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Author Topic: War and the Orthodox Faith  (Read 2256 times) Average Rating: 0
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« on: June 16, 2011, 07:21:53 PM »

The RCs have a 'Just War' doctrine. How does the Orthodox faith handle soldiers and wars. Is there a line of civility? Killing, justified or not, is sinful, but how does this compare to the position of the Church?

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« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2011, 09:35:01 AM »

St. Basil the Great had teachings on this here is an article re this: http://www.incommunion.org/2006/02/19/st-basil-on-war-and-repentance/
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« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2011, 09:57:16 AM »

We have many soldier saints, but this is not a glorification of war or violence. Sometimes war is necessary for defensive purposes, but it is still a necessary evil. I haven't read what St. Augustine says in the "just war" theory, but I would imagine it's much the same, just marketed differently.

The Crusades, on the other hand, were a turning point in the understanding of war in the West. At Hastings, in the papal crusade against Orthodox England, the soldiers who had fought and killed for William the Bastard and the pope's ecclesiastical mission were still given penance after the battle. Just four decades later in the fall of Jerusalem, war itself was thought of as the penance. Those who went on the First Crusade were promised by the pope remission of all their sins if they completed the mission, and excommunication if they turned back. So, it was a dramatic reversal. War became a kind of spiritual work.
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« Reply #3 on: June 17, 2011, 10:16:52 AM »

The Crusades, on the other hand, were a turning point in the understanding of war in the West. At Hastings, in the papal crusade against Orthodox England, the soldiers who had fought and killed for William the Bastard and the pope's ecclesiastical mission were still given penance after the battle. Just four decades later in the fall of Jerusalem, war itself was thought of as the penance. Those who went on the First Crusade were promised by the pope remission of all their sins if they completed the mission, and excommunication if they turned back. So, it was a dramatic reversal. War became a kind of spiritual work.

In a sense, I can agree. Defense of the faith, even through arms, certainly was a theme in the west. It saw Islamic invasion in the east, 'rogue' bishops, and pagans in the North as a threat to the Christian faith and way of life. The theme of 'the largest threat is spiritual death' seemed to shine strong in the west, especially into the second century. Documents like 'Exsurge Domine' showed that public death (burning) of a heretic was preferable to allowing the heresies to spread. States also supported the faith through laws to prevent alternative religions or heresies. For example, the Spanish Inquisition, often distorted, nevertheless was an attempt to prevent Islamic and heretical influence from creeping into the government and maintaining the Catholic faith of the country.

I think some of this is a product of the culture. For example, an examination of games from the west (like chess) show that winning is by total domination of the opponent. The western Church, I would suppose, was also not willing to suffer competition to the 'faith of God'.
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« Reply #4 on: June 17, 2011, 02:32:21 PM »

There is no just war in Orthodoxy, and sins must still be confessed.
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« Reply #5 on: June 17, 2011, 08:13:14 PM »

There is no just war in Orthodoxy, and sins must still be confessed.

Is it a sin to refuse to go to war?  The reaction of the bishops to a man refusing to go to war and kill the enemy is excommunication.  In other words the Church compels a man to fight and kill.  Can it be compelling him to sin?
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« Reply #6 on: June 17, 2011, 08:21:11 PM »

There is no just war in Orthodoxy, and sins must still be confessed.

Is it a sin to refuse to go to war?  The reaction of the bishops to a man refusing to go to war and kill the enemy is excommunication.  In other words the Church compels a man to fight and kill.  Can it be compelling him to sin?

Huh?

Leap of logic.

And what Antonis said in few words seems to be correct. Every thing I've read, hear, etc. except your comments would suggest an Orthodox soldier would confess the sins committed during war, including killing "the enemy".

As far as excommunication for not going to war under all circumstances, can we get a consensus on the board here?

And I ain't going to read 432 snippets of documents. I just wonder what folks gut reactions are. If there is some clear teaching on the matter and there is a few obvious witnesses, that would be appreciated.

Thanks.
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« Reply #7 on: June 17, 2011, 08:53:58 PM »

St. Basil the Great had teachings on this here is an article re this: http://www.incommunion.org/2006/02/19/st-basil-on-war-and-repentance/

The Trebniki/Euchologia of local Orthodox Churches contain Prayers
for the Blessing of Weapons. Does anyone know if priests and bishops
suffer a period of excommunication for blessing weapons of death?

