Skip to comments.Whether it is always sinful to wage war? (Aquinas on Just War)
Posted on 10/24/2001 5:44:31 AM PDT by Aquinasfan
Whether it is always sinful to wage war?
Objection 1. It would seem that it is always sinful to wage war. Because punishment is not inflicted except for sin. Now those who wage war are threatened by Our Lord with punishment, according to Mt. 26:52: "All that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Therefore all wars are unlawful.
Objection 2. Further, whatever is contrary to a Divine precept is a sin. But war is contrary to a Divine precept, for it is written (Mt. 5:39): " But I say to you not to resist evil"; and (Rm. 12:19): "Not revenging yourselves, my dearly beloved, but give place unto wrath." Therefore war is always sinful.
Objection 3. Further, nothing, except sin, is contrary to an act of virtue. But war is contrary to peace. Therefore war is always a sin.
Objection 4. Further, the exercise of a lawful thing is itself lawful, as is evident in scientific exercises. But warlike exercises which take place in tournaments are forbidden by the Church, since those who are slain in these trials are deprived of ecclesiastical burial. Therefore it seems that war is a sin in itself.
On the contrary, Augustine says in a sermon on the son of the centurion [Ep. ad Marcel. cxxxviii]: "If the Christian Religion forbade war altogether, those who sought salutary advice in the Gospel would rather have been counselled to cast aside their arms, and to give up soldiering altogether. On the contrary, they were told: 'Do violence to no man . . . and be content with your pay' [Lk. 3:14. If he commanded them to be content with their pay, he did not forbid soldiering."
I answer that, 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 (Rm. 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."
Reply to Objection 1. As Augustine says (Contra Faust. xxii, 70): "To take the sword is to arm oneself in order to take the life of anyone, without the command or permission of superior or lawful authority." On the other hand, to have recourse to the sword (as a private person) by the authority of the sovereign or judge, or (as a public person) through zeal for justice, and by the authority, so to speak, of God, is not to "take the sword," but to use it as commissioned by another, wherefore it does not deserve punishment. And yet even those who make sinful use of the sword are not always slain with the sword, yet they always perish with their own sword, because, unless they repent, they are punished eternally for their sinful use of the sword.
Reply to Objection 2. Such like precepts, as Augustine observes (De Serm. Dom. in Monte i, 19), should always be borne in readiness of mind, so that we be ready to obey them, and, if necessary, to refrain from resistance or self-defense. Nevertheless it is necessary sometimes for a man to act otherwise for the common good, or for the good of those with whom he is fighting. Hence Augustine says (Ep. ad Marcellin. cxxxviii): "Those whom we have to punish with a kindly severity, it is necessary to handle in many ways against their will. For when we are stripping a man of the lawlessness of sin, it is good for him to be vanquished, since nothing is more hopeless than the happiness of sinners, whence arises a guilty impunity, and an evil will, like an internal enemy."
Reply to Objection 3. Those who wage war justly aim at peace, and so they are not opposed to peace, except to the evil peace, which Our Lord "came not to send upon earth" (Mt. 10:34). Hence Augustine says (Ep. ad Bonif. clxxxix): "We do not seek peace in order to be at war, but we go to war that we may have peace. Be peaceful, therefore, in warring, so that you may vanquish those whom you war against, and bring them to the prosperity of peace."
Reply to Objection 4. Manly exercises in warlike feats of arms are not all forbidden, but those which are inordinate and perilous, and end in slaying or plundering. On olden times warlike exercises presented no such danger, and hence they were called "exercises of arms" or "bloodless wars," as Jerome states in an epistle [Reference incorrect: cf. Veget., De Re Milit. i].
Whether it is lawful to lay ambushes in war?
Objection 1. It would seem that it is unlawful to lay ambushes in war. For it is written (Dt. 16:20): "Thou shalt follow justly after that which is just." But ambushes, since they are a kind of deception, seem to pertain to injustice. Therefore it is unlawful to lay ambushes even in a just war.
Objection 2. Further, ambushes and deception seem to be opposed to faithfulness even as lies are. But since we are bound to keep faith with all men, it is wrong to lie to anyone, as Augustine states (Contra Mend. xv). Therefore, as one is bound to keep faith with one's enemy, as Augustine states (Ep. ad Bonif. clxxxix), it seems that it is unlawful to lay ambushes for one's enemies.
