Summary: Three positions on Christians waging war
¡§Should Christians go to war, and if so, in what circumstances?¡¨
The subject we are going to talk about today is nearly too current with what¡¦s been going on in the Middle East, ¡§Should a Christian go to war, and if so, in what circumstance?¡¨
„X Before we get into the subject, let¡¦s start by seeing what your initial reaction is to the question
„X What do you think, ¡§Should a Christian go to war?
Give you some scriptures to look at and see what conclusions you come up with
„X Just War: Rom 13:1-7, Mark 12:17
„X If we were to read these scriptures in isolation, what conclusion would you possibly come up with
Over the centuries of the Christian church, there has developed a shifting consensus on a Christians attitude to war
The Early Church
„X Christian writers before the time of Constantine (Early 4th Century) uniformly opposed to all participation in war
„X So they advocated pacifism or non resistance
„X So for 200 years, the church was opposed to war ¡V willing submitted to persecution
„X However, we do know from scripture that some Christians did serve in the military ¡V Cornelius for instance
The Imperial Church
„X Emperor Constantine came to power and nominated Christianity as the official religion of the Empire
„X Consensus shifted to the position of a ¡§Just War¡¨
„X Why was this?
„X Aside from the periodic persecution of the church up to this time, most Christians like today live quiet and peaceable lives
„X It was easy to be a pacifist sitting in your comfortable house in Rome letting the Roman Legions keep the peace for you
„X But now the Church and State are united, do we all suddenly turn pacifist and allow the barbarian hordes to plunder the empire
„X Or do we now turn to scriptures like Rom 13 which gives the state the authority to keep the peace
„X Let¡¦s put this in thinking in today¡¦s world
„X Its easy for us sitting here in the comfort of Australia with its laws regarding religious freedom with a standing army protecting us and these principles for which we stand and argue Christians should be pacifists
„X But let¡¦s for a moment place ourselves in the island province of Ache of Indonesia where there is serious and daily persecution and the Islamic militants come charging into your village wielding machetes and screaming death to the Christian Infidels, wouldn¡¦t you want to defend your family?
„X What would you do? Is it legitimate in these circumstances to defend your family?
„X You might say, ¡§Well they should pray for God¡¦s protection!¡¨
„X Well, I¡¦m sure they are. When your life is threatened, it has a extraordinary way of making you focus on prayer, and I¡¦m sure their prayers are more fervent than ours
„X But we know God does not always answer our prayers as we would like ¡V Ask Stephen for instance, or the many martyrs down through history
„X Let me ask you, if your house is burning down, is all you do is pray?
„X Circumstances have a way of forcing us to look at things differently
„X So the church had to look at things differently now that circumstances had changed
„X The army suddenly became the instrument of the church for maintaining ¡§Pax Romana¡¨
„X So this Theology for a ¡§Just War¡¨ was developed primarily by Augustine of Hippo (North Africa)
„X Augustine is responsible for developing many of the orthodox Christian beliefs we believe in today
„X He developed a criteria for the waging of a ¡§Just War¡¨
„X You¡¦ll hear some of these same rules bantered around in the present discussion of whether or not the US should legitimately go to war without UN sanction or approval
„X Here are the criteria.
1. Just in its overall intent: To restore peace
2. Just in its Object: To vindicate justice
3. Just in its disposition: Waged in love
4. Just in its auspices: Waged under Properly Constituted Authority
5. Just in its Conduct: Specific rules derived from Classical Antiquity (Like Geneva Convention today)
6. Members of the clergy not to fight at all
7. Wars to be waged, not with joy and thanksgiving, but in a mournful mood
„X In the 13th century, Thomas Aquinas said, For a war to be just, three things are necessary
1. Public Authority, or the secured good will of those governed.
2. Just Cause, when the provocation is clearly initiated of evil.
3. Right Motive, when the end, or aim of response is righteous.
„X Three other factors that have been added to the argument for a just war