Articles Archive
  => Despite the Circumstances
  => THE KING GLORIFIED (JOHN 19:16b-42)
  => Gospel
  => Whom do you trust?
  => Diligence is the Secret

            Augustine (354-430) was the first major theologian who attempted to develop theory to distinguish justifiable and unjustifiable wars.[1] In the Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas restated the teachings of Augustine. Just war theory has been defended within the Christian tradition by Augustine, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin, Victoria, and Suarez. In modern times Pius XII, James Childress, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Reinhold Niebuhr and Paul Ramsey have embrace it.[2] Just War theory is a set of moral principles to be used in determining (a) when fighting a war is justified? (jus ad bellum) and (b) what is the proper conduct of war? (jus in bello). The principles under the two categories—Jus ad bellum and Jus in bello are explained below.[3]

Jus ad bellum (Justness of War)

Legitimate authority: Private individuals and groups are not permitted to take up arms against others, however justified their cause may appear. Only governments—those who have been entrusted with the public good—may wage war, and they must do it openly and legally.

       Just cause: A government may wage war in self-defense, in defense of another nation, to protect innocents or to regain something wrongfully taken. The desire for personal glory or revenge, or to impose tyrannical rule, is never an acceptable cause for waging war.

       Right intention: The ultimate end of a government in waging war must be to establish peace, rather than to use a just war as a pretext for its own gain.

       Last resort: A governing authority must reasonably exhaust all other diplomatic and non-military options for securing peace before resorting to force.

       Reasonable chance of success: A government may not resort to war unless its prospects for success are good. In this way, lives will not be needlessly wasted in the pursuit of a hopeless cause.

       Proportionality: A government must respond to aggression with force only when the effects of its defensive actions do not exceed the damage done by the aggression itself.

Jus in bello (Justice in War)

Noncombatant immunity: An authority waging war is morally obligated to seek to discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. While civilians unfortunately may sometimes come in harm's way, a government may never deliberately target them.

       Proportionate means: This criterion pertains to specific tactics of warfare and seeks to restrict unnecessary use of force. It is intended to ensure that the military means used to achieve certain goals and goods are commensurate with their value, particularly when compared to the loss of life and destruction that could also occur.

            From Thomas Aquinas and later writers, these principles have become

accepted as the rules of engagement for a war that is justified. The theory in a nutshell, Augustine argued that any just war must have only peace as its goal. Its purpose must be to secure justice. It must be waged in love. The decision must be made not by private citizens but by the ruling authorities who are responsible for the conduct of government, and the war should be conducted with a human consideration and a minimum cruelty.[4] There are plenty of arguments are provided by the formulators and adherents of just war theory to prove it biblically ethical. Some of those arguments are given below.

Biblical Argument for Just War

            The biblical arguments of the just war doctrine primarily based on God's command and assistance in the Israeli wars against its enemies. “Old Testament clearly presupposes that warfare can be a legitimate activity for a believer.”[5]

       Abraham, who is given as an example of faith by the New Testament writers (Romans 4:11,12; Hebrew 11:8-10), led a military expedition to rescue his nephew Lot (Genesis 14:13-16).[6] This Abraham's battle lends support to the conclusion that unjust national aggressors should be resisted as well as unjust individual aggressors (1 Samuel 23:1-2).[7] So it is righteous to use military force and liberate the oppressed from the hands of a tyrannies of today.

            The author of Hebrews in New Testament explicitly testifies the war atrocities of the judges as positive examples of faith (Hebrews 11:32-34). By this faith, these saints “conquered kingdoms, enforced justice... became mighty in war, put foreign armies in flight.” Davis says, “from the New Testament perspective... the enforcement of justice has higher priority than non-violence when the two values conflict.”[8]

            Jesus did not condemn the centurion for being in the cruel roman army, but he commented his faith saying, “not even in Israel have I found such faith” (Luke 7:9). Neither John, the Baptist told the soldiers to leave the army and repent from your sin (Luke 3:4). Even Peter did not condemn the Cornelius's position in Roman authority, rather he says, “any one who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him” (Acts 10:22). This leads to an assumption that a God fearing centurion in Roman army “does what is right” in his position.