Objection 3. Further, it is written (Mt. 7:12): "Whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them": and we ought to observe this in all our dealings with our neighbor. Now our enemy is our neighbor. Therefore, since no man wishes ambushes or deceptions to be prepared for himself, it seems that no one ought to carry on war by laying ambushes.
On the contrary, Augustine says (QQ. in Hept. qu. x super Jos): "Provided the war be just, it is no concern of justice whether it be carried on openly or by ambushes": and he proves this by the authority of the Lord, Who commanded Joshua to lay ambushes for the city of Hai (Joshua 8:2).
I answer that, The object of laying ambushes is in order to deceive the enemy. Now a man may be deceived by another's word or deed in two ways. First, through being told something false, or through the breaking of a promise, and this is always unlawful. No one ought to deceive the enemy in this way, for there are certain "rights of war and covenants, which ought to be observed even among enemies," as Ambrose states (De Officiis i).
Secondly, a man may be deceived by what we say or do, because we do not declare our purpose or meaning to him. Now we are not always bound to do this, since even in the Sacred Doctrine many things have to be concealed, especially from unbelievers, lest they deride it, according to Mt. 7:6: "Give not that which is holy, to dogs." Wherefore much more ought the plan of campaign to be hidden from the enemy. For this reason among other things that a soldier has to learn is the art of concealing his purpose lest it come to the enemy's knowledge, as stated in the Book on Strategy [Stratagematum i, 1 by Frontinus. Such like concealment is what is meant by an ambush which may be lawfully employed in a just war.
Nor can these ambushes be properly called deceptions, nor are they contrary to justice or to a well-ordered will. For a man would have an inordinate will if he were unwilling that others should hide anything from him
This suffices for the Replies to the Objections.
"Mohammed is Allah's apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another." (48:29, Quran)
"When the sacred months are over slay the idolaters wherever you find them. Arrest them, besiege them, and lie in ambush everywhere for them. If they repent and take to prayer and pay the alms-tax, let them go their way. Allah is forgiving and merciful." (9:4, Quran)
Proper authority, just cause, rightful intention. Three out of three for the War on Terrorism.
It seems like the older generation that probably was exposed to Aquinas in Catholic colleges takes his brilliance for granted. I did not have that benefit. I'm a cradle Catholic who followed a circuitous path through various philosophies, beginning with Milton Friedman/economics/libertarianism then to Rand and a general study of various modern philosophies until arriving at Aristotle and then Aquinas. I truly appreciated his work after having wandering in the arid desert of modern philosophy for so long.
I think my situation is analagous to the many Catholic reverts who must go through a Fundamentalist stage before returning to the Church with a greater appreciation for Her.
"Live as free men, yet without using your freedom as a pretext for evil; but live as servants of God. Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor." (1 Peter 2:16-17)
"But false prophets also arose among the people. just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction." (2 Peter 2:1)
"And we know that the Son of God has come and given us understanding, to know Him who is True; and we are in Him who is True, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life." (1 John 5:20)
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes his sun rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward have you?"
Bookmarked. That's a long one. Anything in there about civil war?
Some of you may be familiar with Fr. Perricone from his appearances on EWTN. I believe he currently has a show on EWTN about the Mass. He is an excellent teacher. His enthusiasm for the subject, as well as his vast knowledge, is clearly evident. As part of his ChristiFideles organization, he teaches an Aquinas class which I have been attending. I am enjoying it very much.
Aquinasfan, Fr. Perricone wrote an article about how Thomas Aquinas has been (deliberately?) neglected in the seminaries. If it hasn't been posted to the ChristiFideles site, I will get it to you if you are interested.
"We do not seek peace in order to be at war, but we go to war that we may have peace. Be peaceful, therefore, in warring, so that you may vanquish those whom you war against, and bring them to the prosperity of peace."
Americans cannot enjoy PEACE from terrorism until terrorists are vanquished.
I'm interested. Wish I could go to that lecture.
