What differing Christian beliefs of armed conflict might be

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Last updated: November 16, 2019

War is armed conflict between two opposing forces. There are many factors that contribute to wars taking place. A ‘good’ country can declare war on another country if it occupies and imposes its rules, religion and government on another state. On occasions a country is ruled by a totalitarian dictator who imposes himself as the leader of the country giving no democratic rights to the people. Religion has always been a source of conflict; many countries have different religious groups within it that will quarrel and fight over the religion of the state and its leaders as well as the land.

There are many different types of warfare; conventional warfare is when large troops of soldiers face each other in battle using guns and tanks. This is the conception of war many people have. Terrorism is a war fought against a certain political or religious system or simply an idea the terrorists disagree with, such as apartheid and racism. Terrorists use what may seem inhumane tactics to prove their points such as sabotage of key buildings, kidnappings, hijackings, bombs and they also use guerrilla warfare. Nuclear warfare is probably the most feared of all.Nuclear warfare is achieved by putting radioactive substances in a warhead which on collision will cause mass destruction. Christians believe in Jesus Christ and they listen to his teachings and do there utmost to follow his example. Christians have different views on war and these views can be supported by the bible and teachings of the church.

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In the bible there are passages that support war and violence if necessary. When Jesus was alive, Palestine was occupied by the Romans and the Jews were controlled by them and subjected to their laws.In ‘The Spirit of the Lord’ Jesus proclaims that he will ‘Bring good news to the poor, proclaim liberty to the captives, and set free the oppressed’ This is a passage that rebels against the Roman rule and has a violent tone. Jesus says that ‘the Lord will save his people’ and that Jesus’ mission is to liberate his people from the evils forced on them.

The church fights for the people and this story shows how it is necessary to fight for human rights and many supporters of the Liberian theology use this passage to prove their points.Jesus was not known as a violent man but in the passage of ‘The Traders in the Temple’ he conveys a different aspect of his personality. Jesus found traders in the temple and was outraged that the house of the Lord had been ‘turned into a hideout for thieves’. He overturned tables to show his anger and how he thought that the temple was been used for the wrong reasons. This violent protests supports violent actions to show your views but Jesus did not harm anyone just threatened them. Jesus preached that you must treat everyone equally and when he chose Simon the Zealot as a disciple it showed that he was not against violence.Zealots were people who thought that it was alright to fight for your religion and this thought has provoked many wars since then. The bible and the teaching of the prophets also can oppose war.

The prophet Micah dreamed ‘They will beat their swords into plough stores and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up arms against nation. Nor will they train for war anymore’. This shows that the wish of God is to have a world of peace and Micah interpreted his dream this way.

When Jesus was betrayed by Judas, Peter attacked the slave of the High Priest cutting off his ear.Jesus rebuked ‘All who take the sword die by the sword’. Jesus did not resist arrest and told Peter that violence just leads to more violence and whatever you do to other people will be done to you. On Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount he demonstrates that to live in harmony you must avoid conflictive situations and actions ‘If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn him the other also’. Jesus said that you should treat everyone the same way whether they are sinners or not. ‘You have heard love your neighbour and hate your enemy but I tell you love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you’.

The Roman Catholic Church and the Church of England teach that in certain circumstances it is morally right to engage in armed conflict. This is the ‘Just War theory’ and it has six conditions that if met can justify a war. It must be a last resort and that all other methods should have been tried. It must be waged by a ruling authority. It must promote good and overcome evil. It must have a good chance of success with the minimum amount of force. Innocent civilians should never be targeted and it should promote lasting peace after the victory.The church also respects that conscientious objectors will never think that war is justified.

This belief is known as pacifism. Pacifism How would these teachings affect the attitude and behaviour of Christians towards conflict? In an idyllic world the idea of no violence or violence would be a feature in most Christians mind. However conflict is a part of human nature, so how do Christians respond in correspondence with their beliefs and faith in God. The just war theory is aids the Christian to make a decision whether a war is moral or not.The recent war in Iraq can be subjected to the ‘Just War theory’ and can be interpreted in many different ways by different Christians. The war was declared by legitimate authorities in George Bush, President of the USA and Tony Blair, Prime minister of the UK so this complies with the first demand; however the UN was designed after the world wars to deal with international affairs and discuss the advent of war as it obviously affects the whole world.

Secondly many people think it was a last resort after the twelve years the UN placed on Iraq over proving the existence of weapons of mass destruction following the Gulf war in the early 1990s.On the other hand UN inspections were been organised by the UN and they were given little time to search the whole of Iraq. George Bush was eager to start the war defying the UN and he changed his motives continually i. e. from weapons of mass destruction to an evil dictator to liberating the people. All of these are serious reasons but there is sceptism over George Bush’ intent in protecting oil and finishing his father’s failed mission in removing Saddam.

It is obvious that removing Saddam helped the people and it promoted the good of democratic rights and denounced the evils of torturing civilians.The latest technology was used with precision bombs and mainly palaces were targeted to avoid civilian causalities. The war has promoted peace by inaugurating an interim government however there are already problems with aid, water, food and ironically of petrol. Many people think sanctions and negotiation could have come to the same effect without the casualties and destruction war brings.

