Just War in an Unjust World

How far can the Theory of the Just War be extended to Opposing Unjust regimes?

Introduction

This paper takes as its starting point the developed principles of the Christian theory of the Just War as they stand today.

Where these now stand, however, owes much to the fact that in the Cold War era of super–power armed confrontation, much attention of Christian ethics studies was focused on issues surrounding nuclear weapons and their use. And the severity of the test to which these ethics have been put by such questions have left the Just War principles sidelined to some extent, although nothing more suitable have replaced them. Ignorance of these principles, and failure to develop them has left us, in the meantime, in a fragmenting world, in a situation where the only ethic seems to be an unhealthy «might is right» pragmatism dependent on the wisdom and semi–enlightened self–interest of the USA and her principle allies to dictate when and where force is used by more developed nations to protect the innocent and to promote peace and justice throughout the world, while the rest can «go hang».

In contrast, the principles of criteria for the Just War, dependent as they are on the absolute truth Christianity claims for itself, have an abiding and universal application, which is hard for any ethical system to refute (other than from a wholly pacifist position – and we shall briefly examine the case of Christian pacifism). The application of these principles do need constantly to be re–examined unashamedly from a Christian perspective so that their universal relevance can be applied to the realities of contemporary situations. This is the burden of the argument here.

One current issue on which there has been little useful guidance available is how communities and the international community should react when faced with call to support or resist what may appear to be unjust governments – unjust towards those over whom they have power. The traditional Just War approach, depending as it does on the proper authority etc, for resorting to the use of force in inter–state conflict, seems to fail at the first hurdle. Yet the question facing governments and military leaders, typically in Africa, and the unstable populations in some parts of post–Communist eastern Europe, is more often the ethical dilemma of how they should approach internal struggles within their own borders, rather than considering solely the ethics of external wars. The 1968 uprising in Czechoslovakia; the turmoil of the break up of Yugoslavia, with the secession of Slovenia and Croatia in 1992; and the continuing chaos in Bosnia and Kosovo highlight the problem. In Africa, the recent desperate story of Rwanda and Burundi; the continuing struggle of the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army to establish the «New Sudan» – at least in the south of that country – in the face of what they see as a fundamental hostile Islamic government in Khartoum shows the importance of this question in that region also.

Further afield, the East Timorese situation and the potential for further break–up of Indonesia, are current issues, as are claims for self–determination of the Kurdish people of eastern Turkey and northern Iraq. The same question is posed nearer to home in the confrontations of the Basques in northern Spain, and of the republican/nationalist movement in Northern Ireland.

Approaching Christian Ethics

In order to develop some guidelines for Christians facing the perplexing question of how to approach these issues, a brief word on the approach to ethics used here is necessary. This is close to that of Dietrich Bonhoeffer who defines his understanding of the Christian ethic as not asking either, «How can I be good?» or, «How can I do good?» but, «What is the will of God?»1Bonhoeffer pp 55–56. Bonhoeffer insists that the essential starting point requires the Christian ethicist to know Jesus Christ as both God and man, and he must always hold together the three elements of Jesus as the incarnate, crucified and risen God and man.2Burtness p 33; Bonhoeffer pp 130–131.

In the area of war and peace, Bonhoeffer famously describes the traditional approaches of the pacifists as «rusty swords», powerless against the evils of Nazism, to be replaced by the «sharp swords» of wisdom and simplicity rather than ethical principles.3Bonhoeffer pp 130–131. For comment see also Kelly pp 28–29 and Burtness p 89. This approach also considers the teaching of Jesus, as recognising the permissive understanding by God of the human condition, over against the perfect will of God. In other words, Jesus’ teaching on the kingdom of heaven, which he himself ushered in, an expounded in the «Sermon on the Mount» (Matthew Chs 5–8) «does not,» as Reinhold Niebuhr expresses it, «deal with immediate human problems. It is directed solely to our relationship with God. It is therefore absolutist [ ] and impossible to practice now.»4Jones p 96.

In summary, then, the purpose of Christian ethics in this as in most contexts is to enable the Christian to seek individually and collectively, by the work of the Holy Spirit, to know the mind of Christ. Christian ethics is not what Jesus would do – Jesus is neither tax collector, nor a housewife; nor a lorry driver, nor prime minister, and neither is he soldier – but for Christians in these roles, born again with Christ, Christian ethics seeks to know how Jesus wants each person to behave in the situations they face.

The Development Of Christian Thinking About Non–Resistance And Resistance From The Patristic Era To The Nuclear Age

Because the application of ethics must relate to the questions of the day, it is important to rehearse, even in a most cursory way, the development over time of Christian arguments for pacifism and for the use of force, focusing on those themes that resonate with or chime against the questions around violent resistance today.

The arguments do not change much, but the emphasis reflects the world into which ethics have to speak. Although the early church was distinctly pacifist, Origen did admit to some wars having righteous cause. Tertullian agreed that war was commanded in the Old Testament; but he declared in relation to Matthew 26:52: «The Lord, in subsequently disarming Peter, disarmed the soldier.»5Tertullian: Treatise on Idolatry – See Helgeland p 23.

After the conversion of the Roman Emperor Constantine, when Christianity became the religion of the state, a new standard was set, and Ambrose and Augustine «[ ] justified the full participation of Christians in war, and sought to distinguish between ‘just’ and ‘unjust’ wars.» Augustine reasoned that Matthew 5:39 was about inward disposition of individual Christians, and asked, «What is the evil in war?» answering, not death, but that the evil lies in «[ ] love of violence, revengeful cruelty, [ ]» and the like.6Gill p 273. This reversal of interpretation of a particular text typifies the whole war–peace debate.

Thomas Aquinas formalised Augustine’s criteria for war, setting 3 principles for a Just War, the debate continued – through the so–called «holy wars» of the crusades and into the Reformation. The principles began to get lost, however, with the rise of the European powers and the spread of colonialism, much of which was driven by economic greed, sometimes justified by the desire to evangelise godless peoples, in spite of protestations from the likes of the Spanish Theologian Francisco de Vitoria (an ethical struggle epitomised in the film «The Mission»). Then, at the beginning of «the Enlightment», the voice of Christian ethics seemed to be drowned by moral philosophers as Locke.

Little more was heard of the Just War debate until after the First World War. There the horrible scale of the slaughter, in an age when mass communication could bring it to worldwide attention, resulted in an upsurge in pacifism. For many Christians, GCH Macgregor, in his influential 1937 book, «The New Testament Basis of Pacifism», brought the Christian argument full circle. This was countered at the same time as the rise of Nazi Germany heightened the awareness of the need for «good men to do something» (Contra Socrates: «All that is required for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing») The Just War principles realised a new lease of life, for a while, and even an inherent pacifist like Dietrich Bonhoeffer was converted to the cause of actively supporting the use of force against Hitler.

