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« on: February 11, 2005, 05:12:31 PM »

What is the Orthodox position on Augustine's just war theory?

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« Reply #1 on: February 11, 2005, 05:43:08 PM »

Depends on who you ask, and what they think of St.Augustine.  Generally, most Orthodox recognize him as a Father from the Western Church of old, but there are those both in and out of the "mainstream", typically from Hellenic Orthodox backgrounds (though by no means do all or even most Greek Orthodox agree with them on this) who do not think much of St.Augustine.  As such, these will not pay much mind to anything he says, if only because he said it.

Given that Orthodoxy is not a pacifistic religion (peace loving and pacifistic are not necessarily the same thing), and that St.Augustine's argument is based on some very clear evangelical principles and sound reasoning, I would think most would not have a big problem with what he said - it certainly represents a valid opinion.  Indeed, if Orthodoxy is not a pacifistic religion (and it is not), then there has to be some kind of "just war" theory to be had, even if you don't want to admit it's that of St.Augustine.

Unfortunately many (including some anti-Augustine Orthodox - thankfully a minority, composed mainly of theological modernists, and oddly enough, small fry sectarian groups like HOCNA) misunderstand St.Augustine's theory, including those who are favorably disposed to him otherwise.  This is because all many know of his notion is it's title "just war" - as if it means "good war", as if war is ever a preferable thing.  This is a huge misunderstanding, since most of St.Augustine's time is spent saying when warfare is not permissable.  Basically, you have to have good grounds to believe the evil that would result from not putting up a fight, would be worse than simply staying out of the mess.  However, that is quite different than portraying the idea that warfare is ever a "good thing" - in fact St.Augustine acknowledges that you have to have pretty strong reasons for military activities, precisely because no matter what you do a lot of injustices, sins, and miseries result from warfare, no matter how good the cause.

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« Reply #2 on: February 11, 2005, 05:52:43 PM »

What is the Orthodox position on war in general?
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« Reply #3 on: February 11, 2005, 06:53:49 PM »

On this issue, I can say with a good conscience that there is no one Orthodox position apparently. Some would argue the same as RC's, some would argue no just war theory. There is an entire volume from St Vladimir's Quarterly where people duke this out. Well worth reading up on; in fact I would say that until one has read the opposing points of view, it would be futile to discuss it here.  I would suggest you contact the SVS Press (www.svspress.com) and inquire about that issue.  Also there is a book called "The Virtue of War" by Fr Alexander Webster, you might want to check that out too. As far as anti-just war theory, Orthodox Peace Fellowship would probably be able to provide you with info.

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« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2005, 08:05:21 PM »

I do not think there is an official position, and there is no need for an official position, for war circumstances and reasons avry and it is plain politics, something the Orthodox Church in many areas of the World has tried to distance itself from (or was distanced by force).

One needs to take notice that many saints and martyrs, like St.Filopateer, who was second in command only to Emperor Dacius, or St.George, or St.Victor son of Armanios, or the whole Thebian legion and their leader St.Maurice, were soldiers, who fought wars, not necessarily just but they did not take the decisions of war, and there is no dount about the confession of faith they provided reflected a spirituality and communion with God that is hard to attain.

We also have to differentiate between the war and the warrior.
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« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2005, 08:35:08 PM »

As far as anti-just war theory, Orthodox Peace Fellowship would probably be able to provide you with info.

10 Questions for the Orthodox Peace Fellowship:
http://www.orthodoxytoday.org/articles4/JacobseOPFQuestions.shtml
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« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2005, 10:56:33 PM »

If an Orthodox priest is opposed to a particular war, will he still bless the members of the congregation before they go off to battle?
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« Reply #7 on: February 12, 2005, 12:49:48 AM »

Can these verses be used to justify war?

Rom 13:3 For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:
Rom 13:4 For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to [execute] wrath upon him that doeth evil.

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Be subject to every human institution for the Lord's sake, whether it be to the king as supreme
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or to governors as sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and the approval of those who do good.

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« Reply #8 on: February 12, 2005, 01:09:32 AM »

Matthew,

Like I said, why don't you actually track down the source in general and read up on it. I just don't think the simple answers you will get on a website are going to adequately solve the question.

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« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2005, 01:48:56 AM »

What about the verses though? How do you personally feel on it?
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« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2005, 01:50:57 AM »

What about the verses though? How do you personally feel on it?

I am not qualified to interpret scripture so I don't.

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« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2005, 02:08:50 AM »

That's okay. Smiley
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« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2005, 02:39:55 PM »

Matthew,

Perhaps someone can tell you the source, but I remember reading a story about St.Vladimir (the first Christian Prince of Kiev) which not only addressed this issue, but also involved the passage from the Epistle to the Romans you cited.

I think all Orthodox Christians can "feel" the tension involved in this subject of warfare.  The Gospel clearly teaches that we are to "turn the other cheek", that we are to lend to others freely, to pray for enemies, etc.  That's a high calling, and it seems to be a pacifistic one.

St.Vladimir is an example of a newly Baptized ruler who truly took the message of the Gospel to heart.  His conversion was undoubtedly deep and genuine in it's earliest stage, and he was very familiar with the teaching of our Lord on this subject.  Thus, he keenly felt the tension which his calling as an individual Christian created with his responsibility as a ruler of a people.  Well, because of his conversion, he initially ceased to deal properly with criminals.  Because of this, bandits started running wild and free.  Because this was an age before "big government" and infrastructure (things like prisons for example), typically punishments for crimes would be corporal or capital.  So, St.Vladimir initially flinched, and ceased the practice of having bandits captured, tried, and executed.  The situation go out of hand, and eventually a Bishop came to him and cited the passage from St.Paul which you cited.  Afterward, with some trepidation, he began to fulfill his duties as a ruler once again, and executions of such criminals resumed.

The point then, seems to be that there is a difference between the calling of a Christian as an individual, and as a Christian ruler.  One speaks and acts on his own behalf - the other is in truth (whether he realizes it or not), an instrument of God's government over this world, a viceroy of God over a particular place.  As we know, God does punish and can/has taken lives as an act of chastisement and healing - we do not believe in the "god" of the deists, but a God Who is keenly aware of and interested in what goes on in His creation.

Thus, it is one thing for you or me to take justice in our own hands - it is quite another for someone authorized by the Lord of life, to enact retribution for sins.

The connection here to St.Augustine's theory, is that when a foreign government becomes lawless and poses a threat to another nation, it is permissable to rebuff that threat, and in some circumstances for the sake of justice, exact retribution.  There is obviously more to be said than this (alot more).  But as others have also rightly indicated, St.Augustine's theory does not hold the same place in Orthodoxy that it does in Catholicism - namely, in Orthodoxy it is an opinion, but unlike Catholicism, not the opinion.

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« Reply #13 on: February 12, 2005, 04:51:24 PM »

An Orthodox priest represents his bishop.
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« Reply #14 on: February 12, 2005, 10:04:22 PM »

What if the bishop opposes a war, will he still give the soldiers his blessing before they go off to battle?
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« Reply #15 on: February 16, 2005, 05:11:46 PM »


The point then, seems to be that there is a difference between the calling of a Christian as an individual, and as a Christian ruler. One speaks and acts on his own behalf - the other is in truth (whether he realizes it or not), an instrument of God's government over this world, a viceroy of God over a particular place. As we know, God does punish and can/has taken lives as an act of chastisement and healing - we do not believe in the "god" of the deists, but a God Who is keenly aware of and interested in what goes on in His creation.

Thus, it is one thing for you or me to take justice in our own hands - it is quite another for someone authorized by the Lord of life, to enact retribution for sins.

This seems to imply that a person is bound by a different moral code depending on his political position. This troubles me a little bit because if the moral law is not universal, if it does not apply to those in power, then it seems to destroy the purpose of the moral law almost altogether. If a ruler is free from the command "turn the other cheek," then what is to say that he is still bound by the command "thou shalt not steal"? Or "thou shalt not kill"?

If this is true, then how are we to see not only just war, but any war? If it is permissable to steal from people and call it taxation, and kill people and call it war, then everything becomes licit for a ruler.

In my understanding of the background of Romans 13 and I Peter 2, the Christians were being persecuted and murdered by the Roman emporer, who was probably Nero. Certainly these verses cannot be interpreted as a moral defense of Nero. One could say that there is a difference between Nero and those who would kill people who were "evildoers" and who deserved death. But don't we all deserve death? Haven't we all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, justly deserving condemnation? If this were so, then there is no qualitative difference between Nero and any other ruler.

One of my favorite quotes is from Augustine on the moral state of the State: "Without justice, what are kingdoms but great robber bands, what are robber bands but small kingdoms." If rulers are not be held to the same standards as others, like I said above, everything becomes licit for them. There is no need for just war doctrine, anything they do is justified.

As for the story about St. Vladimir, the end does not justify the means. Just because the resuming of the executions slowed the crime rate (which I would like to see evidence of, because in todays time, executions have not reduced crime) does not mean that what he did to slow crime was right or just.

I would like to make it clear that I do not necessarily disagree with just war theory; it is just that I think that the moral law, when not applied to everyone, self destructs.
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« Reply #16 on: February 16, 2005, 05:30:34 PM »

Also there are plenty of Biblical passages on forgiveness and peacemaking, and many writings of the saints on the same. Are there any passages or writings that speak positively of war?