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.This is an important doctrine that has been ignored again. Why are we so afraid to declare war in a Constitutional manner? Not declaring war has a deleterious effect on every side: logistics, combat and general morale. Lets declare war against (Islamic) terrorists and get on with it. I dont care what the UN or some other third-world dictator says.
Secondly, a just cause is required, namely that those who are attacked, should be attacked because they deserve it on account of some fault.Here we are finally able to align with the proper course. We have been unjustly attacked and have every right, as a nation, to declare war against these cowards. Lets declare war!
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.Here we get into those despicable gray areas. The advancement of evil is apparent, but is our own goodness so apparent? We are afraid to even call evil by its name. We seem almost preoccupied by revenge rather than the advancement of peace.
Or is it just that we spread the false peace that Jesus warned against? Is our freedom given for licentiousnesssexual immorality, theft, idolatry, lying and murder? An America unrestrained by Christian morality is the greatest danger the world has ever known. Imagine Nero with nukes . . .
Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
This is an important doctrine that has been ignored again. Why are we so afraid to declare war in a Constitutional manner? Not declaring war has a deleterious effect on every side: logistics, combat and general morale. Lets declare war against (Islamic) terrorists and get on with it. I dont care what the UN or some other third-world dictator says.I agree that we should declare war, if nothing else on Osama and his merry men. I would go for the Taliban too, since in all reality we are fighting a war with them. Might as well be official about it. I think this element of the Just war theory is met anyway, Bush clearly has Congresss approval. There is no Christian requirement that a democratically elected Congress declare the war, it is still being waged by the proper government. We just should dot our Is and cross our Ts.
Here we get into those despicable gray areas. The advancement of evil is apparent, but is our own goodness so apparent? We are afraid to even call evil by its name. We seem almost preoccupied by revenge rather than the advancement of peace.Very true for some. With occasional exceptions, I do think that the government is going about this fairly well. They are putting effort into forming a better government, feeding the people (which I admit is the right thing to do even though I detested it at first), and targeting the leadership that is most responsible for that evil. There will be gray areas, black ops and all that.
One big just war question remains for me, and that is the prospect for victory. My big beef with Clintons follies was that the things he did in response to terrorism had no, absolutely no, chance of winning the fight. They only prolonged it and increased suffering.
We dont know what all Bush & Co. have planned for down the road, but we need to do more then we see coming now. We need to take down the roots of terrorism and recognize that we have many perpetual enemies in some parts of the world. Calling people who do nothing to help us allies wont get us anywhere. Appeasing one group of terrorists to aid our fight against another group wont help either. We seem to be operating about 20 years behind the times. Once the terrorist groups had all of their cells in one country, and you could kill them by concentrating your efforts on that one country. Today you cant do that, these terrorists intermingle. Dismantle the groups in Afghanistan and their refugees just turn up in another country and start using the established terrorist apparatus there. We need to take a global view of this thing, and remove it globally, rather then locally.
An America unrestrained by Christian morality is the greatest danger the world has ever known. Imagine Nero with nukes . . .Yes. Islam cant beat us. Communism cant. Secular humanism can.
Bookmarked. That's a long one. Anything in there about civil war?Not much, it is a bit of a different subject and IMHO depends a great deal on whether you are a monarchist or democrat. The article does contain this up front:
However, a people in revolution, in the rare instance of an effort to re-establish civil government which has practically vanished from the community except in name, or to vitalize constitutional rights reserved specifically or residuarily to the people, is conceded to be in like juridical case with a State, as far as protecting its fundamental rights by force of arms. Grote insisted that war was a more or less continuous condition of conflict between those contending by force; and so indeed it is; but even Grote, when seeking to determine the grounds of right and wrong in such a condition, necessarily moved the question back to the right to acts of force in either contending party, and so justified the more accepted juridical definition of a contest at arms between contending states. The judicial condition of the contending parties to the war is spoken of as a state of belligerency, while the term war more properly applies to the series of hostile acts of force exercised in the contention. To present here the position of Catholic philosophy in this regard, it will be convenient to discuss in sequence:
Speaking of Kreeft, have you read Ecumenical Jihad? I wonder if he's changed any of his opinions with regard to finding common ground with Islam.
I guess I consider Mohammed as simply one of the most successful heretics the world has ever seen.