       In New Testament Jesus and Paul have lucidly separated the Church from the State. They are two separate kingdoms (John 3:3,5; Colossians 1:13). Jesus who came to ordain the Church (Kingdom of God), said, “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:13) and he also told “Give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's” (Mark 12:17). The Church has the prophetic role and the State has the authoritarian role to rule over. Governments are established by God and they are specially authorized to use force in discharging that responsibility (Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14). “Government is of God. Whether in the religious or civic realm, God is the God of order and not of chaos (Genesis 9:6; 2 Corinthians 14:33, 40).”[9]

       McQuilkin questions, “Government has a responsibility for restraining evil, protecting its citizens from criminals, and maintaining their welfare. Does it not also have the responsibility to protect its citizens from criminal nations?”[10] Obviously, a government has biblical grounds to go to war in the nation’s defense or to liberate others in the world who are enslaved.

            In his writings about the proper role of civil government, the apostle Paul stated that the ruler does “not bear the sword for nothing. He is God's servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer” (Romans 13:4). “The sword (machaira) in question is not merely a ceremonial instrument; in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, the same word is used for deadly weapon (Genesis 34:26; Judges 3:16).”[11]

       Mcquilkin feels that the Humans have been chosen as the instruments both of God's judgment and grace. God has chosen civil governments as the primary agents of his judgment, and the Church as the primary agent of his grace.[12] So the military is not a evil occupation as such. It is really a ministry of God to execute justice on behalf of the government (Romans 13:4). Geisler says, “Sometimes God delegates the authority to take a human life to other humans. This was clearly the case with the power of capital punishment given to Noah after the flood (Genesis 9:6).”[13] So man sometimes be a tool of judgment of God.

                                                                                                                                The Vital Need of the Just War

            The just war is needed for two major reasons—self defense and liberation of the oppressed. Every government is responsible to protect its citizens with out any dangers from in and out of the country. If an enemy country is planning to attack and destroy our country, it is the duty of our government to predict and plan for the self defense. The second is to liberate the oppressed people from the regime of the arrogant autocratic. James says, “any one knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins” (James 4:17). If a particular country suffers under a barbaric tyranny, the other countries should come forward to help and free the people from the suppression.

            At least, a Christian country, which knows and able to do good should take initiative to help the oppressed people. So in these times, a just war is inevitable in order to bring peace and good to the world. As pope John Paul II has stated, “those who are tempted to impose their domination will always encounter the resistance of intelligent and courageous men and women, prepared to defend freedom in order to promote justice.”[14]


Islamic Jihad and its Impact

Quran and Jihad: The classical Islamic conception of jihad in the sense of warfare comes not from the Quran directly, where the term jihad is used to refer to the believer’s inner struggle for righteousness, but from the jurists of the early Abbasid period (the late eighth and early ninth centuries A.D.), who developed it in the context of war with the non–Islamic world.[15] In recent years the most common meaning of Jihad has been Holy War. And there is a long tradition of Jihad being used to mean a military struggle to benefit Islam. The historian Bernard Lewis states that "the overwhelming majority of classical theologians, jurists, and traditionalists [i.e. Hadith experts] ... understood the obligation of jihad in a military sense."[16]

Impact on West: In February 1998, long before the September 11 terrorist attacks on America, Osama bin Laden and four other leaders of radical Islamist groups in various countries issued a fatwa,[17] or religious ruling, calling for jihad against “the crusader–Zionist alliance” in the following language:

In compliance with God’s order, we issue the following fatwa to all Muslims: the ruling to kill the Americans and their allies—civilians and military—is an individual duty for every Muslim who can do it in any country in which it is possible to do it, in order to liberate the al–Aqsa Mosque [Jerusalem] and the holy mosque [Mecca] from their grip, and in order for their armies to move out of the lands of Islam. . . . This is in accordance with the words of Almighty God, “and fight the pagans all together as they fight you all together,” and “fight them until there is no more tumult or oppression, and there prevail justice and faith in God.”[18]

            The whole Islamic terrorism is based on the central theme of conquest of Jerusalem from the nation Israel. The primary enemies of this global Islamic terrorism is Israel and its friendly countries.