Here are a few quotes (many more can be found at http://incommunion.org/articles/introduction/quotations):

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” Who are these? Those who imitate the Divine love of others, who show forth in their own life the characteristic of the Divine energy. The Lord and Giver of good things completely annihilates anything that is without affinity and foreign to goodness. This work He ordains also for you, namely to cast out hatred and abolish war, to exterminate envy and banish strife, to take away hypocrisy and extinguish from within resentment of injuries smoldering in the heart. Instead, you ought to introduce whatever is contrary to the things that have been removed."
                                     -St. Gregory of Nyssa


"How can a man be just who injures, hates, despoils and puts to death? Yet they who strive to be serviceable to their country do all these things: for they are ignorant of what this being serviceable is, who think nothing useful, nothing advantageous, but that which can be held by the hand; and this alone cannot be held, because it may be snatched away."
                                     - Lactantius, the Divine Institutes, Book 6, Chapter 6 [Lactantius was the tutor of the son of St Constantine the Great. He lived approximately from 260 to 339 AD.]

"We who were filled with war, and mutual slaughter, and every wickedness, have each throughout the whole earth changed our weapons of war — our swords into ploughshares, and our spears into implements of tillage — and we cultivate piety, righteousness, philanthropy, faith, and hope, which we have from the Father Himself through Him who was crucified; and sitting each under his vine, i.e., each man possessing his own married wife. For you are aware that the prophetic word says, ‘And his wife shall be like a fruitful vine.’ Now it is evident that no one can terrify or subdue us who have believed in Jesus over all the world."
                                     - St Justin Martyr, Dialogue, Chapter 110

"If you enroll as one of God’s people, heaven is your country and God your lawgiver. And what are His laws? You shall not kill, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. To him that strikes you on the one cheek, turn to him the other also."

                                    - Clement of Alexandria, Protrepticus, 10

"It is well known that Jesus was born in the reign of Augustus, who, one might say, brought the mass of mankind under a single sovereignty. The existence of many kingdoms would have hindered the spread of Jesus’ teachings over the whole world GǪbecause everywhere men would have been forced to serve in the army and go to war on behalf of their countryGǪHow could this peaceful teaching, which prohibits a man from avenging himself even against his enemies, have gained sway if the whole world situation at the time of Jesus had not been made more peaceful."

                                       - Origen, Against Celsus, 2:30

and finally:

"Christ, in disarming Peter, unbelted every soldier."

                                    - Tertullian, de Idololatria 19

There are many more on the site. In light of those, I'm not so sure that even just war is defensable.
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« Reply #17 on: February 16, 2005, 06:29:59 PM »

Thomas,

Glad you found the incommunion site.  Hope you also enjoy reading "The Virtue of War" by Fr Alexander Webster and the St Vladimir's Seminary Quarterly. Those help balance out the somewhat extreme position of incommunion.

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« Reply #18 on: October 16, 2009, 03:02:49 AM »

If unconditional peace is an extreme position, then consider me an extremist. With due respect, does Our Lord really want us to "balance" peace with violence?

As for the Just War theory... well, it just brings us war.


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« Reply #19 on: October 16, 2009, 03:59:54 AM »

If unconditional peace is an extreme position, then consider me an extremist. With due respect, does Our Lord really want us to "balance" peace with violence?
I'm not sure you can speak for our Lord on this matter, but it's quite obvious that you don't want us to work for such a balance.


As for the Just War theory... well, it just brings us war.
I also have to wonder why you thought it good to resurrect a 4 1/2-year-old thread just to say what you said.  I can think of more substantive reasons to revive such an old discussion as this.
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« Reply #20 on: October 16, 2009, 04:19:43 AM »

If unconditional peace is an extreme position, then consider me an extremist. With due respect, does Our Lord really want us to "balance" peace with violence?
I'm not sure you can speak for our Lord on this matter, but it's quite obvious that you don't want us to work for such a balance.


As for the Just War theory... well, it just brings us war.
I also have to wonder why you thought it good to resurrect a 4 1/2-year-old thread just to say what you said.  I can think of more substantive reasons to revive such an old discussion as this.

I asked a question; I did not speak for the Lord. He spoke clearly enough for Himself. What we do with His words and how we respond to His example is every man's free choice.

Yes, you are correct. I do not want to balance peace with violence. I want peace to rule alone.

If I see an opportunity to promote peace, I try to do so. Would yo like to join me my friend?

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Selam
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« Reply #21 on: October 16, 2009, 05:10:34 AM »

If unconditional peace is an extreme position, then consider me an extremist. With due respect, does Our Lord really want us to "balance" peace with violence?
I'm not sure you can speak for our Lord on this matter, but it's quite obvious that you don't want us to work for such a balance.


As for the Just War theory... well, it just brings us war.
I also have to wonder why you thought it good to resurrect a 4 1/2-year-old thread just to say what you said.  I can think of more substantive reasons to revive such an old discussion as this.

I asked a question; I did not speak for the Lord. He spoke clearly enough for Himself. What we do with His words and how we respond to His example is every man's free choice.
And by so attributing your pacifism to our Lord's words and example and not to your own interpretation of them, you are claiming to speak for our Lord.  Our Lord Jesus Christ preached peace ("Blessed are the peacemakers."), but I'm not sure He preached pacifism.


Yes, you are correct. I do not want to balance peace with violence. I want peace to rule alone.

If I see an opportunity to promote peace, I try to do so. Would yo like to join me my friend?

"When you get down and you quarrel every day, you're saying prayers to the devil I say. Why not help one another along the way, and make things much easier?
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Peace and love to you my brother. You can't fight it!

Selam
You do realize, though, that peace is more than just the absence of war?
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« Reply #22 on: October 16, 2009, 08:56:49 AM »

Well, if war is always unjust, dear Gebre Menfes Kidus, you are contradicting both Bible and Tradition, as:
1) You can't explain why God in the OT ordered to the Jews to make war.
2) You can't explain why st. John the Baptist didn't reproach the soldiers who went to him for baptism, but he just asked them to do their job with honesty: "And the soldiers also asked him, saying: And what shall we do? And he said to them: Do violence to no man; neither calumniate any man; and be content with your pay" (Luke 3:14).
3) You can't explain why Jesus and the early church had no problem in admitting centurions in the Body of Christ
4) You can't explain why there are so many soldiers in the lists of the saints and why many of them are considered to be patrons for the army. To give some examples, I can list st. Serge and Bacchus, and st. George.

So, while I appreciate your pacifism, I acknowledge that there can be some kind of Just War. This war is the defensive war, that by which you expell the violent invaders and attackers of your homeland and ONLY if necessary you counter-attack to stop every further attempt to invade your country. For this reason, when judging the wars now conducted by the USA, I value as "just" war that against Afghanistan. To tell the truth, anyway, I don't consider as "just" war the intervention of my country, Italy, at the US side, since we haven't been attacked and it was not our affair at the time, as it wasn't for the Iraqi war. Just my opinion though...

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« Reply #23 on: October 16, 2009, 12:57:45 PM »

So, while I appreciate your pacifism, I acknowledge that there can be some kind of Just War. This war is the defensive war, that by which you expell the violent invaders and attackers of your homeland and ONLY if necessary you counter-attack to stop every further attempt to invade your country. For this reason, when judging the wars now conducted by the USA, I value as "just" war that against Afghanistan. To tell the truth, anyway, I don't consider as "just" war the intervention of my country, Italy, at the US side, since we haven't been attacked and it was not our affair at the time, as it wasn't for the Iraqi war. Just my opinion though...
I appreciate hearing this from the European perspective. Without getting too political, Afghanistan was essentially a defensive war for the signatories to the North Atlantic Treaty. Since the United States, a member nation was attacked, all members of NATO were required under that treaty to aid the U.S. in our war against those who attacked us.

It's interesting to me that you speak of the invasion of nations, for I'm not sure that's really how warfare is anymore. It's not as clear as an army invading another sovereign territory. Perhaps we need to update our definition of just war to include non-governmental combatants, as most of the wars we've seen of this century have involved on one or both sides non-governmental military aggression.

Our parish has seen fit to update the Liturgy to reflect this. Just as we once prayed for travelers by land and sea, but now pray also for those traveling by air and in space, so too do we continue to pray for victims of warfare and violence as we pray also for victims of terrorism, which is distinct from warfare yet still incurs tragedy around the world.
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« Reply #24 on: October 16, 2009, 01:12:23 PM »

If unconditional peace is an extreme position, then consider me an extremist. With due respect, does Our Lord really want us to "balance" peace with violence?

As for the Just War theory... well, it just brings us war.


