• is an organized and often prolonged armed conflict that is carried out by states or non-state actors. It is characterized by extreme violence, social disruption, and economic destruction. War should be understood as an actual, intentional and widespread armed conflict between political communities, and therefore is defined as a form of political violence or intervention.[1]
  • a state of usually open and declared armed hostile conflict between states or nations : a period of such armed conflict[2] ; a state of hostility, conflict, or antagonism ; a struggle or competition between opposing forces or for a particular end
  • a conflict carried on by force of arms, as between nations or between parties within a nation ; a state or period of armed hostility or active military operations ; a contest carried on by force of arms, as in a series of battles or campaigns ; active hostility or contention; conflict; contest[3]

  •           War is a peculiar human activity, in that it can bring out some of our best traits, such as courage and self-sacrifice, yet also elicit tremendous cruelty and suffering. Although each of the world’s major faith traditions preaches compassion and justice, many of the most horrendous wars in human history have ironically been fought in the name of religion.
              Three major world religions have their roots in India: Hinduism, Buddhism and Sikhism. Buddhism and Sikhism both grew from Hinduism. All three share the idea of non-violence (ahimsa).
    1. The Hindu tradition contains a very strong ethic of reverence for life. To kill or harm another creature is a serious offense that corrupts one’s soul and delays one’s achievement of enlightenment. But Hindu ethics have also been strongly influenced by the caste system with its fatalism and narrow role expectations. One of the main castes is that of the warrior. If a person is born into the warrior caste, he is obliged to kill enemy soldiers if needed to defend the religious community. On the other hand, total war in the sense of indiscriminate killing seems to have been prohibited fairly consistently. Hindu soldiers are not to kill prisoners, the wounded, deserters, or non-combatants. Why not? Apparently out of a sense of fairness or chivalry: it would be "unprofessional" to attack non-soldiers.
    2. Buddhists - They avoid killing sentient animals, but they accept the killing of plant life even though they consider plants to have souls. More to the point, some Buddhists also think it can be right to kill an unjust human attacker if necessary to save the lives of two or more innocent people
    3. In the Islamic tradition there are also precedents for total war. Although Muhammad was said by an early biographer to have taken the path of non-violence at first, he soon came to justify the use of force not only in defense of his growing religious community but also in the form of offensive war to expand the territory of Islam. And the rules he set for fighting such wars were fairly harsh: although women, children and the elderly were not to be directly attacked, Muhammad permitted his warriors to kill all captured soldiers and male civilians. Also, when foreign women and children were killed by Muslim soldiers in battle, Muhammad denied that they were responsible, placing blame on the enemy leaders instead. This is a claim which unfortunately continues to be made today by leaders of Islamic terrorist groups, who accept no moral guilt for killing innocent civilians. There are also influential Muslim leaders today who completely condemn terrorism against innocent civilians, and limit the recourse to war to defense alone.
              Islamic teaching is often misunderstood in the West, particularly on the matter of Jihad. What does Jihad mean? One scholar wrote: 'Jihad means to ‘strive’ or ‘struggle’ in the way of God.' Jihad has two further meanings: - the duty of all Muslims, as individuals and as a community, to exert themselves to realize God’s will, to lead good lives, and to extend the Islamic community through such things as preaching and education, and : 'Holy War' for, or in defense of, Islam. In the West Jihad has retained only the meaning of 'Holy War'.
    4. Jewish  - one of the Ten Commandments listed in Exodus 20 is "Thou shalt not kill." Was that meant to be an absolute prohibition of all killing? We might think that the Hebrew Commandment applies to all killing of people, especially if we consider the idea expressed in Genesis 1 that human beings are created in God’s image or likeness. That would seem to imply that they have infinite dignity and value, and should never be killed. But apparently the Hebrew Bible did not intend to prohibit killing people completely: the proper translation of the Exodus passage is "Do not commit murder," which presumably covers some killing but not all. Also, in Exodus chapters 21-22 and elsewhere, God is said to command killing--in the form of capital punishment--for many offenses including murder, kidnapping, and striking or cursing one’s parents. But given that murder is prohibited, we might assume that the ancient Hebrews would have considered total war to be morally unacceptable. But that was not the case. The first of the Commandments prohibited the Israelites from worshipping any other gods but Yahweh. God demanded purity and strict obedience. Idolatry and blasphemy were punishable by death. Non-Israelites who lived within the area believed by the Hebrews to have been promised to them by God were seen to pose a great temptation to them to abandon their faith. This led them to justify the slaughter of entire cities and "everything that breathed" in them (See Joshua 6 and 10 and Deut. 7. Whether such massacres actually occurred is irrelevant here.) It’s somewhat surprising that a slightly different set of rules was prescribed (in Deuteronomy 20) for dealing with Israel’s external enemies. An ultimatum was given to them to submit to forced labor, or all men would be killed and the rest enslaved. That’s not much of a choice, but somewhat different from killing "everything that breathed."