Jesus states in ‘The spirit of the Lord’ that it is right to liberate people who are oppressed, ‘proclaim liberty to the captives’ which Bush did to the Iraqis.Some Christians believe fighting can never be justified even with the Just war theory. If they are asked to fight and refuse they are referred to as ‘conscientious objectors’. They believe in the commandment ‘do not kill’ and try to use peaceful ways that heal, not destroy.

Pacifists prefer to use sanctions, non violent protests and boycotts to achieve the same effect. Martin Luther King shows just how effective these techniques could be with his battle against segregation in America. Martin Luther was a pastor of the Baptist Church and he was influenced by the famous Mahatma Ghandi.His first tactic to overcome the discrimination of blacks in particularly in Southern USA was a bus boycott where the black people refused to let the white people sit down. Martin Luther always stated that you should meet love with hate and on his marches and sit ins he always objected to violence.

Martin Luther used publicity which damaged many white owned business’ that promoted racism. However his love was met by violence and he was assassinated in 1968 but he started the long battle against racism in the USA and the world. His eloquent speeches are still referred to and he signified how violence is not the only solution.Jesus also stated this particularly in his arrest where he told Peter ‘all who take the sword die by the sword’ which signifies that violence attracts more violence.

Today there are some Christians who believe that extreme violence is the only solution to a problem. These Christians can use terrorism to convey their point of view and some people think it can be justified in certain situations. Terrorism is an unofficial war set against an authority and it is not thought with conventional weapons but with secret organisations that sabotage buildings while using bombs and kidnapping.Nelson Mandela was a strong Christian born in the apartheid South Africa. He felt that terrorism was the only way to break the apartheid and segregation between the black and white populations of this country. He believed the government was corrupt and sanctions and sporting ties were broken to put pressure on the government but to no avail. It was a last resort in compliance with the Just war theory and it was to promote good.

Segregation is evil and the right to vote is good. Mandela targeted public buildings and he was put I prison for over twenty years and is now recognised as a public figure.In the Spirit of the Lord he refers to ‘set free the oppressed’ and it shows that the church and Christians can use violence if necessary. For a Christian, ‘nuclear war can never be justified’. Do you agree? Christians have a responsibility to follow Jesus Christ and listen to his teachings.

They should also be conscious of the world around them, act as a disciple of Jesus by making decisions about difficult issues. Nuclear war splits many Christians as some support it and others do not. Nuclear war is the use of radioactive elements such as uranium and plutonium in weapons.

The disadvantage of science and technology is revealed in these bombs which are very difficult to construct and cause mass destruction. These weapons now could destroy the world eight times over and many world leaders are trying to reduce the number of these weapons as they can now be made in even the poorer countries. An example of when one of these bombs is used is in Hiroshima, Japan in 1945. It was followed by another in Nagasaki also in Japan. It was dropped by USA to put an immediate end to the Second World War so Japan would surrender.It was thought that the war could last another million allied lives. This was the first time that a nuclear weapon had been used ever and over two hundred thousand people died in this atrocity and thousands eventually died from the effects of radiation. Radiation caused infertility, mutation and a variety of diseases.

Accounts from survivors said that the ‘sky burst into flames’ and the cities were reduced to rubble and bodies burnt to cinders. Some Christians believe that Nuclear weapons can be useful in many different ways.Nuclear weapons can defend a country from other nuclear weapons and the possession of them deters other nations from attacking them. This keeps the peace because any nation that attacks one another knows that this could lead to a nuclear war.

Many people think that the existence of these weapons has prevented a third world war. In the Old Testament it states ‘an eye for eye’ so if a nuclear weapon was used against one nation it is right to retaliate. The arms trade and nuclear weapons industry employs many people so food and homes are upheld because of their existence.Other Christians believe that these weapons can only be destructive and it is a waste of the world’s resources instead the money could be used to feed the famine struck. In 1982 report ‘The Church and the Bomb’ warned that the increase in the amount of weapons increases the risk of innocent lives been lost. In the book of Proverbs God says that he hates the shedding of innocent blood. The chance of an accident is increased and nuclear disasters such as Chernobyl and Hiroshima shows the negative effect radiation can have on the body and environment with mutated genes still present in people in 2003.

Christians support nuclear disarmament because Jesus stated that ‘violence leads to more violence’. In my opinion the nature of these weapons defies Jesus ‘all those who take the sword die by the sword’ as it can only be destructive. Although I am aware that these weapons help sustain many jobs which prevent, many people suffering from extreme poverty and homelessness.

Jesus promoted unity in the world and the effect radiation could have on an ecosystem could damage human life as we know it.The sheer amount of damage these bombs can produce and the amount of lives it can take defies the commandment ‘do not kill’ on a gigantic scale. The bible was written in an age where this power was not even thought of so it can only be used limitedly and I think Christians should base their opinions and views on what they believe is right and Christian. Already the world has seen the effects these weapons can do so Christians must do their utmost to prevent it because in my opinion and how I depict Jesus’ teachings on war, it is not acceptable for any reason what so ever.

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