Just War

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Just War theory (jus bellum iustum) is a doctrine, also referred to as a tradition, of military ethics studied by theologians,ethicistspolicy makers and military leaders. The purpose of the doctrine is to ensure war is morally justifiable through a series of criteria, all of which must be met for a war to be considered just. The criteria are split into two groups: ‘the right to go to war’ (jus ad bellum) and ‘right conduct in war’ (jus in bello). The first concerns the morality of going to war and the second with moral conduct within war.[1] Recently there have been calls for the inclusion of a third category of just war theory – jus post bellum – dealing with the morality of post-war settlement and reconstruction.

Just War theory postulates that war, while very terrible, is not always the worst option. There may be responsibilities so important, atrocities which can be prevented or outcomes so undesirable they justify war.[2]


This theory has been a popular in explaining World War Two.  The war was justified for saving the Jews and freedom for all mankind from evil dictators.  Arguably, there have not been any (American) wars since then that fall into that category.

The question for Anabaptists is this: Is ANY war just?  Would you as an Anabaptist fight or kill in any kind situation?  As a youth in MYF we often debated this issue.  We discussed whether we would kill an intruder in our home, an attacker trying to kill our spouse, self defense, etc etc.   Many of my Mennonite friends hunt but would they ever turn their weapons on another human being?

If we are going to open the door for “just” battles, how will we define them?  Protection of children?  Protection from abuse?  Protection for the weak or defenseless?  Protecting another’s freedom?  Protecting religious freedom?

What is your definition?  Do you accept that there are times of “just” violence or will you always turn the other cheek no matter what?   Our ancestors left Europe because of persecution.  What if there are no options for escape in our modern times?

What is your stand in defending those who can’t defend?  How will you carry out Christ’s call in an ever increasing violent world?