Pacifism, Just War and the Limits of Ethics

[1] There was a time when being a pacifist was something brave and bold-a stand of nonconformity over and against a church that had grown complacent in its assimilation of Western culture through the doctrine of “just war.” In the past few years, though, a revolution has occurred among the mainline churches, to the extent that pacifism is now the established orthodoxy.

[2] As a result, what is commonly known as the doctrine of just war is either disregarded or merely tacked on to official church statements that are largely pacifist in their orientation and rhetoric. One needs only to survey the official documents of the mainline churches in the past few months to receive confirmation that the revolution is now complete.

[3] It is my contention that the revolution has gone too far. Such excess is not unknown in the field of theology. To borrow an image from Luther, theological discourse often looks like a drunken horseman, repeatedly losing his balance when he climbs up one side only to fall down on the other. While elusive, equilibrium is essential if our theological ethics is to acknowledge the complexity that attends any discussion of what it means to live in light of the Gospel. It is also essential if our theological ethics is to avoid alienating members of the very church it serves, particularly those who try to live both as faithful Christians and as dutiful soldiers, politicians, judges, lawyers, and police officers.

[4] What I propose, then, is to offer an account of just war that can serve as a viable alternative to pacifism. My intent is not to refute pacifism-there are no “knock down” arguments that can establish the primacy of one approach over the other, and many discussions have gone astray by assuming that such a clear-cut victory is possible. Moreover, as I will demonstrate, there are important theological, philosophical, and cultural reasons why pacifism is currently so popular among mainline churches and theologians, and these reasons have to be taken into account in any acceptable doctrine of just war. What I hope to show is that both pacifism and a properly construed doctrine of just war exhibit strengths and weaknesses in the realms identified. Once these particular strengths and weaknesses are in view, a case for just war emerges that is at least as persuasive as pacifism.

[5] Admittedly, to speak generally of “pacifism” and “just war” is to use categories that are overly broad. For the sake of clarity, let me be specific about the kinds of pacifism and just war that I will compare. In terms of pacifism, my emphasis will be on the form it primarily takes in American Protestantism, of which John Howard Yoder and Stanley Hauerwas are prime examples. In terms of just war, my primary emphasis will be on the form it takes in the thought of Saint Augustine, and in two retrievals of his thought on war by Paul Ramsey and Reinhold Niebuhr. This Augustinian account is often overlooked in presentations of just-war theory, but it is, I believe, the only form of just-war theory that can match, if not exceed, pacifism’s explanatory power.


[6] Let me begin with a quick sketch of pacifism-its basic doctrines, representative figures, and two reasons why it has such currency among mainline churches. The claim of pacifism is that coercion in any form is alien to the Christian life. Central to this claim are the New Testament commands to offer no resistance to evil, to turn the other cheek, and to love one’s enemies. These commands express Jesus’ own selfless love for humanity, which is manifested in the work of the cross and his mission of mercy and forgiveness. Consequently, love is properly cruciform-love does not seek its own good but the good of the neighbor (1 Cor. 10:24), it seeks to “overcome evil with good” rather than return evil for evil (Rom. 12:17, 21), it is sacrificial even to the point of giving up one’s life (Matt. 16:24-25; Mark 8:34-35; Luke 9:23-24). Further, when Jesus introduced this distinctive understanding of love, he also inaugurated the “kingdom of God”-God’s vindication of God’s people and the renewal of God’s creation-vindication and renewal that are to be animated by a vision of peace promised in the Old Testament, and can be found in verses such as, “They shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more” (Isa. 2:4). This kingdom, of course, has not yet come in its fullness. Christians live “between the times,” that is, there is a tension between what we now experience and the future consummation of all things in Christ. Christians, however, witness to this future reality through following the peaceful example of Jesus. Moreover, it is the duty of the church to live out this witness in its communal life. The fundamental identity of the church is to live as a peaceful community so that the love of Christ and his coming kingdom are made visible to the world.