    I. The Just War Theory - The Just war Theory holds that Christians may engage in war if the war in question meets certain criteria that establish it as a "just" war. These criteria vary slightly in different accounts, but in general the agreed criteria of the Just War are as follows:
    1. War may be waged only by a legitimate authority.
    2. War may only be fought for a Just cause.
    3. War may only be fought with the right intention.
    4. War may only be waged after all other options have been exhausted.
    5. The war must be defensive, not aggressive.
    6. Force used in war must be proportional and non-combatant immunity must be respected.
    7. The war in question must have definite goals and a reasonable chance of winning.
    8. The war in question must not demand unconditional surrender or seek to prolong the war.
    II. Preventative War - This view holds the basic features of the Just War theory, but allows for some wars that are not technically defensive. If conflict is imminent and certain beyond a reasonable doubt, a preventive strike is acceptable.
    III. The Crusade - This view essentially holds that war is acceptable to further the cause of the church and the gospel. In many ways the crusade view allows for most wars so long as the result is positive. This is the view held by medieval Christianity and Islam. It still claims some adherents today, although they are somewhat out of the majority in Christian thought.
    IV. Christian Pacifism or Non-Violence - This view holds that war is never an acceptable option for a Christian. Christian Pacifists holds that the example of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus gave us an example of non-violence and love that Christians are called to follow through their discipleship. Christian Pacifists do not expect the world's problems to be solved through their rejection of war, but rather see it as part of the church's witness to the world sustained by their faith in God.
    Christian pacifism is also closely connected with a strong view of the Kingdome of God. Christian Pacifists see the Kingdom of God as the fundamental locus of our allegiance and service. This kingdom is not based on war, but on the God whose reign is established through his death on the cross. In view of the suffering, death and resurrection of Jesus as the fundamental paradigm for Christian life, war is necessarily excluded. Pacifism was the view of the early church until the conversion of Constantine and the Edict of Milan that was issued in 313 AD.
    Christian pacifism is the theological and ethical position that any form of violence is incompatible with the Christian faith. Christian pacifists state that Jesus himself was a pacifist who taught and practiced pacifism, and that his followers must do likewise.
    Here are the major elements of the strict pacifist viewpoint :
    1. According to pacifism, war is inconsistent with the law of non-resistance preached and modeled by Jesus Christ. . The pacifist tradition is based on its interpretation of part of the Sermon on the Mount. Jesus said: “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).
    2. Following Christ’s command to turn the other cheek, many pacifists believe that it is better to suffer violence than it is to commit violence. They believe this was taught by Jesus, and modeled by Him in the words of Peter: “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” (I Peter 2:21).
    3. Pacifists believe that war is inconsistent with the ethic of love. Again, quoting from Jesus in 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” (Matthew 5:43-44). Pacifists say, “Jesus called us to love our enemy, not take up arms against him. We are to pray for those who persecute us.
    Objections to the pacifist interpretation of Scripture
    WAS JESUS REALLY A PACIFIST? A comprehensive study proves that He was not. In John 2:14, Jesus comes to the Temple and finds people selling “oxen and sheep and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables.” Jesus sees that the religious leaders have turned this, His father’s house of prayer, into a marketplace. Instead of prayers and supplications, there is the noise of commerce. Jesus is burning with anger and indignation. The zeal for His father’s house consumes Him. “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” (John 2:14-15). This was a physically violent response on the part of Jesus. This makes it abundantly clear that Jesus was not a strict pacifist. The Bible is also clear that Jesus was sinless. Even in this situation, he did nothing wrong.
