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History of Just War Theory #1

History of Just War Theory #1 - M ICHAEL J BAXTER THEOLOGY...

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MICHAEL J. BAXTER THEOLOGY 20642 FALL 2010 PAPER # 1 Inoh Choe Paper # 1: On the Development of Christian Thinking on War and Peace Christian thought on the nature of peace and the morality of war has evolved throughout the course of history. Attaining the end goal of peace with the inherent contradictions present in the nature of war created philosophical challenges to the leading Christian thinkers of the time. How does one protect the downtrodden and the innocent without committing an act of sin? Is war a necessity of life, or should one avoid it at all costs? What was the greater evil – to let the innocent suffer unfairly or to respond violently and take another life? From the early Church’s founding commitment to peacemaking, to the emergence of the crusades and the just war tradition, Christian thinking on war and peace reflected the struggles to merge the spiritual doctrines of Christian pacifism with the realities of the world. This paper will explore the some of the major thinkers in the first sixteen centuries, their contribution to
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the development of the just war tradition, and how each philosophy reflected the social and political agenda of the time. Despite the varying schools of thought, peace was the common denominator and end goal sought by all parties. The early church believed that the real war was a spiritual war and that church was to be the embodiment of peace. If the enemy struck, than Christians were expected to “turn their other cheek” and resist nonviolently. One becomes like the gods s/he worships, and Paul believed in a God of peace. Violence was shunned and Christians were encouraged to fight back passive- aggressively. When the early Christians were persecuted, resisting non- violently gave the church moral authority. As Christians became more tolerated by the government and increasingly intertwined with public and military life, changes in moral and liturgical practices were inevitable. The Constantine era was marked with the end of “Christian pacifism” in which religion was increasingly used as social cement to address infighting.
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