Tuesday, June 29, 2004

Christians and War

How's this for logic. Bush is a Christian. Bush is a war monger. Ergo, Christians are all war mongers. That's true right?

Thankfully not! Though I am not a Christian, many people close to me are, including my own spawn (despite my constant atheistic proselytizing). In fact a very good friend of mine sent me this email (edited) about a sermon delivered in his West Houston Church last weekend.

Yesterday’s sermon at our church was about war. Our Reverend based his sermon on a book by one of the professors at the seminary he attended. The sermon described how early Christians usually weren’t in the Roman army because the Roman's were persecuting them. I guess they thought that Christians made better lion food than soldiers. However, in 312 AD the laws were changed to where it was not illegal to be Christian, and gradually more Christians enlisted in the military (for the bennies - GI bill etc.). He said Augustine (354-430 ad) and Ambrose (both later were named saints) had discussed war frequently and Augustine wrote down conditions under which war is justified. Augustine said there were five conditions: 1) War must be fought under constituted authority. 2) War must be fought only against the wrongdoers. 3) One must keep one’s word, even with the enemy. 4) War shall not be to seek revenge. 5) Must show mercy to defeated and captives.

In his book, our Reverend's professor idenified 6 different pre-conditions that Christians should make sure are met prior to resorting to war: 1) Justifiable cause. 2) Legitimate authority. 3) Last resort. 4) A declaration stating clear reason for war must be made. 5) War shall be waged proportional to the problem. 6) Must be a reasonable chance of success. Although our Minister did not give his opinion on whether the Iraq invasion and occupation met these tests, he talked about how sadly there always seems to be a human conflict or war somewhere on the planet, and about pacifism in the early church. He also talked about the need today for Christians to repent for wars, dialog with others, help those hurt by war, love thy neighbor and teach people how to love one another.

A timely sermon at XXXXX Church.

IMHO, in invading Iraq, the Bush camp broke at least 5 of the 6 rules described by the modern theologian, and at least 3 of the 5 stated by Augustine. But I guess W, Ashcroft, Rumsfeld, Cheney and others rationalize all this by thinking “Christians aren’t perfect, just forgiven.”

Amen for Christians.