I can access the the Trebnik of the Serbian Orthodox Church, 1993 edition.

These are ancient Services which have been used throughout the hiostory of
Orthodoxy. The use of the "swords" and "sabres" demonstrates that the
blessing of weapons by the Church is of ancient origin and is a long established
Orthodox custom.

-oOo-

The Bishop or Priest comes out of the Altar to a table before the Amvon on which
the weapons are placed, and he censes the weapons crosswise while the Reader
begins as is common::

Reader: O Heavenly King, Trisagion,etc....Psalm 35. Alleluia.

Deacon: Let us pray to the Lord

The Bishop or Priest reads this prayer over the weapons::

O Lord our God, God of Power and Might, powerful in strength, strong in battle,
You once gave miraculous strength to Your child David granting him victory over
his opponent the blasphemer Goliath. Mercifully accept our humble prayer. Send
Your heavenly blessing upon these weapons (..naming each weapon..). Give to
them power and strength that they may protect Your holy Church, the poor and the
widows, and Your holy inheritance on earth, and make them horrible and terrible
to any enemy army, and grant victory to Your people for your glory, for You are
our strength and protection and unto You do we send up praise and glory, to the
Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, now and ever, and to the ages of ages.
Amen.

Then the Priest sprinkles blessed water on the weapons saying::

Let the blessing of the Tri-une God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, come down
on and remain upon these weapons and those who carry them, for the protection of
the truth of Christ. Amen.

After this the soldiers carrying the weapons are blessed, with the prayer:

Be brave and let your heart be stronger and win victory over your enemies,
trusting in God, in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

After this each soldier kisses the honourable cross.

This is the way to bless sword and sabre. If there is only one sword to be
blessed, or only one sabre, he says only once: this sword, or: this weapon. If
there are many, he says: bless these swords, or: bless these weapons.

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« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2011, 09:09:19 PM »

If there is some clear teaching on the matter and there is a few obvious witnesses, that would be appreciated.

You are not going to find the clarity you wish.

For example Fr. Alexander Webster wrote a book "The Pacifist Option: The Moral Argument against War in Eastern Orthodox Theology"

and then he published a second back taking the opposite tack "The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West"
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« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2011, 10:01:45 PM »

If there is some clear teaching on the matter and there is a few obvious witnesses, that would be appreciated.

You are not going to find the clarity you wish.

For example Fr. Alexander Webster wrote a book "The Pacifist Option: The Moral Argument against War in Eastern Orthodox Theology"

and then he published a second back taking the opposite tack "The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West"

LOL
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« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2011, 10:31:24 PM »


We have many soldier saints, but this is not a glorification of war or violence. Sometimes war is necessary for defensive purposes, but it is still a necessary evil.

The theological concept of "necessary evil"  seems to have developed only in recent decades in the English-speaking Orthodox world.  It's quite an extraordinary concept and one wonders if God agrees with it?   

If war is a necessary evil is it unique in this category?  or are there other "necessary evils" in Christian life and Christian morality?  For example, can abortion be counted as a "necessary evil"?  What necessary evils does God allow Christians?
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« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2011, 10:58:02 PM »

My sig says it best. In all honesty I've thought about the only forgiveable war is one of defense, but I forever will be a pacifist at heart. I feel going to war is against the Gospel.
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« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2011, 11:04:05 PM »

There is no just war in Orthodoxy, and sins must still be confessed.

Is it a sin to refuse to go to war?  The reaction of the bishops to a man refusing to go to war and kill the enemy is excommunication.  In other words the Church compels a man to fight and kill.  Can it be compelling him to sin?
We must still be obedient, yes. I suppose it leaves us in a confusing position, but I have always been taught that, unlike the Latins, we do not believe in a "just" war, and this has always made sense to me. Blessing soldiers and things before battle isn't condoning the action though, I don't think.
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« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2011, 11:36:55 PM »

There is no just war in Orthodoxy, and sins must still be confessed.

Is it a sin to refuse to go to war?  The reaction of the bishops to a man refusing to go to war and kill the enemy is excommunication.  In other words the Church compels a man to fight and kill.  Can it be compelling him to sin?
We must still be obedient, yes. I suppose it leaves us in a confusing position, but I have always been taught that, unlike the Latins, we do not believe in a "just" war, and this has always made sense to me. Blessing soldiers and things before battle isn't condoning the action though, I don't think.

