Thursday, November 17, 2005

Looking For the "Why" Behind the "What" on War

I do a lot of different things. I am a theologian, a teacher, a philosopher and a writer. Mostly, though, what I do is look for the "why" behind the "what". Why does a person do what they do? Why does that organization or institution do what it does? I'm one of those people who believes that people tend to reason or act FROM something rather than TOWARDS something. In other words, we're motivated to act because of some core belief.

In my previous post, I did not mean to say that there is only one "Christian" view of war. There are some who are called "Realists". They believe and advocate pre-emptive war. There are also some who are called "Pacifists". They believe that war is always wrong. Some "Soft Pacifists" believe that force may be used but only to restrain and never to kill. Others believe that violence always begets violence and must never be used.

I understand these points of view and have friends in all three camps. You could see the "Christian" views of war as a continuum. As with many things, Christians are often characterized as all being uniform. This is hardly the case -- as one can easily tell by reading the comments from the past few days here.

But I believe that there's a more fundamentally important question than what you think about war. The most fundamentally important question in this regards is, "Why do you believe what you currently believe about war?"

For most of us it would have to do with what our parents believed.

It also may have something to do with our own unique personalities. Certainly, some of us are more tenderhearted than others and can only see the pain and suffering caused by war; others are more strategically-minded and see wars as a series of cause-and-effect events.

It may also have to do with highly influential people -- professors and friends -- who have influenced our thinking and helped shape our core beliefs.

So many factors. Where we received our education. What we studies. Where we grew up (those who grew up near military bases may have a different perspective from those who grew up in more urban areas). All of this adds up to your conviction. But my theology leads me to the belief that these factors are inadequate by themselves.

Those who claim to follow Jesus must have a fundamental allegiance to a higher authority. We belong to a higher kingdom, and we must receive input from a higher source.

So, take the input you received from parents and professors, friends and your community. Take all that and compare it with the input you receive from the Holy Spirit. Now ask yourself a tough question: Were my parents right? Was my professor right? Do my political affiliations have any scriptural basis? Can I justify my perspective on war in light of what the Bible and the inner witness of God's Spirit are telling me?

Now form your conviction.