[7] As Lisa Sowle Cahill notes, these two aspects of pacifism-its straightforward interpretation of the love commands and its belief in the accessibility of the kingdom’s eschatological vision of peace-are present in many historical arguments for pacifism.[1] Menno Simons writes in his treatise, Foundations of Christian Doctrine, that “now is the time to arise with Christ in a new, righteous, and penitent existence, even as Christ says, ‘the time is fulfilled, and the Kingdom of God is at hand: repent and believe in the Gospel'” (Mark 1:15). Christ provides “an example of pure love, and a perfect life” that Christians must follow.[2] These aspects are repeated by John Howard Yoder in The Politics of Jesus. Following Simons, Yoder argues that the central task of the Christian community is to provide a suffering witness borne of the refusal to live by the sword. For Yoder, the cross is not a detour or a hurdle on the way to the kingdom, but it is quite simply the kingdom come. Jesus himself was confronted repeatedly by the temptation to rely upon violence to accomplish his messianic ends. Relying on popular support, Jesus could have encouraged the crowds to overcome the Roman soldiers and authorities in order to establish his own rule. “The one temptation that the man Jesus faced-and faced again and again-as a constitutive element of his public ministry, was the temptation to exercise social responsibility, in the interest of justified revolution, through the use of available violent methods.” Therefore the “believer’s cross” is not defined in terms of any and every kind of suffering, sickness, or angst, but rather in terms of the suffering we experience when we, like Jesus, pay the “price of social nonconformity” by renouncing the “legitimate use of violence.”[3]

[8] To Menno and Yoder, we may add several other examples of Christian pacifism, each with its own particular strategies and justifications. Some argue that pacifism not only identifies the core of the Gospel but that it “works” better than nonviolence, and so hold to a pragmatic argument. Hence, Martin Luther King Jr. believed that nonviolent, civil disobedience provided the best way to achieve racial integration. Others argue that what is decisive about pacifism is not that it provides the most faithful way to live in Christian obedience, but that it expresses the compassion of Jesus, specifically his identification with the poor and the powerless. Thus the pacifism of Dorothy Day and Thomas Merton is an expression of solidarity with the human condition, in particular the experience of powerlessness and poverty. Certainly, as Yoder argues, it is important that each type of pacifism be respected in its own right. However, alongside such “systematic diversity” there exists a “moral commonality” in large part due to the shared doctrinal commitments noted above.[4]

[9] In addition to the theological emphases noted above, there are two further reasons why pacifism has the appeal it now has among mainline churches. The first is the widespread acceptance of postmodernism, specifically its suspicion of universalizability, that is, the belief that there are objective norms that one could apply across communities and cultures. The postmodern suspicion of universalizability is threefold: First, postmodernists question whether transcendent truths are discernable since knowledge of good and evil is inextricable from the particular narrative and historical circumstances of a given community. Second, postmodernists seek to recover the authority these particular narratives and visions once had concerning a given worldview. Third, and most important for our purposes, postmodernists argue that when our moral accounts make recourse to universal visions of good and evil, acts of coercion necessarily follow. That is to say, all attempts to transcend the particularity of our own views and to articulate them in terms of universalizable moral standards are essentially acts of violence and domination, albeit in a refined and subtle form.[5]

[10] To a great extent, this postmodern suspicion of universalizability drives the theological ethics of Stanley Hauerwas, the most influential pacifist writing today. In The Peaceable Kingdom, Hauerwas’s point of departure is his dissatisfaction with “unqualified ethics,” an ethics abstracted from a particular time, place, and community, specifically the modern theories of deontology and utilitarianism. Although often opposed to each other, those theories are alike in their “attempt to secure a foundation for the moral life unfettered by the contingencies of our histories and communities.” Such theories, however, operate with a flawed anthropology, placing undue stress on “autonomy,” which is a necessary postulate of a morality that transcends these contingencies. As a result, they are unable to account for those unelected relations and commitments-such as being part of a family-that are “central to the human project.” More dangerously, these theories perpetuate a “systemic form of self-deception” regarding our individual power to create our own moral worlds. This self-deception manifests itself in “unrelentingly manipulative” interpersonal relations, in which, under the guise of respecting the autonomy of others, persons engage in “elaborate games of power and self-interest.” It also has a propensity to underwrite “coercion” because, from this perspective, “if others refuse to accept my account of ‘rationality,’ it seems within my bounds to force them to be true to their ‘true’ selves.”[6]