After World War 2, with the advent of nuclear weapons, the debate raged once more. The pacifist arguments of Macgregor received fresh impetus, but were countered by the memories of the awfulness of Nazism. On balance the Just Warriors seem to have an edge at present over the Pacifists. The Gulf War (although fiercely opposed by the pacifists) was justified quite strongly on the principles of the Just War as we shall see, and attracted widespread support. This, it seems, represents more or less the status quo. The focus of the resent peace/war debate among Christians has been on the nuclear issue, on wars of intervention (Vietnam), and to some extent on liberation theology with its emphasis on justice for the poor. A few have tried to widen the debate to consider the ethics of rebellion in the context of unjust rule. But, amid the noise of the nuclear pacifism debate, there has not been much opportunity for these voices to be heard. It is time to try again.

It is necessary, then, in the new conditions being explored here, revisit the arguments for non–violence resistance. But since the Just War criteria will be used as the starting point for considering «Justified Resistance» later, the currant understanding of the Just War principles are set out here. (The list below is based on that in the 1995 IVP New Dictionary of Christian Ethics and Pastoral Theology):7Not in bibliography. See also Atkinson pp 55–56 and Barclay pp 224–225; Davies p 166; Gill pp 328–331.

  1. The Just War TodayJust Cause.The only just cause for war is defence against violent (and un­justified) aggression against the state, or a neighbour state unable to defend itself. Pre–emptive defence may be possible, subject to other conditions set out below. Injustice (e.g. going to wear in response to unjust economic sanctions for example) would not generally be sufficient cause unless the survival of the people or the state were so threatened as to warrant the injustice being classed as violent aggression.8See Barth pp 461–462 for support of this principle.
  2. Just Intention.The only just intention is to restore peace to friend and foe alike. There must be no motive of revenge or retribution. Just intention demands also proper conduct, avoiding any tendency to hatred or brutality.
  3. Last Resort.The use of military force must be a last resort after every other effort to resolve the situation including international negotiations has been exhausted, and has failed.
  4. Proper Authority.The decision to go to war must be made by the highest lawful government or supra–government authority, and should be marked by an official declaration of war.
  5. Limited Ends.A war must be waged for limited ends only – sufficient to repel aggression and to redress its justice.
  6. The means used to wage the war must be proportional to the offence and necessary to achieve the end intended. The evils of the war, in its conduct and in its aftermath (e.g. long–term environmental damage), must not exceed the evils of the cause.
  7. Protection of Non–Combatants.Violence must only be directed against enemy combatants. Non–combatants must be protected from direct or intentional attack.
  8. Reasonable Chance of Success.Because, if a just peace cannot be achieved, the additional suffering caused by the war would serve no purpose, war must only be undertaken where there is reasonable chance of success, and must be discontinued if that chance fades.9Whereas the first 7 criteria are recognised, perhaps grudgingly, as having some biblical basis, this one has been criticised as not sustainable by scriptual principle. The contrary argument is that the law of rightousness can never require the pointless sacrifice of others.

In application, one can briefly cite the Gulf War, and the allies’ approach to Operation Desert Storm, which answered the criteria for conventional war between states thus:

  1. Just Cause: The unjustified Iraqi invasion and occupation of Kuwait in August 1990 gave just cause.
  2. Just Intention: The intention of the United Nations forces under American leadership to free Kuwait and to deter Iraq from similar adventures was also just.
  3. Last Resort: Yes, as the prolonged and genuine search for a diplomatic solution was exhausted.
  4. Proper Authority: Yes, on the sanction of the United Nations resolutions.
  5. Limited Ends: The freeing of Kuwait was achieved. There was no re­tributive follow up of the fleeing Iraqi republican Guard through Basra, nor was there any ‘march to Baghdad’.
  6. Proportionality: The scale of Operation desert Storm, including the air attacks against the Iraqi infrastructure, were proportionate to the original aggression, and necessary for the successful outcome of the operation.
  7. Protection of Non–Combatants: Yes, as far as possible within the limits of weapon capabilities and by selection of suitable military targets.
  8. Reasonable Chance of Success: Yes.

It is sad to relate that Operation Desert Fox, begun at the end of 1998 in response to Iraqi resistance to the UN weapons inspection regime, palpably fails the same test.

From this short summary of Just War in relation to conventional war, therefore, it should be clear that war must never be undertaken lightly. Those, like Bonhoeffer, who were driven away from a pacifist position by the evil nature and practices of the Nazi regime, emphasised that war is always embarked on at the limiting condition (Grenzfall) of Christian ethics. And, although there are those, besides pacifists, who reject the Just War criteria as inadequate for today,10See for instance Peter Coleman’s leading article in Theology Mar/Apr 91, pp 83–85 at the time of the Gulf War. there is no real alternative. As criteria for conventional war they have a universal application, and, when strictly applied, they do at least give proper recognition of the evils of war. They must also inhibit states from lightly committing themselves to such a course.

The Central Dilemma for the Christian – Whether to Fight?

There is no space here for the full debate over how to interpret the meaning of ‘the Kingdom of God’; nor can we explore the relationship between the Christian, the state and the military service. The central dilemma to be addressed is non–resistance or resistance. In relation to Matthew 5:38–40, as we have already seen, the key question is whether this represents a kingdom ethic for all people at all times, or whether it is a limitation on lex talionis, and a prohibition on individual retaliation or resistance, allowing the state to dispense due justice and to provide necessary proper defence of its people, using the force required. The British theologian David Atkinson, with Karl Barth,11Atkinson pp 102–103; Barth pp 434–435 is clear that the latter condition obtains. Conversely, the pacifist position is that the law of love overrules,12Macgregor Chapter II passim. and that the example of Jesus, even in the face of the unjust Roman occupation and rule of Palestine, actively discouraged any notion of violent resistance.13Macgregor Chapter IV passim. We must hoowever question this analysis of the Roman state – although they had no particular right to the occuoation of Judea, and there were clearly individual excesses, on the whole the rule was by law, and in any case there were no possibility in Jesus immediate context of any sort of successful uprising. Macgregor maintains that Jesus in fact, having resisted the ways of Satan, during his temptation, now sets a new standard of non–resistance to his followers. Macgregor states that you cannot love your enemy and strike him at the same time.14Macgregor pp 62.63. He does not however properly answer the ambiguity over Jesus’ own evident use of force as he cleared the traders from the Temple.15John 2:15; See Atkinson p 30. So, as so often, one meets the ambivalence of scripture, and the tendency to interpret it from a predetermined point of view.