Selam
I also notice that all you've done with the above is offer trite commentary from your personal point of view.  How does that answer the question of the OP regarding what the Orthodox Church teaches about Just War Theory?  I had hoped that if you were going to revive a long-dead thread you would have at least offered us new information that actually addresses the OP.
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« Reply #25 on: October 16, 2009, 02:21:13 PM »

So, while I appreciate your pacifism, I acknowledge that there can be some kind of Just War. This war is the defensive war, that by which you expell the violent invaders and attackers of your homeland and ONLY if necessary you counter-attack to stop every further attempt to invade your country. For this reason, when judging the wars now conducted by the USA, I value as "just" war that against Afghanistan. To tell the truth, anyway, I don't consider as "just" war the intervention of my country, Italy, at the US side, since we haven't been attacked and it was not our affair at the time, as it wasn't for the Iraqi war. Just my opinion though...
I appreciate hearing this from the European perspective. Without getting too political, Afghanistan was essentially a defensive war for the signatories to the North Atlantic Treaty. Since the United States, a member nation was attacked, all members of NATO were required under that treaty to aid the U.S. in our war against those who attacked us.

It's interesting to me that you speak of the invasion of nations, for I'm not sure that's really how warfare is anymore. It's not as clear as an army invading another sovereign territory. Perhaps we need to update our definition of just war to include non-governmental combatants, as most of the wars we've seen of this century have involved on one or both sides non-governmental military aggression.

Our parish has seen fit to update the Liturgy to reflect this. Just as we once prayed for travelers by land and sea, but now pray also for those traveling by air and in space, so too do we continue to pray for victims of warfare and violence as we pray also for victims of terrorism, which is distinct from warfare yet still incurs tragedy around the world.

The main element for an Italian is that our Constitution is largely very different then yours. In an article of our fundamental law it is written:
"Italy repudiates war as an instrument of offence to the freedom of the other peoples and as a means to solve the international controversies; she allows, in condition of equality with the other Countries to limitations of her sovereignity necessary for an order that assures peace and justice among the Nations; and she promotes and favours the international organizations devoted to this aim" (translation is mine)
The problem to me is that while the decisions from NATO are valid constitutionally, those from UNO are not since there are countries with a power of veto which doesn't put them on the same levels then others. Also, my personal preference as a European is towards the European Union. I don't like NATO because its a miscellanea of different interests... Europe and America are very different in their approach to politics, economy and warfare, so I'm among the non-interventists anyway, and I'd truly like to have a European Union based on the US model and with just a dialogue with the United States as a base for international decisions... You know, the EU is more "democratic" in that we have representatives elected directly for that charge. I know I'm off topic now, but this can offer the opinion of one of the many Italians who are feeling frustrated by the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars and who, in the depth of our hearts, feel that this war has changed its purpose from an anti-terroristic war to an economic war for oil. I hope this opinion, which has nothing to do with politics directly speaking, but is linked more directly to "my" opinion of war in general, can contribute to offer an alternative POV.

In Christ,     Alex
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« Reply #26 on: October 16, 2009, 02:27:01 PM »

Quote
It's interesting to me that you speak of the invasion of nations, for I'm not sure that's really how warfare is anymore. It's not as clear as an army invading another sovereign territory. Perhaps we need to update our definition of just war to include non-governmental combatants, as most of the wars we've seen of this century have involved on one or both sides non-governmental military aggression.
As for this point, I must say that terrorism already fits in a different category then war: it's "international crime", which is more then enough to justify a defensive counter-attack. Anyway, 9/11 demonstrated that your right, the definition of "invasion" has changed. You can "invade" or "attack" another nation with virtually no military action... but that doesn't change the SENSE of that operation, which is indeed military, since the Pentagon and the White House are clearly military targets.

In Christ,  Alex
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« Reply #27 on: October 16, 2009, 04:22:07 PM »

If unconditional peace is an extreme position, then consider me an extremist. With due respect, does Our Lord really want us to "balance" peace with violence?

As for the Just War theory... well, it just brings us war.


Selam
I also notice that all you've done with the above is offer trite commentary from your personal point of view.  How does that answer the question of the OP regarding what the Orthodox Church teaches about Just War Theory?  I had hoped that if you were going to revive a long-dead thread you would have at least offered us new information that actually addresses the OP.

Peace and Love my to you my brother. Why even fight it?

Selam
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« Reply #28 on: October 16, 2009, 07:26:22 PM »

I know I'm off topic now, but this can offer the opinion of one of the many Italians who are feeling frustrated by the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars and who, in the depth of our hearts, feel that this war has changed its purpose from an anti-terroristic war to an economic war for oil.
I don't think that's the case, honestly, and you can see on this board how critical I've been of the U.S. government. I think the two wars were not about oil but pride. The U.S. cannot stand to lose a war, even a war that we obviously cannot win. I agreed that the war in Afghanistan was probably justified, and that the war in Iraq was definitely not. The return to Afghanistan I haven't made up my mind about, but it seems like the Obama administration has not made it clear what our objectives are there.

Certainly pride is no justification for war, and certainly the Orthodox Church would stand against a war of pride. In addition, such a war could not rightly be said to be defensive, for pride always attacks.
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« Reply #29 on: October 17, 2009, 12:18:27 AM »

So, while I appreciate your pacifism, I acknowledge that there can be some kind of Just War. This war is the defensive war, that by which you expell the violent invaders and attackers of your homeland and ONLY if necessary you counter-attack to stop every further attempt to invade your country. .
I appreciate hearing this from the European perspective. Without getting too political, Afghanistan was essentially a defensive war for the signatories to the North Atlantic Treaty. Since the United States, a member nation was attacked, all members of NATO were required under that treaty to aid the U.S. in our war against those who attacked us.
The problem to me is that while the decisions from NATO are valid constitutionally, those from UNO are not since there are countries with a power of veto which doesn't put them on the same levels then others.

When the First Gulf War started, the Italian Defense Minister stated that only 5% of the Italian Armed Forces were combat ready. I do not believe that the situation is different now. My point is that it does not make much difference what the Italian Army does; I do not think that it is capable of defending even its own homeland. I do appreciate the moral and political support though. And I love the (Southern) Italian people, who boast that they are lovers and not fighters.
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« Reply #30 on: October 17, 2009, 01:20:27 AM »

When the First Gulf War started, the Italian Defense Minister stated that only 5% of the Italian Armed Forces were combat ready. I do not believe that the situation is different now. My point is that it does not make much difference what the Italian Army does; I do not think that it is capable of defending even its own homeland. I do appreciate the moral and political support though. And I love the (Southern) Italian people, who boast that they are lovers and not fighters.

It is different.  During the mid 2000s, Italy had more than 5% of its ground forces deployed, from Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Kosovo, etc.  Let alone its air force and naval forces, and its of course, the Carabinieri.
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« Reply #31 on: October 17, 2009, 02:20:38 AM »

If unconditional peace is an extreme position, then consider me an extremist. With due respect, does Our Lord really want us to "balance" peace with violence?

As for the Just War theory... well, it just brings us war.


Selam
I also notice that all you've done with the above is offer trite commentary from your personal point of view.  How does that answer the question of the OP regarding what the Orthodox Church teaches about Just War Theory?  I had hoped that if you were going to revive a long-dead thread you would have at least offered us new information that actually addresses the OP.

Peace and Love my to you my brother. Why even fight it?

Selam
Because I'm allergic to this "feel the love" BS. Roll Eyes

While you're here, would you care to engage me on the points I made on this subject a couple years ago?  Pacifism and "Just War" Theory in the Orthodox Tradition
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« Reply #32 on: October 17, 2009, 02:43:08 AM »

If unconditional peace is an extreme position, then consider me an extremist. With due respect, does Our Lord really want us to "balance" peace with violence?

As for the Just War theory... well, it just brings us war.


Selam
I also notice that all you've done with the above is offer trite commentary from your personal point of view.  How does that answer the question of the OP regarding what the Orthodox Church teaches about Just War Theory?  I had hoped that if you were going to revive a long-dead thread you would have at least offered us new information that actually addresses the OP.

Peace and Love my to you my brother. Why even fight it?

Selam
Because I'm allergic to this "feel the love" BS. Roll Eyes


When have I ever said that Peace and Love were feelings? You have just demonstrated how little you understand the authentic spiritual meaning of peace and love. Stop getting your definitions of peace and love from hippies, and look to Christ for their meaning. Christian love and Christian peace are not "BS" my brother!

Selam
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« Reply #33 on: October 17, 2009, 04:40:36 AM »

If unconditional peace is an extreme position, then consider me an extremist. With due respect, does Our Lord really want us to "balance" peace with violence?

As for the Just War theory... well, it just brings us war.


Selam
I also notice that all you've done with the above is offer trite commentary from your personal point of view.  How does that answer the question of the OP regarding what the Orthodox Church teaches about Just War Theory?  I had hoped that if you were going to revive a long-dead thread you would have at least offered us new information that actually addresses the OP.

Peace and Love my to you my brother. Why even fight it?

Selam
Because I'm allergic to this "feel the love" BS. Roll Eyes


When have I ever said that Peace and Love were feelings?
My response was to what I read to be your attempts to mock me and trivialize the criticisms I made of your presence on this thread.  That, and the apparent goofiness surrounding all that you've said here.

