Light of the East wrote:
Pro Ecclesia Dei wrote:
Pacifism, strictly speaking, is not an option to Christians, insofar as we are still to care for the common good of the earthly city. Never, of course, more than or even equal to the care we have for the heavenly city
As far as number 3 goes, that does not apply per se to war deaths qua war deaths, but it does apply in individual cases
PED, I always look forward to your commentary in threads. Your posts are well thought out, rational, and full of historical and eclessial information.
If this is true, then why did the Church for the first three centuries have so much of the pacifist nature about it? Was it that they were expecting the Kingdom at any time and therefore thought it not worth fighting temporal and earthly battles? Was it that they misunderstood our duties on earth? Or were they really following Christ's admontions for peace keeping and eventually in the West, a certain militaristic mindset prevailed over the Church?
I have no idea what you mean by that last comment. Last I checked Byzantium had professional armies. In the West, during the same time, we have the Truce of God and the "Peace Militias"...and God knoweth that the first crusaders confused the Byzantines....I think the writings of the Early Fathers show that militarism was no considered compatible with professing Christianity. Indeed, how many stories do we have of soldiers who, upon their conversion, renounced their military duty, often at the expense of martyrdom?
Another issue appears to be the lack of military conquest practiced by the East as opposed to the West. Again, I am just speculating here, but I fail to see the same militaristic spirit in countries of the East, such as Greece, as opposed to say, England, France, or Spain.
Were the professional armies of Byzantium for defense or conquest? I am not saying that there is anything wrong with legitimate defense of one's home and person. It again appeaers to me that the West has had a more conquest based idiom than the East.
One really question for you, what do you mean by peace? I guarantee you that modern notions of peace and pacifism are anachronistic when talking about pre-moderns. Could you draw this out a little more please? I think you are saying something important here, but I am not "getting it".
It is interesting to note what Christ said to the soldiers in Luke? He did not say, put down your sword. He said, be content with your pay.
Two quotes from Augustine are helpful:
True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.
The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war
The interpretation of taking up a sword that the Fathers give the scripture, is to take it up on one's own volition, rather than to be commissioned with it by God, or by lawful authority (as St. Paul states, the prince has the sword from God) for the sake of justice, or as St. Paul says it against the wicked (lawful authority, against the wicked, right intention)
"But I say to you not to resist evil." Some, like the anabaptists, take this to mean a principle of non-resistance absolutely speaking. But in some sense, even they must break it if taken absolutely...shunning is casting the evil from them. What he have here is not a moral commandment, but an evangelical precept.
In natural law then, there is a moral use of resistance and self defense. Christ calls us to something greater. Honor is, among natural goods, the highest paid man. But we are called to sacrifice that for God, for the supreme good. Hence, St. Thomas remarks not it is against humility to be offended by personal affront. But still, we are called to love our neighbor, and hence it would be a sign of a cold hold not to be offended at the affront offered to the innocent. Again, why we are to love only God, the humanity of Christ and the BVM greater than ourselves, still in each order we love the common good greater than our personal good. Hence the father loves the good of his family over any personal and particular good proper to him. If a man is either to be killed or fight back, it is very laudable that he offer no resistance considered in itself. However, as we love our salvation before we love our neighbor, if this man were in mortal sin he would be obligated to defend himself. And as he loves his family more than his life, he is obligated to defend his family. In such cases killing the assailant is not unjust.
As much for the individual, even more for the state. The common good of the state is to be loved more than the particular good of its members within that same order (that is, while I should love my particular spiritual good above the common good of the state, the particular good I possess within the worldly political order is subordinate to the common good of that order, just as my own spiritual good is subordinated to the common Good of the spiritual order, God Himself). Hence, willingness, when necessary, to sacrifice oneself for that common good is praiseworthy and belongs to the virtue of patriotism. When it is necessary, for the sake of justice, that the state use coercive power then, because I am a member of the body-political it is right that I be willing to fight. Now of course many wars, almost certainly most, are unjust. And very few just ones involve no injustice. But that is another matter
To see that it is not, from the natural law, immoral one merely needs to consider the fact that God commanded wars in the past. The only question is whether He has forbidded them under the new law. I would say no, no more than He has abolished earthly punishments of injustice of which war, when just, is an example. However, we are called to a more merciful approach since the new law and hence what is, strictly speaking, permitted by the natural law is not necessarily what the Christian should follow.
Indeed, the example of meekness and mercy Christ that gives needs to bend justice back a bit. Hence those who ought to be conformed most to Christ, the clergy and religious, cannot morally fight in even the most just of wars. Until recently, though, one could not become a priest who had served in a war, or who had performed an execution, or even served on a jury that gave capital punishment. Or indeed shed human blood of any sort (there was a debate about whether surgeons could become priests!). On this level it takes the form of an evangelical counsel. Whereas the evangelical precept calls us to surrender our particular, natural goods, and therefore mitigates that right to self-defense, the evangelical counsel calls those in that state of life to an even more perfect and higher way. Still, those with care for the common good of a society must be enabled to do what is necessary for that common good, including infliction of just punishments and just war. But yes, there is that tension there between the meekness of Christ and such action.You have not disappointed. This is an outstanding answer.
I am not trying to make a statement against all self-defense. My concern is more in the nature of how we as a people individually and also as a nation, approach war. My sense is that we are all too ready to go to war, and this is driven by politicians who manipulate things behind the scenes in order to create situations favorable to war. Ultimately, it is not the country or individuals who profit, but corporations, as outlined by General Smedley Butler in his book WAR IS A RACKET.
The problem for someone sincere in trying to understand these themes is the possiblity of leaning too far in one direction or the other. You have presented what I believe is a balanced view.