[11] The church, then, has two roles in Hauerwas’s ethics. First, the church provides a “community of virtues,” in which persons recognize their sinful tendencies toward power, control, self-deception, and violence, and are transformed through acquiring the true freedom that comes to those who have learned “to be at peace with themselves, one another, the stranger,” and “God.” Discipleship is “quite simply extended training in being dispossessed” because “to become followers of Jesus means that we must, like him, be dispossessed of all that we think gives us power over our own lives and the lives of others.” This process is a gradual one of learning to “lay down” one’s inherent propensities for violence in order to become “a participant in God’s community of peace and justice.” Second, the church is a “servant community” in which the “peaceable kingdom” initiated by Jesus is manifested to the world. The church’s responsibility is not to develop an overarching social ethics that stands apart from its communal practices-to do so would inevitably lead to the coercion that accompanies “unqualified ethics.” Rather, the church is called to be a nonviolent witness to the new reality made possible by Christ’s peace and reconciliation. As such, the “church does not have a social ethic, but the church is a social ethic.” Through its faithful imitation of the cross, the church practices nonviolence and thereby participates in Christ’s peaceable kingdom.[7]

[12] The second reason why pacifism has such currency among mainline churches has to do with secularism, that is, the perspective that it is both possible and desirable to articulate a natural morality that is independent from religious beliefs. The roots of secularism run deep in the Christian tradition in institutional arrangements such as the distinction between priestly and lay vocations, the separation of the powers of church and state, and the decision in seventeenth-century Europe to look for nondogmatic foundations for the moral life. Over the course of the past two centuries, however, secularism has developed into a perspective that stands apart from and in opposition to a religious perspective. Where the religious perspective sees morality as inseparable from a framework of belief, the secularist perspective argues that there are self-evident principles that can provide the basis for a civil society and the good life. Further, religious beliefs are considered relevant only to the extent that they respect the epistemological limits of secularism. That is to say, religious arguments must be justified in terms of nonreligious values. Therefore, as Wolfhart Pannenberg argues, secularism has evolved into a perspective that valorizes “the autonomy of a secular society and culture determinedly independent from the influence of church and religious tradition.”[8]

[13] Consequently, surrounded by a liberal society that assimilates important Christian moral insights, such as the dignity of the individual, while at the same time rejects Christian doctrines, mainline churches search for ways to articulate their own particular commitments regarding human nature and the human good. But in a society that leaves very little ethical room for the church to maneuver, what distinctive moral vision does the Christian faith offer? Other issues of moral gravity, such as abortion, have proved problematic in that mainline churches have been unable to find a position that their own membership can recognize as legitimate and free of internal controversy. Pacifism, on the other hand, provides a stance that is morally serious and observes the boundaries set for religious observance by a secular society. That is to say, pacifism represents the considered decision of a group of individuals regarding their own ethical conduct. As such, pacifism is a private stance taken by the church acting as a voluntary association that does not seek to engage or shape the moral language of the godless public sphere.

Strengths and Weaknesses of Pacifism

[14] I tried to present a sympathetic and fair view of pacifism for most Christians. One reason I have done so is to affirm my earlier observation that there are no pure and simple “knockdown” arguments that refute pacifism. The objection, for example, that pacifism advocates an ethics of withdrawal does not hold water. As Hauerwas (among others) makes clear, while pacifists reject the common moral language of a secular society, they “are engaged in politics,” albeit “a politics of the kingdom that reveals the insufficiency of all politics based on coercion and falsehood and finds the true source of power in servanthood rather than domination.”[9] My chief reason for describing pacifism so carefully, however, is to show that serious weaknesses accompany the strengths of pacifism-indeed, pacifism’s strengths are precisely where its weaknesses reside, in both its theological emphases and its accommodations to postmodernism and secularism.

