At the Evangelical Ministry Assembly three or four years ago some smartly suited American Gents were extolling the virtues of the “Kairos Journal” which is an online resource for Pastors – Link Here.Here is a recent snippet:
Three months into the 18-month siege of Hippo by the Vandals, St. Augustine (354-430) died of disease at age 76. To the city’s defender, Count Boniface, he had written, “[W]ar should be waged only as necessity,” and “[P]eace is not sought in order to the kindling of war, but war is waged in order that peace may be obtained.” He thus anticipated three just-war criteria later specified by Thomas Aquinas (c. 1225-1274):
1. Legitimate Authority: Governments, not individuals or gangs, should wage war.
2. Just Cause: The external provocation and threat must be grave and evil.
3. Right Intent: The aim must be a just peace, not the selfish seizure of land, riches, or power.
What a marvellous extension of Augustine’s intentions! War is necessary when the Vandals are banging on the gates looking to murder your men, rape your women and steal your homes. And the aim is peace. Our armchair warriors in Kairos are trying to show how the mediaeval doctrine of “Just War” is what Augustine would have come up with.
Yes, that same convenient theory of “Just War” which is plastic enough in the hands of the Kairos Journal to even justify current American foreign policy and has been appealed to over the centuries by every blood stained villain in Western history.
In fact War can never be just. In every conflict the injustices pile higher and higher. God alone is just. Men are such limited and sinful wretches that even well-intentioned warmaking is obscene in actuality.
But, to our limited and faithless minds war sometimes seems necessary. When the Vandals are at the gates (truly and not metaphorically) what else can we do but fight?
So what do we say? “Hallelujah! We have a just war to fight!”?
No. We say let slip the dogs of war and may God have mercy on our souls.