The Just War Tradition in the Present Crisis

Airing on
Probe Radio


Sept.
26-30

Dr. Lawrence Terlizzese — Recent events have prompted Christians to ask moral questions concerning the legitimacy of war. How far should we go in punishing evil? Can torture ever be justified? On what basis are these actions premised? These problems remain especially acute for those who claim the Christian faith. Fortunately, we are not the first generation to face these questions. The use of force and violence has always troubled the Christian conscience. Jesus Christ gave his life freely without resisting. But does Christ's nonviolent approach deny government the prerogative to maintain order and establish peace through some measure of force? All government action operates on the premise of force. To deny all force, to be a dedicated pacifist, leads no less to a condition of anarchy than if one were a religious fascist. Extremes have the tendency to meet. In the past, Christians attempted to negotiate through the extremes and seek a limited and prescribed use of force in what has been called the Just War Tradition.

The Just War Tradition finds its source in several streams of Western thought: biblical teaching, law, theology, philosophy, military strategy, and common sense. Just War thinking integrates this wide variety of thought through providing Christians with a general orientation on the issues of war and peace. This tradition transcends denominational barriers and attempts to supply workable answers and solutions to very difficult moral problems. Just War has its origins in Greco-Roman thinking as well as Christian theology: Augustine, Aquinas, and Calvin have all contributed to its development.

Listen Now
Link to Transcript
(left-click to listen
or download)

 

MEET THE AUTHOR
Dr. Lawrence TerlizzeseDR. LAWRENCE TERLIZZESE

"The military does not like Just War thinking. It is too restrictive. They prefer that soldiers simply obey orders without question. Pacifists do not like it either because they perceive it as condoning military action. I have attempted to give you a middle ground position on war that will help you make rational and informed decisions on the most complicated of all ethical problems."

Lawrence is one of our newest Probe Research Associates. He holds both a Th.M. and Ph.D. in Theological Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary, and a B.A. in Biblical Studies from Columbia International University in Columbia, South Carolina. He is the author of two books, Trajectory of the Twenty First Century: Essays in Theology and Technology and Hope in the Thought of Jacques Ellul.

Email the Author


Best Worldview and Apologetics
Cruise Ever! Join Us!

DIG DEEPER

Related Articles:

Dr. Lawrence TerlizzeseThe Martial Arts and Just War Theory
Lawrence shows how a Christian can reconcile using Martial Arts through use of Just War Theory or thinking.

Kerby AndersonTerrorism and Just War
Kerby Anderson takes a biblical look at the role of historic Christian thought concerning the possibility of the U.S. going to war.

Don ClossonThe Causes of War
Meic Pearse's book The Gods of War gives great insight into the charge that religion is the cause of most war. Don Closson writes that history shows this is not true: the cause of most war is the sinful human heart, even when religion is invoked as a reason.

 

Probe Answers Your Questions:

"How Do I Deal with the Guilt and Anxiety of Killing in War?"

"What is a Christian Perspective on War?"

"Is It a Sin For a Christian to be a Soldier in the Military?"