Love For Neighbors Threatened By Violence
Mandeville, LA – Exclusive Transcript – “Remember, the philosopher does what? He looks for the ultimate cause. The common man that doesn’t care about these things but likes to complain about them just looks for the immediate effect, for the accident of the cause. Look for ultimate causes and you’ll be far better off. You’ll be a better thinker is the point.” Check out today’s transcript for the rest….
Begin Mike Church Show Transcript
Mike: I will be happy to relay a short passage from Paul Ramsey on the subject of the origin of just war theory. This is from the book The Just War. It’s the best one I could find on the subject. I looked and looked and looked for this for months. This is on page 142:
In this chapter, however, I want to deal with the origin and the meaning of another criterion . . .
Mike: Remember, the philosopher does what? He looks for the ultimate cause. The common man that doesn’t care about these things but likes to complain about them just looks for the immediate effect, for the accident of the cause. Look for ultimate causes and you’ll be far better off. You’ll be a better thinker is the point.
. . . I want to deal with the origin and the meaning of another criterion for the morality of war’s conduct. It is a more intrinsic one, having to do with the justice or injustice of an act of war, considered apart from its consequences. In the course of tracing its origin, the systematic meaning of “just conduct” in war will be exhibited. This is the distinction between legitimate and illegitimate military actions. This distinction cuts across all distinctions among weapons systems and applies to them all, even though it is nuclear weapons that have decisively raised the question whether there are just and unjust acts of war by raising the question whether these particular weapons can possibly be used in a just manner. To learn the meaning of “justice in war” (and its origin out of love-informed-reason) will be to learn what it means to say, in connection with military policy, that the end does not justify the means and that it can never be right to do wrong for the sake of some real or supposed good.
The western theory of the just war originated, not primarily from considerations of abstract or “natural” justice, but from the interior of the ethics of Christian love, or what John XXIII termed “social charity.” It was a work of charity for the Good Samaritan to give help to the man who fell among thieves. But one step more, it may have been a work of charity for the inn-keeper to hold himself ready to receive beaten and wounded men, and for him to have conducted his business so that he was solvent enough to extend credit to the Good Samaritan.
Mike: Then he goes on. I’ve already covered this. This is just a refresher. Then we get to this:
To summarize the theory of just or civilized conduct in war as this was developed within Christendom: love for neighbors threatened by violence, by aggression, or tyranny, provided the grounds for admitting the legitimacy of the use of military force. Love for neighbors at the same time required that such force should be limited. The Christian is commanded to do anything a realistic love commands (and so sometimes he must fight). But this also prohibits him from doing anything for which such love can find no justification (and so he can never approve of unlimited attack upon any human life not closely cooperating in or directly engaged in the force that ought to be repelled).
Mike: This would apply to all you Christians out there that want to turn Iran or the rest of the Middle East into a sheet of glass because of ISIS or whoever, which demonstrably, yes, need to be dealt with. But the collateral damage is not acceptable. This is Ramsey’s point here. He’s basing this on his review of all that he could find that had been written about just war theory and just war. This is where it gets provocative. People don’t want to hear this, because if you hear this – as a matter of fact, if you’re a decepticon and you just want to bomb someone today, turn your radio off. The guilt trip that you’re about to get will be insufferable. Then you’ll have to send me hateful mail and cause stain upon your soul for wishing me to die or be fired or whatever. If I were you, I’d just turn it off and go to Outlaw Country right now if I were you.
This means that nuclear war against the civil centers of an enemy population, the A-Bomb on Hiroshima, or obliteration bombing perpetrated by both sides in World War II were all alike immoral acts of war; and that Christians can support such actions only by dismissing the entire western tradition of civilized warfare that was originally born in the interior of that supreme compassion which always seeks if possible to wound none whom by His wounds Christ died to save. This theory of just and severely limited conflict has guided action and served as the regulative norm for military conduct for nineteen centuries.
Mike: He says “has” because we’ve rejected that. We’re smarter. We have computers. We don’t need philosophia perennis. We don’t need morals or restraints. We don’t need to go to mass. We don’t need to go to church. We don’t need to seek modesty in dress or any of these things. We’ve made ourselves our own arbiters. Each one of us, seemingly, out in the population, 312 million people – I don’t have the number, but we can, I think, safely say hundreds of millions of people believe that they are their own pope. Therefore, they administer their own church, their own religion. They don’t care what anyone else ever thought, what anyone else ever said. It doesn’t matter. It’s inconvenient to them. They don’t think that way. Because they’re Americans or they’re members of Western civilization, and we’ve done X, Y, and Z, and we’ve sent people to the moon, cured and conquered diseases, etc., etc., because we’ve done these things, we don’t need any of that. Those guys had to have those old superstitious things. We don’t have to. We’re modern man.
This, unfortunately, also comes out of the mouths of people that fancy themselves as Christians, but who also believe that there is nothing or very little in the history and tradition of Christian man that can be relied upon, and everything can be explained away if we just move a comma or a period or a semicolon here. If we just put Job over here and say: Well, Job wasn’t doing anything. If we just put the woman at the well and we put it into the proper context, you can see a way through to divorce. I can and it makes me feel good about myself.
Well, if your eternal soul lives to immortality, is immortal, and it is, you’re not going to feel very good about it when you get to meet the man that made it. The story of the guy asking Lazarus: Dude, you were there. Can you tell me who you saw? Did you see such and such? Can you get a message to him? No, I can’t, no. No, he’s gone, dude, he’s gone forever. Nineteen centuries, according to Ramsey.
If a man cannot irresponsibly forsake those who need to be saved from an oppressor, neither can he directly and indiscriminately attack innocent people in order to restrain that same oppressor. [Mike: In other words, if you want to get to Saddam Hussein, you can’t mow down 100,000 innocent Iraqis who had nothing to do with his rise to power and his use of power and force to get to him. Of course,
don’t tell that to us. We’re Christians, by the way.] If to protect his own children he should resist an aggressor, that gives him no leave directly to intend and directly to do the death of the aggressor’s children as a means of dissuading him from his evil deeds.
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If the just-war theory did not already exist, Christians would have to invent it. If in the fullness of God’s time and the emptiness of ours, Christ came into our present world (instead of when he did), then would the just-war theory still have to be produced. Then would Christian thought bring together the notions of justice lying around in the Renaissance and the Enlightenment (if you can imagine these periods without their Christian background) as St. Augustine and other great Christian thinkers brought together the notions of justice lying around in the Graeco-Roman world, galvanized them into action, elevated and firmed them up, illumined and sensitized the justices of men to produce severer restrictions upon the forms of human conflict which the Christian or any truly just man can ever believe justified. Had I the space I could derive the same moral restrictions upon the use of force from the ethical perspectives of the Old Testament. These would have been productive of a remarkably similar just-war theory, had Judaism been the predominant influence in western civilization.
End Mike Church Show Transcript