Hoagies & Stogies: Just War

The series of Christian debates which I organize (known as Hoagies & Stogies) is coming again next week (6/16), with a topic of “Just War & Iraq”. I have been organizing RSVPs with evite.com, but some people were having problems with that site, so as an alternative, you can drop a comment here if you’re coming.

Pastor Brian Tallman will be facing off against Elder Guy Kemp, 5pm– on Sat 6/16, at the home of Mark Copeland, 5134 Espinoza Rd, El Cajon 92021 (Blossom Valley) (Detailed directions below, or click for a Google map)

The usual boilerplate:

  • Hoagies & Stogies is a fellowship for men. Please don’t bring any female-type people.
  • As is customary, dinner (Hoagies, etc.) will be provided, as well as beer. The low, low cost is $5 per man.
  • Bring your own Stogies, pipes, or other smoking materials.
  • All smoking (and debating) will be outside, so also bring your own lawn chairs (and jackets).
  • Affirmative RSVPs (at evite.com, or here) are mandatory (negative RSVPs optional), to ensure sufficient food. I will accept RSVPs all the way up to the day of, so never feel that it is too late to get in on the action!
  • Directions to Mark Copeland’s:
    • I-8 past El Cajon to Lake Jennings exit.
    • Left at end of exit underneath freeway.
    • Right on Blossom Valley Rd. Up hill, down hill,
    • Left on Quail Canyon Rd., 2-3 miles, past other end of Blossom Valley Rd, start climbing large hill.
    • First street on right after leveling out is Espinoza. Right on Espinoza.
    • House is 3/4 of the way down the street on the right side. Stone columns with gate at bottom of driveway with large Canary Palm in upper front yard. Highest house on the street

More information (as requested by gospelordeath in the comments below): We (Brian, Guy & I, by which I mean mostly me) are trying to arrive at a concrete, fixed, historically Christian definition of “Just War”, to which the particular modern question of Iraq can be compared. So far, the best I have from Aquinas is the three-part definition:

In order for a war to be just, three things are necessary. First, the authority of the sovereign by whose command the war is to be waged. For it is not the business of a private individual to declare war, because he can seek for redress of his rights from the tribunal of his superior. Moreover it is not the business of a private individual to summon together the people, which has to be done in wartime. And as the care of the common weal is committed to those who are in authority, it is their business to watch over the common weal of the city, kingdom or province subject to them. And just as it is lawful for them to have recourse to the sword in defending that common weal against internal disturbances, when they punish evil-doers, according to the words of the Apostle (Rom. 13:4): “He beareth not the sword in vain: for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath upon him that doth evil”; so too, it is their business to have recourse to the sword of war in defending the common weal against external enemies. Hence it is said to those who are in authority (Ps. 81:4): “Rescue the poor: and deliver the needy out of the hand of the sinner”; and for this reason Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 75): “The natural order conducive to peace among mortals demands that the power to declare and counsel war should be in the hands of those who hold the supreme authority.

Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault. Wherefore Augustine says (QQ. in Hept., qu. x, super Jos.): “A just war is wont to be described as one that avenges wrongs, when a nation or state has to be punished, for refusing to make amends for the wrongs inflicted by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized unjustly.”

Thirdly, it is necessary that the belligerents should have a rightful intention, so that they intend the advancement of good, or the avoidance of evil. Hence Augustine says (De Verb. Dom. [*The words quoted are to be found not in St. Augustine’s works, but Can. Apud. Caus. xxiii, qu. 1]): “True religion looks upon as peaceful those wars that are waged not for motives of aggrandizement, or cruelty, but with the object of securing peace, of punishing evil-doers, and of uplifting the good.” For it may happen that the war is declared by the legitimate authority, and for a just cause, and yet be rendered unlawful through a wicked intention. Hence Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 74): “The passion for inflicting harm, the cruel thirst for vengeance, an unpacific and relentless spirit, the fever of revolt, the lust of power, and such like things, all these are rightly condemned in war.”

I talked to Brian last night, and we agreed that it would not be interesting or useful to debate whether Bush had authority to declare war on Iraq, so we will concentrate instead on the two other critiera: Just Cause, and Right Intention. Actually, I’d like to focus on Just Cause entirely, but I am having trouble fining a useful historical definition. I’d like to track down the context of the Augustine quote in the middle of Aquinas’ paragraph on Just Cause.


14 Responses

  1. I’m in.


  2. I would like more information.

  3. about the debate

  4. Please make the mp3 available for your Texas brethren. Also, have the man defending just war wear a cowboy hat and pack heat.

  5. Echo, more information above.

    I’ll be glad to share mp3. Also, if you’re interested, I can give you mp3 for the last two debates: postmil/amil, and theonomy. I don’t know that the hawk (elder Kemp) will wear a cowboy hat, but he is a former Navy SEAL, so you never know whether he might be carrying. In any case, his hands are lethal weapons, so we’ll have to try not to make him too mad!

  6. I listened to the theonomy mp3 already…would be interested in the postmil/amil smackdown, though.

    Another debate topic might be a defense of various versions of the Bible.

  7. Rube,

    I’m not sure how helpful it will be to debate whether or not the war that was declared on Iraq fits this definition. It’s probably a better idea to debate the definition itself.