Father Alexander Webster:

"My second example is not really equivalent, but I see it, too, as a mere slogan, voiced perhaps without serious reflection and certainly without a firm grounding in research: "There is no such thing in Orthodoxy as a just war." It's extremely frustrating for me to hear this so often, especially from leaders of our Church--some very distinguished and otherwise very knowledgeable theologians, clergy, and laity. The corollary--that war may be a "necessary" or a "lesser" evil--has also become a slogan. In fact, I would go further: it's become a mantra. My intent in my new book, co-authored with Professor Cole, is to put that canard to rest once and for all."

http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles4/AgainWebster.php
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« Reply #14 on: June 17, 2011, 11:42:18 PM »

So what solution does he present? What answer?
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« Reply #15 on: June 17, 2011, 11:55:34 PM »

In my teenage years in the 1950s I became a pacifist.  I think it was the great influence of Tolstoy's book "The Law of Love and the Law of Violence" which I read and re-read.

During the time of the Vietnam War years, when quite a number of runaway US soldiers found their way to New Zealand I assisted the Quakers in quietly caring for them and finding them accommodation. It was an illegal activity but I don't think anybody was ever prosecuted for it.

But when I became a priest I realised that I could not hold to such a position.   I had to be obedient to the Church's tradition which blessed soldiers and blessed wars.

Does anybody know the wonderful poet Wilfrid Owen, one of England's greatest poets and a pacifist who still had to fight in the Great War in Europe.   He described himself as a "conscientious objector with a very seared conscience."  He too had a great influence.
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« Reply #16 on: June 18, 2011, 01:21:01 AM »

You are not going to find the clarity you wish.

For example Fr. Alexander Webster wrote a book "The Pacifist Option: The Moral Argument against War in Eastern Orthodox Theology"

and then he published a second back taking the opposite tack "The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West"

That is pretty hilarious.  Cheesy

So was he just playing devil's advocate or did he actually change his mind?
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« Reply #17 on: June 18, 2011, 01:45:05 AM »

We have many soldier saints, but this is not a glorification of war or violence. Sometimes war is necessary for defensive purposes, but it is still a necessary evil. I haven't read what St. Augustine says in the "just war" theory, but I would imagine it's much the same, just marketed differently.

The Crusades, on the other hand, were a turning point in the understanding of war in the West. At Hastings, in the papal crusade against Orthodox England, the soldiers who had fought and killed for William the Bastard and the pope's ecclesiastical mission were still given penance after the battle. Just four decades later in the fall of Jerusalem, war itself was thought of as the penance. Those who went on the First Crusade were promised by the pope remission of all their sins if they completed the mission, and excommunication if they turned back. So, it was a dramatic reversal. War became a kind of spiritual work.

If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 

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« Reply #18 on: June 18, 2011, 01:56:24 AM »

If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions?

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« Reply #19 on: June 18, 2011, 02:17:58 AM »

You are not going to find the clarity you wish.

For example Fr. Alexander Webster wrote a book "The Pacifist Option: The Moral Argument against War in Eastern Orthodox Theology"

and then he published a second back taking the opposite tack "The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West"

That is pretty hilarious.  Cheesy

So was he just playing devil's advocate or did he actually change his mind?

Neither as far as I know,  He wanted to present both sides.
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« Reply #20 on: June 18, 2011, 02:22:45 AM »

We have many soldier saints, but this is not a glorification of war or violence. Sometimes war is necessary for defensive purposes, but it is still a necessary evil. I haven't read what St. Augustine says in the "just war" theory, but I would imagine it's much the same, just marketed differently.

The Crusades, on the other hand, were a turning point in the understanding of war in the West. At Hastings, in the papal crusade against Orthodox England, the soldiers who had fought and killed for William the Bastard and the pope's ecclesiastical mission were still given penance after the battle. Just four decades later in the fall of Jerusalem, war itself was thought of as the penance. Those who went on the First Crusade were promised by the pope remission of all their sins if they completed the mission, and excommunication if they turned back. So, it was a dramatic reversal. War became a kind of spiritual work.
If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 

That would seem the sad and unavoidable corollary. Serious sin takes a man to hell. 
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« Reply #21 on: June 18, 2011, 08:41:21 AM »

If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 

One thing I remember from talking to my priest, is that EO don't really consider any sin justified to irrelevancy. Accidental, unintentional, an unknown sins are still sin. They are in essence the product of the Fall. Therefore, killing, be it murder, defense, or unintentional/unknown, is still a sin in the eyes of God and contrary to Him. Although we may be more or less 'responsible' for the sin, we still are harmed by it in spirit and must confess it.