    In Luke 22:36-38, Jesus is preparing His disciples for His departure. He knows that the Jewish leaders are decidedly against Him. In the past, when He sent His disciples out, He took care of all their needs. But now things are going to change. “And He said to them, ‘But now, whoever has a money belt is to take it along, likewise also a bag, and whoever has no sword is to sell his coat and buy one. For I tell you that this which is written must be fulfilled in Me, ‘And he was numbered with transgressors;’ for that which refers to Me has its fulfillment.’ They said, ‘Lord, look, here are two swords.’ And He said to them, ‘It is enough.’”
    What is the context here? When traveling from city to city, people of that day often had to carry a sword in order to fend off robbers. Jesus told His followers that He was going to send them out there, and warned them to be prepared to defend themselves when appropriate. Clearly, Jesus was not a pacifist.
    Pacifists fail to make a clear distinction between a Christian’s private and public views. In Romans 12-13 we find Paul’s explanation of the role of the Christian and the State. Here he lays out some fine distinctions between how were are to conduct ourselves privately and publicly—how we are to manage our person, and how we are to manage our office.
    In Romans 12:17-21, Paul lays out the responsibility of the Christian INDIVIDUAL. “Never pay back evil for evil to anyone. If possible…” Notice the qualifier, “if possible.”
    “If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”
    What is Paul saying? There will be times when you cannot be at peace with all men. But when it is possible, when it depends on you, as an individual, strive for peace.
    “Never take your own revenge, beloved, but leave room for the wrath of God, for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. But if your enemy is hungry, feed him, and if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.”
    These are words very similar to those of Jesus. Verse 17 and 21are saying the same thing: Never pay back evil for evil, and overcome evil. These two verses act like bookends in the text—one at the beginning and the other at the end. Everything between these two bookends supplies the definition and context for what Paul means when he says “evil.”
    What is evil? Don’t take your own revenge; that is evil.
    Why is it evil? Because you are usurping the prerogative of God who alone has the wisdom to know when retribution ought to be enacted. God is to be the judge, and God’s ministering authority, the State. Individuals should not take matters into their own hands. That is God’s job. To do otherwise is to usurp God’s right and to usurp the right of the State.
    So, the evil that Paul, and I believe Jesus, had in mind to resist here is the evil of personal vengeance. The Scriptures are forbidding us from taking personal revenge. That is a lot different than forbidding us to pursue justice.
    It is no coincidence that Paul follows this passage dealing with the Christian’s private response to evil with a Christian’s public response to evil. In chapter 13:1-4, we see the role of the State.
    “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God. Therefore whoever resists authority has opposed the ordinance of God; and they who have opposed will receive condemnation upon themselves. For rulers are not a cause of fear for good behavior, but for evil. Do you want to have no fear of authority? Do what is good and you will have praise from the same; for it [government; the State] is a minister of God to you for good. But if you do what is evil, be afraid; for it does not bear the sword for nothing; for it is a minister of God, an avenger who brings wrath on the one who practices evil.”
    What is Paul saying? He is building an argument. First of all, government is established by God. As a minister of God, it acts as an avenger to promote good and to punish evil (some translations say “evildoers”). Essentially, the role of government is to promote justice.
    As individuals, we are not to seek personal vengeance. We need to be willing to suffer injustice as Christians, and make an appeal to our God and to our State. We are to entrust ourselves to God. But, as members of the State, we are to work for justice against evil, for the sake of others and of society. That creates a tension for many Christians, trying to understand when is the right time to turn the other cheek. John Stott put it this way, “If my house is burglarized one night and I catch the thief, it may well be my duty to sit him down and give him something to eat and drink, while at the same time telephoning the police.” We have a private responsibility and duty, and we have a public one.
