Science in Christian Perspective
A SET OF CHRISTIAN THESES ON VIOLENCE AND WAR*
Richard H. Bube, Editor
From: JASA 22 (March 1970): 21-22.
Part I. The Individualistic and Collective Ethic
1. In individualistic Christian ethics, the Christian is enjoined to respond with love when evil is perpetrated upon him, not returning evil for evil.
2. The Christian is not to seek revenge. Blessing the enemy is the Christian's response to evil none against him.
3. This individualistic ethic, however, is not to he interpreted as forbidding the Christian to defend either himself or those for whom he has responsibility.
4. In fact, for a Christian not to defend those for whom he is responsible is a violation of his Christian stewardship of all things before Cud.
5. Such defense of self or of others by the Christian, however, is to be done in the sense of restraining evil with the minimum of injury to others, and without hatred or desire for harm against the aggressor.
6. The collective ethic for Christians is not different in kind from the individualistic ethic. Such a collective ethic is applicable to (a) Christians in collective action, (h) Christian action in a democratic society, and (c) a state guided by Christian principles.
7. The collective ethic may call for willingness to accept injury from another collective body without seeking retribution, or it may call for the defense of those individuals for whom the state is responsible.
8. Pacifism, therefore, which declares that any exercise of force under any circumstances is to be condemned, cannot he defended on Christian grounds. Pacifism undercuts both the individualistic and the collective responsibility each man has for his neighbor.
Part II. The State
9. When, in the fulfillment of the collective ethic, the state acts out of responsibility for the welfare of its own or any other people, war may become a necessary instrument, just as the police force is a necessary instrument to maintain law and order within the state.
it). To say that war may become a necessary instrument in the fulfillment of the state's collective ethic, however, is not to say that an individual state is arbitrarily justified in engaging in unilateral warfare to protect its own interests or the interests of others.
11. The basic responsibility for the general defense of the peoples of the world rests upon the collective action of nations acting cooperatively together. As the state (a group of individuals) has the responsibility of resolving problems between individuals who make up the state, so the group of nations in the world has the responsibility of resolving problems between nations.
12. Nevertheless, it must he conceded that there may occur such clear violations of human rights and dignity, that a state may be driven by its collective ethic to take action in defense of the injured individuals or states, Such action is to he hound by the conditions of Theses 1 through 8, and is to he first through the joint efforts of nations in nonviolent actions, next through unilateral non-violent actions, and only in the last resort, and because of the immensity of the inhumanity exhibited, through unilateral warfare.
Part III. The Individual
13. Since a man's obedience to God is an act of conscience, not publicly assessable, the detailed application of these theses cannot be proscribed.
14. The first responsibility of a Christian resides in the fact that he is a child of God and must obey God rather than men. In the light of this primary responsibility, all other responsibilities to family, state, and world are secondary and must be so evaluated.
15. The Christian is also responsible as a human being and a member of the human race. This responsibility, second to that to Cod Himself, transcends all national and other divisive factors. The Christian is responsible to work to uphold and maintain the orderly exercise of justice and righteousness among the peoples of the world.
16. The Christian is also responsible as a citizen of his country to uphold and work for its orderly exercise of justice and righteousness both within its own borders and in its relationships to the world.
17. As a citizen of a democratic government, it is the Christian's responsibility to shape and influence government policy through the established procedures of a legal and orderly political system.
19. Nevertheless, it must he conceded that there may occur such clear violations of human rights and dignity, that an individual may be driven by his Christian convictions to act outside the normally accepted procedures of law and order. Such action is to be bound by the conditions of Theses 1 through 8, and is to he first through the joint efforts of individuals in non-violent actions, next through individual and joint breaking of the law in non-violent actions, and finally, only in the last resort, and because of the immensity of the inhumanity exhibited, through individual or joint violence.
*This set of theses is the result of a five-month discussion at Stanford University in 1968 with the following participants: Richard Bube, Materials Science and Electrical Engineering; Peter Lindquist, Materials Science; David Mantik, Biophysics; Gordon Simons, Statistics; and Paul Simpson, Chemistry.