My two cents, at the moment, would be that any action (pacifism or activism) can cause damage to our souls when associated with war. Sin is damaging to all. We can only mitigate that damage by our relation to the sin. That is, when we kill, do we kill for the ultimate intention of life and love, and in the same way, when we refuse to fight, do we avoid allowing sin to grow by our intentional inaction. In the end we will still be harmed by it, and must never forget what sin does ton our spiritual state.
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« Reply #22 on: June 18, 2011, 12:44:44 PM »

If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 

One thing I remember from talking to my priest, is that EO don't really consider any sin justified to irrelevancy. Accidental, unintentional, an unknown sins are still sin. They are in essence the product of the Fall. Therefore, killing, be it murder, defense, or unintentional/unknown, is still a sin in the eyes of God and contrary to Him. Although we may be more or less 'responsible' for the sin, we still are harmed by it in spirit and must confess it.

My two cents, at the moment, would be that any action (pacifism or activism) can cause damage to our souls when associated with war. Sin is damaging to all. We can only mitigate that damage by our relation to the sin. That is, when we kill, do we kill for the ultimate intention of life and love, and in the same way, when we refuse to fight, do we avoid allowing sin to grow by our intentional inaction. In the end we will still be harmed by it, and must never forget what sin does ton our spiritual state.

Bet you're the real life of the party.

Seriously, nice post. I am going to go and sin now always sure I am doing it no matter what I do but never knowing to what degree.
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« Reply #23 on: June 18, 2011, 02:54:07 PM »

If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 

One thing I remember from talking to my priest, is that EO don't really consider any sin justified to irrelevancy. Accidental, unintentional, an unknown sins are still sin. They are in essence the product of the Fall. Therefore, killing, be it murder, defense, or unintentional/unknown, is still a sin in the eyes of God and contrary to Him. Although we may be more or less 'responsible' for the sin, we still are harmed by it in spirit and must confess it.

My two cents, at the moment, would be that any action (pacifism or activism) can cause damage to our souls when associated with war. Sin is damaging to all. We can only mitigate that damage by our relation to the sin. That is, when we kill, do we kill for the ultimate intention of life and love, and in the same way, when we refuse to fight, do we avoid allowing sin to grow by our intentional inaction. In the end we will still be harmed by it, and must never forget what sin does ton our spiritual state.

Bet you're the real life of the party.

Seriously, nice post. I am going to go and sin now always sure I am doing it no matter what I do but never knowing to what degree.

What is sin?
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« Reply #24 on: June 18, 2011, 02:55:13 PM »

I always thought some wars were just, such as WWI and WWII.
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« Reply #25 on: June 18, 2011, 04:52:51 PM »

We have many soldier saints, but this is not a glorification of war or violence. Sometimes war is necessary for defensive purposes, but it is still a necessary evil. I haven't read what St. Augustine says in the "just war" theory, but I would imagine it's much the same, just marketed differently.

The Crusades, on the other hand, were a turning point in the understanding of war in the West. At Hastings, in the papal crusade against Orthodox England, the soldiers who had fought and killed for William the Bastard and the pope's ecclesiastical mission were still given penance after the battle. Just four decades later in the fall of Jerusalem, war itself was thought of as the penance. Those who went on the First Crusade were promised by the pope remission of all their sins if they completed the mission, and excommunication if they turned back. So, it was a dramatic reversal. War became a kind of spiritual work.
If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 

That would seem the sad and unavoidable corollary. Serious sin takes a man to hell. 


I sure hope your joking Father, because that sounds very, very cruel.
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« Reply #26 on: June 18, 2011, 04:57:44 PM »

We have many soldier saints, but this is not a glorification of war or violence. Sometimes war is necessary for defensive purposes, but it is still a necessary evil. I haven't read what St. Augustine says in the "just war" theory, but I would imagine it's much the same, just marketed differently.

The Crusades, on the other hand, were a turning point in the understanding of war in the West. At Hastings, in the papal crusade against Orthodox England, the soldiers who had fought and killed for William the Bastard and the pope's ecclesiastical mission were still given penance after the battle. Just four decades later in the fall of Jerusalem, war itself was thought of as the penance. Those who went on the First Crusade were promised by the pope remission of all their sins if they completed the mission, and excommunication if they turned back. So, it was a dramatic reversal. War became a kind of spiritual work.
If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 

That would seem the sad and unavoidable corollary. Serious sin takes a man to hell. 