    Perhaps an even better debate would be, does one state have the right to act on God’s behalf against another state? What gives them THAT right?

    From what I understand, the state is like a shepherd, that has authority over its flock. What gives a shepherd authority over another shepherd? Presumably, it would be the result of recognizing that God is the Great Shepherd, and the one shepherd would be acting on his behalf. The question is, does a state have the authority to act this way?

    In order to discover the answer, let us consider an analogy of husbands and wives. The husband is the king, and the wife is the people of the state. It’s an analogy.

    So a husband and his wife are out to dinner, and having a wonderful time, until the couple at the table next to them begins to argue. Now, as you hear the conversation, you judge that the man next to you is being awfully unfair to his wife, even being mean. This offends you, and you take matters into your own hands, stand up and give the other man a beating, and demand that he be kinder to his wife.

    Does he have the right to do that? Because someone abuses their authority, do they automatically lose their right to that authority, does their authority become illegitimate?

    Jesus said to give to Caesar that which is Caesar’s. And he also told the people that they had to listen to the Pharisees because they sat in Moses’ seat.

    To be sure, someone who abuses their authority incurs a debt with God, but who has the right to collect that debt? God gives the state the right to collect the debt among those UNDER their authority. What gives one state authority over another?

    I don’t think that having the moral high ground suddenly grants a state the authority over another state to remove its king from power. If such a thing exists, I’d like to see the argument.

    This is why men have built empires, to have an ever higher authority to appeal to. I foresee that eventually, mankind will demand a world government, one which has the authority over individual states. That’s the idea behind the UN. It’s a super state, that has the authority to keep states in line.

    Now if the world truly agreed to form this super state, and truly agreed to abide by its verdicts, and I mean the whole world, then it would have authority over states.

    But then what does the US do when it feels that the UN has illegitimately refused to punish Saddam? Does the US have the right to take on the authority of God unto itself? Surely it is beyond the mandate of the state to punish another state for wrong doing. There must be an authority above both states that directs the one to punish the other. That’s why man has demanded the UN to begin with. But no one thinks the UN is fully functional. So everyone concludes that it’s illegitimate. So does the world have the right to ignore the UN’s authority, and simply take the UN’s authority to themselves? If the US disagrees with the UN, does it have the right to go and punish a state for wrong doing and corruption? Who gave the US the right to do that? Who?

    I feel a might makes right argument coming.

    This is what I think is the important issue here. While I agree that it is a good thing for Saddam to be removed from power, and I am glad to have participated in it, yet I have to wonder if we really had the right to do that.

    I think the importance of whether or not Iraq was a threat to us cannot possibly be overstated. If they were a threat, all bets are off, because we have the right to defend ourselves, period. But if they really weren’t a threat to us, if Saddam was really only a threat to his own people, what right do we have to usurp him?

  8. Did we have more of a right to usurp him when he invaded Kuwait? Like many, I think we should have done it right the first time.

    This is why men have built empires, to have an ever higher authority to appeal to.

    ??? Sez Augustine:

    Let them ask, then, whether it is quite fitting for good men to rejoice in extended empire. For the iniquity of those with whom just wars are carried on favors the growth of a kingdom, which would certainly have been small if the peace and justice of neighbors had not by any wrong provoked the carrying on of war against them; and human affairs being thus more happy, all kingdoms would have been small, rejoicing in neighborly concord; and thus there would have been very many kingdoms of nations in the world, as there are very many houses of citizens in a city. Therefore, to carry on war and extend a kingdom over wholly subdued nations seems to bad men to be felicity, to good men necessity. But because it would be worse that the injurious should rule over those who are more righteous, therefore even that is not unsuitably called felicity. But beyond doubt it is greater felicity to have a good neighbor at peace, than to conquer a bad one by making war. Your wishes are bad, when you desire that one whom you hate or fear should be in such a condition that you can conquer him. If, therefore, by carrying on wars that were just, not impious or unrighteous, the Romans could have acquired so great an empire, ought they not to worship as a goddess even the injustice of foreigners? For we see that this has cooperated much in extending the empire, by making foreigners so unjust that they became people with whom just wars might be carried on, and the empire increased.

    I think he’s saying there that the drive to empire is NOT good — in the best possible situation, “all kingdoms would have been small, rejoicing in neighborly concord; and thus there would have been very many kingdoms of nations in the world”

  9. I didn’t say good. I’m saying that people want an ultimate human moral authority figure. That’s what I’m driving at here. But I’m saying that the foundation for that is laid in the very essence of the common grace state. The nature of the common grace state, run as it is by sinful men, inevitably gives rise to one world government, who people will look to as having ultimate authority, equal with God. It is inevitable, precisely because of these kinds of questions.

  10. I know you didn’t say good, and my point is, neither did the father of just war theory, Augustine. So if you think that Just War theory endorses the drive to empire, then you don’t agree with Augustine about what Just War theory is.

  11. Well, I guess I have the distinction of being your 8th trouble maker. I’m looking forward to listing to the CD.

    8th Trouble Maker

  12. Just war = self defense.

  13. And that is going to be the focus of H&S. Historically, some cases of pre-emptive war have been considered defensive and just; the question is whether this was one of them. Here’s a yes, and here’s a no.

  14. […] Posts Hoagies & Stogies: Just WarGmail for kidsBahnsen’s TAG VIImages on […]

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