Regarding The Moral Implications Concerning The Waging of War And The Participation By Christians Thereof: The Just War Theory
The Morality of War
The world is filled with war, and men constantly attempting to overcome other men through conflict and strife. The question of whether this strife is inherently immoral is important if the Church wishes to be relevant in the world today; for if the Church cannot answer the questions of the world, or actively engage present problems, then it has little application to the lives of present and would-be adherents. Much of the Church has long taken the stance which is known as the Just War Theory as the attitude toward war in the past. This needs to be re-examined and refreshed in the eyes of the Church so that it can make proper judgments upon current events. In this paper I will show that the Just War Theory is the proper view toward war and is the standpoint which the modern Church should hold.
To clarify what war is proper, one has to understand what types of War the Just War Theory applies to. In the Old Testament, war is the means by which God delivered over the Promise Land to the children of Israel, his chosen people. The conquest of Palestine, as recorded in Joshua, is one of the most discussed wars in the Bible because in some cases genocide is commanded of the people of God. Important as this war is to the theme of God’s promises in the Bible, it is important to differentiate between a holy war and other wars that man engages in that may be just or unjust. The nature of the holy war is distinct from the wars of human volition because it is defined by the following: “It’s cause has a transcendent validation…This transcendent quality is known by revelation…The adversary has no rights… The criterion of last resort does not apply… [and] It need not be winnable.” This is important to note because it is different from those wars waged by man which one may speak of as just or unjust. The criteria for a just war do not apply to these sorts of wars because they are inherently just as they are commanded by God who is the definition of Justice. St. Augustine of Hippo said as much in his book Contra Faustus, saying, “[H]ow much more must the man be blameless who carries on war on the authority of God, of whom everyone who serves Him knows that He can never require what is wrong?” Thus it is clear that the Just War Theory applies to those wars that are by the impetus of man, and not those commanded of God.
The nature of the wars that are addressed by the Just War Theory have their origin in man. The question the theory answers is “under what circumstances is it permissible and just to wage war?” Many men have answered this question in many ways, but the Church has long adhered to the positions held by two saints that went about creating a systematic way of approaching the subject. These two men are St. Augustine of Hippo, and St. Thomas Aquinas. The work of these two men is where the Church’s historical position of the Just War Theory comes from.
St. Augustine argues, in his book Contra Faustus, that men may, without guilt, engage in warfare, saying,
A great deal depends on the causes for which men undertake wars, and on the authority they have for doing so; for the natural order which seeks the peace of mankind, ordains that the monarch should have the power of undertaking war … and that the soldiers should perform their military duties in behalf of the peace and safety of the community… No one can have any power against them but what is given him from above. For there is no power but of God, (Romans 13:1) who either orders or permits. Since, therefore, a righteous man, serving it may be under an ungodly king, may do the duty belonging to his position in the State in fighting by the order of his sovereign—for in some cases it is plainly the will of God that he should fight, and in others, where this is not so plain, it may be an unrighteous command on the part of the king, while the soldier is innocent, because his position makes obedience a duty.
Here Augustine lays out a number of criteria for war. First he says that it must be waged by a legitimate authority. Secondly, that such a war be on behalf and towards the end of peace and safety of the community. For the purpose of peace and defense a rightful authority, says Augustine, may wage war. He goes on further to say that not only is it permissible to engage in war, but that it is moral for a man to serve in the armed forces, for it is doing his duty to legitimate authority which God has put in place. Upon this basis has the Church maintained the position that neither wars, nor men fighting in them are necessarily immoral, but are just within the proper restraints. Though one may loyally serve an ungodly king and be moral, there must be the limitation of refusal to commit atrocities. In Acts 5:29, “Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’” If the situation is unclear, then the soldier can follow the king’s orders in good conscience, but if he is ordered to commit an atrocity, then he must not comply, fearing God more than man.
