Protestant "Just War" Theory Revisited

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#1
In this {click here} past post, in a thread now asleep, I referred to the so called, at times controversial "just war" theory, and claimed that, historically, it has been used by Catholics and Protestants alike, as and when the need for war arose. I gave examples of WWI and WWII.

Here that theory is, recently presented, or re-presented and thus updated, by an American Evangelical adviser to President Trump, Robert Jeffress, stated in a somewhat abbreviated, soundbite form. I am not being facetious here, but if anybody wonders, when Jeffress refers to the book of Romans, it is to the New Testament book of the same name.

I see that Jeffress' pronouncement has stimulated discussion, controversy and debate within the Christian community and beyond, at least in the blogosphere, and it seems to me rightly so, given its implications.
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‘God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un,’ evangelical adviser says
By Sarah Pulliam Bailey August 9

President Trump, left, greets pastor Robert Jeffress on July 1 during the Celebrate Freedom Rally at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in Washington. (Oliver Douliery/Pool/European Pressphoto Agency)

Texas megachurch pastor Robert Jeffress, one of President Trump’s evangelical advisers who preached the morning of his inauguration, has released a statement saying the president has the moral authority to “take out” North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

“When it comes to how we should deal with evildoers, the Bible, in the book of Romans, is very clear: God has endowed rulers full power to use whatever means necessary — including war — to stop evil,” Jeffress said. “In the case of North Korea, God has given Trump authority to take out Kim Jong Un.”
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Source
 




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#3
If there was a 'God-given authority to take out Israel' ,coming from her neighbours, alot of Christian blogs and websites would be throwing a hissy fit. Where's the outrage over the likely death of innocent North Koreans? Why should Pat Robertson, Jeffries et al care anyway? Guess north koreans aren't as important to God as Israelis...
I can't wait to get to heaven to find out how many of the 8million inhabitants of present-day Israel, actually made it past the pearly gates.
 




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#4
Robert Jeffress is taking the verse completely out of context, which doesn't surprise me and is one reason I supported none of the Christian discussion of politics from the Republican perspective this last election. Fortunately, the church was very divided on supporting the Republican party and many people chose to not support Trump because it would not be supporting anything that could be considered Godly according to Christianity.

Anyways, the verse from Romans in context.

"For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:

For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." (Romans 13:3-4).

This is saying that a ruler is supposed to punish people who commit evil works within their own area of authority. Over a certain group of people, all people in authority are supposed to punish people who murder, steal, etc. This is to the benefit of the people who live in places. This is something to be grateful for and not to fear.

There is also evidence that things like murder and stealing are pretty universally condemned throughout the world. That is what this verse is talking about. It is not a discussion of when a leader can abuse his power. There are other instances to refer to for that. In particular, the fall of Israel is a good demonstration that there are consequences for the abuse of power.

So because Kim Jong Un is a ruler, this is saying that within North Korea, he has authority to punish evil works. It is saying Trump has authority to punish evil works. It is not saying that one leader has the authority to punish the evil works of another leader. This is strictly a verse encouraging people to try to live at peace wherever they may be, under whatever authority they may be, because they will not find trouble with the leader of that area if they do this.

In reality, in terms of Christianity, this is a protection for us. It is to say that we can be safe from persecutions by following laws within a certain area and living at peace. No leader will be able to harm us if we do this because they are only in authority to punish people when they commit murder or steal. So, essentially, we shouldn't be afraid of leaders.

For example, Pilate found that Jesus was doing nothing worthy of punishment. The Roman empire was a pretty brutal force trying to expand it's territory by force, but Christ would have been declared innocent under this authority. That is how we should try to live. That is what the verse is teaching.

Essentially, the Bible doesn't teach how a leader should address another leader. It only teaches us how we are live in community with each other and with people who may or may not be Christian.
 




