Is war ever justifiable? I contend that there is no such thing as a ‘just war’. We must ask the question: “What does Jesus say about fighting for King, country, empire, freedom or democracy?” Can violence overcome evil, even if it is the lesser of the two evils, and is it morally acceptable?
We live in a society in which the law intervenes if we injure, hurt emotionally or physically, or kill another human being. Yet in war, our soldiers are encouraged to kill soldiers and civilians, all in the name of patriotism! What sort of logic says that if I go to another country and kill people I would be jailed or executed, but if our politicians declare war I can put on a uniform and be encouraged to kill.
The ‘just war’ theory was invented when the emperor Constantine made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire. It has been used throughout history by the ‘Church’ to legitimise killing, suffering and devastation. During the middle ages the priesthood would tell their Kings that their evil plans were justified because the other side were even more evil. Continue reading “Just war theory, non-violence and Jesus”
Was Jesus a pacifist? Does he expect his followers to be pacifists? Is it right to defend ourselves, or our loved ones, from violent attack? Is non-violent protest the only way to change the world? Should we use military means to prevent the excesses of violent dictators in the world. These are difficult questions, but if we want to follow Jesus we must take his teaching seriously.
As I look at this world, I am convinced that the only way evil will ever be overcome is by love and forgiveness. Non-violence is proactive and not cowardice. Turning the other cheek, going the extra mile, involves bravery and being convinced that in the end, love wins.
Jesus very plainly said that we were not to resist an evil person using force. There are no qualifiers to his statement, no get-out clauses and no exceptions. Continue reading “Jesus: Responding to Violence”
I was asked recently to speak at one of a series of meetings with a general theme of “War and Peace”. This article is an expansion of my notes.
What did Jesus say about war? What did he say about patriotism? Did he encourage his followers to be pacifists? Jesus did not address these issues directly at all, but his teaching does give us some principles which can totally change our attitude to war and our attitude towards our enemies.