Introduction: Throughout history, Christians debated whether they should or should not go to war. There are many different views and theories. The most are Pacifism theory and Just War theory. (Salvatore) There are also other views including “Nonresistance” view and “Preventive War” views.
(Barrick) Pacifism Theory: “A pacifist is someone who believes that under no circumstances is war justified.” (Salvatore) Pacifism believes a full refusal toward doing violence or joining the military. (Grimsrud) War is conflicting with the “law of nonresistance” lectured and demonstrated by Jesus Christ, in a part of the Sermon on the Mount, as indicated by pacifism. (Salvatore) The “law of nonresistance” as mentioned by the instruction of Jesus Christ’s “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.
‘ But I say to you, do not resist an evil person; but whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also”, Matthew 5:38-39, it is better to accept suffering rather than inflicting it to others according to pacifist. (Salvatore) Pacifist also used 1 Peter 2:21 “For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” to support their claim. (Salvatore) Pacifist claims that because Jesus suffered on the cross and did nothing to return the evil, one must follow Jesus’ action and resist doing terrible and violent things no matter what happens.
(Salvatore) War is also the opposite of Jesus’ command of love and how Christians should show love. (Salvatore) From Matthew 5:43-44, from the “Sermon on the Mount”, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”, pacifist claims that Jesus commanded that everyone has to “love our enemy” and “pray for those who persecuted us.
” (Salvatore) An objection toward pacifism is whether Jesus is a pacifist or not. (Salvatore) In the Bible, John 2:14-15, said that “And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables” this shows that Jesus is not a pacifist and was angry, destroying the marketplace in the temple. (Salvatore) Because pacifism doesn’t use the whole Bible, it could be said to be unethical. (Salvatore) There are also many other critics of pacifism. One of them is that pacifism is cruel.
(Grimsrud) Critics said that pacifism refuse to take responsibility in order to stop evil in this world. (Grimsrud) An example given is about the “attacks on the World Trade Center” on September 11, 2001, by Michael Kelly. (Grimsrud) American pacifist refused to counterattack terrorism; because terrorism is cruel, pacifist could also be said to be cruel. (Grimsrud) Not only that, critics also said that “pacifism is irrelevant”, “pacifism is worldly” and also “pacifism is passive”. (Grimsrud) Just War Theory: Another major view is the Just War theory. (Salvatore) A few understandings are the pillar of the Just War theory. (Salvatore) History said that this theory is used for a long time to put brutality aside in battle. (Moseley) Some historical records claim that the theory helps gives special thoughts on captives and the innocents or non-fighting people.
(Moseley)The first understanding is “War is never good. But it is sometimes necessary.” (Salvatore) This is so because the world is filled with sin. (Salvatore) James 4:1-2 said that because sin exists, war will also exist. (Salvatore) This means that sin is the root of war.
(Salvatore) War is sometimes necessary in order to fight against sin. (Salvatore) The second understanding is that “Necessary wars are to be conducted within the limits of justice.” (Salvatore) The creation of the Just War theory is so that war will be just.
(Salvatore) During a war, there is no good and evil and only a mixture of those two. (Salvatore) Because humans are sinners, the ethics of Just War theory is applied for a “just” war. (Salvatore) The last understanding is “Only governments, and not individuals, have the right under God to carry out retribution.
” (Salvatore) This means that not everyone is allowed to start a war. (Salvatore) The Just War theory could also be separated into two different parts, before and during the war. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) Before the war, there are multiple criteria. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) The first two of these criteria is that war must have a “just cause” and a “just intention”. (Salvatore) According to Just War theory, war is only allowed when there is a good reason for it and not due to individual hostility. (Salvatore) The intention of war must also be just in order for peace. (Salvatore) The third criteria is that “It is the last resort”. (Salvatore) War could be started if it is the only alternative left.
(Salvatore) The fourth criteria is “Competent authority”. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) Declaring a war can only be done by the leader of a country and not by other citizens. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) The fifth criteria is “Comparative justice”. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) During war, there are many lives lost and many victims; the value of war must be greater than those risks. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) The sixth criteria is the “Probability of success”. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) The proving of war is important in order for the war to be just, therefore success could determine the point of the war. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) The last criteria are “Proportionality”. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) War results in cruelty and pain; therefore the result of war must have less wickedness and pain compared to if war does not happen.
(The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) There are also few criteria “during war.” (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) The first criteria are “Proportionality”. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) During war, “before war” criteria should also be engaged. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) In order for war to be ethical, terrible weapons that could cause more pain should not be used unless it is the last result.
(The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) The last criteria of “during war” is “Discrimination of noncombatants”. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) In order for ethical war, only armed and strategic targets are allowed. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War) Civilians during warfare should not be engaged, in order for an ethical war. (The Catholic Church and Its Stance on War)Additional Views on Christians and War: Additional views include “Nonresistance” and “Preventive War” view.