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#5
A very topical discussion subject -
Thank you, Red, I always appreciate the fact that you are willing to hear me out, without getting too irritated with me for asking the questions.
can a war ever be justified?
Yes, clearly, if and whenever it is not only necessary, but also desired and expedient.
Is war always wrong?
Yes, but we should wage continuous, unrelenting war anyway :cool:. When it comes to theories of war and how best to win them, I tend more toward Machiavelli, Napoleon and Bernard-Henri Lévy than St. Paul and Jesus.
Would evil disappear if the more enlightened of us laid down our arms?
It seems to me rather more likely that, in this case, the more enlightened of us would disappear. With that said, if I were in the audience when Jesus preached his Sermon on the Mount, I would ask that same, or similar question: "If I allow the aggressor to punch me on my left cheek, will he disappear, or be eliminated, if I turn to him my right cheek also?" I think not. But, then again, and given that I am not a pacifist Christian, I have never actually put the principle into action in any serious attempt to prove it.
What do you think?
Thank you for asking and for participating in the thread.
 




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#6
If there was a 'God-given authority to take out Israel' ,coming from her neighbours, alot of Christian blogs and websites would be throwing a hissy fit.
Shhh. As Orwell put it, "In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act." Don't be too revolutionary, or, like Winston Smith, you might be involuntarily admitted to Room 101.
 




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#8
A war of defense is always just, isn't it? I don't mean fabricating threats, or overblowing them, but North Korea has nukes and is threatening to use them for no other reason than mad dog belligerence. Rather than wait for Kim Jong Un to push the button, action needs to be taken.
 




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#9
Thank you, Red, I always appreciate the fact that you are willing to hear me out, without getting too irritated with me for asking the questions.

Yes, clearly, if and whenever it is not only necessary, but also desired and expedient.

Yes, but we should wage continuous, unrelenting war anyway :cool:. When it comes to theories of war and how best to win them, I tend more toward Machiavelli, Napoleon and Bernard-Henri Lévy than St. Paul and Jesus.

It seems to me rather more likely that, in this case, the more enlightened of us would disappear. With that said, if I were in the audience when Jesus preached his Sermon on the Mount, I would ask that same, or similar question: "If I allow the aggressor to punch me on my left cheek, will he disappear, or be eliminated, if I turn to him my right cheek also?" I think not. But, then again, and given that I am not a pacifist Christian, I have never actually put the principle into action in any serious attempt to prove it.

Thank you for asking that potentially dangerous question and for participating in the thread.
The time when I was at uni coincided with the first Gulf War. I remember going through an audio study called "The Doctrine of War" by Roger Price. He seemed to come to the same Biblical conclusions as C.S Lewis in his talk "Why I am not a Pacifist".

"War is very disagreeable in everyone’s point of view. The pacifist contends that war does more harm than good, that every war leads to another war, and that pacifism itself will lead to an absence of war, and more, a cure for suffering. Lewis is pointed in his response:

I think the art of life consists in tackling each immediate evil as well as we can. To avert or postpone one particular war by wise policy, or to render one particular campaign shorter by strength and skill or less terribly by mercy to the conquered and the civilians is more useful than all the proposals for universal peace that have ever been made; just as the dentist who can stop one toothache has deserved better of humanity than all the men who think they have some scheme for producing a perfectly healthy race.


http://www.cslewis.com/why-im-not-a-pacifist/
 




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#10
A war of defense is always just, isn't it?
Yes, and rarely have I met a war, World War or "holy war," which wasn't framed, by its policy wonks and rationalized by its priests, preachers and imams, as "defensive" in nature and thus justified. Israel, for instance, being an undeclared nuclear power, is a regional (Middle-Eastern) hegemon: Iran, being outgunned and weak in comparison, might seek nuclear parity, which I doubt it will be permitted by an international hegemon, the USA.