You have just demonstrated how little you understand the authentic spiritual meaning of peace and love. Stop getting your definitions of peace and love from hippies, and look to Christ for their meaning. Christian love and Christian peace are not "BS" my brother!
You just demonstrated once again how quick you are to assume the worst of your "opponents", for I never called true Christian love and peace BS.  Based on the lack of sincerity I saw in your attempt at a benediction, I replied solely to your use of the words "peace and love", for the "peace and love" that you wished to bestow upon me are only as authentic as your presence here on this thread and the intent behind your desire to bless me.  Are you here to contribute real substance to this discussion, or are you just here to use this thread as another soap box for your corny sound bites and to mock those who question your motives?
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« Reply #34 on: October 17, 2009, 07:22:33 AM »

I know I'm off topic now, but this can offer the opinion of one of the many Italians who are feeling frustrated by the Afghanistan and Iraqi wars and who, in the depth of our hearts, feel that this war has changed its purpose from an anti-terroristic war to an economic war for oil.
I don't think that's the case, honestly, and you can see on this board how critical I've been of the U.S. government. I think the two wars were not about oil but pride. The U.S. cannot stand to lose a war, even a war that we obviously cannot win. I agreed that the war in Afghanistan was probably justified, and that the war in Iraq was definitely not. The return to Afghanistan I haven't made up my mind about, but it seems like the Obama administration has not made it clear what our objectives are there.

Certainly pride is no justification for war, and certainly the Orthodox Church would stand against a war of pride. In addition, such a war could not rightly be said to be defensive, for pride always attacks.
I'm glad to hear such words of disaproval of the US government conduct in these two wars. I heard that (thanks to Bush LOL) the attitude in the USA was changing as for what war is concerned, and you are the proof of that.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #35 on: October 17, 2009, 07:41:09 AM »

When the First Gulf War started, the Italian Defense Minister stated that only 5% of the Italian Armed Forces were combat ready. I do not believe that the situation is different now. My point is that it does not make much difference what the Italian Army does; I do not think that it is capable of defending even its own homeland. I do appreciate the moral and political support though. And I love the (Southern) Italian people, who boast that they are lovers and not fighters.

It is different.  During the mid 2000s, Italy had more than 5% of its ground forces deployed, from Iraq, to Afghanistan, to Kosovo, etc.  Let alone its air force and naval forces, and its of course, the Carabinieri.
Which is also a reason why we don't appreciate war. Most of our defences are abrod, and only most Carabinieri are still here in Italy due to their functions of public order. Anyway, it must be said that the Italian situation has changed in the last years, since the military conscription was abolished in 2005. Of course, this trend to diminish the military should have been accompanied by a return of our troops home, but that didn't happen and this makes us an easy military objective, I'm afraid. And it is true that our military is too weak to serve anything, especially when we waste our forces abroad.
I say this just to explain the general Italian position on the subject... I mean the constitutional tendency to reject war as much as possible, which is clearly the fruit of a traumatic fascist experience during WW2...

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #36 on: October 17, 2009, 10:54:45 AM »

My final year in High School and what an interesting subject to tackle in our Religion class (note that it's about Orthodoxy, not just any religion). Let's see what our book's saying/
In short, our it says that wars are not encouraged, but merely tolerated. Revolutions are to be taken as just, like when the Greek Revolution of 1821, when the Ottoman Empire had taken over the whole Greek nation. A Christian should submit to any dictator without doubt, this is how martyrs emerged anyway. But when it comes to the common good, no. If that dictator is the scourge of our world, if he is punishing the innocent, hurting those who do not deserve it...then we are to play the role of the just heroes.

Peace-loving does not mean "being a subject to anyone no matter what". After all, the peace that Christ left us with is different from that of the world's. Even His peace is not of this world.
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« Reply #37 on: October 17, 2009, 07:12:25 PM »

Well, if war is always unjust, dear Gebre Menfes Kidus, you are contradicting both Bible and Tradition, as:
1) You can't explain why God in the OT ordered to the Jews to make war.

We certainly don't have holy writ telling the rest of us to go to war on His account, so could it, in fact, be that God ordering war in the OT was kind of part of the sacrifice system - lives being sacrificed for the purpose of bringing the Jews into a nation of priests of God; with the ultimate purpose of bringing Christ into the world. There are holes in this theory that one could drive a Sherman tank through, and I think it's horrible to contemplate, so I really haven't managed to think it through to any sensible conclusions. Perhaps someone on the forum has some idea of what I mean?
 
Quote
2) You can't explain why st. John the Baptist didn't reproach the soldiers who went to him for baptism, but he just asked them to do their job with honesty: "And the soldiers also asked him, saying: And what shall we do? And he said to them: Do violence to no man; neither calumniate any man; and be content with your pay" (Luke 3:14).

Telling soldiers to "do violence to no man" should a war arise is kind of restricting, don't you think?

I don't really believe in a just war theory. Justifying war seems to be trying to make it ok when it is a sin and it wouldn't happen in a perfect world. But we don't life in a perfect world and sometimes we are between a rock and a hard place and we have to choose a path that is sinful, but less sinful than doing nothing. Couldn't doing nothing, be just as wrong? Yes, I know, I'm confused!  Embarrassed
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« Reply #38 on: October 18, 2009, 04:49:53 AM »

Dear Riddikulus,
just war is when your nation, your family, your friends are endangered by the violence of another attacking nation. If one would try to kill your parents, your brothers and sisters, your children or your best friends, wouldn't you try and defend them? Wouldn't you put your life in danger to stop the violence from outside, even if that would mean to use a weapon? or would you better let them be killed, or enslaved under a dictatorship? The answer is yours, I can't tell you what you have to think, but my answer is that self-defence against violence is legitimate even in Orthodoxy.

Quote
We certainly don't have holy writ telling the rest of us to go to war on His account, so could it, in fact, be that God ordering war in the OT was kind of part of the sacrifice system - lives being sacrificed for the purpose of bringing the Jews into a nation of priests of God; with the ultimate purpose of bringing Christ into the world. There are holes in this theory that one could drive a Sherman tank through, and I think it's horrible to contemplate, so I really haven't managed to think it through to any sensible conclusions. Perhaps someone on the forum has some idea of what I mean?
No, I don't think it is part of the sacrifice system. God doesn't want human holocausts. I think, on the contrary, that the war against the enemies is a parallel to our personal battle against evil, but I may be wrong. Anyway, it seems that God even led Emperor Constantine in battle to victory, and He personally invited him to that battle in a dream (the "In Hoc Signo Vincis"episode).

Quote
Telling soldiers to "do violence to no man" should a war arise is kind of restricting, don't you think?
Making violence to no man can be interpreted as an exercise of torture, and not necessarily a direct shot between two enemies. For example, the scandal of some US soldiers tortures against some Iraqi or Afghanistan prisoners (I can't remember which one of the two, sorry) could easily fit into that category... The same for the SS in Nazi lagers etc...
The army has clearly been put under the protection of magnificent patron saints, who were Christians and soldiers at the same time. If the early church found no problem in Christian soldiers, it is clear that one can experience sanctity even in the military service, following the suggestion of st. John the Forerunner, of course. Any abuse of office will be regarded as sinful by God, and that's almost sure... but can't renounce to a military protection just because of that hippy attitude deriving from a wrong reading of the Commandment of Love.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #39 on: October 18, 2009, 06:57:39 AM »

I don't really believe in a just war theory. Justifying war seems to be trying to make it ok when it is a sin and it wouldn't happen in a perfect world. But we don't life in a perfect world and sometimes we are between a rock and a hard place and we have to choose a path that is sinful, but less sinful than doing nothing. Couldn't doing nothing, be just as wrong?
I agree. There is no such thing as a just war, but sometimes it is the lesser of two evils; and at other times it is just evil. To defend a people against attack by a malevolent army is sometimes necessary in this fallen world, but will never be necessary in the Kingdom which is coming, and therefore, cannot be Good in itself.
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« Reply #40 on: October 18, 2009, 08:40:56 AM »

Dear Riddikulus,
just war is when your nation, your family, your friends are endangered by the violence of another attacking nation. If one would try to kill your parents, your brothers and sisters, your children or your best friends, wouldn't you try and defend them? Wouldn't you put your life in danger to stop the violence from outside, even if that would mean to use a weapon? or would you better let them be killed, or enslaved under a dictatorship? The answer is yours, I can't tell you what you have to think, but my answer is that self-defence against violence is legitimate even in Orthodoxy.

I agree that one would act in such a situation. My point is that the acting would still be sin if it came to the taking of human life. But that wasn't really my point in this instance. To justify our actions from the OT seems a stretch to me. If God did command the genocide of the enemies of the Jews, this certainly hasn't given us carte blanc permission to go to war against our enemies when Christ commands us to love them. Unless I'm missing something, I can't see how commiting violence against our enemies, no matter what the circumstances, equates to love.

Quote
We certainly don't have holy writ telling the rest of us to go to war on His account, so could it, in fact, be that God ordering war in the OT was kind of part of the sacrifice system - lives being sacrificed for the purpose of bringing the Jews into a nation of priests of God; with the ultimate purpose of bringing Christ into the world. There are holes in this theory that one could drive a Sherman tank through, and I think it's horrible to contemplate, so I really haven't managed to think it through to any sensible conclusions. Perhaps someone on the forum has some idea of what I mean? No, I don't think it is part of the sacrifice system. God doesn't want human holocausts.

And yet the OT would have us believe that He commanded one against the Cananites.

Quote
Making violence to no man can be interpreted as an exercise of torture, and not necessarily a direct shot between two enemies.

