Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

Welcome to Varied Expressions of Worship

This blog will be written from an orthodox Christian point of view. There may be some topic that is out of bounds, but at present I don't know what it will be. Politics is a part of life. Theology and philosophy are disciplines that we all participate in even if we don't think so. The Bible has a lot to say about economics. How about self defense? Is war ethical? Think of all the things that someone tells you we should not touch and let's give it a try. Everything that is a part of life should be an expression of worship.

Keep it courteous and be kind to those less blessed than you, but by all means don't worry about agreeing. We learn more when we get backed into a corner.

Thursday, February 25, 2021

Opus 2021-098: Just War

Christians divide over a lot of issues.  I am not talking about the issues that separate what the Apostle Paul calls “so called brothers” from the saints.  Certain things are basic requirements:  Jesus is the only way to salvation, His physical resurrection, the Bible as the inspired word of God, the triune nature of God.  The list could go on.  If you are a Christian you know the kind of thing I am talking about.  If you are a pseudo-Christian you would tell me I am intolerant.  

There are other issues which we think are important but God just shakes His head over us.

Then there are the ones we disagree on, with strong arguments on both sides.  One of those deals with war and the use of force.  Some people feel that Christians must be pacifists.  They believe that it is always wrong to take human life.  War is wrong.  Violence is wrong.  There can be no compromise.  If you saw the movie Hacksaw Ridge you got an insight into how a pacifist responded to the draft in World War II.  Other Christians believe that there are times when it is acceptable to be a soldier or policeman.  Some will defend their families, others won’t.

Over the centuries the church has come up with the Doctrine of Just War.  There are two major voices in church history, Augustine and Thomas Aquinas, who laid the groundwork for the thinking on the issue.  

Augustine made the first attempt at determining the issue of how Christians should respond to war.  The book that is usually referred to is City of God.  Due to the length and the way in which the ideas are spread around I am going to go with a summary presented by the Oregon State University.  It seems to follow the other sources I consulted.

Augustine said there are two aspects of war, Moral justification and Guidelines.

Moral Justification (Jus Ad Bellum)

    1.  Just Authority
    2.  Just Cause
    3.  Right Intention
    4.  Last Resort

Guidelines (Jus In Bello)

    1.  Proportionality, response should not exceed the cause
    2.  Discrimination, between combatants and non-combatants
    3.  Responsibility
        a)  Intention of good consequences
        b)  Bad effects not intended
        c)  Good must outweigh the bad

Thomas Aquinas read Augustine and came up with his own theory.  I found this in his Summa Theologiae II-II, q. 40.  This one I did read but got my summary from Aquinas on Line.

War is justified (nation A wars justly against nation B) on the following conditions:

    A. It is called by a sovereign authority.
    B. It has a just cause.
    C. The combatants have morally right intentions
    D. Qualifying Conditions
        Cannot intend intrinsically evil actions.
        A good action, or at least a morally neutral action, will have two effects: a good intended, and an evil, not intended, but tolerated.
        Proportionality the good to be achieved outweighs the evil of war.

So what?  I have two real concerns, foreign and domestic.  With Biden in power the Chinese are almost certain to make a grab for Taiwan because they believe he will look the other way.  It is still a question of how we should respond.  Domestically I hear a lot of people wondering if the power grab by the left will lead to a violent response.  Rational people hope not.  The problem we are facing is that the left is not rational.  Christians are wondering if there is anything happening that would justify violence.  I offer this as an insight into the thinking of the past.

homo unius libri


  1. At the end of WWII, Patton wanted to take Russia while they were down and MacArthur wanted to take China, both to save a world of trouble down the road. There would have been no Taiwan issue (among others) had we done so. Would it have been justifiable? Here we go again! - lol

    1. China might have been doable but my understanding is the Russians had enough to stop us at that time. But again, justifiable?

      Grace and peace


Comments are welcome. Feel free to agree or disagree but keep it clean, courteous and short. I heard some shorthand on a podcast: TLDR, Too long, didn't read.