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Describe the conditions that rule a war a “Just War”.

In the 13th century a Christian monk named Thomas Aquinas drew up some conditions that could be used to make a decision about whether a war is just or not. First Aquinas laid down three conditions and these were later added to.The first three conditions were conditions that could be decided quite easily but one needs the war to have finished before the decision can be made. The first condition states: “The war must be started and controlled by the authority of the state or ruler.” This condition has a yes/no answer and this can make the decision easier. The war is either controlled or not. The authority of state is usually a government, elected or not, so one assumes they can control the war. There is nothing to say that because it is being controlled it is right. The controller may want a war and so will not object is the war becomes advanced and once it does the controller may loose control.The second of the three conditions states: “There must be a just cause; those attacked must deserve it.” This condition also has a yes/no answer; there is a just cause or there is not. This can make the decision easier though different people may think different things. An example for this is the current situation in America. George bush feels that the people who attacked America deserve to be attacked themselves and so now he is bombing Afghanistan. Others disagree with this and say that was not Afghanistan that attacked America but it was the Taliban. Who is right and who is wrong? This condition does not make the decision easier because you have to take into account many views as America today shows.The third condition states: “The war must be fought to promote good or avoid evil. Peace and justice must be restored afterwards.” There are two parts to this condition. This condition says that the war must promote good or avoid evil. It is difficult to promote good through a war as many people regard war as an evil. Avoiding evil through war can be easier but still this can backfire. In World War Two, Britain attacked Hitler to prevent him carrying out evil, this did not work and caused more evil, this is through hindsight but the decision is still difficult to make. The second part needs the war to have ended before a decision can be taken and still it may take years after the ending of the war for peace to be restored, does this make it a just war? Is it, the quicker peace is restored the more just the war? This condition I feel does not help in decision making.Other Christians later added more conditions in order to make the decision easier. The first one added states: “The war must be the last resort; all other possible ways of solving the problem have been tried.” This means that negotiations or other methods must have been tried before the parties go to war. This can be difficult and may not be possible if a country is being attacked and they have to fight back. If negotiations were not possible does this still make the war just? Is a war where negotiating was attempted but failed better than one where negotiations were not attempted, or are they still as bad as each other as each method has resulted in a war? This is difficult to decide.The second states: “There must be ‘proportionality’ in the way the war is fought.” Proportionality is where no civilians are killed and only enough force is used in order to gain victory. This is difficult as accidents happen and the war may fulfil all the other criteria but because some civilians were killed the war may be declared unjust. This one leaves it up to the person making the decision to what they think is more important. Some believe no civilians should be killed where as others believe that some may get killed as it is war.The third states: “The good gained by the victory must be greater than the evil which led to the war.” This condition requires the war to have ended before a decision can be taken. Evil and good is very difficult to weigh up and so this condition may not make it any easier for a decision to be made.b) Why do some Christians believe that fighting a war can never be right?A pacifist is someone who believes that all war is wrong and who would refuse to participate in any fighting. Among Christian denominations the Quakers are the group most associated with pacifism.Christians look to The Ten Commandments and see that they say, “Do not murder”. A war will involve death and killing however hard someone tries to prevent it. This is why Christians say that fighting a war will always be wrong, as killing is not allowed in the Ten Commandments and so is not allowed by God.The Bible tells Christians that they should love their enemies, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44). Jesus told his followers this in the Sermon on the Mount and so Christians believe this is the word of God and should be obeyed. Loving them is not fighting against and is not obeying the word of God and so again this is why they say that fighting in a war is wrong.Christians also look to the life of Jesus and see how he had lived. Jesus led a peaceful life and never encourages violence. When Jesus was arrested on of his followers took out a sword and attacked one of the men who had arrested him and cut off his right ear. Jesus said “Enough of this.” He touched the man’s ear and healed him. (Luke 22:49-51). Here Jesus did not condone violence he tried to solve it and so Christians try to prevent war and violence as Jesus did. He told his followers that when they were struck they were not to strike back but to turn the other cheek. He rejected the idea of revenge and that we should leave revenge up to God.Christians also object to violence because it is a waste of God’s resources and that it is also a cause of immense suffering, including the suffering of innocent people. They also believe that war encourages and exaggerates the baser and undesirable human instincts of greed, hatred and prejudice.c) Do you think that Jesus was a pacifist?I think that Jesus was a pacifist and I base my decision on the Sermon on the Mount.In Matthew 5:21-26 Jesus talks about anger. He teaches that it is what is in a person’s mind and feelings that is the real issue and he points out that anger in itself can be very dangerous as it can lead to murder or war. Anger can lead to the need for revenge and a lot of the wars in history have started because people have wanted revenge on countries or individuals, today’s situation in America is an example of this.In Matthew 5:38-48 Jesus talks about revenge and love of enemies. In this Jesus went beyond the strict letter of the Old Testament law and many priests felt uneasy about applying ‘an eye for an eye’ literally, preferring it relating to compensation and not injury. Jesus based the command on Leviticus 19:18 “love one another….”. Hating the enemy was not part of a Christian teaching but was a common human failing. Jesus goes further than this and tells us to love offenders and that this power should make them good. This relates to America as George Bush is taking out revenge on Afghanistan though Jesus says not to do this. Jesus believes we should leave punishment up to God and also we should love the offenders as this may make them good.The final teaching I base my decision on can be found in Leviticus. “Do not take revenge on anyone or continue to hate him, but love your neighbour as you love yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18). Here Jesus shows that you should forgive people and not continue to hate them. This can lead to war and Jesus preventing this can prevent war and this is what convinces me that Jesus was a pacifist.

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