That said, I see very little difference between the militance, materialism and rationality of Islam and that of various Protestant sects or Catholic heretics at different times in history. Given the "brother against brother" nature of their bloody conflicts using religion to premise and cloak their purely political purpose, I find theirs almost worst, actually.
All heresies sort of die on the vine eventually (even if the universal errors on which they're based recur in various forms). If Islam's proven the more enduring, powerful and compelling, I think it's because (1) it was the greater heresy and (2) those with an eye to capitalizing on the Use of religion these days seek as a rule to render an impotent pansy social worker the Christian soldier as they "organize" the ignorant or misguided into the militance necessary to lever the balance of power and the forming of coalitions in reaction.
I've got a book on my desk called "Reading the Muslim Mind" by Hassan Hathout. Granted, he's older, wiser and gentle but obviously bright and I can't believe for a moment that his presentation of Islam as practiced by faithful Muslims is so off the mark.
Found interesting the other night some snippet of a PBS show detailing the rise of the "Islamic Jihadist Front" (or whatever) in Egypt.
Same M.O. as always for any "Front" (for communist repression and terror) ... violence, terror, assassination and -- the dead giveway -- a wealthy son of the wealthy whose consciousness had been "raised" into radicalism to serve as leader, spokesman and enjoy certain privileges re: freedom of movement and from prosecution in the EU.
I just can't equate faithful Muslims with so-called "radical" Islam anymore than I equate Judaism with Israel or Catholicism with liberation theology.
From many of your comments, I suspect that you believe that Communist sympathizers have infiltrated Islam and are deliberately radicalizing the faith. What you may be ignoring is that the history of Islam, which extends much further back than than of Communism, seems to show that Islam itself seems to generate this tendency. The "true faith", by which most people mean more moderate Islam, seems to have become that way primarily due to the moderating influence of other cultures.
Have you seen Cheney's comments to the effect that the U.S. has become involved in a battle that most likely will extend beyond most of our lifetimes? This has much to do with why there will never be a formal declaration of war; the national expectation from such a declaration would be that there would be CONCLUSION to such a war. No one in Washington wants to be pinned down in such a fashion. It would behoove all conservatives to question the motivation for such reticence.
how do you explain Joan of Arc?
Have you seen Cheney's comments to the effect that the U.S. has become involved in a battle that most likely will extend beyond most of our lifetimesI haven't seen his recent comments. But I am wondering, will the war outlast us, or totally destroy the world? We cant be playing word games at this point. Declare war and then kill them all by any means! We can give no quarter and allow no harbor.
If we cant build our resolve and steel ourselves for the unthinkable, we are lost. If not, the logical "CONCLUSION" will be Armageddon.
Who killed Ferdinand? . . .
(I wish more would apply this "extends further back" logic to comparisons of the "OBL" and "former Soviet" networks of terror ... =)
But, agreed wholeheartedly ... Islam's PERFECT for that very reason.
Although arguably the most popular heresy on the planet, it's not like it's proven itself terribly successful ... (as evidenced its historical defeats, centuries of malaise and inability to summon on its own the "western energy that dethrones tyrants" in order to shake off the despots and enjoy the full promise of what just and true principles -- we share -- which are extant in Islam).
And the current campaign by which "radical" Islam has boxed Muslims and sympathetic Arab states between the rock that are the Radical agents who organized them and the hard place that is the West who enriched them has got to be the all-time lame move.
Bottom line -- I think we're watching a methodical and calculated "triangulation" of the People of the Book ... almost Diabolical for its incredibly efficient capitalizing on ancient schisms and cloaking in terms of "Holy War" what are purely political and economic conflicts.
I think the radical co-opting of Islam is just as calculated as the U.S. Government's suddenly getting religion in the wake of Santa Fe and ECSR and galvanizing a so-called Christian response that -- with a little help from PR-hacks types like Berlusconi -- could help catalyze the Demand of the People necessary to compel the desired western coalitions.
And with the wild card that is Israel, there's always the opportunity to fine-tune the conflict or "send a message" as necessary (as with the axing of the officer the other day for "Jewish sympathies").
Seems to be working like a charm.