The second most influential author to the Church’s standpoint, next to St. Augustine, is St. Thomas Aquinas. Because much of his work is but an expansion of the work of Augustine, he shares a similar view to Augustine, but expands the ideas in his classic Aquinan style. The same three qualifications come up for a just war: (1) that it be waged by a legitimate authority, (2) That it be fought for just reason, and (3) that it be fought in the right manner by those participating. Though Augustine does indeed speak briefly in Contra Fautus upon the manner in which the war is fought, he does not as clearly speak of the goal of war as Aquinas does who quotes him. He speaks clearly to this end, saying,
[I]t is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. Hence Augustine says …”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 true purpose of a just war is to attain a good peace, instead of, as Aquinas calls it, an evil peace. The end of the war must be a better situation than the one preceding it. It cannot be waged just to satisfy the desires of a tyrant for vengeance, but for a good end of peace. Not only does he say that these wars are permissible, Aquinas asserts that they should be viewed as peaceful. It then is proper for a nation to maintain a standing military for the resisting of evil and standing for the good, as the old Latin adage says, “si uis pacem, para bellvm”
Though the Just War Theory is the way that the Church has answered the problem of war for most of its history, there are other schools of thought in response to the same. There are two distinct but similar positions called “Christian Non-resistance” and “Christian Pacifism” that are held by some parts of the Church today. They both hold that Christians should not engage in war, but the difference is in regards to whether war should be waged at all. Those who hold to Christian passivism hold that all war and physical violence is evil and that none should engage in it. “Starting with the position that war is wrong, they have decided that it is wrong even for nations of this world and therefore they should oppose the war effort in their own nation. They have refused to buy bonds, participate in the mobilization effort, enter into the armed services in any capacity, or even pray for the nation.” Christian non-resistance, on the other hand, agrees that it is not the place for the Church or for Christians to engage in any form of war. They will, however, support their own country in the war efforts, but do not believe it is moral for they themselves to fight. They believe that “the obligations of non-resistance are laid upon believers only.”  The argument is that the kingdom of God is not of this world, so that the believers should not engage the world like the world does, but rather differently. They, however, believe that one can engage in war as a non-combatant in accordance with Romans 13 and supporting the government and system that they are a part of by the providence of God.
These positions are inconsistent upon the following grounds. Christian pacifism does not take into account that there are important examples where one must engage in war where it be necessary to fight. It is called out as inconsistent by pointing out that they are subversive to the government that they are under in violation of Romans 13. The non-resistors hold that because the state and the church are separate they, as a part of the church, can fulfill their role, supporting the state while not engaging where the church has not authority, but where the state does. Christian non-resistance is inconsistent because they would keep themselves from that which they believe is wrong, but they do not protest others doing the same .They say that Christians should not take life or fight because it is wrong, but they do not hold that others should not do that same wrong. It is hypocritical to allow or support others doing what you consider wrong. Though the argument of authority of the state and church somewhat alleviates this tension, individually it is an inconsistent viewpoint.
Though war be an evil, and every human life sacred, there is a time and a place for engaging in it. When a war is waged by a legitimate authority, for just reasons with the end goal of reconciliation and peace, and with Christian integrity, such a war is just, and it is moral for a Christian to participate in such a struggle.
Augustine. Contra Faustus. http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/140622.htm (accessed 4/8/2013)
Aquinas, Thomas. “Question 40, Question 1.” In Summa Theologica, pageNr. publication place: publisher,publication year. http://www.newadvent.org/summa/3040.htm (accessed April 8, 2013).
Clouse, Robert G., and editor, eds. War: Four Christian Views. BMH BOOKS, 1986.
Morey, Robert A. When Is It Right to Fight? Minneapolis, Minn.: Bethany House Pub, 1985.
Yoder, John Howard. When War Is Unjust: Being Honest in Just-War Thinking. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Pub, 1984
 Yoder ppg. 26-27
 See Romans 13:1-7
 English Standard Version, and so will all other Bible references quoted.
 St. Thomas, Summa Theologica, Question 40, Article 1, I Answer that.
 if you wish for peace, prepare for war.
 Clouse pg 47
 Ibid. pg 37