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New Church Perspective
is an online magazine with essays and other content published weekly. Our features are from a variety of writers dealing with a variety of topics, all celebrating the understanding and application of New Church ideas. For a list of past features by category or title, visit our archive.

Entries in war (2)


A Case for Anti-war Pacifism in the Threefold Word Part 2

Last week Ty presented a study of the teachings of the New Church to make a case for anti-war pacifism. This week Ty offers further arguments for a world that doesn't have to go to war based on the history of violent and non-violent conflict. -Editor

In the previous post, I tried to make a case for a form of pacifism based upon a close reading of the Heavenly Doctrines. In this piece, I want to add a real-world dimension to the more theologically-centered piece I wrote before. In that piece, I argued that the Doctrines don’t give a clear-cut view on just war. At best, war is an evil that is allowed, as a means of defense. And while there are mixed messages in the Word, most Christians support, at least in theory, some form of the Just War doctrine. If war is permitted, Just War doctrine requires a weighing of costs and benefits. The operative question in this section is, what if war never has to be the last resort? If there is always a less violent form of conflict at one’s disposal, then according to Just War doctrine, war is never just because it, in truth, is never the last resort.

Just War doctrine was created to deal with the tension between the ugliness of war and the necessity of defending one’s nation against threats, foreign or domestic. Because many (starting with Augustine) in the early Christian tradition found war at times necessary, they developed a set of conditions that needed to be met before war could be waged. Firstly, the just war tradition is predicated on defensive war. That is first and foremost. But it doesn’t stop there. Such considerations also need to be applied: 1) is the conflict winnable? 2) Does fighting a war produce evils greater than those that are trying to be eliminated? 3) Have all other means been exhausted? These are supposed to be held with utmost strictness because of the grave evils that take place in war. These conditions are generally accepted by non-secularists and secularists alike.

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A Case for Anti-war Pacifism in the Threefold Word Part 1

Does the Bible preach war or pacifism? What about the Writings? What does God want for us when it comes to war and violence? Like many things you can pull examples for both sides, leaving the message sometimes unclear. Ty explores what the threefold Word has to say about war vs. pacifism, and works to untangle what it is that God teaches us is right. -Editor.

The morality surrounding war, both in what justifies it, and what is allowable within the confines of it, has been a controversial issue for thousands of years. In the Christian era, in particular, it has presented a rather difficult problem. On the one hand, it involves the systematic killing of other humans, something which is clearly frowned upon in the Word. On the other hand, isn’t it sometimes necessary to preserve good? Wrestling with these two opposing ideas led to the development of the Just War doctrine, pioneered in the Christian world by Augustine of Hippo. The basic tenet of Just War doctrine, that war is only justifiable as a last resort in self-defense, is one that is given ostensible support in the Writings. However, I want to challenge the Just War Doctrine on two fronts: first, I will emphasize the moral imperative within the threefold Word to engage in pacifism (specifically anti-war pacifism) to achieve desired ends, and for the second part, I will build on that case by piecing together some important, but largely unknown practical considerations regarding the conditions that fulfill the “last resort” principle.

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