    Jesus set very high standards for his followers on love and forgiveness, including non-retaliation against evil and love of enemies: "You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.' But I say to you, do not resist those who wrong you. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn and offer him the other also…. You have heard it said, 'Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for your persecutors." (Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44; compare Luke 6:27-29.) Most early Christians seem to have interpreted Jesus's order to prohibit all uses of force, even in defense of the innocent. When God said (on Mt. Sinai), and Jesus affirmed (in Sermon on the Mount) “You shall not kill”, all understood that to mean that God’s children should respect life itself and the Creator-God who is the author of life. That respect means that we do everything we can to, not only refrain from taking of life, but to preserve and protect the life that God has given. When life (in this sinful world – not what God originally intended for us) presents us with a situation in which protection of the life God has given us and our loved ones, may only be accomplished through a defense of life that may result in the evildoer’s death. We are entrusted by God with Christian judgment to make decisions that God will use for everyone’s good. Roman soldiers who met Jesus, John the Baptist, Peter and Paul were apparently not asked by any of them to abandon their roles. And in Romans 13, Paul wrote: "Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God." He who is in authority "is the servant of God to execute his wrath on the wrongdoer." Paul seems to permit the state to use force, but not individual Christians.
    With Ambrose and his student Augustine appears the first significant Christian development of just-war principles. They stipulated that war must only be waged by a legitimate governmental authority; it must be intended to restore peace and justice; it must be avoided altogether if justice can be achieved by nonviolent means, i.e., war should only be used as a last resort. There were also limits on the conduct of war: reprisal killings and massacres were forbidden. I can understand why people might see nonviolence as the logical extension of compassion. It seems impossible to reconcile love of enemies with killing them, as Ambrose and Augustine tried to do. People have a right to defend themselves, not only an obligation to defend others.
    The common theme that was derived from all sources is that a Just War philosophy is supported by a Christian morality. Although punishment is a tough love to bear, it is the love of God that ultimately delivers justice on earth through the tool of war. Therefore since issues of life and death are foundational to war, Christians should have strong and clear convictions regarding the matter. War is a dreadful thing, and one should respect the courage of an honest soldier that fights for justice. People who are called to fight for justice ought to do it with their heads held high and diligently perform their duty of upholding justice. The presence of sin in the world means that is sometimes regrettably necessary to use force in order to secure justice for the innocent and the helpless. However, when war is considered, its legitimacy must be carefully evaluated. Christians are permitted, but not commanded to be a part of such war efforts.
    John Calvin emphasized that a Christian soldier should never use force to gain self-advantage, but “use force out of love for thy neighbor.” Standing by and refusing to act while harm befalls a neighbor is not a virtue; it is a vice.
    In doing so, Christians should remember that their ultimate allegiance is not to the State; it is to the commands of God. We don’t initiate or go to war because that state tells us. Unfortunately, history shows that individual Christians and churches have rarely stood up effectively against the State when the war is unjust. It is too easy for people to get caught up in patriotism. It is all too easy to buy into nationalistic interests. People are often so close to the situation that they cannot objectively judge the legitimacy of taking action against another nation. That failure was evident in Nazi Germany, where the Church became a lapdog to the State. Yes, there were those who stood against it in defiance, but most did not. The Church also failed in Constantine’s Rome.
    Yes, there are times when war is just. We must be careful to step outside of nationalistic thinking and critique our nations so that we can be faithful to God, before our State, and then act according to our conscience.
    Allow me to quotes one of the responses from the survey that Christopher B. Watkins did about war, “The real question doesn’t begin with should we or shouldn’t we fight a war. Every situation is very different. The real question is, have we really sought out the will of God in the first place? How much time have we spent praying every day? How much time have we spent with God, seeking out the answer from Him.” Personal conviction still matters to me. For me being a police or be part of military is a calling. Just like what missionaries and Pastors have. They are called to defend human life and not to take it.

    [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War
    [2] http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/war
    [3] http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/War?s=t
    ETHICS AND WAR IN COMPARATIVE RELIGIOUS PERSPECTIVE|By Dr. David PerryURL : http://www.scu.edu/ethics/publications/submitted/Perry/ethics.html
    WORLD RELIGIONS: WAR AND PEACEURL : http://www.ppu.org.uk/learn/infodocs/st_religions.html
    URL http://christiananswers.net/q-faith/fc-warperspectives.html
    Copyright © 2003-2005 by Christopher B. Watkins
    Original release October 2003 ; Updated October 2005

    Post a Comment

    We are also on Facebook!

    Choose your topic!