To draw some guiding principles at this stage, first, most can agree that the Christian is called to live the kingdom life as far as he/she is able, in his/her individual case – there is to be no personal seeking of revenge etc, and the law of love must predominate in all personal attitudes and actions. The case of collective responsibility is different, and this is where the disagreement lies. Through each of these areas, the tension is evident between the ‘perfectionist’, who seeks to live the corporate life of Jesus’ new kingdom in every detail now, however impractical, and the ‘realist’ who looks at the world as it is, and concludes that the kingdom is only a theoretical possibility; it lies in the eternal future, and what matters is living life now. As often is the case the answer may lie between the extremes, and so some reconciliation is possible.

The problem for the ‘perfectionist’ is that there is a critical need to balance the scriptural guidance on the law of love with the scriptural implications of the fullness of God’s kingdom, held in the same category as his righteousness and justice (Matthew 6:33 «But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness [ ]» and Romans 14:17: «For the kingdom of God is [ ] righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.»)16See for instance Mayhew p xi where he points out the denial of the law of love by the injustice of the 1938 Munich Agreement, where by appeasing Hitler, Czechoslovakia was surrendered to Hitler, whose subsequent aggressions were fuelled. Equally, as many point out, that although killing must always be partial denial of love, when God reconciled the world to himself on the cross, the violence of Christ’s death was effective in bringing justice to humankind, and indeed characterises the righteousness of the kingdom of God17Davies pp 158 & 160. demonstrating what Jürgen Moltmann calls ‘divine power in weakness’. Further, Jürgen Moltmann urges that love sometimes requires the use of force as ‘the responsible action of love’.18See Atkinson å 161. Although those like Jacques Ellul may say, ‘[ ] the means of freedom are means that rule out violence, hatred and lying’,19Ellul (1976) å 405. many others conclude (often reluctantly) that the highest moral values may at times best be served by force or the threat of force. Although the use of violence will always test the law of love, and must surely be a last resort, it is difficult to see that the peace and justice of God’s kingdom for which Christians pray daily in the Lord’s Prayer can always be obtained without being prepared to use violence.20The argument here is not for bringing in the kingdom of violence (i.e for Holy War) but that the justice of the kingdom may require violence. Niebuhr summed it up thus: ‘It is up to the pacifists to demonstrate that the evil of war is greater than the evil it seeks to destroy.'21Harries p 107.

The question of state use of force may be answered for many by the foregoing, but the challenge today so often comes in different forms.

Identifying the New Instabilities of today’s World

The argument is now at a turning point – what has gone before has not begun to address properly the most common and increasing (in number and intensity) outbreaks of violence at the close of the millennium. The turbulence of the present post colonial, post–communist, post cold war age owes much to the legacies of those eras. The ethnic divisions within artificial borders, the pressures of living room and natural resources, the increasing awareness of populations and sections of populations (through better communications and education) of corrupt and oppressive regimes are the seeds of potential conflict. There are demands for minority factions to be taken account of, for liberation from oppression, and often secession. It is hard enough for true democracies to take proper account for such demands, as the Spanish and United Kingdom governments know to their cost, but when the regime is corrupt as well as perceived to be unrepresentative and oppressive; when the state fails a large section (or even a powerless minority) of their community, how does the Christian react?22There is no room here to address the question of the perceived injustice of the republican minority in Northern Ireland, and the IRA justification for their campaign, but the same questions that focused on below continue to obtain. A forceful justification for the republicans right to resort to violence appears in Mayhew Chapter 4. He singularly fails however to address the consequence of an IRA «victory» – the inevitable creation of a new oppressed minority.

The liberation theology emerged in South America proclaimed the cause of the oppressed, with differing views as to how that cause should be championed; but elsewhere, with the exception of the anti–apartheid stand of the majority of churches in the world against the government of South Africa, the attitude of the Christian on these matters has been little voiced and less heard. Where there have been coups, uprising and revolts there has often been a wringing of hands by the world at large, and an extreme reluctance to get involved, until the scale of the violence and bloodshed reaches a stage when ‘ something must be done’ (particularly if the violence impinges too closely on the sensitivities of powerful nations – but there is often a sense of it being a little conflict far away). When action is judged necessary, the United Nations or one of the regional organisations for promoting peace and security may become involved. Otherwise, there is a tendency to deplore the far–off act of rebellion (or its suppression), but, if the rebellion succeeds, then the international community will give proper recognition to the new regime in due course – e post facto recognition – as in Bangladesh, Uganda and Croatia, for example. If it fails, as in Biafra in 1969, the status quo is upheld. The cynic and the desperate could be excused for concluding that the only ethic that prevails is ‘might is right’.

For the Christian and the Church facing potential civil conflict within their own land, or caught in the midst of such conflict, they are forced to confront the questions about what the will of God is, what to do, and how to act. As things stand they may find so little to comfort them or to guide them that the only solution is either to avoid the questions perhaps by keeping their head down until the situation is resolved, or by running away from the struggle, or by going with the flow (on either side, depending on the accidents of cause, faction or geography). None of the courses, without justification, will bring glory to God or further the establishment of his kingdom. The Christian must take a positive stand either by non–resistance or by resistance, so that the voice of God may be heard.

The Options in Internal Struggles – Non–Resistance or Resistance

It has already been shown that the Christian response to the question of whether to or how to resist injustice depends very often on the tradition of the interpreter. The pragmatism of their approach to Christian ethics determines their decision. In the case of unjust threat or action by one state against another the inference is already apparent that it is proper to use force, and Christians have a duty to play their part, both strictly in accordance with the Just War criteria. Fore some the part they play may be that of Christian pacifism. But this new scenario, for Christians having to make decisions over how to act, for themselves and others who are living under an unjust regime, is so different that the options for resistance must be set out again in context. The options are: (1) non–resistance; (2) non–violent resistance; or (3) resistance with some degree of violence.

  1. Non–Resistance. The attractions of Christian non–resistance are strong. The proponents act out in a prophetic manner the way of the kingdom which God is already ushering in, and which will be hereafter; and it is a course to which some may be called. But it is also potentially selfish and irre­sponsible, perhaps even fatal for society as a whole. Failure to resist an evil done to others certainly denies the justice of God’s kingdom. For society or a section of society to practise non–resistance implies total withdrawal from the rest of the world, which does not seem to most Christians to be what the Lord intended. Although one acknowledges that some Christians may be called to total non–resistance, this option will not be considered further here.
  2. Non–violent resistance. The way of non–violent resistance is more appealing to many Christians. It too embraces the way of love and peace, but also understands the need for justice. It acknowledges a duty to resist evil, but seeks to do this without resorting to violence in order to achieve change. This is examined more fully below as the whole of the pacifist position is reconsidered in this context.
  3. Violent resistance. This third option is the one that the world most commonly resorts to when seeking to redress gross perceived injustice if the means can be found. It is this course which often poses the greatest problem for the Christian seeking guiding principles as there is little help available. It is one thing for Moltmann to urge ‘that love sometimesrequires the use of force as the responsible action of love’,23From Atkinson p 161 but the fear is that resorting to violence may be wrong because evil begets evil, and that it can never achieve an ultimate just and peaceful end.24See for example Ellul (1970) «the law of violence» pp 93–103 But if, with Moltmann, the Christian believes force may be required, in what circumstances, and in what way may it be effected are the key questions, which also necessitate a full re–examination of the Just war criteria.