I sure hope your joking Father, because that sounds very, very cruel.

Committing a serious sin doesn't take a man to Hell??
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« Reply #27 on: June 18, 2011, 05:07:34 PM »

We have many soldier saints, but this is not a glorification of war or violence. Sometimes war is necessary for defensive purposes, but it is still a necessary evil. I haven't read what St. Augustine says in the "just war" theory, but I would imagine it's much the same, just marketed differently.

The Crusades, on the other hand, were a turning point in the understanding of war in the West. At Hastings, in the papal crusade against Orthodox England, the soldiers who had fought and killed for William the Bastard and the pope's ecclesiastical mission were still given penance after the battle. Just four decades later in the fall of Jerusalem, war itself was thought of as the penance. Those who went on the First Crusade were promised by the pope remission of all their sins if they completed the mission, and excommunication if they turned back. So, it was a dramatic reversal. War became a kind of spiritual work.
If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 

That would seem the sad and unavoidable corollary. Serious sin takes a man to hell. 


I sure hope your joking Father, because that sounds very, very cruel.

Committing a serious sin doesn't take a man to Hell??

 Does this mean that one cannot have public prayers said for the repose of a dead soldiers soul in Church, or a requiem can not be said for those who die in battle?  Sounds kind of goofy to me.  I'm sure glad that we RC's setled this stuff around 1000 years ago.
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« Reply #28 on: June 18, 2011, 05:12:56 PM »

We have many soldier saints, but this is not a glorification of war or violence. Sometimes war is necessary for defensive purposes, but it is still a necessary evil. I haven't read what St. Augustine says in the "just war" theory, but I would imagine it's much the same, just marketed differently.

The Crusades, on the other hand, were a turning point in the understanding of war in the West. At Hastings, in the papal crusade against Orthodox England, the soldiers who had fought and killed for William the Bastard and the pope's ecclesiastical mission were still given penance after the battle. Just four decades later in the fall of Jerusalem, war itself was thought of as the penance. Those who went on the First Crusade were promised by the pope remission of all their sins if they completed the mission, and excommunication if they turned back. So, it was a dramatic reversal. War became a kind of spiritual work.
If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 

That would seem the sad and unavoidable corollary. Serious sin takes a man to hell. 


I sure hope your joking Father, because that sounds very, very cruel.

Committing a serious sin doesn't take a man to Hell??

 Does this mean that one cannot have public prayers said for the repose of a dead soldiers soul in Church, or a requiem can not be said for those who die in battle?  Sounds kind of goofy to me.  I'm sure glad that we RC's setled this stuff around 1000 years ago.

Who said you can't say prayers or serve pannikhydas for dead soldiers??

The fact remains that serious sins have serious consequences. If it is true that in Orthodoxy there is no "just war", it follows that soldiers would be in even more need of our prayers.
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« Reply #29 on: June 18, 2011, 06:03:37 PM »

We have many soldier saints, but this is not a glorification of war or violence. Sometimes war is necessary for defensive purposes, but it is still a necessary evil. I haven't read what St. Augustine says in the "just war" theory, but I would imagine it's much the same, just marketed differently.

The Crusades, on the other hand, were a turning point in the understanding of war in the West. At Hastings, in the papal crusade against Orthodox England, the soldiers who had fought and killed for William the Bastard and the pope's ecclesiastical mission were still given penance after the battle. Just four decades later in the fall of Jerusalem, war itself was thought of as the penance. Those who went on the First Crusade were promised by the pope remission of all their sins if they completed the mission, and excommunication if they turned back. So, it was a dramatic reversal. War became a kind of spiritual work.

If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 



They are prayed for. St. Rachel of Borodino's convent was built over the site of the battlefield. Through her prayers and those of the other nuns, she saw the Russian soldiers who had died defending their country and their faith crowned in heaven.

Anyway, most of this talk of war is speculative, IMO, and beyond me.
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« Reply #30 on: June 18, 2011, 06:04:45 PM »

We have many soldier saints, but this is not a glorification of war or violence. Sometimes war is necessary for defensive purposes, but it is still a necessary evil. I haven't read what St. Augustine says in the "just war" theory, but I would imagine it's much the same, just marketed differently.