If I had to pinpoint a flaw, I suppose it would be the enrichment and strengthening of China by both Russia and the US. I was reading at lunch today this yellowed crumbly 1943 book on Russia by Bernard Pares ... particularly his chapters: "East or West?" and "Anti-Religion".
I suspect Russia may have miscalculated its ancient Eastern refuge and Sino-"former Soviet" ties now that both Russia and the East are poised to play offense (instead of defense) against the West.
And if Russia's also overplayed its hand with the freedom of religion thing, it could end up its saving grace of sorts once the Hegemon finally brings us together for real.
That particular wait could be interminable, however, thanks mostly to our own who already have their faces fixed for an Extended period of escalating violence as they prosecute their third Noun Engagement: The War on Terrorism.
To: Marine Inspector
Give the Government the power it needs to eliminate the threat, with ensurences that those powers will be removed, when the threat is removed.
That sounds real nice, but it's not going to happen. In a surprising moment of candor, the Vice-President isn't even pretending it will:
Vice-President Dick Cheney:
"It is different than the Gulf War was, in the sense that it may never end. At least, not in our lifetime,"
"The way I think of it is, it's a new normalcy," he said. "We're going to have to take steps, and are taking steps, that'll become a permanent part of the way we live."
"In terms of security, in terms of the way we deal with travel and airlines, all of those measures that we end up having to adopt in order to sort of harden the target, make it tougher for the terrorists to get at us. And I think those will become permanent features in our kind of way of life."
It's as if there's some dividend being realized from this surreal status quo.
Struck me as well.
"Now those who wage war are threatened by Our Lord with punishment, according to Mt. 26:52: "All that take the sword shall perish with the sword." Therefore all wars are unlawful."
Let's expand the biblical passage a bit, Mt 26:51-54
" With that, one of Jesus' companions reached for his sword, drew it out and struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his ear. Put your sword back in its place, Jesus said to him, for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?"
Jesus objected to the use of force here, because it was not His will to resist the Sanhedrin guards. His comment that those that live by the sword will die by it can be understood as follows.
God became man to come here and teach, knowing full well He would be killed by those that are fundamentally opposed to His teachings. Those opposers are those that live by the sword. They are the ones that coerce and usurp the wills of others, just as satin had done.
Living by the sword denotes ones will is coerced on others. It is in direct disobedience to His command that one love ones neighbor as one's self. The free will that He gave as a gift to all is not to be usurped by those more proficient in the art of coercion. Death is damnation itself and in order for that to occur the damned must reject the Holy Spirit. That fact of rejection is known only to God, it is His determination and judgement.
War waged in self defence, the defence of Freedom and the defence of other rights are not living by the sword. It is simply the preservation of rights and sovereignty of will that is the right of all. Jesus on this occasion and before Pilate said legions of angels are at His disposal, in His Kingdom. God does not live by the sword.
" Further, whatever is contrary to a Divine precept is a sin. But war is contrary to a Divine precept, for it is written (Mt. 5:39): " But I say to you not to resist evil"; ... Therefore war is always sinful.
The entire passage (Mt 38-48)should be read, but here's the ending: Mt 5:44-48:
" But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect."
His commands are to forgive and not seek vengeance. Again it is to love others as yourself. The key to understanding this is understanding what it means to love one's self. You can not love yourself if you turn your will over to another under coercive forces. God didn't do it, and He doesn't expect anyone else to do it either. What He is asking is that those that love Him do their best to be the light of the world in His name. That is giving glory to God. Just as Jesus tossed the money changers out of His house though, He is not asking, or commanding surrender to the will of evil men. That would be contrary to loving Him, and gives glory to satin. The determination to be made by the individual here amounts to a consideration of the consequences and meaning of "turning to the other cheek".
" But war is contrary to peace. Therefore war is always a sin."
Again, war is a clash of wills that involves coercion. Peace requires the absence of coercion. As long as there is coercion war exists. The last response covers this.
Terrorists are waging war on the more influential western populations. What they are after is the domination of their wills for their own gain. The west has responded with a campaign to shut down terrorist operations and "educatioinal" centers. This barbarism is pure evil and should not be tolerated. Jesus wouldn't put up with this crap except for the sake of the rest of us.
Just the sort of thing that puts a smile on satin's face.