Pacifism Re–Visited in Non–Violent Resistance

Since violence is such an extreme reaction even to the most unjust government, and may indeed lead to even greater excesses of that regime, the way of pacifist non–violent resistance must be fully explored. Recent examples do not present clear lessons:

Recent Examples

The difficulty, of course, as former President Kenneth Kaunda, among others, has pointed out, is that non–violent resistance only has any chance of success if practised against a tolerant regime, such as was the case for Gandhi protesting against British rule in India,25Kaunda p 61. See also Jones p 97 and Ellul (1970) p 15. Mayhew (p 27) notes that Martin Luther King, in a sermon on 30 Apr 67, «made it clear that he did not believe that non–violent resistance would have been the right answer to the evil of Hitler.» or the black Civil Rights campaign in the Unite States, led by Martin Luther King. The idea of Hitler or Stalin either worrying about Gandhi starving himself to death, or giving him the opportunity to publicise his reasons is absurd. A further problem is that non–violence resistance rarely achieves its primary goals, or at least not on its own: only King’s campaign in the USA can really be cited as a victory for non–violent protest on any scale; in India, the scale of the accompanying violence, alongside Gandhi’s non–violent struggle, was appalling. At the same time, if the principle of non–violence is that no one should be hurt, particularly the innocent bystander, this is rarely practical.26Gandhi’s boycott of British cotton goods in 1942 caused starvation to the children of cotton workers in Lancashire.

Questions for the Christian Pacifist

Thus the two principle questions that arise for the Christian pacifist are: First, to what extent can Christians who believe in non–violence become involved in a campaign in which others are prepared to pursue violent means for the same end? Second, as has already been noted, non–violent resistance rarely works, but does that matter? Is it not up to Christians to behave in the way they believe that God demands, and trust in God to see justice prevail?

Neither question produces a clear answer in pacifist writing. But on the question of whether it matters that non–violent resistance does not generally work, the constant refrain is that non–violent resistance witnesses to the kingdom of God, and that anyway in this sort of situation violent resistance does not work either. Ellul, although not a complete pacifist, for example, claims with some justification that states founded by violence can only maintain themselves in power through violence.27Ellul (1970) pp 84–85. He also highlights the sorry history of successful revolutions which subsequently ‘have all brought a strengthening of authority’.28Ellul (1976) p 416: e.g Cromwell’s protectorate and the French Revolution. The arguments are inconclusive. The relevant lesson, however, for all Christians is that violent resistance at the very least carries significant dangers, and is itself no guarantee of a peaceful and just successor to the defeated oppressor state.

How does Just War Theory Fit Today’s Questions?

If, then violent resistance might have to confront the evil tyranny, in its most extreme form, the question arises what are the principles that might allow or require the use of force to resist such tyranny? Since Just war criteria outlined above, developed for state wars have more or less stood the test of time, it is appropriate to see how they might give some initial guidance for this case. There are enormous difficulties, as the outline below demonstrates. (The criteria have been slightly adapted to meet the case, and will be further altered by the argument that follows.)