I note how quickly the tune changes when, faced with danger, Christians stop claiming that theirs is a religion apart, one which enjoins them to invariably love and not kill, or eliminate, their enemies. I, personally, think it either a fortuitous twist of fate or a grace of God's providence that St. Paul, in his epistle, provided Christians a loop-hole, or an out, from what I understand as the abject pacifism of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. To be sent out as sheep among wolves, with no plans for defense, doesn't appeal much to me.
Thunderian said:
I don't mean fabricating threats, or overblowing them, but North Korea has nukes and is threatening to use them for no other reason than mad dog belligerence
It's an angry hornet's nest. It's been radically pissed off about something for 60+ years.
Thuderian said:
Rather than wait for Kim Jong Un to push the button, action needs to be taken.
I agree. Let's, the two of us, join the military on the "buddy" system and take a clandestine trip into North Korea and love some sense into the man, quickly.
 




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#11
More often than not, the likes of Jeffries directly benefit from war, otherwise any 'sane christian' will promote a cessation of hostilities first. Afew years ago, when Rick Warren's book-The Purpose Driven Life- was all the rage, i was about to pick it up for a read, only to then hear him speak about pre-emptive strikes against Iran. That, ended it for me. Obviously, i later found out that he is a CFR member. And as we all know, no one benefits from war except weapons manufacturers/elite.
If war between Israel and Iran was looming, there'd be vigils planned in majority of churches..."Pray for Israel", which vigils, are conspicuously absent in this case, for NK, given that innocents will die should the war go hot.
 




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#12
Yes, and rarely have I met a war, World War or "holy war," which wasn't framed, by its policy wonks and rationalized by its priests, preachers and imams, as "defensive" in nature and thus justified. Israel, for instance, being an undeclared nuclear power, is a regional (Middle-Eastern) hegemon: Iran, being outgunned and weak in comparison, might seek nuclear parity, which I doubt it will be permitted by an international hegemon, the USA.

I note how quickly the tune changes when, faced with danger, Christians stop claiming that theirs is a religion apart, one which enjoins them to invariably love and not kill, or eliminate, their enemies. I, personally, think it either a fortuitous twist of fate or a grace of God's providence that St. Paul, in his epistle, provided Christians a loop-hole, or an out, from what I understand as the abject pacifism of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. To be sent out as sheep among wolves, with no plans for defense, doesn't appeal much to me.

It's an angry hornet's nest. It's been radically pissed off about something for 60+ years.

I agree. Let's, the two of us, join the military on the "buddy" system and take a clandestine trip into North Korea and love some sense into the man, quickly.
The Sermon on the Mount was not pacifist. Doing the things Jesus said to do like be meek, pure, salt, light are definite actions that perpetuate a cause and effect.

Jesus saying to turn the other cheek really benefits us more in the long run. In the short run, it doesn't seem to have a benefit; but in the long run, it does.

What happens when you don't turn the other cheek is that endless discussions are created about who was at fault. We can see this demonstrated by the Middle East. Israel says they are justified to defend themselves, but some people disagree that they are justified and believe that the Palestinians are justified to defend themselves by force.

History will continue having this discussion over and over again because no matter how you spin it, fault is difficult to determine because of their actions, however, justified they may believe they are.

When we look at the early church, which would be the only true, pure time when following the principle of turning the other cheek was applied, and we discuss the martyrdom during this time. These people are innocent. There is no debate. They were innocent and the Roman government was at fault for taking their lives.

However, throughout Christian history, the pendulum has swung because I don't know if we often understand why Jesus was saying to turn the other cheek and look at what happens when we discuss the crusades. It becomes an endless debate that creates a burden on the church to this day.

The Bible tells us that miracles protected the disciples and the early church when they followed the teachings of Christ. So following the Sermon on the Mount is not a pacifist act, but a method of being used by God to demonstrate greater things than fighting and winning wars. The world needs something greater than another "just" war. The Sermon on the Mount is something greater than another just war and the direction we should be taking away from "just" wars.
 




