Coppenger-GoldenRuleWar-CTR - Criswell Theological Review...

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Criswell Theological Review 4.2 (1990) 295-312 [Copyright © 1990 by Criswell College, cited with permission; digitally prepared for use at Gordon and Criswell Colleges and elsewhere] THE GOLDEN RULE AND WAR MARK COPPENGER State Convention of Baptists in Indiana Indianapolis, IN 46224 One might suppose that the Golden Rule would favor the pacifist over the just war theorist. After all, war seems so clearly at odds with a rule of love. None of us is keen on suffering violent death in combat, so it would seem perverse to suggest that we could open fire on someone else in accordance with the Golden Rule. But I am not at all persuaded that the Rule serves the pacifist. On the contrary, it could prove bothersome to him. And it could well be the case that the Christian soldier might take the Rule with him to war. I hope to demonstrate that this notion is not so strange after all. I hope to show that, even when involved in battle, the disciple of Jesus Christ can embrace the Golden Rule with integrity. Beginning with a brief statement of the argument, this article will next consider some possible objections to it. Finally, we will look at a few ways in which the Rule might be applied to armed conflict. This will only be an introductory sketch. A good deal of what might and should be discussed will simply have to wait for another day. But I trust that enough of substance will appear to warrant further inquiry. The Argument In this century, peace has been more deadly than war. Consider this accounting: War is hell. Nobody doubts that. War means death, destruction of fami- lies, cold, hunger, and the subjection to harsh authority. So why is so much of mankind at war? One answer is that peace is itself difficult. The very evils we associate with war have fallen upon mankind more fully in
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296 CRISWELL THEOLOGICAL REVIEW times and places well removed from battlefields and in conditions con- ventionally called peace. Especially in this century, the victims of peace outnumber the victims of war. Perhaps thirty-five million people, of whom twenty-five million were civilians, have died as a direct consequence of military operations since 1900. These people have been killed by armies, navies, and air forces using the latest equipment and techniques. The soldiers who died this way suffered before their demise as well as during their final minutes. Nonetheless, they not only had a fighting chance, but their governments were also making at least some efforts to keep them comfortable. Even civilian victims were afforded some measure of protection. During the same period, however, at least 100 million human beings have been killed by police forces or their equivalent. Almost never using heavy weapons but relying on hunger, exposure, barbed wire, and forced labor to kill the bulk, the rest were executed by shooting them with small arms, by rolling over them with trucks (a favorite technique in China around 1950), by gassing them, or, as in the Cambodian holocaust of 1975- 79, by smashing their skulls with wooden clubs. These 100 million
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This note was uploaded on 04/16/2008 for the course BI 104 taught by Professor Parret during the Fall '08 term at Gordon MA.

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Coppenger-GoldenRuleWar-CTR - Criswell Theological Review...

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