I'm sorry, violence by torture or bullet, or sword, or whatever is still violence. I think we are sifting the gnat and some how missing the camel, here. And I would venture to say that the Church doesn't distinguish in this way. Blood on the hands, no matter if it is killing in war, killing in self defence, or accidental manslaughter are all considered sinful acts. St Basil the Great, counselled that someone who killed during a war was excommunicated for a period of three years. Why would this happen if there was no sin involved in the act?

Again, I'm not saying that it might not be necessary to react to defend one's people against attack, but it is still the imperfect action of an imperfect being.
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« Reply #41 on: October 18, 2009, 10:04:42 AM »

I don't really believe in a just war theory. Justifying war seems to be trying to make it ok when it is a sin and it wouldn't happen in a perfect world. But we don't life in a perfect world and sometimes we are between a rock and a hard place and we have to choose a path that is sinful, but less sinful than doing nothing. Couldn't doing nothing, be just as wrong?
I agree. There is no such thing as a just war, but sometimes it is the lesser of two evils; and at other times it is just evil. To defend a people against attack by a malevolent army is sometimes necessary in this fallen world, but will never be necessary in the Kingdom which is coming, and therefore, cannot be Good in itself.
Good and just are two entirely different concepts. Don't exchange them. Just means necessary and unavoidable. In a world where evil dominates, sometimes even the just can choose to defend themselves unto murder in battle. Otherwise we would admit that Moses, David etc were all murderers and grave sinners because they killed or ordered to kill in battle for the survivor of the Israelite people... and if you admit this, then you can't take them as saints, but as servants of the Devil. This is an imperfect world, and war is a fruit of this imperfection. Obviously, wars won't exist in a perfect world... but when evil wants to exterminate all the just on Earth, it is a duty to stop this, even killing.
When in the first half of October 1943 the Fascist Government in Italy decided to introduce the racist laws, they decided to arrest the Carabinieri first, because they knew that the Carabinieri would've given their lives to stop this crime. These Carabinieri in Rome were the first ones to be deported in Auschwitz among the Italian citizens. I can assure you that evil is frightened by the presence of soldiers devoted to serve God's people and not his legions. In an imperfect world, God can use imperfect instruments for the sake of Goodness. Without an army and a partisan movement, now Italy would've been a fascist nation, where being a Jew by birth still is a crime, and where support for the Nazi would've put the entire world, even your homeland, under Hitler's power, the most terrible dictatorship possible. Definitely war becomes just when a higher cause lies behind it. Taking the life of one evil can save hundreds of innocent lives. Remember this, all of you, because you haven't seen what war has done in my country and what signs it has brought in the conscience of its witness.
My grandfather was one of those, in 1943, deserted from the military of the Italian Social Republic, because he had been ordered to arrest the Jews for deportation, and for that he paid with prisonry in Kossovo. Nevertheless, even when he was freed by the sacrifice of a good Nazi soldier who signed for their liberation and was later executed for that, he was very happy of the partisan initiative. He was a good man, and he wouldn't have killed if unnecessary, but the sacrifice of the opponents was necessary to save us from a more cruel end. The experience signed his entire life... he was even frightened by seeing war scenes on TV...
You can't understand what a just war is because you haven't witnessed a foreign domination since your foundation. You haven't seen the cruelties Italy has passed through. Sometimes, death is a minor hell when confronted with tortures, slavery, hunger, forced works, prisonry, and privation of religious-political-social liberty. War is always evil, but sometimes it's a lesser crime.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #42 on: October 18, 2009, 10:13:09 AM »

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Otherwise we would admit that Moses, David etc were all murderers and grave sinners because they killed or ordered to kill in battle for the survivor of the Israelite people... and if you admit this, then you can't take them as saints, but as servants of the Devil.

Did you pick those two examples on purpose? Because, so far as I remember, both of those two men actually were murderers (Ex. 2:11-15; 2 Sam. 11:2-27).

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« Reply #43 on: October 18, 2009, 10:29:16 AM »

In a certain sense, yes, and in another, no.
When Moses and David murdered somebody for their own purposes, they were either condemned by God or at least their conduct was disproved by Israel, reflecting the ethical judgment of the inspired author. When they killed in battle, on the contrary, for the defence of their nation, they were never condemned. So yes, there's murder and murder.
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« Reply #44 on: October 18, 2009, 01:16:19 PM »

I don't really believe in a just war theory. Justifying war seems to be trying to make it ok when it is a sin and it wouldn't happen in a perfect world. But we don't life in a perfect world and sometimes we are between a rock and a hard place and we have to choose a path that is sinful, but less sinful than doing nothing. Couldn't doing nothing, be just as wrong?
I agree. There is no such thing as a just war, but sometimes it is the lesser of two evils; and at other times it is just evil. To defend a people against attack by a malevolent army is sometimes necessary in this fallen world, but will never be necessary in the Kingdom which is coming, and therefore, cannot be Good in itself.
Good and just are two entirely different concepts. Don't exchange them. Just means necessary and unavoidable. In a world where evil dominates, sometimes even the just can choose to defend themselves unto murder in battle. Otherwise we would admit that Moses, David etc were all murderers and grave sinners because they killed or ordered to kill in battle for the survivor of the Israelite people... and if you admit this, then you can't take them as saints, but as servants of the Devil. This is an imperfect world, and war is a fruit of this imperfection. Obviously, wars won't exist in a perfect world... but when evil wants to exterminate all the just on Earth, it is a duty to stop this, even killing.

But who decides what is necessary and unavoidable and, therefore, “just” when the voice of God is silent? Any examples of God intervening to ensure the survival of His People and His Church (Old and New Testament Israel) by eliminating a: the Cananites in the OT and b: the opposing Roman forces in the fourth Century, were reportedly established by God's direct involvement and instruction. Assuming this to be true, should we then attempt to make these events the precedent of all acts of war? What you seem to be claiming is that as God has somehow sanctioned war and killing in one instant, he has sanctioned all war and killing, rather than allowed us the free will to take whatever action we deem to be appropriate. But where is the evidence that is so? For instance, though it might seem that in some instances we have no option but to go to war as a lesser evil, how does that jive with the above two examples of God’s direct involvement and instruction? Without direction intervention from God, we are on our own, making our own decisions in accordance with our consciences it it true, but also influenced by whatever agenda we are consciously or unconsciously serving. Without the certainty of God’s approval, we must see these acts as the decisions of faulty human beings, who are making choices for the best reasons they know, but still sinning.

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War is always evil, but sometimes it's a lesser crime.

If it's evil, then it is sin; not "just" but forgiveable.
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« Reply #45 on: October 18, 2009, 02:06:23 PM »

War is always evil, but sometimes it's a lesser crime.

If it's evil, then it is sin; not "just" but forgiveable.

Of course.  But so are adultery, pride, and the other great sins mentioned in the Holy Scriptures and discussed at length by the Fathers of the Church; sin is forgiveable as long as we are still able to recognize it as sin and God as God, and want and ask for His forgiveness. 

I'm a long time member and supporter of the Orthodox Peace Fellowship (to let people know where I'm coming from), and I do not agree with St. Augustine on his definition and use of the term "just war".  At the same time, even I don't think you can dismiss war as simply another sin.  It's *always* the consequence of a large number of sins, not by one individual, but by at least two nations, ethnic groups, or other definable groups.  It's often the consequence of sins by people other than those who actually fight the war.  And, in many cases, those who fight are at that point simply defending themselves and their families against murderous attacks by others.  There is nothing in the Old Testament whatsoever, and nothing unambiguous in the New Testament, that forbids self-defense.  Not surprisingly, the Church Fathers don't agree on this issue either.  I find it a stretch to apply Christ's instructions to turn the other cheek when the situation is not one of mistreatment, but attempted murder.  We also have St. Paul's statement that the governing authorities are doing God's work, and "do not bear the sword for nothing."  A sword is useless except to *kill* -- it is not a disciplinary tool.  That statement would seem to indicate that God does not object to the government defending innocent people against lawbreakers even to the point of killing.  That function writ large is, unfortunately, war.

On the other hand (and it's a *big* other hand), Christ specifically and unambiguously taught His disciples (and through them, taught us) to love our enemies, and to give up our lives for our fellow human beings, as He gave His up for us and for the world.  St. Paul pointed out, in another part of the Scriptures (Ephesians 6:12), that our enemies are not our fellow human beings, even when they are trying to kill us -- our enemies are Sin and the devil. The weapons He gave us were not earthly weapons, but the spiritual weapons of (2 Timothy 1:7) "love and of a sound mind."  *Those* are the fruits of a life of prayer and of sacrifice of one's own desires for the benefit of others.  There are many ways to become Christlike, as many as there are people.  (God didn't make us using a cookie cutter.)  I have yet to figure out how one could become a person of deep prayer, self-sacrifice, and love for our enemies, and also fight a war for an earthly government.  Apparently some of the saints managed it, but did they manage it because of their involvement in war, or did God use the lessons that they learned from war to take them beyond war?   From reading their stories, I lean toward the second option.

To get back to the original question, I don't believe there ever could be a war fought by humans that qualifies as a "just war", if the word "just" is to retain its meaning.  At the same time, I can think of a number of wars fought against great evils done by other men, wars that as terrible as the consequences were, prevented even worse horrors.  (World War II comes to mind immediately.)  So I think AlexanderOfBergamo probably said it best: war is always evil, but sometimes is a lesser evil.