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#13
Yes, and rarely have I met a war, World War or "holy war," which wasn't framed, by its policy wonks and rationalized by its priests, preachers and imams, as "defensive" in nature and thus justified. Israel, for instance, being an undeclared nuclear power, is a regional (Middle-Eastern) hegemon: Iran, being outgunned and weak in comparison, might seek nuclear parity, which I doubt it will be permitted by an international hegemon, the USA.
If you are attacked, or under immediate threat of attack, that is a war of defense that is justifiable. Iran is not under threat of nuclear attack from Israel, but Iran's pursuit of nuclear weaponry is a threat to more countries in the middle east than just Israel, and we're seeing a new alignment of interests in that region.

I note how quickly the tune changes when, faced with danger, Christians stop claiming that theirs is a religion apart, one which enjoins them to invariably love and not kill, or eliminate, their enemies. I, personally, think it either a fortuitous twist of fate or a grace of God's providence that St. Paul, in his epistle, provided Christians a loop-hole, or an out, from what I understand as the abject pacifism of Jesus' Sermon on the Mount. To be sent out as sheep among wolves, with no plans for defense, doesn't appeal much to me.
I note how wrong everyone gets the Bible and the character of God. You only have to read his word to see that he is in no way a pacifist. Christians are not called to be wimps or pushovers, but we are called to be peaceful "as much as it depends on us," and in our one on one dealings with others, even with our enemies, we are called to turn the other cheek. If someone hates us for our faith, we are not to resist them with violence.

However, there is nothing wrong with being a soldier, or with undertaking a war for the defense of your nation or resisting attacks on your livelihood. Psalms 144 says, Blessed be the LORD my strength, which teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight: God instituted governments for the protection of society, and it is by his will that any leader is in power. We pray for peace, and for good leaders, and for a God that permits our fighting men and our leaders victory over others who wish to do us evil.

With the power God gives our leaders there is the responsibility to use it wisely. I don't support any action that goes in and destroys North Korea (as much as is left to destroy) or just results in the death of a lot of North Koreans, but I do support a reasonable response to the threats coming from Kim Jong Un.

It's an angry hornet's nest. It's been radically pissed off about something for 60+ years.
Most of it is posturing to inflate the legend of the Kim dynasty, but with the addition of nukes, one has to decide how far to let it go.

I agree. Let's, the two of us, join the military on the "buddy" system and take a clandestine trip into North Korea and love some sense into the man, quickly.
No, he needs to die, if only to free the North Koreans from the murderous depredation of his rule.
 




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#14
It would appear that God sometimes calls time on evil regimes and uses other nations to do so. Take Daniel 5...

"24Then was the part of the hand sent from him; and this writing was written.

25And this is the writing that was written, MENE, MENE, TEKEL, UPHARSIN. 26This is the interpretation of the thing: MENE; God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it. 27TEKEL; Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting.28PERES; Thy kingdom is divided, and given to the Medes and Persians.

29Then commanded Belshazzar, and they clothed Daniel with scarlet, and puta chain of gold about his neck, and made a proclamation concerning him, that he should be the third ruler in the kingdom.

30In that night was Belshazzar the king of the Chaldeans slain. 31And Darius the Median took the kingdom, being about threescore and two years old."


http://biblehub.com/kjv/daniel/5.htm
 




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#15
No, he needs to die, if only to free the North Koreans from the murderous depredation of his rule.
That is what I was suggesting that we do, by taking a clandestine trip into North Korea. If and when I ever need a Christian fatwa, or "legal" decision, to justify killing my enemies, I will come to you to provide it. You write a convincing case.
 




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#16
Inside Kim Jong Un's Plot To Kill His Family

I read this last night and if half of it's true, no one should be shedding a tear at the loss of Kim Jong Un. People are going to try and paint him and his regime as just more hapless victims of American aggression. No. He's a sadistic and murderous tyrant and his death would be a great boon to the poor people of North Korea and to the surviving members of his immediate family.
 




