Posted by: sean | March 14, 2008

Emmanuel McCarthy: Just War Theory

Christian Just War Theory: The Logic of Deceit by Rev. Emmanuel Charles McCarthy, rev. 2/14/2003, 3.7, Center for Christian Nonviolence Website, download the whole book here

Christian natural law just war theory validates its existence on the basis that it seeks to save one’s life in this world and therefore supposedly is divinely entitled to employ means that are 180 degrees opposite the means taught by Jesus during his public life and employed by him when his own survival was threatened in Gethsemane and on Calvary. Isn’t it time for Churches to candidly confess that just war theory is not a means of survival but it is rather the means by which one loses his or her life? Isn’t the moment ripe to teach that he or she who lives by just war theory will perish by just war theory? Isn’t it time for Christian leadership and laity to summon the courage to proclaim to the world that it is the risen Jesus Christ who teaches us us how to survive not Aristotle, Plato, Cicero or any lesser philosophical, religious or political light?

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Responses

  1. We should not make or enforce any civil laws which are based upon the 10 Commandments either because after all it is really about protecting our worldly possessions/lives, it is not about justice.

  2. Sandra,

    Why is protecting people’s property/livelyhood mutually exclusive with justice? Isn’t justice making sure people are treated with equality and care that all people deserve?

  3. John, Yes to both questions. Very simply put, you make no difference between the evil LAW BREAKER who attacks and kills another and the LAW ENFORCER who kills the law breaker in attempt to stop the attack. Now you may say policemen are different from soldiers but police protect citizens from attacks WITHIN a country and soldiers protect citizens from attacks from OUTSIDE a country, both are agents of authority and both must use weapons as the fight is often to the death. In all honestly you best never call upon police for help and just pray if you are following your principals as you state. The Sermon on Mount is about being “civil’, about personal relationships. In fact the translation of the word kill refers strictly to civilians killing other civilians. This word differs from another word for kill used in the Bible which refers to killing done in wars. Romans Chapter 13 is correct context for this topic, not the Sermon on the Mount. Romans Chapter 13 is about Authorities, i.e., police who protect WITHIN a Counrty, soliders who protect from attacks from OUTSIDE a country. Romans Chapter 13 says ALL authority is established by God for our good, to maintain justice and peace. Of course we live in a Fallen World and the people who fill the roles of authorities are very often corrupt and evil but God has ORDAINED AUTHORITY (this is not referring to the character of the people filling the roles, it refers only to the position of authority). Yes, God is the Highest Authority! God is also sovereign. Yes, as Christians we must obey the Highest Authority, God Himself, and not blinding follow earthly authorities as if earthly authority was the Highest Authority. In conclusion there is NO condemnation of soldiers in the Bible. There are 2 Roman CENTURIONS/Soldiers (centurions commanded 100 soldiers) in the Bible: One had “faith greater than Israel” and Cornelius “who gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly” (Acts chapter 10). God spoke to this soldier! God used this soldier to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles! There was NO condemnation in the Bible of Cornelius’ position of soldier. But some of you say he gave up soldiering later. Well one can read ANYTHING into silence. Now you say the early Chrisitians just lay down their weapons and allowed themselves to be martyred, well, as civilians they were obeying the authority within their country in accordance to Romans 13. Now many pacifists say that ALL early Christians (even soldiers) threw away their weapons but it’s just not written about in the Bible. Well, one can read anything into silence. If being a soldier was so bad don’t you think something would have been said to or about the 2 Roman Centurions (Centurions commanded 100 soldiers) telling them they must change their ways as this grave sin? In summary: you confuse personal behavior with public behavior there is no condemnation of soldiers in the Bible.
    Respecfully (just using the sword of the Spirit)
    Peace, Sandra

