An old friend of mine recently brought this subject to my attention with an essay that discussed the film, Prince of Peace, God of War by John Campea. To get this conversation started, click here to download or watch it right here:
Now, if you've taken time to watch the film, you probably already have an opinion on this subject. I must confess, I am still searching for answers because I have heard plenty of good arguments on both sides of this issue. I wish I could post my friend Scott's rebuttal to this film but it is rather long (if you are on facebook, join the group Trail Blazer Ministries and add me as a friend, I have Scott's essay posted).
With a quick Google search on the Just War Theory, I found the site www.justwartheory.com which has a bunch of information that I found very hard to disagree with. This site has been helpful for me to understand that not all Just War Theorists are the same as Campea's film might suggest:
"Just war theory is not a settled doctrine. It is a field of critical ethical reflection. That's why there are as many just war theories as there are just war theorists. So, rather than allow traditionally accepted (yet highly contested) theoretical principles dictate what is required to justify the use of armed forces, let your first lesson in just war theory be one which you teach yourself in a simple introductory exercise of reflection: Start by thinking of a paradigm case or prime example from history which strikes you intuitively as being an instance of an ethically acceptable, or perhaps even laudable use of armed forces. And ask yourself what makes it so. If you can neither think of a single example in history, nor imagine any possible future instances of the justifiable use of arms, then you may be an absolute pacifist. If you cannot think of a single ethically condemnable act of warfare, and you "love the smell of napalm in the morning," then you may belong to the realpolitik camp. If you can think of some limited class of ethically condemnable instances or forms of warfare, and your head is swimming with great examples of ethically acceptable and even laudable warfare, then you may be a relatively hawkish just war theorist. If your head is swimming with historical examples of condemnable warfare, and you can think only of a relatively limited class of ethically acceptable instances, and few or no laudable ones, then you may be a relatively dovish just war theorist (like me). The theoretical task of the just war theorist is to figure out what sets the ethically acceptable and laudable examples apart from the rest."
I suspect we have one at least one of each of these (in relation to the above definitions) in our little Thursday morning study, which will no doubt lend to a lively discussion. My own personal leanings are proabably more towards the relatively dovish JWT. Blogger Ricky Carvel makes a statement about this film that coencides with Bruce's discussion last week on how different believers approach the bible,
"The most striking difference between the two sets of theologians was their point of reference. All the 'pacifist' theologians used Jesus as the basis of their position, all the 'just war' theologians used the Bible as their basis. This, once again, made me consider the way believers approach the bible - is the whole thing the equally valid Word of God, or is Jesus himself the Word of God and the bible merely the book that points to him?"
I feel that this subject is very important to understand in our current situation at home in America and in our exploits around the globe.