(Barrick) “Nonresistance” view is the view where Christians should not go to war and kill. (Barrick) This view only allows Christians to perform religious acts which involve the Holy Scriptures to be involved. (Barrick) The widening of “Just War” theory is called “Preventive War view”. (Barrick) This view allows only retaliation against invaders. (Barrick) This view allows retaliation without notice to the invaders. (Barrick) It does not allow first aggression. (Barrick) They are just like “fences” and only go to war to prevent further evil from happening. (Jensen) Another view is the view where Christians can fight if they must.
(Jensen) These Christians are told that God doesn’t get involved toward the idea of war and not on either side. (Jensen) They can go to war but they also believe that God doesn’t take any part on it. (Jensen)Ancient Churches Dealing with War:During the first 300 year of the Church, many Christians enforced the idea of pacifism as their main belief. (Salvatore) Many ancient Christian preachers said that the idea of war and violence is against the teachings of Jesus.
(Salvatore) Before Saint Constantine, a Roman Emperor in AD 300s, there are no author who say that being involved in war is allowed. (Sider) Because of this actions, historical records show that there are increasing number of Christians who joined the Roman army throughout the 3rd and 4th centuries comparing to years before. (Sider)Ancient Churches also use war to achieve their goal, especially during The Crusades. (History.com Staff) The Crusades happened around 1096 until 1291 AD. (History.
com Staff) Its goal is to claim the Holy city of Jerusalem for the Christians and not for the Muslims. (History.com Staff) The Crusades ended up in many violence, death and also losses for the Christians.
(History.com Staff) The Christian Crusader was seen as barbarians for the Muslims since they slaughter people of other religions that are not Christians. (History.com Staff) Bible verses about War: There are many Bible verses that spoke about war and how we should view it. (Wellman) The Bible say that there is a specific moment for everything in Ecclesiastes 3:8.
(The Holy Bible) There are specific moments to do things, even killing and waging wars. (Wellman) God has ways to teach cruel people or communities. (Wellman) God may use weaker communities to teach cruel ones. (Wellman) The only problem is that we need to know the current moment and what to do which could be done by our devotion with God.
(Wellman) Jeremiah 51:20 also say that God can use us, God’s people, to destroy tyrants. (The Holy Bible) God also can use other nations to discipline God’s people if they misbehave. (Wellman) Matthew 24:6 said that we should not fear war because war will happen.
(The Holy Bible) This verse doesn’t approve us on war but it told us that war is inevitable especially when Jesus is going to come the second time. Jeremiah 51:20 say that God can use us, God’s people, to destroy tyrants. (The Holy Bible) God also can use other nations to discipline God’s people if they misbehave. (Wellman) Isaiah 2:4 said that we should not go to war or practice the idea of war and only God can “judge nations” and “decide disputes” when the time is right.
(The Holy Bible) This verse say that one day there will be peace in order to develop nations. (Wellman) This graph shows that people currently prefer Nonviolent in order to develop their nations. (Chenoweth) Deuteronomy 20:1 says that God is always with us even if the enemy is stronger than us. (The Holy Bible) We should not fear when God is with us and while we are doing his cause. (Wellman) Lastly, Proverbs 24:6 said: “for by wise guidance you can wage your war, and in abundance of counselors there is victory.” (The Holy Bible) We can wage war when God told us so and we can win it with the help of God. (Wellman) Can a Christian fight in War? Many Christians misinterpret the idea of “turn the other cheek” in Matthew 5:39.
(Rodgers) The Sermon on the Mount is when Jesus told the idea of “turn the other cheek” and the sermon only indicates our lives and not during a war. (Rodgers) Another misinterpreted idea is “thou shall not kill.” (Rodgers) We should not commit “murder” and not kill in combat according to this statement. (Rodgers) It is lawful that the leaders of the state to defend their population, according to Romans 13. (Rodgers) There are also many cruelties caused by Christians such as The Crusades and The Holocaust. (Rodgers) The Crusades are responses to reclaim Jerusalem.
(Rodgers) Fighting for a “holy site” is fine but racism or killing unjustly are not lawful. (Rodgers) As Christians, we are taught to love our enemies, but if war must happen, it has to be done. (Rodgers) Because in the old testament God told his people to fight other nations, it is not unlawful to go to combat. (Slick) In order for God to teach evil people, He uses war. (Slick) If war followed God’s command in order to “protect the innocent”, then war is allowed. (Slick) Soldiers who go to war are not allowed to rob the citizens according to Luke 3:14.
(Slick) At the right time and circumstances, war is allowed. (Slick)Conclusion: Throughout history, war has been seen by Christians in many ways. Some Christians think that we should not go to war, while others think that war is fine under the right circumstances. Many people misinterpret the ideas of the Bible and therefore create their own views toward war.
When the Bible is correctly interpreted, war is allowed by the Bible only if it is lawful and to protect against further tyranny.