Lord, have mercy!



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« Reply #46 on: October 18, 2009, 03:39:37 PM »

At this point my question is this: if God doesn't intervene with a miracle, should we condemn 6 billion people to mass martyrdom because we don't want to sin? Because if we are to be continuously attacked by atomic armaments but we have no army and weapons to defend us, that'd be the result of our actions. If you want to say that you are sinning when you save somebody's life from a servant of evil, do it. But in that case, I won't stay there and have my family and friends killed by terrorists or invaders just because war is sinful. Murder is sinful, but helping someone to make a genocide is even a greater sin... you'll be responsible for thousands of deaths when you could just stop this before it's too late. And btw: with evil we can't compromise. There's no diplomacy with Satan's forces, so even a Barack Obama couldn't stop an all-evil terrorist leader from murdering a hundred people at once with a bomb or a kamikaze attack... so those people would have been killed also because of your choice not to intervene, and some of them might even be children. Sometimes God doesn't perform miracles to let his voice be heard. God speaks to our conscience so that we might understand who's evil and how to face it, but sometimes it's only us who can't listen to that voice. Don't wait for miraculous dreams or wonderful signs: God's best miracles are in everyday life when we listen to him and act according to his will, we know it or not. All your ideas fit in an utopic world, but completely fail to be pragmatic in a world which - didn't you know? - is entirely darkened by the "prince of this world". By your continuous innuendo against war you are clearly throwing in hell many thousands of soldiers who are obliged to fire a gun when somebody else's life is endangered.

In Christ,    Alex
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« Reply #47 on: October 18, 2009, 06:11:21 PM »

War is always evil, but sometimes it's a lesser crime.

If it's evil, then it is sin; not "just" but forgiveable.

So I think AlexanderOfBergamo probably said it best: war is always evil, but sometimes is a lesser evil.


Actually, Alexander didn't say that; ozgeorge did. Smiley And welcome to the forum. 
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« Reply #48 on: October 18, 2009, 06:23:05 PM »

At this point my question is this: if God doesn't intervene with a miracle, should we condemn 6 billion people to mass martyrdom because we don't want to sin? Because if we are to be continuously attacked by atomic armaments but we have no army and weapons to defend us, that'd be the result of our actions. If you want to say that you are sinning when you save somebody's life from a servant of evil, do it. But in that case, I won't stay there and have my family and friends killed by terrorists or invaders just because war is sinful. Murder is sinful, but helping someone to make a genocide is even a greater sin... you'll be responsible for thousands of deaths when you could just stop this before it's too late. And btw: with evil we can't compromise. There's no diplomacy with Satan's forces, so even a Barack Obama couldn't stop an all-evil terrorist leader from murdering a hundred people at once with a bomb or a kamikaze attack... so those people would have been killed also because of your choice not to intervene, and some of them might even be children. Sometimes God doesn't perform miracles to let his voice be heard. God speaks to our conscience so that we might understand who's evil and how to face it, but sometimes it's only us who can't listen to that voice. Don't wait for miraculous dreams or wonderful signs: God's best miracles are in everyday life when we listen to him and act according to his will, we know it or not. All your ideas fit in an utopic world, but completely fail to be pragmatic in a world which - didn't you know? - is entirely darkened by the "prince of this world". By your continuous innuendo against war you are clearly throwing in hell many thousands of soldiers who are obliged to fire a gun when somebody else's life is endangered.

In Christ,    Alex

You seem to have missed my points completely and assumed emotional and irrational positions for me on matters I have not even hinted at. After managing to twist my words well beyond their scope, you haven't actually defended your "God wants us to do it now, because he wanted the Jews/Constantine to do it" position.
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« Reply #49 on: October 18, 2009, 06:47:38 PM »

What about a war against slavery?... or an actual slave rebellion like the Spatacists?  How about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising?

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« Reply #50 on: October 18, 2009, 07:03:48 PM »

Actually, Alexander didn't say that; ozgeorge did.
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« Reply #51 on: October 18, 2009, 07:18:28 PM »

So I think AlexanderOfBergamo probably said it best: war is always evil, but sometimes is a lesser evil.

Actually, Alexander didn't say that; ozgeorge did. Smiley And welcome to the forum. 

Oops -- I edited that post carefully, but messed up something somewhere when editing out the missing text.  Sorry, Ozgeorge; I didn't intend to steal your credit. :-)

What about a war against slavery?... or an actual slave rebellion like the Spatacists?  How about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising?

Exactly.  It depends on *which* war against slavery, of course.  In general, though, a war whose purpose to put a stop to a great evil like slavery might well be less wrong than the alternative of allowing that great evil to continue without opposition, at least if there's any reasonable hope of winning the war without doing more damage and causing more harm than the evil you're fighting to end.  That's never an easy thing to assess, though, especially not when you're the victims or care about those who are.  Human passions get involved, and bad decisions get made in the name of justice, or even of God.

In the case of the Spartacist revolt or Warsaw Ghetto uprising, if you accept a right to self defense at all, then IMHO the only criticism you could legitimately make against either one is that there was no real hope that the right side would win. :/  In both cases, of course, the victims also had no hope if they didn't fight and knew that.  The devil himself couldn't have set up a more awful situation than these, and probably was ultimately responsible for both of these. :/

I'm most comfortable with Christian pacifism as *my* answer to evil actions directed at me.  If an attacker kills me, I simply go home.  That's no loss to me personally.  It would be a shattering loss to my husband, though, so I can't just think of its affect on me any more.  I've also never thought I'd be willing to let an attacker harm any child without intervening and doing my utmost to stop him, including use of violence if necessary.   To stand by and allow that to happen, in absence of a direct and unambiguous command from God, isn't thinkable, and I see no such command anywhere in the Scripture or the Fathers.

If that shows that I'm not ready for theosis yet, well, it only demonstrates the truth, a truth that's manifestly obvious in other ways as well. <wry grin>
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« Reply #52 on: October 18, 2009, 07:29:55 PM »

Actually, Alexander didn't say that; ozgeorge did.
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« Reply #53 on: October 18, 2009, 09:44:39 PM »

To stand by and allow that to happen, in absence of a direct and unambiguous command from God, isn't thinkable, and I see no such command anywhere in the Scripture or the Fathers.

Ok – before this gets too much further out of hand it would appear that I need to clarify some of the points that I have been trying to make (albeit unsuccessfully). Somehow the claims that I have been attempting to get Alexander to address and his misconstrued comments to me have somehow been conflated with the end result a complete distortion of my position.

At no point in this discussion have I suggested that without direct and unambiguous command from God is war or self-defence is a decision that humans may not make; bearing in mind, however, that I contend that such a decision is less that perfect; it is the result of our fallen condition; it is a sin.

In my horribly convoluted way, I have been trying to address a couple of points that Alexander made in defence of his just war theory: the most important one being;

Well, if war is always unjust, dear Gebre Menfes Kidus, you are contradicting both Bible and Tradition, as:
1) You can't explain why God in the OT ordered to the Jews to make war.


Again, I reiterate, at no point have I said that humans mustn’t go to war to defend people against oppression, invasion, etc without direct and unambiguous command from God and my own tangented reply to Alexander probably didn't make that clear. However, I simply don’t believe that such actions can be called “just” in the true sense of the word; it is more an understandable decision of a lesser evil.
 
I repeat: I don't really believe in a just war theory. Justifying war seems to be an attempt at saying it’s something good when it is sinful and wouldn't happen in a perfect world. But we don't live in a perfect world and sometimes we are between a rock and a hard place and we have to choose a path that is sinful, but less sinful than doing nothing.

I don’t believe that this is a clear cut issue, as Alexander's point would suggest, of looking to God’s intervention in other arenas and concluding that because of the way he acted in the OT or in the case of Constantine that he therefore is assumed to be in favour of war as a solution in all other human squabbles. As far as I can tell, that we do go to war and take human life is not ignored as sinless by the Church.

Alexander wrote
just war is when your nation, your family, your friends are endangered by the violence of another attacking nation. If one would try to kill your parents, your brothers and sisters, your children or your best friends, wouldn't you try and defend them? Wouldn't you put your life in danger to stop the violence from outside, even if that would mean to use a weapon? or would you better let them be killed, or enslaved under a dictatorship? The answer is yours, I can't tell you what you have to think, but my answer is that self-defence against violence is legitimate even in Orthodoxy.

I responded that I agree that one would act in such a situation; making the point that the acting would still be sin if it resulted in violence, and the taking of human life. But that wasn't really my point, because I am more interested in the idea that Alexander seems to have that we can justify our actions from the OT/Constantine situations where God seems to have made clear his support of such endeavours for the sake of His People and His Church (Old and New Testament) and then assume it applies to other human conflicts. Again, I make the observation that if God did command the genocide of the enemies of the Jews, or the Roman forces opposing Constantine (and I have no reason to doubt this) this certainly hasn't given us carte blanc permission to go to war against our enemies when Christ commands us to love them. Unless I'm missing something, I can't see how committing violence against our enemies, no matter what the circumstances, equates to love. Again without direct and unambiguous command from God we have to approach war with all humility, realising that we are going to break Christ’s commandment; thus sinning.

