. So until Jesus comes again, I guess this will be a very real issue that we need to not shy away from, but think about and take a stand in. Whether that stand it pro, agaist or somewhere in the middle. (This might seem contradicting, but that's not what I mean).
Living in beautiful & PEACEFUL Australia should never cause one to be too narrow-minded and idealistic in their thinking and not to think about this matter, so thanks for challenging us!

Katie Elmore

"The aim of the JWT is to provide a way of showing that fighting a war can be morally superior to overlooking it."
In his article Stephen Wall makes it clear that a 'just war' is a somewhat of a contradiction, maintaining that the term rather refers to a time when war is justifiable to enter into. I believe there are times where this is the case. It is true, as J. Dowton suggested, governments enter into war often for reasons of greed and the pursuit of power, but simply because this is often the case, does it mean we throw out the concept altogether, assuming it's never possible to act justly, in proper proportion and with righteous intent? Certainly, to enter into a war in God's name is beyond dangerous, and arguably insane. However, making the claim that all Christians need to respond to injustice/violence non-violently disarms the arm of justice God himself has instituted. If the decision for protection of people under my responsibility became threatened, I would feel it is my [God-given] responsibility to respond appropriately, and with force if I saw that was necessary. Is God then 'telling' me to enter into war? No, and I could not stand before him and suggest such a thing. However, I am instructed to act according to my conscience and conviction and 'act justly' as Micah instructs, on behalf of those for which I must give account before God. The JWT, as Wall suggests, asserts that responding to a situation of warfare may be morally superior, in some cases, than overlooking it, and I believe that.

adam white

I tend to agree with Katies position. As Christians we are certainly not called start wars or promote violence as the answer or anything like that, however the reality of this life means that at some point we may be faced with a real situation where we are being threatened with harm or see a situation where a person is being harmed. I guess it's at this point that we find out what we really believe about war and violence. Given these circumstances, I think it is anything but unbiblical to do whatever is neccesary to prevent violence, as Josh D. pointed out, if it means cop a punch in the face in order to protect your family, then so be it. But if the situation requires further action, such as physical restraint in order to protect the victim, then this is more than justified.

Rowena Giunta

Excellent work Stephen. You have grappled well with the incongruencies inherent in the theory and done a wonderful job of depicting the overall attitude of Jesus. Although there were some who considered your 'child in the park' example inappropriate I think it was an apt way do address inaction, especially in a community that has so little experiential reference from which to draw when discussing these issues. Your discussion of Armageddon is particularly pertinent as it reminds us of what actually lays ahead; a blood bath ordained by God!?!????

At the close of the day, as much as I vehemently abhor violence of any sort, there comes a time when to do nothing in defence of others is undeniably morally wrong. This is the stance of those who espouse 'just war' and although I would dearly love to be a pacifist I cannot ignore this core truth.

Again, excellent work, you actually helped me come to a conclusion!

Ann-Elise

Sorry guys,
I am not satisfied and once more the fence shall be inhabitated by me!!! I could get comfy up here.
I dont want to sound ignorant, yet I really didnt want to read all the posts so I read the ones that looked interesting and am now replying (I hate it when people do that but pls forgive me!)
I want to raise the following question. Early Pentecostals were opposed to war until war was upon their doorstep...
How much of our belief is based upon the Bible or our conscience and how much of it is based upon the fact that we are from the nations with the greatest military power and the highest military budgets? We won the last major wars and only really failed in Vietnam.
Interestingly, I believe we would find more pacifists amongst the persecuted church were they do have to watch loved ones suffer and die for their faith.
Does this excuse us from action when action is possible?
If every christian lived in a Pacifist manner, would War exist? Would we all be persecuted or would there be peace on earth...
Steve, your argument was briliantly written, persuasive, emotive, personal. You engaged and debated skillfully.
But you havent persuaded me...
I do like the clarification you made regarding the term "just war" while not "right" war can be morally the best course of action...possibly...

"Yet we are still part of a geographical kingdom and if necessary we may need to fight for that kingdom." again possibly...
"To conclude, a just war is the last and final action that is to be taken. I hate war and would not subject anyone to it, however if it meant freedom and liberty for many then I personally would not object. My preferred way was that all humanity could get on without having to war, but until sin and selfishness is removed then I am not sure this is possible." Probably...
WHY ISNT LIFE EASIER!!!

Michael Bingham

War is a smelly poo! we all hate it but the fact is: it is a part of life!
We try to flush it down the toilet and forget about it - but someone has to deal with it.
We can bury it in a hole, but if you do and not learn from the past then you can poisen the water down stream.
Others walk in it everyday...
I'm not in a possition to make descisions about war - we elect people in government. I firmly believe that God put them in power and He can take them out of power.
I fully agree with ash - Reality is that we dwell in the “now, and not yet”. We can only really experience true peace aftern Christs return.
I think we should do all we can 'now' to acieve peace. sometimes war brings peace, other times it has only lead to ongoing retaliation.
I agree, it has to be the last resort and all other alternatives must be exhausted. To one, it is a just war, to another it is not... only time will tell.

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