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Friday, September 13, 2013

A just war, or just another war?

Augustine of Hippo (Sandro Boticelli, c. 1480)
Some religionists have a theory about what they call a "just war."  If this sounds too oxymoronic in English, perhaps the Latin might make it go down a bit easier.

Bellum iustum is what Wikipedia calls "a doctrine of military ethics of Roman philosophical and Catholic origin."  The Catholic part is rooted in the theology of Saints Augustine of Hippo and Thomas Aquinas.  Both felt that "Christians should
not be ashamed to protect peace and punish wickedness."  They even went so far as to assert that "peacefulness in the face of a grave wrong that could only be stopped by violence would be a sin."

Aquinas laid out detail after detail of how a "just war" should be waged.  Such as war must be waged by an authority that stands
for the common good, it must be for a purpose other than self-gain, and peace must remain its ultimate goal.

If all this sounds like speeches you've been hearing lately, that is no accident. World leaders are continuing to draw upon this theory in order to justify aggressive actions.  The trouble is, both sides within most wars
utilize this same theory to prove that God is (indeed) on their side (and their side only). 

With these kind of (heavenly) high stakes, any "just war" is very much in danger of becoming just another bloody vendetta. 


Copyright September 13, 2013 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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