The Crusades, on the other hand, were a turning point in the understanding of war in the West. At Hastings, in the papal crusade against Orthodox England, the soldiers who had fought and killed for William the Bastard and the pope's ecclesiastical mission were still given penance after the battle. Just four decades later in the fall of Jerusalem, war itself was thought of as the penance. Those who went on the First Crusade were promised by the pope remission of all their sins if they completed the mission, and excommunication if they turned back. So, it was a dramatic reversal. War became a kind of spiritual work.
If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 

That would seem the sad and unavoidable corollary. Serious sin takes a man to hell. 


I sure hope your joking Father, because that sounds very, very cruel.

There seems to be some let-out clause with regard to "necessary evil."    People believe that God does not mind necessary evils.  I have never seen a list of them though.
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« Reply #31 on: June 18, 2011, 06:05:52 PM »

I always thought some wars were just, such as WWI and WWII.

WWI was a completely unnecessary waste of life that destroyed Europe. It could have been avoided if leaders had not been so pig-headed and desirous of war.
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« Reply #32 on: June 18, 2011, 09:38:25 PM »

There seems to be some let-out clause with regard to "necessary evil."    People believe that God does not mind necessary evils.  I have never seen a list of them though.

With no expectation and for clarity, I will play a devil's advocate.

Doesnt God allow certain evils to exist for the purpose of eventual sancitity of His creation? If He can allow evil for good, can we allow some evils for the elimination of evil, as well? This could be a slippery slope of sin and human passions, but nevertheless, is this possible?
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« Reply #33 on: June 18, 2011, 09:43:11 PM »

Would someone say more on the concept of "necessary evil." I do not believe
that this is a part of the Orthodox faith. Does it originate in some
Western concept?

If war is a "NECESSARY" evil than the notion of moral freedom is quite
absent and that sort of moral determinism which involves unavoidable sin and
evil is a bit frightening. It entails a voluntary association with and a
surrendering to the source of evil, the Devil. I doubt if there can be a
patristic base for such a concept.

Orthodox bishops have always blessed the soldiers and their weapons
before sending them out to make war. If this were an evil, whether
necessary or unnecessary, could the ordained servants of the Most High
participate in it and even bestow the Lord's blessing on it? Can God bless
evil?

Are there any other "necessary evils"? What about abortion? euthanasia? Or
is war the only "necessary evil" that we know? Can anything like a
"necessary evil" have a valid place in moral theology?

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« Reply #34 on: June 18, 2011, 11:14:23 PM »

If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 

One thing I remember from talking to my priest, is that EO don't really consider any sin justified to irrelevancy. Accidental, unintentional, an unknown sins are still sin. They are in essence the product of the Fall. Therefore, killing, be it murder, defense, or unintentional/unknown, is still a sin in the eyes of God and contrary to Him. Although we may be more or less 'responsible' for the sin, we still are harmed by it in spirit and must confess it.

My two cents, at the moment, would be that any action (pacifism or activism) can cause damage to our souls when associated with war. Sin is damaging to all. We can only mitigate that damage by our relation to the sin. That is, when we kill, do we kill for the ultimate intention of life and love, and in the same way, when we refuse to fight, do we avoid allowing sin to grow by our intentional inaction. In the end we will still be harmed by it, and must never forget what sin does ton our spiritual state.

Bet you're the real life of the party.
Such speculation into one's personal life is not welcome, nor is it germane to this topic. Please refrain from such disparaging personal comments in the future. Thank you.
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« Reply #35 on: June 19, 2011, 01:50:26 AM »

We have many soldier saints, but this is not a glorification of war or violence. Sometimes war is necessary for defensive purposes, but it is still a necessary evil. I haven't read what St. Augustine says in the "just war" theory, but I would imagine it's much the same, just marketed differently.

The Crusades, on the other hand, were a turning point in the understanding of war in the West. At Hastings, in the papal crusade against Orthodox England, the soldiers who had fought and killed for William the Bastard and the pope's ecclesiastical mission were still given penance after the battle. Just four decades later in the fall of Jerusalem, war itself was thought of as the penance. Those who went on the First Crusade were promised by the pope remission of all their sins if they completed the mission, and excommunication if they turned back. So, it was a dramatic reversal. War became a kind of spiritual work.
If there is no Just War concept in Orthodoxy and soldiers must make penance after battle, then what happens to those soldiers who die in battle?  Since the Orthodox Church holds open the option that these men are engaged in sinful behavior, does it not follow logically that those who die while killing others will be condemned for their actions? 