  1. Just Cause.The only just cause for war is defence against violent (and unjustified) aggression. This condition has to include extreme injustice, when such injustice may be classified as violent aggression.29Mayhew p 7. See also Jones p 107 referring to the 1967 Papal encyclical Populorum Progressioacknowledges (§§ 30–31) that in the most extreme circumstances only is it right to revolt. Even so, the difficulty of defining unjust violent aggression, as it applies to sections of a population oppressed by a partisan, corrupt or tyrannical government, is extremely hard to define. The difficulty will always be one of perception – what one section of the population may regard as a violent and oppressive restriction of their fundamental human rights, may, in the eyes of the government, and of other sections of the same population be seen as in the interests of justice for the greater good of the population as a whole. Partially and sectional interests may distort the judgement of those most closely involved. There is, therefore, a clear requirement to ratify the justness of the cause by appeal to international bodies30The US Catholic bishops 1983 pastoral letter on war and peace. The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response recogniises the case for «just revolution», but has great difficulty in identifying the competent authority to legitimise such action. (such as the United Nations or the World Council of Churches), as a basis for negotiation, and to seek a mandate for the use of force if negotiations fail. The difficulties of such a course should not be underestimated. Governments of all nations, whose representatives make up the UN and similar supra–governmental authorities, are extremely wary of sanctioning any sort of insurrection in other states,31Even if they were allowed to do so. In fact the UN Charter does not technically allow such judgements, although in practice their statements can give a degree of authority to freedom struggles (as in the case of SWAPO in Namibia). as the dangers are that the judgement which condones insurrection may conceivably in other circumstances be used against themselves to undermine their own internal legitimacy. As for the World Council of Churches, although they may not have any real authority, they can fulfil the church’s role of proclaiming the justice of the law of God against perverted government.32Bonhoeffer p 278.
  2. Just/Right Intention.The only just intention is to restore peace to friend and foe alike. It is important to note the dilemma (highlighted by Paul Ramsey in to the context of intervention) as to ‘whether justice warrants disordering action or order warrants the tragic permission of some injustice.33Ramsey p 29. There are other considerable potential difficulties. Insurrection arising from oppression of minorities can mean that tribalism or factionalism may play a significant part in the cause of violence. Clearly any solution to the conflict that creates new oppressions is out of the question. One of the impressive factors in Yoweri Museveni’s resistance to the abhorrent regime of Idi Amin in Uganda was the abiding intent to create a just society once Amin was overthrown.34See Hansen pp 31–32 on the aims of the liberation struggle, and the enactment of the aims of justice in the framing of the new Ugandan constitution. Admiration for Museveni’s principles in this context must be tempered by questioning his decision, after Amin fled, to oppose Obote when he came back to power, and to continue the struggle to form an impartial government of his own.
  3. Last Resort.The use of military force must be a last resort after every other effort to resolve the situation has been exhausted, and has failed. Ac­knowledging the evil of war, and that it can only be resorted to a lesser evil, when all else has failed, this principle must surely hold. Furthermore, until what may be a self–sacrificial campaign of non–violent resistance as a first move, has been crushed, or otherwise exhausted, without achieving progress in addressing the injustice, then resort to violence cannot be said to be a step of last resort. A further obstacle, however, is that a resistance movement may experience considerable difficulty in establishing a negotiating position with the government. Consideration of the secret negotiations between Sinn Fein/IRA and the British government before the 1994 cease–fire, and between the Palestinians and Israel before the Oslo accord, show that it can be done – but the risks are considerable (on both sides). It is possible to conceive that refusal of the government to meet, and to treat fairly, the representatives of a resistance movement before they resort to insurrection, could itself, if honest and strenuous moves have been made to open and maintain negotiations, constitute the exhaustion of other means of reso­lution.
  4. Competent Authority/Official Declaration of Hostilities.The decision to use force must be made by the highest representative authority or supra–government authority, and should be marked by an official declaration of hostilities. The difficulty of defining lawful authority for rebellion has already been identified, and, off all Just War conditions this is the one that appears least applicable to Christian involvement in revolution.35Davies p 168. But without legitimate features violent resistance cannot be contemplated. The first principle is that the injustice should be widely recognised as genuinely intolerable, not just in the eyes of the victims, but in broad coalition of the international community, and especially of Christians seeking to know the will of God. Second, without diminishing the difficulties inherent in gaining such recognition, those intending to conduct violent resistance need themselves be recognised in some way by those they are seeking to free from oppression as properly representing them, and their interests, and must be capable of showing that they represent the best interests of the people as a whole. If negotiations fail, it is clear that there must be an official declaration of hostilities, stating the goals of the campaign and denoting proper channels of communication if negotiations are to be re–opened. One commentator rightly insists that actions must be clandestine,36Mott p 163. and further recommends the formation of an alternative, ‘legitimate’ government in exile (offering an alternative to the allegiance owed to the state).37Mott p 189. As John Yoder (1983), «So from Calvin to the American revolution it is government that rebels against government. You can’t have revolution from that base. You can’t have ‘the people’ rising.»
  5. Limited Ends.Hostilities must be waged for limited ends only – sufficient to repel aggression and to redress its injustice. There is little to add to this deceptively simple clause, other than acknowledging the difficulty of putting it into practice. The Ugandan struggle was model of how this can be done.
  6. Proportionality.The means used to conduct hostilities must be proportional to the offence and necessary to achieve the end intended. The problem of all war, revolutionary or conventional, as discussed already is what Ellul calls ‘the law of violence’.38See above footnote 24, See also Davies p 158 where he points out that the use of violence tends always to dehumanise those who use violence. Violence, on both sides tends to be escalatory, and the danger is that the proponents of a campaign of violent resistance cannot fully foresee, or may tend to underestimate the full horrors of the campaign as it develops. The British Army’s principle of ‘minimum necessary force’ legitimately applied must be the first and absolute limiting principle. While not normally the case in unconventional wars, clearly there ought to be strictly articulated rules of war, at least as stringent as those that govern international conflict, closely controlled by properly authorised rules of engagement.
  7. Protection of Non–Combatants.Violence must only be directed against enemy combatants. Non–combatants must be protected from direct or intentional attack.As in conventional war, the difficulty of distinguishing combatants from non–combatants is evident. The ‘law of violence’ tends to degrade people’s judgements in this area, and ‘freedom fighters’ can only to easily deserve to be labelled ‘terrorists’ as they become less discriminate in their targeting of violence, and as they broaden the definition of their enemies. This weakness of rebel/resistance forces will always make the ‘soft target’ (uncommitted civilians and their property) an easier option than legitimate targets. Again the conduct of Museveni’s campaign in Uganda is a model of right attitudes; and this conduct had a significant effect on the subsequent legitimisation of the new regime across the country.
  8. Probability of Success.Because, if a peace cannot be achieved, the additional suffering caused by violence would serve no purpose, hostilities must only be undertaken where there is a reasonable chance of success, and must be discontinued if that chance fades. This is a condition which poses the most severe test for those proposing revolutionary violence. By its very nature, the uprising of an oppressed minority, driven by the perception of extreme and unbearable injustice, can see little initial probability of success – only hope! It raises all manners of questions, and it is probably therefore important to have a campaign plan, which recognises the importance of not making things worse, and has options for de–escalating to non–violent resistance. A long self–sacrificial struggle that fails, with minimum non–combatant casualties is one thing; one which brings increased misery etc to others without a near certainty of ultimate success it has no validity.

As the previous analysis demonstrates there are clearly a great number of difficulties of interpretation, so before trying to draw some conclusions, it is worth looking briefly at one example of insurrection – Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s part in the conspiracy to kill Hitler. We shall also touch briefly on aspects of Latin American liberation theology and the involvement of Christians in the struggle for justice and democracy in South Africa.

Bonhoeffer and the plot to kill Hitler

In Nazi Germany Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a remarkable and Godly young pastor with a keen insight into the kingdom of God, dragged from a pacifist position39See Rasmussen pp 103–104; also Chapters 12–13 of Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. to reluctant, but convinced, participation in the unsuccessful plot to kill Hitler, when confronted with the stark evils of Nazism in Hitler’s Germany. He asks in his second draft Catechism (1936), *How should a Christian conduct himself in war?’ and he answers, ‘Here there is no clear command of God. The Christian can never bless war and weapon. The Christian must never take part in an unjust war. If the Christian is called to take up the sword he will daily call to God for forgiveness of the sin and for peace.'40Rasmussen p 107.

Bonhoeffer justified his resistance and his active participation in the tyrannicide because of Hitler’s ‘gross misrule’. This was his ‘just cause’. His intention was equally just: along with his co–conspirators it was to end the Nazi rule. But, lacking vociferous passive resistance, it cannot be truly said to have been a last resort unless they regarded such resistance as pointless. Neither did they really open proper channels of communication, nor did they have the competent authority. There was no ‘legitimate’ government in exile. Furthermore, such was the emphasis on minimum force, the level of force proposed was probably inadequate to end the war and Nazi rule, even if Hitler had been assassinated. The ambivalence of Bonhoeffer’s commitment to the plot was demonstrated in the reported conversation between himself and one co–conspirator who asked (because of his place on Hitler’s staff) if he might shoot Hitler. Bonhoeffer replied that he might, but the right question (which he did not ask, and which Bonhoeffer did not answer) was whether he should.41Rasmussen pp 140–141.

Bonhoeffer and nearly all his courageous fellow conspirators paid for their treachery with their lives, and nothing was changed. It is easy with hindsight to criticise, but this case shows the weakness of the pacifist turned conspirator who failed to embrace the logic of violence.42It must also be noted that Bonhoeffer played his conspiratorial role from a somewhat dubious position in the Abwehr – Hitler’s secret service.

