In the 13th century, 3 conditions were laid down on a just war by Thomas Aquinas, a Christian monk. His conditions were based on the ideas of augustine in the forth century.
These three conditions were:
1) The war must be started and controlled by the authority of the state or ruler.
2) There must be a just cause, those attached must deserve it.
3) The war must be fought to promote good or avoid evil. Peace and justice must be restored afterwards.
However, there were further conditions laid down by other Christians.
War is never good, but in some cases it is better than refusing to go to war. The idea of just war comes from god and is a theory which Christians follow by, and is the Christian view of war. If the war is said to be Just it is Justified war which this theory originally comes from God and then through Jesus’ teachings.
The Historical theory of a just war dates back to the Roman Empire at the end of the third Century AD, Christianity became the official religion of the Roman Empire. The emperors army consisted of Christians and by time the Christian view of Just War began to develop. Because of the Christian just war views, some rules were made in the middle ages, much of these conditions and rules were down to St Thomas Aquinas (c.1225-74), he was a Dominican friar.
The just war Rules are as follows:
– War must be declared by a proper authority, such as a government. A rebellion by citizens is not enough.
– The cause must be just: there must be a good reason for the war. It is not just to start a war to expand an empire.
– The intention of the war must be to do good and to overcome evil. This rules out revenge, ambition and nationalism.
– War must be a last resort. Everything else should be tried first(which means extensive negotiations must be attempted.) If a country is attacked in a minor way, it should not automatically declare war on the aggressor.
– The good a war will do must outweigh the harm. Is it worth the loss of life?
– It must be possible to win. War should never be a futile gesture. If success looks unlikely, war should not be started.
– The Methods used must be just. Force should be in proportion to the situation. Excessive cruelty is not acceptable.
Here is an example as a view of Just war taken from the oxford dictionary of the Christian church, this quote is from a Dominican Monk,(c.1485-1546) called Francisco De Victoria,
“No War is permissible if it brings serious evil to Christendom and the World at Large”.
Forgiveness is when someone pardons somebody for something they have said or done wrong. All Christians believe and have been taught to forgive and Jesus teaches his followers to do so and then the Christians today have.
Jesus uses many examples of teaching forgiveness, for instance the lords prayer, and the story of the official who refuses to give, (Matthew 18 vv21), it said,
“Peter went up to Jesus and asked how many times he should forgive someone, he then said is seven times enough, Jesus replied, I do not say to you seven times but seventy times seven”.
Forgiveness does not mean to say that you can let people take advantage of you, However Jesus’ teachings stress that forgiveness is a vital part of Christian teaching. It can be a hard thing to do if you are a victim of an attack for example but it is the right way to set about and it is Jesus’ teachings.
Reconciliation may be where two countries or two sides of whoever people have been at war. The group or person to reunite these two sides to be peaceful to one another may be Christian.
A group called the UN (United Nations) help countries of whatever race or religion depending that the particular country are part of the UN. The UN helps countries come together, and help them when they are in a state of crisis, e.g. when they are starving or homeless they help out with food and shelter. The UN group has a Christian influence in it, which may help bring countries that were before in conflict, back together.
Likewise Jesus taught his people a peaceful way for instance, Matthew 5 vv43 – 48 in which Jesus teaches his followers to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you. He teaches his followers to be perfect as the father almighty is perfect.
2) How might a Christian apply these beliefs in situations of conflict today? Refer to two specific situations of conflict to illustrate your answer.
According to the first three rules of the Just War rules, the Second World War is similar and a good example of justice and Just war. The first rule explains that The war must be started and controlled by the authority of the state or ruler and this ties in because the war was against Germany and Hitler and started and controlled by Britain.
There was a reason to destroy Hitler before he achieved his aim of ruling the world, and the war was fought to promote good in the end and avoid evil, and then Justice was restored afterwards.
After World War Two there have been examples of former enemies hugging each other and shaking hands. One example was in November 2002 when one member of the Afrika Corps shaking hands with a veteran from the Eighth Army.
Again there was reconciliation between Germany and Britain at the end of the Second World War. A agreement was signed to make the two sides be allies with one another. As another example of war or a conflict I will use terrorism.
Terrorism is the opposite ton a set war in that it does not comply with the Just War rules. Examples of a terrorist wars are such as September 11th, Ireland and Iraq which start off as small conflicts and end up sometimes as full scale wars in terms of violence, aggression and weapons. Also terrorism does not comply with the Just War rules in that there is no just cause, it is just out of spite and selfishness. The war is not fought to promote good but evil, these aspects totally go against what the Christians believe which is based on the Just war rules and many other additions to the just war rules.
Christians believe the rules of Just War, forgiveness and reconciliation in that, Jesus taught his followers all of these lessons and therefore Christians follow these beliefs totally going against the ways of terrorism.
3) “Even if conventional war is accep6able for Christians, nuclear war could never be”.
You could argue for many points on this view. Christians would probably say that nuclear war is not acceptable as it does not just concentrate on killing the main threat but also kills many other innocent civilians and also affects people for many generations in the present and future. A good example of this situation was the nuclear bomb that destroyed Hiroshima. The bomb was not much bigger than a cricket ball, and 140,000 died in the explosion. Year’s later people were still dying in that area from the after effects of radiation and many bear stillborn or grossly deformed babies. Three days after this atrocity the city of Nagasaki was destroyed by another nuclear bomb. Due to this devastation the Japanese surrendered, ending the Second World War.
This example of nuclear war would be unacceptable to the majority of Christians simply because of the Just War rules and many innocent civilians were killed unnecessarily and the worst part is that the problem of people still having deformed babies is horrendous and still happens to this day.
However, another approach to this view is if there is a country threatening to use weapons of mass destruction which if used would completely destroy the west.
Because of this threat the west had to frighten the Soviet Union who was threatening so they would not attack the west. This is also known as ‘mutually assured destruction’. If one side improved its military capability, the other side felt it had to do so too. So this approach is rather different in that it wipes out a threat, which if was not dealt with could do a lot more damage to military and innocent civilians than when the threat is dealt with.
In these different views we see that overall conventional war would be a lot better in that it concentrates and wipes out the threat and the threat only whereas with nuclear war it is very easy to lose many lives unnecessarily.