Daily Archives: August 7, 2011

Christian “Just War Theory” is Too Christian, Say Critics.

A possible ethical approach to the Iran question

A strange, but rather interesting article from the CNA.

It would appear that there are objection to an US Air Force Ethics Course incorporating the Christian take on war. Living in Europe, I had thought that some nuChurch pacifist had expressed objections to the idea that war be “Christian” in the first place, but the problems seem mainly to pivot around the fact that in some people’s mind, Christian ideas should not be part of a course of Ethics held by the armed forces.

The logic of this fully escapes me. Even as a Christian, I wouldn’t have the least objection in learning, say, what Classical Greece’s prevalent thoughts about just war were. It seems to me that one has a legitimate right, even if he happens not to be a Christian – or a believer, come to that – to have a grounding in historical facts about the way ethics – or religion – and war have interacted.

Not so, say the critics. War must be seen from a perspective that is completely kept separated from any religious thought or tradition about it.

Once again, it seems to me that these kind of people are not worried about the separation of Church and State, but are worried about cancelling Christian thought from every aspect of Western civilisation.

Besides, it is fair to say that Christianity has greatly improved warfare exactly from the ethical point of view, so that an explaining of the Judeo-Christian influence on warfare makes perfect sense even for the most atheist of soldiers.

The course is also criticised for the extensive use of prevalently Old-Testament verses to give an ethical – and here, clearly religious – justification to war. As if the vast majority of soldiers were required to forget that they are Christians when they learn how to be ethical soldiers. How absurd.

Lastly, allow me to say that after decades in which Jesus has relentlessly been described as a Birkenstock-wearing flower child, to know that there are ethical courses describing Him as “the Mighty Warrior” is absolutely refreshing.

The texts are now under review and the basic question is whether a presentation of the Christian perspective of war – as opposed to a pure “rational” explanation of just war based on “rational ground”, which can’t exist unless these grounds are based on Christianity – is allowed.

Let us hope that reason prevails.


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