Radical Liberation Theology43The term «radical» coined here denotes the liberation theology stance of the 1970s/1980s before the collapse of communism and more recent developments in liberation theology.

Because liberation theology has been so much in the van of radical reform in Latin America it is worth considering what it might have to say in the context of violent resistance as a whole. Radical liberation theology is focused on setting ‘the poor’ free from oppression and ‘institutional violence’.44See Gutierrez pp 108–109 (and also from institutionalised churches – p 265). It is closely linked with Marxist ideology, and takes a view that theology starts not from God, but from the human situation, where commitment to liberation from oppression is the first step. Also, while not calling explicitly for violent revolution, the imperatives of liberation make violence implicit where non–violent means fail to achieve radical reform. But it should be noted that the proponents of liberation theology rule out the existence of universal propositions to guide ethical action. For them Just War criteria therefore do not and can not give liberation theology any grounds for ‘just revolution’ nor can Just War provide a ‘theology of revolution’.45Rapoport p 103. There is no room here to explore the full argument, but it is safe for those seeking to apply Just War arguments to insurrection to put aside the lessons from liberation theology for the present.

Even so John de Gruchy in the foreword to the Kairos Document talks of the South African theology for freedom as identified ‘clearly with liberation theology’s methodology and commitment.46Kairos p 8.

South Africa

The success of the opposition and resistance to the injustice and tyranny of the white South African regime and its policy of apartheid resulting in the establishment of democratic rule in 1995 without the blood bath many feared is a truly remarkable story, from which many lessons may be learned. The unlawful nature of the regime (in spite of that regime’s appeals to Romans 13 for legitimacy47See archbishop Desmond Tutu in Villa–Vicencio p 77. See also p 88.) was widely but belatedly recognised by the churches within that country and outside. The African national Conference (ANC), which had for some time been protesting against the regime, formed a military wing to provide direction to and restriction on frustrated militants,48See Villa–Vicencio p 58 quoting Nelson Mandela at his trial in 1964. but with little effect other than increasing the repressive measures taken by the regime.49See Kairos p 30 where the non–violent emphasis of the church’s direction is blamed as a contributory factor in the escalating scale of state violence.

By the 1980s the South African Council of Churches (SACC) turned to action – first, with a call to prayer; second, with a call to non–violent action. The call to prayer by a conference of the SACC on the 17th June 1985, the 9th anniversary of the Soweto massacre, for ‘a new and just order in this land’ caused a storm.50The whole story is told by Allan Boesak and Charles Villa–Vicencio in A Call to an End to Unjust Rule. There were accusations from the Government and in the media that the call was a prayer for the violent overthrow of the regime. The second step, in September 1985, with the publishing of the Kairos Document by a number of South African theologians and black pastors, called on the churches to be the mediators between the oppressor and the oppressed51Kairos p 9. and to ‘participate in the struggle for liberation and a just society’.52Kairos p 52. This called for civilian disobedience rather than for violent resistance. In the end, the call to prayer, the involvement of the Church (working to contain violence, but warning that it cannot be contained while apartheid exists), and international pressure, alongside the ANC as government in exile worked to bring democracy to that land in a relatively peaceful way.

Towards Justifiable Resistance

Christian attitudes to the use of force has been debated over two millennia, always with a divergence between those who seek to proclaim the path of peace at all costs confronting those who agree reluctantly that war between states is sometimes necessary, and who therefore try to prescribe it very tightly under the conditions of the theory of Just War. This is little use, as it stands, in addressing the situation in many countries in the world today, where justice and other internal instabilities and the power of mass communication making for a greater awareness of denied human rights, combined with the availability of powerful weapons, together make the possibility of armed resistance greater than ever. This situation confronts many Christians across the world, and there is little to guide them in their response. The classic Christian dilemma over the meaning of the kingdom of God, ushered in by Christ, either as a complete ethic for peaceful living under the law of love on the one hand, or about coming to terms with the reality of seeking to promote God’s peace and justice in love in a violent world on the other still obtain. This paper aligns with the ethical approach of Barth, Bonhoeffer and Niebuhr that the Christian ethic depends not on a set of absolute rules, but on seeking to know the will of God in any situation.

As Christians seek to know more of the character of God, they note the tension in scripture over the interpretation of the kingdom of God – between the now and the not yet, and they may conclude that, desirable though the kingdom life may be in all its fullness, it lies beyond the attainable in certain areas, particularly where Christians are confronted with real evil, when physical action beyond spiritual warfare may be required. One must admit always that the pure pacifist, and those who follow the path of non–violent resistance are not necessarily wrong, and one should be grateful that they will always act as a restraint on those who more readily turn to violence. One must also, however, judge that in some circumstances forceful resistance may indeed be the will of God, even if some are called to pacifism. At the same time, it should be emphasised, if resort to force between states under Just War criteria always lies on the ethical borderline, to use force in resistance to an unjust regime lies even more narrowly on that borderline; the principles, therefore, which guide the Just war must be even more closely scrutinised if they are applied here – principles developed as a first line of defence both against hasty action or an excuse for supine inaction.

A new debate is required – one which is strong and vigorous. Perhaps this paper may help in this, and that the voice of Christian ethics may clearly be heard in this area, setting out again down the path of proclaiming the truth in action. The question how a Christian should act who finds him/herself in a position of power or authority (however humble – a soldier with a gun is in that position) within an unjust regime, have not been addressed; nor has the debate started over the whole question of just cause in secessionist struggles; but the guidelines below form a starting point in all these cases too, and for those who might espouse the revolution of radical liberation theology. All Christian action is the responsibility of the individual to do what is right for him/her under God. But we must take corporate responsibility also, seeking clarification through the prayers and guidance of others, to proclaim the hard truths in each situation, and being prepared to act accordingly. Bear in mind, however, the principle: ‘In all probability the use of force is wrong, unless it is more wrong not to use force’.53Ellul p 406: «Apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit, the use of violence is always a prioricontrary to the will of God.»

Guidelines for «Justified Violent Resistance»

We have already debated the development of the Just war criteria for internal conflict, so perhaps these guidelines can now be refined simply in the form below, and one may propose these criteria, but only when all are taken together, and when all are met, as the basic rules governing the resort to and the use of violent resistance in any struggle.

