Friday, November 24, 2006

Hauerwas on just war and pacificism

While we think just warrior are wrong, they might not be - another way of saying that we think the just war position as articulated by an Augustine or a Paul Ramsey is a significant challenge to our own Christian pacificism and is theological to its core. Just warriors and pacificists within the Christian church must be committed to continued engagements that teach them not only to recognize their differences but also their similarities, similarities that make them far more like one another than the standard realists' accounts of war that rule our contemporary culture and that have taken a firm hold in the church.

- Stanley Hauerwas, 'Courage Exemplified' in The Hauerwas Reader, 303.

I thought Stanley might offer an apt reminder in these conflicts over how Christians can conflict. Keep it up everyone.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was once a member of a Church which boasted a contientous objector who served in the Medical Corps during WWII and an 8th Army "Desert Rat" who fought in the battle of El Alamein. These two brothers had very different perpectives on pacifism and war, but they shared a mutual respect and love for the Lord.

Ben Myers said...

Great quote. This reminded me of a very humorous observation that Karl Barth makes in The Christian Life: Church Dogmatics IV,4 Lecture Fragments (Eerdmans 1981):

"We believe in peace, perhaps even world peace, and preach it, and yet do not Christian fighters for peace of all schools compete with non-Christians for the honour of being the most difficult of all God's creatures?" (p. 151)

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

I have tried as an ex-soldier turned conscientious objector from a military family to follow the example set by Yoder (which Hauerwas echoes) of always engaging Just War thinkers with respect. If Christians actually lived by JWT there would be very few wars that measured up.

I also promote the growing ethic of "Just Peacemaking." The Bible's emphasis is not on refusing to fight (although that's there), but on what we should be doing to make for peace. Pacifists and JWTers can, in most circumstances, join together to work for peace. Only when all efforts fail (as they sometimes will), must the JWTer consider whether and coming war will be justified and the pacifist insist on conscientious objection.

One of the criteria of JWT is "last resort," but too little thought is given to what "resorts" should be tried first. The practices of JPT fill that in.

byron said...

Michael - your point is crucial. Peace-making is the goal of all sides of this discussion. This can only be through working for whatever measure of justice is presently possible. I read a great article on this by Glen Stassen called 'Jesus and Just Peacemaking Theory' in Must Christianity be Violent? (2003). He suggests eight strategies for just peacemaking.

Michael Westmoreland-White said...

That's abbreviated, Byron, from his 12 practices in his books. I have been irregularly blogging on each practice. When finished, I'll create a link to the whole series. Since I was his student assistant during the writing of his first book on the topic and have co-written some of his later work (and had the satisfaction of seeing Glen move to a full affirmation of nonviolence in 2000--where the logic of his theology had pointed for years), I know Glen's thought on these matters rather intimately.

The questions we must find central are "What must I risk for peace with justice?" "What national practices are sowing seeds of future wars and violence and what ones are sowing seeds of peace?" "What church practices are doing the same?"

When these are our central questions, the (necessary) debate about whether and if Christians are ever allowed to kill are pushed to the margins. For too long those questions have been front and center and so Jesus' blessing on the peace Makers (not peace lovers or the naturally peaceful) gets sidetracked.

andrewE said...

Thanks Byron, and Michael, for yet more helpful thoughts.

byron said...

Michael - of course, now I'll have to get the book to discover the four bonus practices...