According to National Catholic Reporter, “The participants of a first-of-its-kind Vatican conference have bluntly rejected the Catholic church’s long-held teachings on just war theory, saying they have too often been used to justify violent conflicts and the global church must reconsider Jesus’ teachings on nonviolence.”
“‘There is no ‘just war,’ the some 80 participants of the conference state in an appeal they released Thursday morning.”
If the Roman Catholic Church wants to make a proclamation against war, senseless killing, and global unrest, I applaud them.
If they want to make a proclamation that the church — the united body of believers that follow Jesus — should not be in the business of promoting war, I applaud them.
However, if they want to use scripture to proclaim Jesus is a pacifist, I encourage them to revisit the whole counsel of scripture. Scripture must always interpret scripture. Doctrines cannot be based on a single passage!
In the article by the National Catholic Reporter, Archbishop John Baptist Odama of Gulu, Uganda is quoted as saying, “…Violence is outlived…it is out of date for our world of today. …Any war is a destruction. There is no justice in destruction. …It is outdated.”
Archbishop Odama may have personal convictions shaped by personal experience regarding the horrors of war, especially given the harsh realities of terror and war experienced in Uganda, but personal convictions do not supplant the truth of scripture.
Misusing Jesus’ instruction to ‘turn the other cheek‘ to form a strictly pacifist agenda on a global scale is just as irresponsible and dangerous as misusing His claim that He ‘did not come to bring peace [to the earth], but a sword‘.
Marie Dennis, co-president of Pax Christi International, begins asking the right question: “When we look at the reality of war, when we look at the teachings of Jesus, we’re asking what is the responsibility of the church?”
The responsibility of the church is to equip the global body of believers — followers of Jesus Christ — to declare the good news of God’s forgiveness, His offer for reconciliation, and His unending grace, to give people hope of eternal life, and to instruct people that we should love the Lord with all our heart, strength, soul and mind while loving our neighbors as much as we love ourselves.
The church should never be in the business of war! That is the role of government, and justly so for those who perpetrate evil. In fact, Paul, in his letter to the church in Rome, states very clearly that God is the one who establishes our governing authority for that very purpose.
In a piece written by Maria Stephan, senior policy fellow at the United States Institute for Peace, part of the underlying agenda is revealed: “If the church joined forces with other Christian denominations, along with Muslim and Jewish leaders and institutions, to prioritize areas of collaboration focused on Abrahamic peacemaking, the effect would be even more powerful.”
Archbishop Odama is also quoted as saying Jesus “always asked his followers not to resort to violence in solving problems, including in his last stage of life. On the cross, [Jesus] said, ‘Father forgive them because they don’t know what they’re doing.’ In this statement, he united the whole of humanity under one father.”
NO HE DID NOT!
This is another example of projection, layering personal ideology onto scripture, not unlike the Pope declaring we are all children of the same god.
Yes, Jesus was showing His willingness to extend grace and forgiveness to His persecutors, but He was not uniting all of humanity under one father. Adoption into God’s family only happens through true repentance — a desire to turn away from a life of rebellion against God — and faith in Jesus Christ.
Recent efforts to promote peace by embracing Muslim terrorists with the hope that terror and wars will end is foolhardy.
Unfortunate as it may be, aggressors must be met with aggression.
Jesus Himself gave us an example: “But no one can enter a strong man’s house and plunder his goods, unless he first binds the strong man. Then indeed he may plunder his house” (Mark 3:27 ESV).
What did Jesus mean? How is the strong man going to prevent the plunder of his goods if not by force?
To be clear, I’m not talking about Geneva Convention-style aggression where wars are designed to be ‘humane’ with no real victor. There is no such thing as humane war, especially if soldiers are sacrificing their lives in vain.
No, I’m talking about no mercy, in-your-face, shock-and-awe brute force, bringing evil to its knees in cowering fear. I’m talking about total destruction, as God Himself prescribed when He sent the Israelites into battle against the Amalekites.
The reasoning behind that command is a topic for another day. Yes, it was a drastic measure, but it was for a purpose.
Likewise, if our governing authorities are not committed to winning decisively, they should NEVER engage in war.
World War II is the perfect example. Prior to Pearl Harbor, the United States refused to enter the war. Japan’s aggression forced our hand. And, as anticipated by our leaders, there were mass casualties (on both sides)…until we took decisive action.
After Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the Japanese surrendered. Today we are allies.
Is what happened in Hiroshima and Nagasaki tragic? Absolutely! Catastrophically tragic! But, it permanently terminated the conflict between the United States and Japan. We didn’t start the conflict, but we emphatically ended it.
That is the same resolve anyone going into battle today must have. No more perpetual war. Threat of annihilation is a great deterrent to unprovoked aggression, as evidenced by the Cold War and the threat of mutually assured destruction.
The church should not be in the business of war, but it should support the governing authorities who find it necessary to protect them. And, when those governing authorities find it necessary, they should act quickly and decisively with massive displays of force.
Rest assured, Jesus is not a pacifist. When He returns, He will put an eternal end to conflict, and He will do so with decisive action.
It would be nice if evil and conflict ceased to exits today, but that is not our reality. Until that happens, we all need to pray that wisdom and discernment is given to those who sincerely seek the truth, so they are not swept away by what tickles the ear.