  1. Just Cause.The only just cause for violent resistance is defence against violent injustice, including unjustified violent aggression. The cause must be recognised as just by independent external authorities, both Christian and secular.
  2. Just/Right Intention.The only just intention is to restore (or achieve) peace and justice for the whole community. In the outcome, no section of society must be favoured above others, and no new oppressions or injustices be created.
  3. Last Resort.Recourse to violent resistance must be a last resort after every other effort to resolve the situation has been exhausted, and has failed. At the very least negotiations and non–violent resistance should have been seriously attempted (and have been seen to have been attempted), even when the outcome might be predictable failure, and perhaps very costly.
  4. Competent Authority/Official declaration of Hostilities.The decision to resort to violent resistance must be made by the highest proper repre­sentatives of those oppressed (recognised by international authorities), and should be marked by an official declaration of hostilities. This most difficult of conditions certainly needs external validation to ensure that those leading a rebellion do properly represent those for whom justice is denied, and that they will remain accountable for restoring peace and justice for all at the conclusion of the struggle. The legitimisation of their authority may require the formation of a government in exile. It is also essential that there is a formal statement of the opening of hostilities. The injustice, and the remedies for righting it, against which they are fighting, should already have been made clear in the negotiating and non–violent opposition phases of the confrontation. Furthermore a clear channel for future negotiations must be established and notified.
  5. Limited Ends.Violent resistance must be conducted for limited ends only – sufficient to redress the actual injustice and to achieve justice and peace for all.
  6. The means used to conduct violent resistance must be proportional to the offence and necessary to achieve the end intended. The rule of «minimum necessary force» must apply, and rules of engagement and the restrictions on violence both have to be spelled out clearly, communicated to all those fighting, then monitored and enforced in practice.
  7. Protection of Innocent Parties.Violence must only be directed against the forces of injustice and oppression. Innocent parties should be protected from direct or intentional attack. Besides the armed force of the oppressive regime which is being resisted, there will have to be very careful consideration as to whether the leaders and officials of the regime can justifiably be identified as forces of injustice and oppression. Those engaging in violent resistance must make it quite clear to their adversaries, as well as to their own forces, who and what constitute legitimate targets for their violence. Every effort must be made to avoid any additional innocent casualties.
  8. Probability of success.Because, if a just peace cannot be achieved, the additional suffering caused by the insurrection would serve no purpose, violent resistance must only be undertaken where there is a reasonable chance of success, and must be discontinued if that chance fades. Those proposing to undertake violent resistance must, beyond blind hope, have good reason to believe in the eventual likelihood of the success of their campaign, within the limits of proportionality and the protection of non–combatants outlined above. The assessment should use historical data and other comparable models. The campaign plan must be realistic, and should allow for the campaign to revert to non–violent resistance if violence ceases to offer success.

These guidelines are not a complete answer, but they should provide a starting point for those who find themselves confronted by some of these most difficult challenges.

The cases of east Timor, South Sudan and Kosovo test the proposition. The conclusion is the vital need for the Christian Church and for all democracies to be active in taking a lead in international efforts to seek and insistence on pursuing the way of justice, equality and reconciliation world–wide. This must include energetic diplomatic activity and properly authorised sanctions, including the use of force in support of. Or in opposition to armed insurrection in accordance with these criteria. Equally it is vital that the world (particularly organisations such as the United Nations, NATO, The European Union, the Organisation for the African Unity, the World Council of Churches etc) faces up to the reality of evil, oppressive regimes, and takes appropriate action – not just in the case where their own interests are threatened.

As the 17th century English poet, John Donne, puts it:

No man is an island entire of itself; everyman is a piece of the Continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less [ ]

Any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind; and therefore do not send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.

References

Ethics:

Karl Barth (1961), Church Dogmatics, Vol III, Part 4, Edinburgh: T & T Clark.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1955), Ethics, London: SCM

JH Burtness (1985), Shaping the Future. The Ethics of Dietrich Bonhoeffer,

Philadlephia: Fortress Press

Robin Gill (1995), A Textbook of Christian Ethics, Edinburgh: T & T Clark

RG Jones (1984), Groundwork of Christian Ethics, London: Epworth Press

Just War/Pacifism:

David Atkinson (1985), Peace in our time? Leicester: IVP

R Bainton (1960), Christian Attitudes to war & Peace, Nashville: Abingdon Press

OR Barclay (Ed.) (1986), Pacifism & War, Leicester: IVP

R Harries (1986), Reinhold Niebuhr and the Issues of our Time, London: Mowbray

J Hegleland (et al.) (1987), Christians and the Military, the Early Experience, London: SCM

JT Johnson (1981), Just War Tradition and the Restraint of Freedom, Princetown: Princetown University Press

Andrew Kirk (Ed.) (1988), Handling the Problems of Peace and war, Basingstoke: Marshall-Pickering

M Lind (1980), Yahweh is a Warrior: The Theology of Warfare in Ancient Israel, Scottdale PA: Herald Press

GCH Macgregor (1937), The New Testament Basis of Pacifism, London: Clarke

Paul Ramsey (1983), The Just War, London: University Press of America

M Walzer (1980), Just & Unjust wars, Harmondsworth: Penguin

JH Yoder (1970), Karl Barth and the Problem of War, Nashville: Abingdon Press

JH Yoder (1971), The Original Revolution: Essays on Christian Pacifism, Scottdale

PA: Herald Press

JH Yoder (1983), Christian Attitudes to War, Peace and Revolution, Goshen Biblical Seminary

Violence/Terrorism:

K Kaunda (1980), Kaunda on Violence, London: Sphere Books

J Ellul (1970), Violence: Reflections from a Christian Perspective, London: SCM

Peter Mayhew (19890, A Theology of Force and Violence, London: SCM

DC Rapoport & Y Alexander (Eds.) (1982), The Morality of Terrorism: Religious and Secular Justifications, New York: Pergamon

E van den Haag (1972), Political Violence and Civil Disobedience, New York: Harper & Row

C Villa Vicencio (Ed.) (1988), Theology and Violence. The South African Debate, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans

Rebellion & Resistance:

Boesak (et al.) (1986),a call for and End to Unjust Rule in South Africa,Edinburgh: St Andrews Press

JG Davies (1976), Christians, Politics and Violent Revolution, London: SCM

J Miguez Bonino (1983), Towards a Christian Political Ethics, London: SCM

SC Mott (19820, biblical Ethics and Social Change, Oxford: (?)