[15] To begin, pacifism’s interpretation of the love commands and its thesis concerning the accessibility of the eschatological vision of peace promised in the kingdom of God are far from incontrovertible. Without question, the distinctiveness of Christian ethics hinges on articulation of the tension between the created order and its eschatological fulfillment. It is not clear, however, that peacemaking is the essential virtue necessitated by an ethics that lives within this tension. Even in those passages in the New Testament that directly promote nonviolence, it is not clear that what is being called for is a uniform position of pacifism regarding violence in every form. For example, in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, a text that most pacifists regard as authoritative regarding the “new commands” that Jesus gives concerning love and nonresistance (5:38-48), it is not certain that the proper interpretation is that which takes these commands at face value. In fact, there is evidence in the text itself of a way of understanding that insists that Jesus’ words are not to be taken ad literam. The most obvious example is the apparent addition of “spiritualizing” phrases (poor in spirit . . . hunger and thirst for righteousness . . . pure in heart) to the comparable passage in Luke’s Sermon on the Plain (6:20-26).[10] Further, when viewed more generally, the Sermon on the mount is subject to several possible interpretations. As many have noted, different tensions in the discourse suggest at least three interpretations: (one) as a perfectionist code that stands in line with Rabbinic Judaism; (two) as an impossible ideal that is intended to drive believers to desperation so that they will seek God’s mercy; and (three) as an interim ethic to preserve the Christian community through the trials of the apocalypse.[11] Each of these interpretations possesses a measure of validity, yet each dictates a different accounting of the commands to love and nonviolence-the perfectionist interpretation calls for a literal interpretation, the impossible ideal for adherence in spirit but not necessarily in letter, and the interim interpretation as norms that are obsolete, given that the end is not as near as once was thought. Given this indeterminacy, it is not surprising that commentators impose, implicitly or explicitly, additional hermeneutical frameworks to underscore the pacifist implications of the Sermon onthe Mount.[12]

[16] Another point where pacifist arguments are flawed is in their accommodation to postmodernism. As we have seen, particularly in the form presented by Hauerwas, pacifism accepts postmodern suspicions of universalizability and conveys unique authority to the formative narratives and practices of the church. This accommodation comes, however, at a high price. By accepting an outlook in which all universalizable standards are forms of violence, pacifism reduces the moral field of vision into a stark choice between perpetuating violence or surrendering all claims on the other. While rhetorically impressive, this outlook treats as moral equivalents disparate acts such as aggressive verbal arguments, the arrest of a kidnapper, suicide-bombing, and brutal invasions by conquering armies. Thus it negates any meaningful distinctions one could draw between the different modalities of coercion that societies use both internally and externally to protect the well-being of its citizens. Further, it cannot distinguish between a government founded on democratic principles and a government founded on sheer terror-given that the former is based on universalizable, and therefore oppressive, values concerning rights to life or liberty, it is morally no better than the latter. Consequently, pacifism’s accommodation of postmodernism leads to overly broad and counterintuitive conclusions regarding the modalities of coercion and forms of government.

[17] A third point where pacifism is weak is in regard to its response to secularism. As we have seen, one reason for the current popularity of pacifism is that it provides a way for the church to articulate its distinctive moral vision in the midst of the prevailing secular culture. By forsaking, however, the moral vocabulary through which the state develops its conception of justice and, by implication, its justifications for coercion, pacifism reinforces the extreme separation between church and state espoused by recent secularism.[13] As such, pacifism ensures the further marginalization of the church in an increasingly secular society.