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#17
That is what I was suggesting that we do, by taking a clandestine trip into North Korea. If and when I need a Christian fatwa, or "legal" decision, to justify killing my enemies, I will come to you to provide it. You write a convincing case.
Do you think there might ever be a circumstance where the actual evil perpetrated by a nation or regime reaches a point where they deserve judgement? This question really probes whether or not you believe in objective morality or not, I guess.

Btw, I'm not structuring this question around NK in particular...
 




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#18
That is what I was suggesting that we do, by taking a clandestine trip into North Korea. If and when I ever need a Christian fatwa, or "legal" decision, to justify killing my enemies, I will come to you to provide it. You write a convincing case.
I only issue fatwas against Kim Jong Un. He's a real turd, with zero redeeming value.

If you and I go undercover to North Korea, I want Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd to play us in the movie.
 




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#19
Do you think there might ever be a circumstance where the actual evil perpetrated by a nation or regime reaches a point where they deserve judgement? This question really probes whether or not you believe in objective morality or not, I guess.

Btw, I'm not structuring this question around NK in particular...
I cannot easily locate the article in which he said it, but I remember Bernard-Henri Lévy's advice to G.W.Bush during the latter's "defensive" war against Iraq. Lévy said, and I think he was referring, in turn, to Prussian military theorist, Clausewitz, that (as I recall) "war is not metaphysics, good against evil, but is, rather, simply "politics by other means."" The power elite, it seems, do best when they don't bother themselves with questions of morality, but simply engage in "politics by other means," and in the process build and destroy empires.

Furthermore, I once read an editor and publisher of Machiavelli's advice to the Prince, which editor summarized the advice in these words: "Do good when you you can; do evil when you must; do both unhesitatingly; and don't lie to yourself about which is which." No scriptures, in this case, required. When I need to kill my enemies, which thankfully is rarely, or never, I don't concern myself much with questions of morality, but might call @Thunderian to act as my defense attorney, if necessary, on Judgment Day.
I only issue fatwas against Kim Jong Un. He's a real turd, with zero redeeming value.

If you and I go undercover to North Korea, I want Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd to play us in the movie.
Agreed. Maybe we can take Dennis Rodman along to play some basketball, while we are at it, as a sort of distraction and to appeal to the sports-minded in the audience.
 




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#20
I cannot easily locate the article in which he said it, but I remember Bernard-Henri Lévy's advice to G.W.Bush during the latter's "defensive" war against Iraq. Lévy said, and I think he was referring, in turn, to German military theorist, Clausewitz, that (as I recall) "war is not metaphysics, good against evil, but is, rather, simply "politics by other means."" The power elite, it seems, do best when they don't bother themselves with questions of morality, but simply engage in "politics by other means," and in the process build and destroy empires.

Furthermore, I once read an editor and publisher of Machiavelli who summarized his theory thus: "Do good when you you can; do evil when you must; do both unhesitatingly; and don't lie to yourself about which is which." No scriptures, in this case, required. When I need to kill my enemies, which thankfully is rarely, or never, I don't concern myself much with questions of morality, but might call @Thunderian to act as my defense attorney, if necessary, at Judgement Day.

Agreed. Maybe we can take Dennis Rodman along to play some basketball, while we are at it, as a sort of distraction and to appeal to the sports-minded in the audience.
I wonder then, based on the premise of the thread, whether the Medes and the Persians "did evil" when they took the kingdom of Babylon from Belshazzar?

I certainly understand the whole argument of moral relativism, shades of grey, the "military industrial complex" etc. I also think that wars can be spun to appear black and white (by both sides) to garner popular support.

I also believe in absolute morality, a standard above our own, and from that standpoint, God sees the truth of things.

The true danger comes when people presumptuously claim to have a divine mandate for a specific action when their intentions are alloyed with political advantage or commercial gain.