    there is Cornelai

  4. John, Yes to both questions. Very simply put, you make no difference between the evil LAW BREAKER who attacks and kills another and the LAW ENFORCER who kills the law breaker in attempt to stop the attack. Now you may say policemen are different from soldiers but police protect citizens from attacks WITHIN a country and soldiers protect citizens from attacks from OUTSIDE a country, both are agents of authority and both must use weapons as the fight is often to the death. In all honestly you best never call upon police for help and just pray if you are following your principals as you state. The Sermon on Mount is about being “civil’, about personal relationships. In fact the translation of the word kill refers strictly to civilians killing other civilians. This word differs from another word for kill used in the Bible which refers to killing done in wars. Romans Chapter 13 is correct context for this topic, not the Sermon on the Mount. Romans Chapter 13 is about Authorities, i.e., police who protect WITHIN a Counrty, soliders who protect from attacks from OUTSIDE a country. Romans Chapter 13 says ALL authority is established by God for our good, to maintain justice and peace. Of course we live in a Fallen World and the people who fill the roles of authorities are very often corrupt and evil but God has ORDAINED AUTHORITY (this is not referring to the character of the people filling the roles, it refers only to the position of authority). Yes, God is the Highest Authority! God is also sovereign. Yes, as Christians we must obey the Highest Authority, God Himself, and not blinding follow earthly authorities as if earthly authority was the Highest Authority. In conclusion there is NO condemnation of soldiers in the Bible. There are 2 Roman CENTURIONS/Soldiers (centurions commanded 100 soldiers) in the Bible: One had “faith greater than Israel” and Cornelius “who gave generously to those in need and prayed to God regularly” (Acts chapter 10). God spoke to this soldier! God used this soldier to bring the Gospel to the Gentiles! There was NO condemnation in the Bible of Cornelius’ position of soldier. But some of you say he gave up soldiering later. Well one can read ANYTHING into silence. Now you say the early Chrisitians just lay down their weapons and allowed themselves to be martyred, well, as civilians they were obeying the authority within their country in accordance to Romans 13. Now many pacifists say that ALL early Christians (even soldiers) threw away their weapons but it’s just not written about in the Bible. Well, one can read anything into silence. If being a soldier was so bad don’t you think something would have been said to or about the 2 Roman Centurions (Centurions commanded 100 soldiers) telling them they must change their ways as this grave sin? In summary: you confuse personal behavior with public behavior there is no condemnation of soldiers in the Bible.
    Respecfully (just using the sword of the Spirit)
    Peace, Sandra

  5. Three addionial points:

    1) Point number one -It was about fulfilment of “Lamb of God” not loving others: Jesus commanded Peter, “Put your sword away! (What! His followers were carrying swords! What! Not throw the sword away but PUT the sword away). Shall I not drink the cup the Father has given me?” (It was not about not killing another because of love but it was about fulfilling His purpose, being the Lamb of God aas a sacrifice for our sins). Also, in all honestly, would you teach your children not to use knives by first telling them to GET A KNIFE then telling them to PUT the knife away?

    2) Point number two – It’s about God as the owner of life not loving others: Humans are not allowed to “murder” because God created all life, humans are made in God’s image. All life BELONGS TO God. Our bodies are God’s property thus humans are not allowed to take God’s property. For example: Isn’t that the agrument for “pro-life”? Thus it the central reason is not loving others and thus this changes the entire argument. If an attacker or attackers try to take life shouldn’t we do everything we can to prevent human life from being taken? Don’t soldiers as AGENTS of authority, the POSITION of authority itself being ordained by God, protect the God established peace from outside attack?

    3) Point number three – Yes, it’s about love also so what about the helpless victims being attacked, aren’t we suppose to love the victims as well as the attackers? Therefore, in all honestly, if you truly follow your argument then you best not call the police since police may very well have to kill the evil attacker. You can ONLY pray and allow evil to go unchecked as the battle. It’s God’s spiritual battle and we are to do nothing but pray.
    Using the “Sword of the Spirit” to discern Spiritual Truth (Hebrews chapter 4 verse 12)

    May God’s peace be with you, respectully,
    Sandra

  6. Jesus did not die on the cross as an example to us to be passive in the face of evil. God said the wages of sin is death. The Bible, traditional Christian teaching says Jesus was the “Perfect Lamb without blemish” and sacrificed Himself for us out of love, to satisfy God’s justice. Thus the Just War Theory is that we are to sacrifice ourselves, to give our life to the point of death, out of love for others. It’s about Justice. The Just War Theory is not about saving one’s life on this earth but sacrificing one’s life on this earth, to the point of death, in defending citizens from evil attacks which come from within a Nation and from outside a Nation. The institution of government and its agents is ordained by God Himself, who is the Highest Authority, to keep order and enforce justice, which promotes peace and prosperity for citizens. Obviously we are all sinners, living in a fallen, corrupt world but God is Sovereign. Nothing on this earth happens that He does not allow. Please read in the New Testament Bible Saint Paul’s letter to the Roman people, chapter 13. Or do you reject one of the greatest Fathers of Christian teachings, Saint Paul’s teachings, that all authority comes from God and all government agents are God’s agents?


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