Just War

[18] For many, even to acknowledge the shortcomings mentioned above is tantamount to denying the legitimacy of pacifism. Particularly in the form defended by Hauerwas, the ethical framework for pacifism is not deontology but virtue theory. Pacifism, then, is not defined in terms of an absolute rule prohibiting violence but in terms of a signal virtue that arises from becoming adequately familiar with the guiding telos, or end, of a community. As a result, from the perspective of committed pacifists, those who acknowledge the strengths of pacifism yet cannot overlook its shortcomings have not been adequately formed by the communal practices of the church. The recalcitrant have simply not developed the practical intellect necessary for recognizing the centrality of peacemaking, and the primary means through which they can develop such an appreciation is to immerse themselves further in the formative practices of the church.

[19] In contrast, I want to propose an account of just-war theory that nonetheless acknowledges pacifism’s theological emphases on the centrality of eschatology and ecclesiology, as well as its accommodation of postmodernism and secularism. Such a reconceived theory of just war would necessarily touch upon these issues and, to this extent, will bear a conceptual family resemblance to the positions taken by pacifists. The account of just war that I present will even presuppose much of the framework of virtue theory. Consequently, it will not so much aim to refute or defeat pacifism as to propose its own explanation concerning the relation between the Christian faith and coercion.

Just War in Augustine

[20] Typically, the locus classicus in the New Testament for just war is Romans 13:1-6, in which Paul argues that Christians have an obligation to pray for and obey the “governing authorities.” On this basis theologians articulated a political theology in which the state was created by God to maintain order. To preserve this order, Christians were called to bear civil authority and protect the common good, and a central part of this obligation entailed military protection of the state. Augustine is the originator of this interpretation, and it is carried on by Thomas Aquinas, Martin Luther, and John Calvin, among many others.[14]

[21] Although this interpretation is central to traditional articulations of just war, a better entry point is, however, the eschatology that such an interpretation presupposes, particularly as we find it in Augustine.[15] For Augustine, the central implication of living “between the times” is not an awareness of the new heights of love of which humanity is now capable, but of how problematic and tragic expressions of love can be this side of eternity. As a result, Christians must recognize certain limitations regarding the peace that is possible in this world. Eternal peace, in which all persons and communities are united in love and harmony with God, lies outside our grasp. Temporal peace, which is a pale reflection of eternal peace, most often takes the form of the cessation of hostilities rather than the presence of concord. Further, given the persistence of our fallen condition in a flawed universe, the neighbor-love mandated in the New Testament can be exercised through the use of coercion, particularly in acts of protecting the weak, preserving life, repelling aggression, and restoring peace. Augustine therefore views war as a regrettable accommodation to the fractured world that we inhabit. Moreover, given that human sinfulness compromises our basic judgments about good and evil, the circumstances and motivations for going to war can never be fully justified. War is a tragic reality tinged with regret, sadness, and second thoughts, and the doctrine of just war limits the scope of violence that is permissible in the effort to ensure our safety and well-being.

[22] As many have noted, two aspects of Augustine’s wider thought inform what he believes about just war. The first is his emphasis on interiority-the intent or motivation behind an action is what counts most because the exterior act is not trustworthy and can in many cases deceive. For example, God the Father’s giving of his Son Jesus and Judas’ betrayal of Jesus are in many ways similar acts; one, however, does the act of giving out of love, and the other out of greed. Augustine argues therefore that it is the difference in “intention” that differentiates the two acts. Viewed from the perspective of action, both are acts of giving over, “yet if we measure it by the diverse intentions,” Augustine reasons, “we find the one a thing to be loved, the other a thing to be detested. Such is the force of charity. See that it alone discriminates, it alone distinguishes.”[16]

