Charles, J. Daryl and Timothy J. Demy. War, Peace, and Christianity: Questions and Answers
from a Just-war Perspective. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010.
Part I of the book focuses on questions relating Just War Theory and philosophy. Being in question and answer format these questions revolve around JWT versus peace, justice, morality, religion, secularism, etc. Issues such as morality and terrorism are touched upon as well as the views of opponents to the theory. Most of the information is not new to someone who has studied the subject matter previously, but it is a good refresher and for those new to the topic the format makes it easy to read and follow.
Part 2 focuses on history and the Just War Tradition. Questions revolve around issues such as where did JWT originate, is it mainly Christian in nature, and how do/have Christians over the centuries dealt with conflicting issues of war and peace. These are the discussions that will most benefit my research as I move towards the dissertation process. There is also a good starting discussion about the parallels in non-Western and non-Christian traditions which I also believe will be helpful throughout the process. The section addresses the Reformation, Luther, and Calvin as well – though these areas are not as important to my area of inquiry. Lastly, the authors look at the Revolutionary War and the Civil War, which I thought was interesting – I don’t usually think of JWT when I think of any civil war, so those sections did offer some new information and insights.
Part 3 questions focus on “Just-War Tradition and the Statesman.” This section really focuses on the tenets of JWT and how they are at the core for whether it is moral or not to go to war. What I enjoyed most about this section is its focus on justice and the reminder that war is about promoting justice and peace for the long haul – should not be about personal vendettas or about religious affiliations. It also touches about international law and groups like the United Nations in declaring war or declaring one as unjust and the difficulty relating to state sovereignty. It also brought up some good questions for me in regards to jus post bello and how that will fit in with my dissertation topic/research/writing. There will be a definite use for this book as a jumping off point for further research based on this section. The section also delves into humanitarian interventions and how those differ from war and their implications on society as a whole, using real life examples of places like the former Yugoslavia, Rwanda, and Iraq.
Part 4 deals with theology and war theory and therefore the first half is largely outside of my dissertation area since it deals mainly with scripture and Jesus’ reactions/comments to certain aspects of violence and peace – areas which are not relevant to my studies. The information in this section looking at Islam and how it relates to war and peace was interesting and has provided a jumping off point for more focused research. At the end the biggest questions I have is, if JWT is decidedly Christian in nature than why do we use it as there is supposed to be a separation of church and state. I understand the answers on some level, but I may have to spend some time looking into a few areas that sparked my curiosity
Part 5: Just War Tradition and the Combatant. Here the book turns to looking at the differences between combatants and noncombatants and the various types of warfare and their ethical implications. The very first question deals with the idea of deterrence and looks at it from the social scientist perspective and then the economist perspective. Neither is necessarily religious in nature but they have different ideas about human nature and thus differing ideas on deterrence. The use of nonlethal weapons is also described and their moral implications. The biggest thing to remember from this part though is that these are issues that have been wrestled with for centuries. Technologies have changed but the underlying moral issues have not.
Part 6: Just War Tradition and the Individual. This last section looks at how the individual can (or tries to) incorporate JWT into their everyday life. There are differences between the religious and ideological outlooks that need to be delved into more deeply for my dissertation research as well as looking at the philosophical sides of this area. There is much in this section and these questions that will help push my research forward and further.