catapult magazine

catapult magazine


Christian Ethics and War


Mar 15 2006
09:50 pm

In terms of biblical materials, in OT we see God demanding war and the destruction of cities in the land of Canaan. Such war is not ‘total’, given the prescriptive passages in Deut. 20 about not cutting down the fruit trees. In NT, there is the question about whether the Sermon on the Mount expresses a normative practice of non-resistance, or non-violent resistance. If it does, then one needs to reconcile such passages with the whole of Scripture.

Many Christian thinkers from Augustine, through Aquinas, Vitoria, Calvin, Luther have allowed for Christian participation in war, namely ‘just wars’, thus creating a ‘Just War Tradition’ in Christianity. There is also a strong pacifist strand, Menno Simons and Schleitheim Confession being two examples.

A nice reader on these topics is Arthur Holmes’ War and Christian Ethics, 2nd Ed.