[23] This distinction between act and intention stands behind Augustine’s interpretation of the Sermon on the Mount. In Contra Faustum, Augustine argues against the pacifist interpretation because the admonition “resist not evil” is properly understood as an interior directive and not an external commandment. “What is required here is not a bodily action, but an inward position” because “the sacred seat of virtue is the heart.” Such a view, of course, leaves open the possibility that one might try to justify horrid actions on the argument that they proceed from good intentions. A great deal of harm might be justified on the basis of Augustine’s famous directive to “love and do what you will.”[17] Augustine, however, argues that the priority he places on the dispositions protects against acts of brutality: the “real evils in war” are “love of violence, revengeful cruelty, fierce and implacable enmity, wild resistance, and the lust of power,” all of which are first and foremost evils of the heart. Thus what generally distinguishes those who go to war unjustly from those who go to war with just cause is precisely that the latter act to “punish these things.”[18]

[24] The second aspect is the duality Augustine posits between the civitas terrena, or “earthly city,” and the civitas dei, or “city of God.” As Augustine makes clear in Book XIX of the City of God, the citizens of these two cities are determined on the basis of their love: “Two cities have been formedof twoloves.”[19] In the city of God are those who love God to the point of self-forgetfulness, primarily through viewing God as the highest good, or summum bonum. In the earthly city are those who love themselves to the point of forgetting God, primarily through becoming fixed on material goods and earthly enjoyments that draw the heart’s attention away from the true end of all desire. Although real, these two cities are not tangible or embodied-the citizens of each city are commingled in every human institution, both ecclesial and civil. Therefore, the distinction between the two cities is to be understood mystically and eschatologically.

[25] The city of God provides the paradigm for the peace that should exist in earthly societies. The “peace of the celestial city is the perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God, and of one another in God.” Although, as I mentioned earlier, eternal peace lies outside the realm of possibilities in this life, it nonetheless is the measure by which all earthly peace is to be compared. Moreover, emblems of eternal peace are knit within the fabric of our nature, particularly the human inclinations for order and sociality. This eschatological tension plays itself out in a paradoxical state of affairs, in which fractured humans with divided hearts struggle to live in peace and yet constantly experience darkness, discord, and moral ambiguity at every level-between the members of one’s household, the city, the world, and the angels. The most pressing symptom of the discord that affects the world is war. Indeed, war is the perfect example of the paradox that Augustine tries to describe. Even when it is justified, it is a cause for lamentation that human beings are so enmeshed in misery. And even when war is waged unjustly, those who wage it are motivated by a desire, however warped and shallow, for peace. It is “with the desire for peace that wars are waged, even by those who take pleasure in exercising their warlike nature in command and battle.”[20]

[26] It is, therefore, of first importance that the citizens of the heavenly city realize that they are a “society of pilgrims,” living in a world in which no human institutions are free from paradox and moral ambiguity. Even the visible church, which has been established by Christ as the vehicle of salvation and is the most perfect society that the world can know, remains essentially distinct from the heavenly city, containing among its members many reprobate among the elect. For the true meaning of Christ’s statement, “My kingdom is not from this world” (John 18:36), is to make clear that no earthly association, the church included, can ever claim to be representative of thecity of God.[21] Nonetheless, on the basis of this same paradox, it is also important for the citizens of the heavenly city to recognize that human institutions in every form help maintain the fragile and penultimate peace of this earth. Citizens of the heavenly city must not be “scrupulous” about “diversities” in the “institutions whereby earthly peace is secured and maintained, but recognizing that, however various these are, they all tend to one and the same end of earthly peace.”[22]

[27] As with his emphasis on interiority, the accommodation that Augustine suggests on the basis of his doctrine of the two cities leaves open the possibility that one might drape unjust wars in a cloak of piety. For those, however, who truly seek to reconcile their duties to the state with their faith, the vision of the heavenly city provides a way for those who wage war to examine their consciences. Given that war is both necessary and evil, the fruit of such examination would be to instill humility and a desire for true peace. Such an exercise was required not only of soldiers but of all Christians at every level of society, and it could only improve the commonwealth. Augustine writes the following in a letter to Marcellinus, a Roman imperial commissioner who asked for spiritual advice concerning the relation between church and state, in which Christian soldiers play an integral part:

