A Just War? What Chuck Would Say About the US and ISIS
You can call it what you want. Airstrikes. Limited military action. Leading a coalition. But let's face it, the U.S. is at war again in the Middle East.
On Tuesday, U. S. forces launched "waves" of fighter aircraft and nearly 50 ship-based cruise missiles against ISIS and other terrorist groups in Syria. According to the Wall Street Journal, five Arab nations participated in the airstrikes: Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
It seems like this escalation was inevitable. Thousands of massacred Christians, Shiites, and Iraqi military personnel; entire populations uprooted and taxing the resources of neighboring countries; fear in Baghdad and Jordan; and of course, the beheading of kidnapped journalists.
In times like these, I can't help but wonder what my friend Chuck Colson would have thought—and said, even on this program.
And I know he would have said something. He was, after all, a fervent patriot, a former Marine Captain, and a top aide to the President of the United States. He loved his country, he respected its armed forces, and most of all, he cared about the right.
But he was also a disciplined Christian thinker: He did his level best, and I would say succeeded, to harness his political and geopolitical instincts, and examine them through the lens of a Christian worldview. And when it came to war, he talked frequently about what is called "just war theory."
That might sound a bit academic, but it isn't. It's critical—not only because, as its name implies, justice depends on it. But a war-weary public will never back placing our men and women in harm's way yet again without being convinced of the following:
First, that the purpose of the war is just, that is, we enter it with the right intent. That intent, in this case, is to stop the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of innocent people and to prevent ISIS from, to use the current term, metastasizing.
Second, we've got to know that there's a reasonable chance that we will succeed. And there the public is wary, as are many of our political and military leaders. Many believe even more strenuous measures may be necessary.
Now, there are other criteria for a just war: proper governing authority, proportionality, not targeting civilians, etc.
But I want to leave you with something Chuck said about war that may surprise you.
In 2006 on this program, Chuck said that fighting a just war can be an act of love. A just war, he said, "brings justice, restrains evildoers, and promotes the peace and well-being of the community. In the case of the War on Terrorism, our soldiers fight to promote the peace and well-being of the entire world. Ridding the world of terror—by just means—is a good and loving act . . ."
He went on: "Thomas Aquinas applauded those who wielded the sword in protection of the community . . . John Calvin . . . called the soldier an 'agent of God's love,' and called soldiering justly a 'God-like act' . . . because "restraining evil out of love for neighbor" is an imitation of God's restraining evil out of love for His creatures."
Chuck concluded, "a world where Christians refused to fight just wars wouldn't be peaceful, and it certainly wouldn't be a more just world. It would be a world where evil would be unchecked by justice and where the strong would be free to prey on the weak."
Keep these thoughts in mind as you watch the news about our new war in the Middle East or talk about it with friends and colleagues. And of course, pray for God's wisdom for our leaders, and for the safety of our men and women in uniform.