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Darrell Cole: “Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war do a vicious thing”

2 February 2017



I concur with what Darrell Cole says in this linked article, whether it is applied to just war, or to defense of others, or of oneself.  I really do not believe God is impressed with your fake virtue if it means that you’re willing to sacrifice the safety of your spouse, children, neighbors, or others in your care, to the evils of abuse, abduction, sexual assault, or death at the hands of predators.  If you are capable of stopping evil from happening and knowingly choose not to, then you are complicit.



“The most noteworthy aspect of the moral approach to warfare in Aquinas and Calvin is that it teaches (contrary to today’s prevailing views) that a failure to engage in a just war is a failure of virtue, a failure to act well. An odd corollary of this conclusion is that it is a greater evil for Christians to fail to wage a just war than it is for unbelievers. When an unbeliever fails to go to war, the cause may be a lack of courage, prudence, or justice. He may be a coward or simply indifferent to evil. These are failures of natural moral virtue. When Christians (at least in the tradition of Aquinas and Calvin) fail to engage in just war, it may involve all of these natural failures as well, but it will also, and more significantly, involve a failure of charity. The Christian who fails to use force to aid his neighbor when prudence dictates that force is the best way to render that aid is an uncharitable Christian. Hence, Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war do a vicious thing: they fail to show love toward their neighbor as well as toward God.”

Darrell Cole, in First Things, 2001

Read the whole article here.

One Comment leave one →
  1. 3 February 2017 3:15 pm

    I agree with the points Cole makes regarding the failure to engage in a Just War. However, as one who has been in the military for over 20 years, the way we conduct ourselves in war in order to prosecute a just war (jus in bello) has been increasingly ignored by both military and civilian leadership–making it difficult (if not impossible) to maintain that any of our current engagements are justly carried out. “Shock and Awe” for example in no way satisfies the requirements traditionally held by Christian theologians and could be considered just.

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