Impact on Asia: On the other hand, the holy war (Jihad) is also used on all regional enemies of Muslim countries for various causes. For example, in India the terrorists are fighting for the conquest of Jammu Kashmir from the Indian government. The primary motive behind these terrorism is the desire for money, power & authority and religious zeal. Even in Srilanka, the Tamil Tigers are involved in the terrorism for the declaration of separate state for Tamils.[19] Terrorists are the people who have the notorious aspirations, fight against the government and the nations without any formal military discipline. The main target of the cowardy terrorists are the innocent civilians of their enemy country or enemy religion.

Encountering worldwide Terrorism

Growing Terrorism: The handling of terrorism[20] is so complicated since it is not a disciplined formal military attack. The problem of terrorism is increasing rapidly as we see in the year 1968, thirty two persons died in 132 incidents of terroristic activities around the world. But in 2004, the fatality number has grown up to 4901 in 2494 terroristic strikes.[21] Other than these, there are thousands has been dying every year with out any report, in the domestic terrorism of African countries.

Solution and its Justification: Since the countries are suffering greatly by this worldwide terrorism, it is vital to find a immediate solution for these terroristic activities. The terrorists have no explicit functioning bodies (they mostly work behind the screen) and they mostly rely on some countries and its leaders for arms and money. So we can target the countries which supports terrorism, directly or indirectly, to stop the support for terrorism. It is not an evil thing to do because if God could tolerate totally destroying every single living soul in a particular area, (even including infants, small children, the elderly, and even animals)(Deuteronomy 20:16-17) can He not also support taking up arms against evil dictators and nations of concern today? “It is faulty logic to argue that one should resist a murderous individual with the sword but let a murderous country run roughshod over thousands of innocent people.”[22]

United States' War on Afghanistan and Iraq

United States' Participation in War on Terrorism: The Islamic terrorism has been carried out from the sixties of last century in various places of the world. For example India is suffering by Islamic terrorists from the year 1971 to till now.[23] But, United States did not take any action or wage war against any one of these terroristic organizations.[24] Finally, the Al-Queda terrorists[25] attacked the World Trade Center of New York with the hijacked flights. This incident killed 2993 and injured 8900 lives in America.[26] Then US led the war against the terroristic government of Taliban in Afghanistan in 2001 with the help of the allies. They dethroned the autocratic Talibans and helped the country Afghanistan to form a democratic free government.

The Terrorism of the Tyranny: Saddam Hussein, the man who is called “The Butcher of Baghdadwas the Iraqi leader of the Batthist Party. The stated main goal of the Batthist Party is to unify (if necessary by force) the entire Arab World against the West (particularly, the United States). When he was in his glory days, he killed some 5,000 of his own people with chemical weapons at Halabjah, and stuffed another 400,000 or so of Kurds into mass graves.[27] Saddam Hussein’s government supported terrorism by paying "bonuses" of up to $25,000 to the families of Palestinian homicide bombers. It was announced by Tariq Aziz, the former deputy prime minister of Iraq at a Baghdad meeting of Arab politicians and businessmen on March 11, 2002.[28] In fact, Iraq became the safe haven for the planning and functioning of the global terrorism.

The Dethronement of Saddam: Saddam Hussein bears more than a passing resemblance to Hitler. Like Hitler, he did not hesitate to lie and defy international treaties and international law. Can any one deny the fact “Saddam is a terrorist?” If he is a terrorist, then he should be caught and punished. So in 2003, US, led war against Iraq which dethroned Saddam and liberated the Iraqi people from his iron hands. Then in 2005, democratic elections were held in Iraq and leaders were chosen by the people. Even though there is an insecurity in Iraq, after the war, the Iraqi prime minister Al-Jaafari promised that there will be enough security in the country within two years of time.[29]

            In fact, Proverbs 21:15 tells us: "It is joy to the just to do judgment; but destruction shall be to the workers of iniquity." As Christian scholar Darrell Cole writes, "The Christian who fails to use force to aid his neighbor when prudence dictates that force is the best way to render that aid is an uncharitable Christian. Hence Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war... fail to show love towards their neighbor as well as towards God."[30] Though there was a political play behind this Iraq war, the main aim was to remove the terroristic tyranny from the rule. Certainly, a democracy in Iraq will disrupt terrorism and terrorists throughout the Middle East, particularly in Baathist Syria, in Palestine and in Iran.