As I said, blood on the hands, no matter if it is killing in war, killing in self defence, or accidental manslaughter are all considered sinful acts. St Basil the Great, counselled that someone who killed during a war was excommunicated for a period of three years. Why would this happen if there was no sin involved in the act?

So while I'm not saying that it might not be humanly necessary to react to defend one's people against attack, to take action against an agressor or to fight to end oppression it is still the imperfect action of an imperfect being. When the voice of God is absent, we cannot simply decide that any examples of God intervening or approving of militant action to ensure the survival of His People and His Church (Old and New Testament Israel) by eliminating a: the Cananites in the OT and b: the opposing Roman forces in the fourth Century, is a sign of His approval of violence in each and every human squabble.

I hope this makes my position clear.

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« Reply #54 on: October 19, 2009, 07:02:01 AM »

I understand what you mean but I still don't like your position, or better, not at 100%. This is not what I believe. I believe that a war that can preserve many lives can become an instrument to save thousands of lives, and that makes that murder necessary, and thus better then allowing thousands of death. I repeat: if were would be so intrinsically and totally evil, why does the Church have patrons saints for soldiers? Why should evil sinners such as soldiers need a patron established from the Church if they're promoting an evil action? This is a question you should try and answer. I'd like to know your opinions.
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« Reply #55 on: October 19, 2009, 08:01:37 AM »

I understand what you mean but I still don't like your position, or better, not at 100%. This is not what I believe. I believe that a war that can preserve many lives can become an instrument to save thousands of lives, and that makes that murder necessary, and thus better then allowing thousands of death. I repeat: if were would be so intrinsically and totally evil, why does the Church have patrons saints for soldiers? Why should evil sinners such as soldiers need a patron established from the Church if they're promoting an evil action? This is a question you should try and answer. I'd like to know your opinions.

First of all, I would be grateful if you would refrain from putting words into my mouth. At no point have I suggested that anyone who goes to war is intrinsically and totally evil, nor did I say that solders are "evil sinners"; nor have I even said that war is intrinsically and totally evil. Your careless assessments of my posts have already caused confusion. I understand that English isn't your first language and that you are trying to exchange ideas to the best of your ability, but your tactics of stating another poster's positon more vehemently than the poster has done, is offensive. I suggest that you stop jumping to unwarranted conclusions and take more care in how you interpret what is said to you.
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« Reply #56 on: October 19, 2009, 08:08:21 AM »

I understand what you mean but I still don't like your position, or better, not at 100%. This is not what I believe. I believe that a war that can preserve many lives can become an instrument to save thousands of lives, and that makes that murder necessary, and thus better then allowing thousands of death. I repeat: if were would be so intrinsically and totally evil, why does the Church have patrons saints for soldiers? Why should evil sinners such as soldiers need a patron established from the Church if they're promoting an evil action? This is a question you should try and answer. I'd like to know your opinions.

First of all, I would be grateful if you would refrain from putting words into my mouth. At no point have I suggested that anyone who goes to war is intrinsically and totally evil, nor did I say that solders are "evil sinners"; nor have I even said that war is intrinsically and totally evil. Your careless assessments of my posts have already caused confusion. I understand that English isn't your first language and that you are trying to exchange ideas to the best of your ability, but your tactics of stating another poster's positon more vehemently than the poster has done, is offensive. I suggest that you stop jumping to unwarranted conclusions and take more care in how you interpret what is said to you.

I'm sorry for this. Somebody could call me a Manichean, but I think that all sins are equally evil, so I don't believe in a hierachy of evils. That makes me interpret the definition "war is sinful" as an absolute definition, and this is possibly what creates misunderstandings between us.
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« Reply #57 on: October 19, 2009, 08:11:52 AM »

and that makes that murder necessary,
"Necessary murder"?
I really suggest you don't try that one as a defence before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
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« Reply #58 on: October 19, 2009, 08:22:23 AM »

I understand what you mean but I still don't like your position, or better, not at 100%. This is not what I believe. I believe that a war that can preserve many lives can become an instrument to save thousands of lives, and that makes that murder necessary, and thus better then allowing thousands of death. I repeat: if were would be so intrinsically and totally evil, why does the Church have patrons saints for soldiers? Why should evil sinners such as soldiers need a patron established from the Church if they're promoting an evil action? This is a question you should try and answer. I'd like to know your opinions.

First of all, I would be grateful if you would refrain from putting words into my mouth. At no point have I suggested that anyone who goes to war is intrinsically and totally evil, nor did I say that solders are "evil sinners"; nor have I even said that war is intrinsically and totally evil. Your careless assessments of my posts have already caused confusion. I understand that English isn't your first language and that you are trying to exchange ideas to the best of your ability, but your tactics of stating another poster's positon more vehemently than the poster has done, is offensive. I suggest that you stop jumping to unwarranted conclusions and take more care in how you interpret what is said to you.

I'm sorry for this. Somebody could call me a Manichean, but I think that all sins are equally evil, so I don't believe in a hierachy of evils. That makes me interpret the definition "war is sinful" as an absolute definition, and this is possibly what creates misunderstandings between us.

Already forgiven.
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« Reply #59 on: October 19, 2009, 08:29:37 AM »

I condemn myself for every action I do which "might" offend him, so don't think I'll use such a ridicle apology. Necessary doesn't mean "good" but "unavoidable". Now, if you want to add in the list of those who would rather be martyred, I'm happy for you, but as for me, I admit martyrdom as a personal religious choice, and not as a political choice. If it were my life to be at risk, I'd accept death rather then killing, but if one touches one of my family, or any other innocent, I'd be ready to defend them. The Church even forgave the lapsi who abandoned their faiths and returned to the church because they were frightened... wouldn't the church forgive one who saved many lives in the army?
Saying that war is wrong, doesn't mean that all wars are unjustified when a superior necessity comes. It's not me who kills people since I'm not in the military and I'll never do, but I still appreciate the work of those who - like the Carabinieri - can have to use a weapon to defend the innocent, be it in war or on another occasion.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #60 on: October 19, 2009, 08:34:57 AM »

Necessary doesn't mean "good" but "unavoidable".
So if something is not good, what is it? A necessary evil? If so, I agree (as I said, war is sometimes the lesser of two evils). But it is still an evil.
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« Reply #61 on: October 19, 2009, 08:49:37 AM »

It is a choice. Just a choice. As evil as it might be at a personal level, a defensive war can ensure the survivor of many lives and the instauration of a new temporary period of peace and prosperity. This is not always the case, but if we hadn't defended ourselves from the Fascists and Nazists at this time Mussolini and Hitler would have conquered and enslaved the world. If you like to call it a "lesser evil", call it like this, but I don't like the expression, and I refrain from adopting it.
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« Reply #62 on: October 19, 2009, 09:45:20 AM »

It is a choice. Just a choice. As evil as it might be at a personal level, a defensive war can ensure the survivor of many lives and the instauration of a new temporary period of peace and prosperity. This is not always the case, but if we hadn't defended ourselves from the Fascists and Nazists at this time Mussolini and Hitler would have conquered and enslaved the world. If you like to call it a "lesser evil", call it like this, but I don't like the expression, and I refrain from adopting it.

But you have already stated that it is your opinion that war is always evil, but sometimes it's a lesser crime. Do you, therefore, hold to the view that a defensive war, while still evil and a crime, is somewhat less a crime than an offensive war?   Huh
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« Reply #63 on: October 19, 2009, 10:11:53 AM »

An offensive war has no reason to exist, so it is unjustifiable. Who makes such a kind of war is not only sinning, but he is living according to Satan's vision where violence, death and domination are THE FINAL TARGET. In a defensive war, on the contrary, the aim is the preservation of life, and not its destruction. In the first case, war is an instrument to spread death; in the second case, war is an instrument to save people from death. In other words, war is for me a "neutral" aspect in our world. In itself, war is neither good nor evil, but the purpose that leads it decides its nature. Defensive wars are necessary because of offensive wars. Offensive wars are aimed to sufferings, while defensive wars are aimed to stopping offensive wars. Killing - as unpleasant and wrong as it is - becomes a necessary choice. Defensive wars aren't a lesser evil... they're an alternative to a greater evil. It is like seeing a half-full glass of water or a half-empty glass of war: I prefer a vision without such an absolute pessimistic vision of defensive war only because of its final aim and of its positive results in case of success, that's all.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #64 on: October 19, 2009, 01:02:50 PM »

An offensive war has no reason to exist, so it is unjustifiable. Who makes such a kind of war is not only sinning, but he is living according to Satan's vision where violence, death and domination are THE FINAL TARGET. In a defensive war, on the contrary, the aim is the preservation of life, and not its destruction. In the first case, war is an instrument to spread death; in the second case, war is an instrument to save people from death.
I agree right up to this point. I do not, however, believe that war is neutral, or that it is ever good. War is always evil, but sometimes it can be justified, in order that greater evil not prevail upon the earth. War, in which the aim is to kill one's enemy (which requires one to identify one's enemy, and that is another argument entirely), cannot preserve life, but can only diminish death. War still causes death, and therefore is still evil, even when not as evil as the alternative.
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« Reply #65 on: October 19, 2009, 01:45:16 PM »

An offensive war has no reason to exist, so it is unjustifiable. Who makes such a kind of war is not only sinning, but he is living according to Satan's vision where violence, death and domination are THE FINAL TARGET. In a defensive war, on the contrary, the aim is the preservation of life, and not its destruction. In the first case, war is an instrument to spread death; in the second case, war is an instrument to save people from death.
I agree right up to this point. I do not, however, believe that war is neutral, or that it is ever good. War is always evil, but sometimes it can be justified, in order that greater evil not prevail upon the earth. War, in which the aim is to kill one's enemy (which requires one to identify one's enemy, and that is another argument entirely), cannot preserve life, but can only diminish death. War still causes death, and therefore is still evil, even when not as evil as the alternative.
Wow. I actually agree with you.
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« Reply #66 on: October 19, 2009, 01:56:40 PM »

What is the Orthodox position on war in general?


