The Just War Revisited

The Just War Revisited

The Just War Revisited

The Just War Revisited

Synopsis

With Christian views differing widely on the morality of war, this book seriously re-examines ethical questions of contemporary urgency. The text covers the use of biological and nuclear weapons, military intervention, economic sanctions, and the role of the U. N. Opening with a challenging dedication to the new Archbishop of Canterbury, it proceeds to analyze vital topics which the Archbishop and others will find relevant to the discussion of the ethics of warfare.

Excerpt

On the famous Ghent altarpiece, on which the Van Eyck brothers depicted the adoration of the Lamb of God standing upon an altar on a greensward in front of the Heavenly Jerusalem, there appear in the lower left-hand panel two groups of people at the edge of the worshipping crowd. They are separated from each other by a rocky outcrop, but share a common urban background; and that contrasts them with a balancing pair of groups on the lower righthand panel, set against a wilderness landscape. Those on the right are the hermits and the pilgrims of the church; but the groups on the left are identified as the church's just judges and milites Christi, 'soldiers of Christ'. To our modern sensibilities this is immediately shocking. How, we wonder, could the lay service exercised in a civil context by Christian judges come to be extended to soldiers? the one group serves peace, the other war; this seems enough to set an infinite spiritual distance between them. Can one who fights offer worship to the sacrificed Lamb? Our sense of shock is excusable. Yet the idea that these two roles, judges and soldiers, are analogous, an idea that grew out of the twelfth-century romanticisation of the Christian knight such as we meet in the legends of the Round Table, was one of the great achievements of the late middle ages. Today we commonly call it the 'just war theory'.

There are good reasons to hesitate over this achievement. the will of God for humankind is peace: that all-determining truth contains, and shapes, any further truths that we may hope to learn on this . . .

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