Is it Worth Fighting Iraq? US has allotted and spent nearly $ 211.1 billion on Iraq war.[31] Since war began on March, 3rd 2003 to till June, 6th 2005, there are 1726 American troops, 187 other coalition troops and thousands of Iraqi troops have last their lives.[32] Is it still worth fighting Iraq? Feinberg feels, “While we greatly value life, we believe there are religious and human values worth fighting for and even dying for, not least of which is protecting others and ourselves from genocide and from enslaving regime of a totalitarian dictator.”[33] So still it is worth fighting since it liberates the people and sows the seeds of democracy in the Middle East nations.             According to the new papers, since the Iraq War, nations like Libya, Syria and others in the Middle East have taken a softer stance towards America and the fulfillment of international obligations.[34] The Iraq war has created a kind of aghast among the terrorists and terrorist governments but it has opened a new hope of life for the oppressed people. For example, immediately after the Afghanistan war, the terrorist Tamil Tigers accepted the peace process with Srilanka. Even now, the middle east monarchial fundamentalist countries planning for the leadership elections.


Pray for Peace in the World

            Hi! Kill them all... Let God come and sort them out! As a Christian can we laugh and celebrate at the destruction of war in the world like this? Certainly no. War kills people, but peace builds up. Jesus says, “Blessed are the peace makers, for they will be called sons of God” (Matthew 5:9). John Stott considers that peace making is a divine activity. He also says, “God has made peace with us and between us through Christ. We cannot claim to be his authentic children unless we engage in peace-making too.”[35] Paul says, “Live in peace with each other” (1 Thessalonians 5:13). Peace is very essential for the world community because in a way terrorism and war, both are similar. They both involve the killing of innocent people to achieve what the killers believe is a good end. The difference is the terrorists deliberately kill innocent people; the war makers aim at military targets, and civilians are killed by accident, as collateral damage. Whether it is just war or unjust war, both causes heavy loss of human lives and economy. So pray for the world peace.

Pray for the Leaders of the Country

            Paul advices us, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgiving be made for everyone—for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all goodliness and holiness” (1Timothy 2:1-2). Mostly wars happen because of the foolishness of some countries' leaders. So it is the duty of every Christian is to pray and intercede for all our political leaders that they would conduct the government prudently. At the same time, in some cases war becomes inevitable for the cause of self defense and the liberation of the oppressed. So let us leave it to the sovereignty of God's will and the fulfillment of His purpose in the world. God says in Isaiah 55:9, "My ways are higher than your ways and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts."


            Let us remember again, because of man's sin, human history includes evil and war. So, war is wrong and unethical and at the same time some just wars are inevitable. And we should resort to that war only when all efforts at peace fail rather than try peace when all efforts at war fail.[36] Soman Das says, “as the Bible summons us to peace with justice, I mentioned that sometimes it may be necessary to commit ourselves to change through violence.”[37] But it is also important to keep in mind that “the cure (war) should not be worse than the disease (injustice).”[38] Finally let us wait for the peaceful regime of our King who “will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on for ever.”[39]

[1]Ibid., 214

[2]John S. Feinberg, Paul D. Feinberg, Ethics For A Brave New World, 363

[3]Just War Tradition, Article Online available in The Pew Forum On Religion & Public Life, at Accessed on 22/06/05.

[4]Robertson McQuilkin, An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, Second Edition, 336

[5]John Jefferson Davis, Evangelical Ethics, Issues Facing the Church Today, 236


[7]Norman L. Geisler, Christian Ethics: Options and Issues, 227

[8]John Jefferson Davis, Evangelical Ethics, Issues Facing the Church Today, 236

[9]Norman L. Geisler, Christian Ethics: Options and Issues, 216

[10]Robertson McQuilkin, An Introduction to Biblical Ethics, Second Edition, 342

Today, there have been 4 visitors (14 hits) on this page!
=> Do you also want a homepage for free? Then click here! <=