The Kairos Document, (1986), Grand Rapids: Eerdmans

L Rasmussen (1972), Dietrich Bonhoeffer: Reality and Resistance, Nashville: Abingdon Press

M Walzer (1970), Obligations, Cambridge MA: Harvard UP

Liberation Theology and Politics:

J Ellul (1976), The Ethics of Freedom, Grand Rapids: Eerdmans

Frantz Fanon (1967), The Wretched of the Earth, Harmondsworth: Penguin

Frantz Fanon (1967), Towards the African Revolution, NY: Monthly Review Press

G Gutierrez (1974), A Theology of Liberation, London: SCM

GB Kelly (1984), Liberating Faith. Bonhoeffer’s Message for Today, Minneapolis: Augsberg Press

L Segundo (1976), The Liberation of Theology, Maryknoll NY: Orbis Boks

African Political Issues:

HB Hansen (et al.) (Ed.) (1994), From Chaos to Order: the Politics of Constitution Making in Uganda,Kampala: Fountain  Press

JL Lewis (et al.) (Ed.) (1995), Human Reights and the Making of Constitutions: Malawi, Kenya & Uganda,Cambridge:  Cambridge University African Studies Centre

YK Museveni (1997), Sowing the Mustard Seed, London: Macmillan

Journal Articles:

George Carey, Faith in Resistance 193-45, Theology Vol. XCVIII (Nov/Dec 95) pp. 424-430

Andrew Chandler, Have We an Ethic of Resistance? Theology Vol. XCVIII (Mar/Apr 95) pp. 82-92

Peter Coleman, Holy and Unholy Wars, Theology Vol. XCIV (Mar/Apr 91) pp. 83-85

J Goldingay, The Man of War and the Suffering Servant. The Old Testament Theology of Liberation,Tyndale Bulletin No. 27 (1976)  pp. 79-113

M Haykin, Resisting Evil, Baptist Quarterly Vol. XXXIV (Jan 1976) pp. 212-227

SG Mackie, Risistance and Reconciliation: Two Complementary Imperatives, Modern Churchman Vol. XXXIV No. 5 (Nov/Dec 95)

Patrick Sherry, Redemption, Atonement and the German Opposition to Hitler, Theology Vol. XCVIII (Nov/Dec 95) pp. 431-438

 

Fotnoter   [ + ]

1. Bonhoeffer pp 55–56.
2. Burtness p 33; Bonhoeffer pp 130–131.
3. Bonhoeffer pp 130–131. For comment see also Kelly pp 28–29 and Burtness p 89.
4. Jones p 96.
5. Tertullian: Treatise on Idolatry – See Helgeland p 23.
6. Gill p 273.
7. Not in bibliography. See also Atkinson pp 55–56 and Barclay pp 224–225; Davies p 166; Gill pp 328–331.
8. See Barth pp 461–462 for support of this principle.
9. Whereas the first 7 criteria are recognised, perhaps grudgingly, as having some biblical basis, this one has been criticised as not sustainable by scriptual principle. The contrary argument is that the law of rightousness can never require the pointless sacrifice of others.
10. See for instance Peter Coleman’s leading article in Theology Mar/Apr 91, pp 83–85 at the time of the Gulf War.
11. Atkinson pp 102–103; Barth pp 434–435
12. Macgregor Chapter II passim.
13. Macgregor Chapter IV passim. We must hoowever question this analysis of the Roman state – although they had no particular right to the occuoation of Judea, and there were clearly individual excesses, on the whole the rule was by law, and in any case there were no possibility in Jesus immediate context of any sort of successful uprising.
14. Macgregor pp 62.63.
15. John 2:15; See Atkinson p 30.
16. See for instance Mayhew p xi where he points out the denial of the law of love by the injustice of the 1938 Munich Agreement, where by appeasing Hitler, Czechoslovakia was surrendered to Hitler, whose subsequent aggressions were fuelled.
17. Davies pp 158 & 160.
18. See Atkinson å 161.
19. Ellul (1976) å 405.
20. The argument here is not for bringing in the kingdom of violence (i.e for Holy War) but that the justice of the kingdom may require violence.
21. Harries p 107.
22. There is no room here to address the question of the perceived injustice of the republican minority in Northern Ireland, and the IRA justification for their campaign, but the same questions that focused on below continue to obtain. A forceful justification for the republicans right to resort to violence appears in Mayhew Chapter 4. He singularly fails however to address the consequence of an IRA «victory» – the inevitable creation of a new oppressed minority.
23. From Atkinson p 161
24. See for example Ellul (1970) «the law of violence» pp 93–103
25. Kaunda p 61. See also Jones p 97 and Ellul (1970) p 15. Mayhew (p 27) notes that Martin Luther King, in a sermon on 30 Apr 67, «made it clear that he did not believe that non–violent resistance would have been the right answer to the evil of Hitler.»
26. Gandhi’s boycott of British cotton goods in 1942 caused starvation to the children of cotton workers in Lancashire.
27. Ellul (1970) pp 84–85.
28. Ellul (1976) p 416: e.g Cromwell’s protectorate and the French Revolution.
29. Mayhew p 7. See also Jones p 107 referring to the 1967 Papal encyclical Populorum Progressioacknowledges (§§ 30–31) that in the most extreme circumstances only is it right to revolt.
30. The US Catholic bishops 1983 pastoral letter on war and peace. The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response recogniises the case for «just revolution», but has great difficulty in identifying the competent authority to legitimise such action.
31. Even if they were allowed to do so. In fact the UN Charter does not technically allow such judgements, although in practice their statements can give a degree of authority to freedom struggles (as in the case of SWAPO in Namibia).
32. Bonhoeffer p 278.
33. Ramsey p 29.
34. See Hansen pp 31–32 on the aims of the liberation struggle, and the enactment of the aims of justice in the framing of the new Ugandan constitution. Admiration for Museveni’s principles in this context must be tempered by questioning his decision, after Amin fled, to oppose Obote when he came back to power, and to continue the struggle to form an impartial government of his own.
35. Davies p 168.
36. Mott p 163.
37. Mott p 189. As John Yoder (1983), «So from Calvin to the American revolution it is government that rebels against government. You can’t have revolution from that base. You can’t have ‘the people’ rising.»
38. See above footnote 24, See also Davies p 158 where he points out that the use of violence tends always to dehumanise those who use violence.
39. See Rasmussen pp 103–104; also Chapters 12–13 of Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship.
40. Rasmussen p 107.
41. Rasmussen pp 140–141.
42. It must also be noted that Bonhoeffer played his conspiratorial role from a somewhat dubious position in the Abwehr – Hitler’s secret service.
43. The term «radical» coined here denotes the liberation theology stance of the 1970s/1980s before the collapse of communism and more recent developments in liberation theology.
44. See Gutierrez pp 108–109 (and also from institutionalised churches – p 265).
45. Rapoport p 103.
46. Kairos p 8.
47. See archbishop Desmond Tutu in Villa–Vicencio p 77. See also p 88.
48. See Villa–Vicencio p 58 quoting Nelson Mandela at his trial in 1964.
49. See Kairos p 30 where the non–violent emphasis of the church’s direction is blamed as a contributory factor in the escalating scale of state violence.
50. The whole story is told by Allan Boesak and Charles Villa–Vicencio in A Call to an End to Unjust Rule.
51. Kairos p 9.
52. Kairos p 52.
53. Ellul p 406: «Apart from the influence of the Holy Spirit, the use of violence is always a prioricontrary to the will of God.»