30 November, 2009

The value of human life or lack thereof is commonly associated with abortion and euthanasia, yet within the 20th century at minimum one hundred million people died due to the actions of governments. The value of life needs to be applied to war and government actions. Chapter 3 deals with the value of life as it pertains to war, terrorism, and governments. Major ideas addressed in the chapter are the Bible’s view on war, just war theory, torture, and the church’s reaction to Islam. These issues are addressed by Jackson and Perkins in order to answer the question of “Can a Christian be in favor of war, and in what circumstance?” With the current world conditions many Christians are questioning the legitimacy of the War on Terrorism; this is a very important question.
Many Christians claim to be against war for the reason that the sixth commandment states in Exodus 20:13 “Thou shalt not kill”. This is a common mistake because the correct interpretation of the verse is not kill, but murder. Murder is committed by an individual, and war is committed by governments or what Paul refers to as “the sword” in Romans 13. “Further, government –not Individuals- are charged by God to wage war.” In Deuteronomy 20, God says nothing about not going to war. God does give instructions about going to war and how to conduct war. The biblical text gives the authority to declare war to the governments because they have been appointed by God. God giving the Israelites reasons to go to war and how to conduct war gives the modern world the idea of just war theory.
The book makes several comments pertaining to Islam and the authors beliefs on the subject. According to the book, Muslims believe that governments are in charge of going to war. Jihad is defined by the context in the book to mean holy war.
Christians take a different view of war, they use what is called the just war theory. This is a theory that was started by St. Augustine and completed by St. Thomas Aquinas. Before we apply the theory, the nations need to attempt every diplomatic resource available. There are two parts to this theory “Jus ad bellum” and “Jus in Bello”. “Jus ad bellum” determines if the reasons for going to war are justified. This does not include the actions during the war only the reasons for justifying the war. Seven to eight requirements exist. Just cause, legitimate authority, right intention, probability of success, proportionality, and last resort are the main six requirements needed to fulfill a just reason to go war. There are two less used reasons, then the former six these are; comparative justice, and emergent peace. “Jus in Bello” is pertaining to the actions of a military force once they are in the war. It governs the actions of those combatants while they are fighting the war. These actions, if violated, will make the war unjust. Even if the reasons for going to war are just the war will still be viewed as unjust while it is being conducted. This also deals with a proportional response to achieve your objective, and ensuring that you take into account civilian considerations. Perkins and Jackson take into account that preemptive strikes can be considered just, but they must adhere to the just war theory.
Terrorism is a major concern to many people around the world. Is this method of waging war considered to be just? The Department of Defense defines terrorism as “the calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear, intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies n the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.” This definition alone states that terrorism is unlawful, because it is targeting a society filled with civilians, it violets the “Jus in Bello” portion of just war theory. The terrorists do not have legitimate authority to carry out these acts so they do not adhere to any of the just war theory.
While conducting war many countries have resorted to torture to extract critical information in order to obtain the advantage. The United States has signed the Geneva Convention which gives instructions in the treatment of prisoners. The only problem with this treaty is that it only deals with uniformed enemy combatants, resulting in the treatment of a terrorist dressed in civilian clothing to not be restricted to the Geneva Convention. Jackson and Perkins both state that the United States should adhere to the Geneva Convention regardless of the states of the enemy combatant. The way Jackson and Perkins define torture as anything that will leave lasting physical effects. With these definitions of torture and just war theory there is one thing that the church can do to peacefully fight terrorism.
The church needs to send missionaries to foreign countries, particularly the Middle East in order to witness to the individuals. According to Jackson and Perkins the U.S. state department needs to utilize its positive influence to gain access for the Christian missionaries into countries like Saudi Arabia. This needs to happen because many countries are not allowing missionaries into the countries, and one way to combat the terrorist is to challenge their ideologically. Jackson and Perkins say that without Christian influence in these countries the Muslim people will become more radical.
This chapter was really interesting because the authors address an issue that is not normally taken from the “value of human life” point of view. They did an excellent job on the approach of what the Bible has to say about war. When they attempted to tackle the Muslim point of view, they generalized the idea of jihad too much. Jihad means so much more than just holy war, yet they did not even hint at the possibility of the other definitions. The reason for this could have been the need to address many other topics. When it came to just war theory they did an apathetic job of explaining the theory. Just war theory has so much more substance that they did not mention. They redeemed themselves when it came to applying their definition of just war theory to terrorism. When they addressed the topic of torture, it was a decent job for the space used, this topic is such a heated debate it probably would have been best to just leave out the topic. Jackson and Perkins had an interesting opinion on what the church needs to do in order to combat terrorism. It would be extremely difficult to get the United States to use muscle in order to gain missionaries into countries who do not want them. The book did not create a distinction between Islamic radicals and believers. Overall the chapter was slightly disappointing.

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