That would seem the sad and unavoidable corollary. Serious sin takes a man to hell. 


I sure hope your joking Father, because that sounds very, very cruel.



Committing a serious sin doesn't take a man to Hell??

 Does this mean that one cannot have public prayers said for the repose of a dead soldiers soul in Church, or a requiem can not be said for those who die in battle?  Sounds kind of goofy to me.  I'm sure glad that we RC's setled this stuff around 1000 years ago.

Who said you can't say prayers or serve pannikhydas for dead soldiers??

The fact remains that serious sins have serious consequences. If it is true that in Orthodoxy there is no "just war", it follows that soldiers would be in even more need of our prayers.

If this follows for war then would it also not go for any form of self defense?  In that case the Orthodox logic on such matters seems to more Anabaptist/Quaker (Who also hold that their is no legitimate form of self defense or necessary evil to justify it).  If the OC feels this way then why don't you openly forbide members to defend themselves like the groups I've mentioned above?  Your Church blesses soldiers who go into battle to fight for their country and then openly speculates on their damnation because of this?
This just sounds almost absurdly fatalistic to me.
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« Reply #36 on: June 19, 2011, 02:44:56 AM »

The martyrs often prayed for those killing them, and didn't fight back. Hmm...
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« Reply #37 on: June 19, 2011, 08:40:12 AM »

The martyrs often prayed for those killing them, and didn't fight back. Hmm...

The Church venerates various kinds of holy Martyrs.

For example in a week's time we shall be honouring Vidovdan, when the Holy Martyr Prince Lazar went to his death fighting the Turkish Sultan Murat on the field of Kosovo in 1389.  He died as did all his soldiers with sword in hand on the battlefield and he and his soldiers are venerated as martyrs.

Sveti mučenice Kneze Lazare i svi sveti mučenici kosovski, molite Boga o nas!
Holy Martyr Prince Lazar and all holy Kosovo Martyrs, pray to God for us!
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« Reply #38 on: June 19, 2011, 08:51:51 AM »

In orthodox armies, usually soldiers would be communed before war and would go to heaven. We had Saints Kings like Stephen the King that lead around 40 wars . Through wars he defended the faith.
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« Reply #39 on: June 19, 2011, 11:27:23 AM »

The martyrs often prayed for those killing them, and didn't fight back. Hmm...

The Church venerates various kinds of holy Martyrs.

For example in a week's time we shall be honouring Vidovdan, when the Holy Martyr Prince Lazar went to his death fighting the Turkish Sultan Murat on the field of Kosovo in 1389.  He died as did all his soldiers with sword in hand on the battlefield and he and his soldiers are venerated as martyrs.

Sveti mučenice Kneze Lazare i svi sveti mučenici kosovski, molite Boga o nas!
Holy Martyr Prince Lazar and all holy Kosovo Martyrs, pray to God for us!
You're giving me too much to think about, Father!  Cheesy Whereas I thought I had decent footing on the subject before, apparently I know nothing. Although that is something that I needed to find out, and be humbled. Thank you Father.
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« Reply #40 on: June 19, 2011, 04:13:27 PM »

/\  I am sure that you know a lot about the topic.  But the holy faith is as multi-faceted as the universe which God made and under the Church's umbrella there is room for a great variety of people..   Better, in my opinion, to be a dove promoting peace than a hawk promoting war.

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 To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven:
 A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
 A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
 A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
 A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
 A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
 A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
 A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.
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« Reply #41 on: June 19, 2011, 04:22:12 PM »

The Byzantines fought many wars.  Were they just or unjust?
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« Reply #42 on: June 24, 2011, 02:27:15 PM »

The Byzantines fought many wars.  Were they just or unjust?

Awkward question given the above discussion. I'll drop the whole "just war" thing and say that some Byzantine wars were completely foolish and did more harm to the empire than good.
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« Reply #43 on: June 24, 2011, 08:20:26 PM »

O. K.  So there are just wars.
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« Reply #44 on: June 24, 2011, 09:41:39 PM »

O. K.  So there are just wars.
How do you conclude that?
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« Reply #45 on: June 25, 2011, 12:18:41 AM »

Sin is sin is sin. There are no "just wars."
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