“It’s Just War” - Should Christians Fight?

Sattler College

John Stuart Mill said, “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse.”

John F. Kennedy said, “War will exist until that distant day when the conscientious objector enjoys the same reputation and prestige that the warrior does today.”

War. Just War. Should Christians fight in military conflict? Is war a necessary but unfortunate reality to maintain peace and order, or are Christians to refrain from war because they represent another kingdom?

These are important questions related to one of Sattler College’s founding precepts:

The College affirms Jesus’ commands of Christian peacemaking and nonresistance (Matthew 5:33-48), which includes the teaching that Christians are not permitted to kill or serve in war.  Instead the Christian mandate to love our enemies without prejudice, to pray for the safety of all people (1 Timothy 2:1-4), and sacrificially serve those afflicted by war and injustice.

On March 28, 2014 Anchor-Cross Publishing and Followers of the Way sought to bring together some of the world’s premier Christian thinkers for a debate on this important subject. This debate has two participants on each side. They brought a leading Roman Catholic and leading Protestant to represent the just war position. On the just war side is Dr. Peter Kreeft, who is professor of philosophy at Boston College. Author of over 67 books on philosophy, theology, and Christian apologetics, a gifted thinker and speaker, he lectures at universities and churches all over the world. He draws inspiration from Socrates, Thomas Aquinas, and C.S Lewis. His books include Making Sense out of Suffering, Socrates Meets Jesus, and Handbook of Christian Apologetics. Dr. Kreeft is an outspoken Roman Catholic.

The other just war panelist is Dr. J. Daryl Charles. He received his PhD from Westminster Theological seminary in Philadelphia and teaches at the honors program at Berry College. He has written 14 books on ethics, Christian engagement in the public square, and just war. He is widely regarded as a leading authority on the Christian just war tradition. His books include Between Pacifism and Jihad published by Intervarsity Press, War, Peace, and Christianity published by Crossway, and The Just War Tradition.

Speaking against just war and in favor of nonresistance is David Bercot, who is an attorney, author, and speaker. He has written numerous books on the subjects of the early church, in which he emphasizes the simplicity of biblical doctrine in early Christian teaching over what he would call the complex and compromised body of the theological understandings built up over the centuries. His most well known books are Will the Real Heretics Please Stand Up and A Dictionary of Early Christian Beliefs.

Also speaking against just war and in favor of nonresistance is Dean Taylor. He and his wife Tania were both in the U.S. Army when they realized that as committed Christians they had to come to grips with Jesus’ teachings in the Sermon on the Mount on loving one’s enemies. They ultimately left the Army in a new and sincere quest for truth, determined to follow Jesus under the banner no compromise. Mr. Taylor is a widely sought speaker who regularly addresses the question: what if Jesus really meant every word he said? His best known book is A Change of Allegiance.

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