Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Just War?: The Criteria for Just War

Cole lays out pretty simply “Why Christians Should Fight” in this chapter with some unacceptable options as well. The good reasons are pretty simple.

1. Proper Authority. You can’t declare war unless it is your place. There’s some disagreement among the different theologians whether revolution is acceptable or not.
2. Just Cause. This is the most difficult issue, I imagine. Self-defense and restoring what has been wrongfully seized are basic, but some of Augustine’s other reasons are debated by some. Tehse are: avenging wrongs and punishing an unjust nation.
3. Right Intention. Is the goal to advance the good and avoid evil? It should be.
War as the Only Way to Right the Wrong. This obviously has to be within reason as those opposed to war could always say there’s something else that can be done.
4. Reasonable Hope of Success. There are some reasons to surrender. It may be more responsible to live under the rule of another than to have your nation leveled.

One unacceptable reason people go to war (that some try to put off as good) is “Comparative Justice.” The idea is, it seems, it’s OK if we’re bad, so long as we’re not as evil as our enemy. But just war is not seeking to be less evil; it is a positive good and an act of love toward the neighbor flowing out of a relationship with God.

One more noteworthy issue is the idea that just war theory grew out of Christian nation-states and the current liberal state that does not favor a particular faith means just war cannot be applicable any longer. Regardless of their stance toward faith, Christians should not support a state that is engaged in an unjust war. Christians must either fight or protest passionately, depending on the justice of the war in question.

Do you find these criteria satisfying? How do they apply to the challenges we face as a nation?

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