Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Christian Theory Of Just War 2

II. OUR HISTORY ... (excellent historical review follows in article)

... after many years of studying and teaching history, and not from a liberal or politically correct diet of source, I have come to fear that for all our affluence and prosperity and power and even Christianity, we Americans are in a bad way. Our history washes over us like a sea of blood. We now view our supposed enemies as so many digital figures on a computer screen. We urge our children to share and play and don’t hit, and yet our national identity is holding a rifle in one hand and a Bible in the other. (And by the way, I will always support – with Bible and rifle if necessary – our Biblical and Constitutional right to carry both.) We tell our children to find peaceful solutions even as we continue to bomb cities full of women, children, old folks, and babies. Old and young, black and white and brown, we make very good fighters and very good haters. ...


Where to turn but for a remedy to Him who is not a respecter of persons – or nations. To Him who opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. To Him who delights not in the strength of the horse or chariot, but takes pleasure in those who fear Him. In the fifth of Matthew we read of the Beatitudes – the "be happy-tudes" – from Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount.

"And seeing the multitudes, (Jesus) went up into a mountain: and when he was set, His disciples came unto Him:
And He opened His mouth, and taught them, saying,
'Blessed are the poor in spirit: For theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.'"

Some Bible commentators attempt to dismiss any temporal applications of this famed passage and suggest Jesus’s intentions regarded strictly spiritual matters, as if the two are not part and parcel of one another. Many others just sort of scoot past the issue. Some, however, unpack, in the case of the "peacemakers" of Matthew 5:9, the implications for the believer in relations with others that are not limited strictly to evangelism.

The splendid Reformed theologian William Hendriksen, for instance, while declaring that the gospel of peace is the preaching of Christ Crucified, wrote:

"’Blessed are the peace-makers, for they shall be called sons of God.’ A blessing is here pronounced on all who, having themselves received reconciliation with God through the cross, now strive by their message and their conduct to be instrumental in imparting this same gift to others. By word and example such peace-makers, who love God, one another, and even their enemies, promote peace also among men. . . . True peace-makers are all those whose Leader is the God of peace, who aspire after peace with all men, proclaim the gospel of peace, and pattern their lives after the Prince of Peace." ... (excellent review follows in article)

... So what are the key tenets of the theory of Just War? Well, many have been put forward in many different forms through the centuries. However, thanks to the efforts of the aforementioned men and many others (refer again to article), including some contemporary men such as conservative evangelical Presbyterian minister and economist Ron McKenzie of Christchurch, New Zealand, we can arrive at a consensus catalog of guidelines by which to estimate a war or a proposed war.

First, a Just War must be waged by a legitimate government authority. That is, not by private citizens, pirates, or usurpers. Also, its cause must be justifiable self-defense – as opposed to seeking the territory or property of others or furthering one’s own economic, social or political interests – and its intent to restore a just peace, fair to all. And it must have a reasonable expectation of success in accomplishing that goal.

A Just War must only be fought as a last resort, when every conceivable alternative has been exhausted. Its use of force must be proportionate in response to the wrongs committed. For example, burning every home within a five-mile radius of a partisan ranger ambush of uniformed regular soldiers would not be a proportionate response. Or bombing those homes from 15,000 feet in the air when they contain no soldiers.

Other tenets of Just War with solid Biblical basis include not having a large standing army (Deuteronomy 17:16, 1 Kings 10:26-29, Isaiah 31:1) and not possessing offensive weapons (Deuteronomy 17:16), Just War does not allow for the attacking and damaging of the land that is God’s creation (Deuteronomy 20:19), for "the tree of the field is man’s life," and "the earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof." This item alone precludes the use of nuclear weapons, which by nature harm both the land and non-combatants. And, the defensive military alliances so common in recent generations – and so loathsome to America’s Founding Fathers – are decried in Isaiah 31:1–3 and elsewhere.

Rev. McKenzie, the New Zealand minister, further illumines the Just War philosophy when he writes how "God determines the appointed times of the nations and the timing of their rule. (Acts 17:26). No nation has the authority to invade another nation to change its government (even if it is evil). A nation cannot even be invaded to establish democracy. "Democracy," McKenzie continues, "must come from the hearts of the people, it cannot be enforced from the outside." Most attempts by great powers to establish ‘better’ government by force in other nations have failed, because the spiritual forces that control the nation have not been defeated (Daniel 10:13)."

And finally, non-combatants must be preserved from harm. That is, "collateral damage" is not allowed for, nor acceptable, however "regrettably." The first Geneva Convention on War in 1863, and others since, have minced no words: attacking defenseless cities and towns, as well as plundering and wantonly destroying civilian property, are war crimes, performed by war criminals.


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