Re: Theological reflection on Just War

From: James W Stark (
Date: Thu Oct 25 2001 - 09:04:16 EDT

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    on 10/24/01 5:48 PM, Jonathan Clarke at wrote:

    > Thanks for this most interesting piece which eloquently defends just war
    > against terrorism. I certainly agree that war can be waged justly, with the
    > Gulf and Falklands wars as two relatively recent examples. Given current
    > events, I feel that some discussion is necessary, although I do so with some
    > trepidation, given the depth of feeling in the US towards the outrages of
    > September 11 and the current anthrax insanity.

    I read and downloaded David S. Yeago's Lutheran reflections for closer
    Humans are quite able to create eloquent rationalizations with persuasive
    evidence on almost any topic. They always select the information to use as
    evidence for defense of a personal worldview. Are they seeking God's truth
    by defending their personal brand of truth?

    Consider Walter Wink's analysis of just-wars. In _The Powers That Be_ he
    identifies a list of criteria to evaluate just-wars. Paraphrasing, a
    just-war must:
    1. have a just cause
    2. be waged by a legitimate authority
    3. be formally declared
    4. be fought with a peaceful intention
    5. be a last resort
    6. have reasonable hope of success
    7. use a means that possesses proportionality to the end sought.

    He suggests that all just-wars only perpetuate the myth of redemptive
    violence. They seek to justify violence, which Jesus strongly opposed.
    Only non-violent means will bring a lasting peace.

    This war against terrorists will not remove the anger that triggers their
    hatred. Only many non-violent activities can dissipate that anger through
    love. To bring a lasting peace we must mount a vast campaign of non-violent
    responses, which our churches ought to be focusing on.

    With deep concern,

    Jim Stark

    Clarke continued to write:
    > Action against terrorists and terrorists organisations is certainly just.
    > Whether bombing third countries who harbour or even give official shelter and
    > support to such terrorism falls under the cloak of waging war justly is
    > another matter. Groups that many would consider terrorist have sheltered and
    > found support in the US, sometimes with official sanction. Does this give
    > the countries who have suffered from the depredations of these organisations
    > (Britain, Cuba, Nicaragua, Russia, Cambodia, to name some) the right to take
    > military action against the US? The present US military based approach
    > against terrorism seems very similar to that taken by Israel against the
    > terrorism it has suffered in the last 20 years. It has seen the once famous
    > Israeli military machine humiliated and tainted by atrocities and not solved
    > the problem. Israel is a more dangerous place to live than it was 20 years
    > ago.
    > If there is any lesson that can be drawn from the past 50 years of terrorism
    > and guerilla warfare is that containing with terrorism is a matter for police
    > and intelligence forces, backed up by judicious use of the military, when
    > required. Dealing with terrorism requires dealing with the underlying causes
    > for it. The US should ask itself why is it hated to such an extent that
    > people are prepared to sacrifice themselves to kill thousands of its citizens.
    > The reasons have nothing to do with Brush's delusional nonsense about the US
    > being hated for its freedoms, wealth and power. There are other free,
    > wealthy, and powerful countries out there who do not suffer terrorist outrages
    > to anything like the same degree. They have to do with a hypocritical and
    > self-serving foreign policy and bully-boy military actions.
    > Thoughtfully
    > Jon
    > wrote:
    >> Besides the ranting of Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson, I've seen very little
    >> in the way of theological comments on the events following Sept. 11. However,
    >> Lutheran theologian David Yeago has a nice thoughtful article in Pro
    >> Ecclesia, the journal of the Center for Catholic and Evangelical Thology
    >> (CCET). It's entitled "Just War: Reflections from the Lutheran Tradition in
    >> a Time of Crisis:, 2001, v.10, no. 4, and is currently online at
    >> Although written from a Lutheran
    >> perspective, it should be of interest to a broader theological audience as
    >> well.
    >> And while you're visiting the CCET website, take note of the upcoming
    >> conference. A while ago on this list (last summer?), there was discussion
    >> regarding Mary. CCET is sponsoring a theological conference "Mary, Mother of
    >> God -- On the unique relationship of Mary to Christ and the Church and her
    >> place in the tradition of Christian worship, music, and the arts", to be held
    >> June 9-11, 2002, at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Previous
    >> conferences by CCET have resulted in multi-authored books published by
    >> Eerdmans, so I presume this one will also.
    >> Karl ******************************* Karl V. Evans

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