Both views co-exist.

As seen here:





as seen from my website:
"In this path-breaking study, Fr. Alexander Webster convincingly demonstrates that a distinctive pacifist trajectory, characterized by the moral virtues of non-violence, nonresistance, voluntary kenotic suffering, and universal forgiveness, has endured through two millennia of Eastern Orthodox history in unbroken continuity with the ancient Church."





As well as




I'm biased, and so, I'm not gonna cut and paste the review for this one. Grin


Sorry, but I'm a self-professed wannabe pacifist.










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« Reply #67 on: October 19, 2009, 02:16:15 PM »

If unconditional peace is an extreme position, then consider me an extremist. With due respect, does Our Lord really want us to "balance" peace with violence?
I'm not sure you can speak for our Lord on this matter, but it's quite obvious that you don't want us to work for such a balance.


As for the Just War theory... well, it just brings us war.
I also have to wonder why you thought it good to resurrect a 4 1/2-year-old thread just to say what you said.  I can think of more substantive reasons to revive such an old discussion as this.

I asked a question; I did not speak for the Lord. He spoke clearly enough for Himself. What we do with His words and how we respond to His example is every man's free choice.
And by so attributing your pacifism to our Lord's words and example and not to your own interpretation of them, you are claiming to speak for our Lord.  Our Lord Jesus Christ preached peace ("Blessed are the peacemakers."), but I'm not sure He preached pacifism.


Yes, you are correct. I do not want to balance peace with violence. I want peace to rule alone.

If I see an opportunity to promote peace, I try to do so. Would yo like to join me my friend?

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Peace and love to you my brother. You can't fight it!

Selam
You do realize, though, that peace is more than just the absence of war?


A good number of the early fathers, nonfathers, schizmatics and even heretics(depending on how the church views Tertullian) took Jesus at his word, ......a good number of them clearly lived out his teachings.

So Gebre Menfes Kidus wasn't really speaking for Jesus.







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« Reply #68 on: October 19, 2009, 02:19:28 PM »

If unconditional peace is an extreme position, then consider me an extremist. With due respect, does Our Lord really want us to "balance" peace with violence?
I'm not sure you can speak for our Lord on this matter, but it's quite obvious that you don't want us to work for such a balance.


As for the Just War theory... well, it just brings us war.
I also have to wonder why you thought it good to resurrect a 4 1/2-year-old thread just to say what you said.  I can think of more substantive reasons to revive such an old discussion as this.

I asked a question; I did not speak for the Lord. He spoke clearly enough for Himself. What we do with His words and how we respond to His example is every man's free choice.
And by so attributing your pacifism to our Lord's words and example and not to your own interpretation of them, you are claiming to speak for our Lord.  Our Lord Jesus Christ preached peace ("Blessed are the peacemakers."), but I'm not sure He preached pacifism.


Yes, you are correct. I do not want to balance peace with violence. I want peace to rule alone.

If I see an opportunity to promote peace, I try to do so. Would yo like to join me my friend?

"When you get down and you quarrel every day, you're saying prayers to the devil I say. Why not help one another along the way, and make things much easier?
                                                      -Bob Marley-

Peace and love to you my brother. You can't fight it!

Selam
You do realize, though, that peace is more than just the absence of war?


A good number of the early fathers, nonfathers, schizmatics and even heretics(depending on how the church views Tertullian) took Jesus at his word, ......a good number of them clearly lived out his teachings.

So Gebre Menfes Kidus wasn't really speaking for Jesus.
Of course he wasn't.  I just didn't want him presenting himself as if he was. Wink
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« Reply #69 on: October 19, 2009, 02:30:01 PM »

If unconditional peace is an extreme position, then consider me an extremist. With due respect, does Our Lord really want us to "balance" peace with violence?
I'm not sure you can speak for our Lord on this matter, but it's quite obvious that you don't want us to work for such a balance.


As for the Just War theory... well, it just brings us war.
I also have to wonder why you thought it good to resurrect a 4 1/2-year-old thread just to say what you said.  I can think of more substantive reasons to revive such an old discussion as this.

I asked a question; I did not speak for the Lord. He spoke clearly enough for Himself. What we do with His words and how we respond to His example is every man's free choice.
And by so attributing your pacifism to our Lord's words and example and not to your own interpretation of them, you are claiming to speak for our Lord.  Our Lord Jesus Christ preached peace ("Blessed are the peacemakers."), but I'm not sure He preached pacifism.


Yes, you are correct. I do not want to balance peace with violence. I want peace to rule alone.

If I see an opportunity to promote peace, I try to do so. Would yo like to join me my friend?

"When you get down and you quarrel every day, you're saying prayers to the devil I say. Why not help one another along the way, and make things much easier?
                                                      -Bob Marley-

Peace and love to you my brother. You can't fight it!

Selam
You do realize, though, that peace is more than just the absence of war?


A good number of the early fathers, nonfathers, schizmatics and even heretics(depending on how the church views Tertullian) took Jesus at his word, ......a good number of them clearly lived out his teachings.

So Gebre Menfes Kidus wasn't really speaking for Jesus.
Of course he wasn't.  I just didn't want him presenting himself as if he was. Wink

Oh ok, my bad.





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« Reply #70 on: October 19, 2009, 02:31:54 PM »

Evidently I'm the only one here who shares st. Augustine's opinion. Maybe because it's pragmatic and, despite all my mysticism, I try to keep an eye on pragmatism when it comes to earthly affairs. If this position isn't Orthodox, I'll pray my God to make me become a pacifist who accepts to be tortured and killed by invaders (as it will possibly happen, seeing the most recent events of terrorism) and to see their children killed. If defending my life and that of my life is a lesser evil, but still an evil, death is the only alternative, and evidently my life and that of my friends has no value enough. Now I will re-evaluate this in the perspective that this life is only a suffering place necessary to obtain life eternal in the world to come, and that my 25 years of life have no true value at all if I'm a sinner who sees war as unavoidable under certain circumstances.

Pray for my soul, because I'm not ready for martyrdom, yet.

In Christ,   Alex
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« Reply #71 on: October 19, 2009, 03:37:17 PM »

and that makes that murder necessary,
"Necessary murder"?
I really suggest you don't try that one as a defence before the Judgment Seat of Christ.
"Excuse me Lord, but that murder was necessary and I make no apologies for it."

quick point: Soldiers who die in War have not been "Murdered"
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« Reply #72 on: October 19, 2009, 08:06:10 PM »

Evidently I'm the only one here who shares st. Augustine's opinion. Maybe because it's pragmatic and, despite all my mysticism, I try to keep an eye on pragmatism when it comes to earthly affairs. If this position isn't Orthodox, I'll pray my God to make me become a pacifist who accepts to be tortured and killed by invaders (as it will possibly happen, seeing the most recent events of terrorism) and to see their children killed. If defending my life and that of my life is a lesser evil, but still an evil, death is the only alternative, and evidently my life and that of my friends has no value enough. Now I will re-evaluate this in the perspective that this life is only a suffering place necessary to obtain life eternal in the world to come, and that my 25 years of life have no true value at all if I'm a sinner who sees war as unavoidable under certain circumstances.

Pray for my soul, because I'm not ready for martyrdom, yet.

In Christ,   Alex

I'm don't believe that you are in accord with St Augustine's view of a just war, which doesn't extend to self defence of the private individual. His view is that the private citizen may not defend himself because he cannot do so without passion and a loss of love. Only the state may take the life of another through war OR through defense of others.
“As to killing others to defend one’s own life I do not approve of this, unless one happens to be a soldier or a public functionary acting not for
himself, but in defense of others or of the city in which he resides.”
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« Reply #73 on: October 20, 2009, 07:16:42 AM »

This is what I meant,Riddikulus... that in case of war I would become a voluntary in the military to defend my nation and thus my family, my friends, and all of the other citizens. In fact, I could never have a weapon at home, since I'm no military and I think that only soldiers and public order forces (Police, Carabinieri, etc...) can hold them. I just think that who does these jobs should be considered to serve the nation and its citizens, and not as blood thirsty assassins.
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« Reply #74 on: October 20, 2009, 12:50:43 PM »



While it is certainly difficult to discuss this topic w/o some mention of politics, it is possible to do so by sticking to historical facts and keeping the commentary on those facts to a minimum.  If you wish to discuss the overtly political dimension of the Just War Theory (particularly as it applies to recent history in the Middle East), please do so in the new thread in the Private Politics forum.

If you don't have access to that forum, please PM FrChris.

Thank you.

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