[28] Wherefore let those who say that the teaching of Christ is incompatible with the state’s well-being, give us an army composed of soldiers such as the teaching of Christ requires them to be; let them give us such subjects, such husbands and wives, such parents and children, such masters and servants, such kings, such judges-in fine, even such taxpayers and tax gatherers, as the Christian religion has taught that men should be, and then let them dare to say that it is adverse to the well-being of the commonwealth; yea, rather, let them no longer hesitate to confess that this teaching, if it were obeyed, would be the salvation of the commonwealth.[23]

[29] Both Augustine’s emphasis on interiority and his doctrine of the two cities underlie the criteria that he offers to determine whether or not a given war is justified. The first criteria is that war should be just in its intent, which is to restore peace. To Boniface, a Roman general who struggled with a call to the monastery, Augustine writes, “Peace should be the object of your desire. War should be waged only as a necessity . . . therefore even in the course of war you should cherish the spirit of a peacemaker.” The second criteria is just cause, or that the objective of war should be to vindicate justice. That is to say, the primary purpose of a war is retributive rather than expansive-states should only wage war to punish another state for a wrong. “We usually describe a just war,” Augustine writes, “as one that avenges wrongs, that is, when a nation or state has to be punished either for refusing to make amends for outrages done by its subjects, or to restore what it has seized injuriously.” The third criteria is legitimate authority, or that only heads of state should wage war, which derives from Augustine’s understanding that peace entails order, and that order is best achieved when persons observe the roles assigned to them in society. Thus Augustine argues that the private citizen should not engage in an act of self-defense because no one can do this without passion, self-assertion, and a loss of love. “As to killing others to defend one’s own life, I do not approve of this,” he writes, “unless one happens to be a soldier or a public functionary acting not for oneself but in defense of others or of the city.”[24]

Augustinian and Secular Just War Theories

[30] Augustine is regarded by many as the father of just-war theory, and a review of his contribution is nearly obligatory in reflections on war in both medieval and modern thought. Nonetheless, despite this indebtedness, as the just-war theory developed, theologians used different grounds from which to justify their arguments. The most significant revision occurs with Thomas Aquinas. With some modification, Thomas retains Augustine’s three criteria for just war, but he places them within a very different framework, in which war belongs exclusively to the natural and political, rather than supernatural, order.[25] For Thomas, three principles lie at the heart of the political order-and so by implication at the heart of just-war theory. First, political authority and law do not exist merely because of human sinfulness, but correspond to needs and purposes inherent in human nature itself. Second, political authority is not in principle subordinate to the authority of the church-specifically, it is the responsibility of the state to “bear the sword.” Third, temporal power is fulfilled when it enables its citizens to lead the “good life.” Accordingly, in order to preserve the common good, the state occasionally has to engage in war, but war should always governed by reasonable behavior and by the state’s obligations to its citizens to protect their health and well-being. Therefore Thomas uses the just-war criteria to regulate the state’s actions according to a general set of rules based on natural law or a universal conception of human flourishing.[26] As a result, Thomas’s account of just war differs markedly from Augustine’s. Augustine views the political order as necessary but suspect, as a remedy to the persistence of sin and as an accommodation to living “between the times.” In contrast, Thomas views the political order as natural to human flourishing with its own set of internally coherent rules. Therefore, Thomas’s political thought does not share Augustine’s sense of ambiguity concerning the structures that express human sociability and, by extension, those decisions that are made by magistrates regarding war.

[31] Thomas’s decision to place his account of just war within a framework of natural law initiated a school of thought that argued for just-war criteria on the basis of universalizable principles of reason, which culminated in the secularization of just-war thinking in theologians and philosophers such as Franciscus de Victoria, Hugo Grotius, and, more recently, Michael Walzer.[27] This secularizing trend is not without important contributions, particularly in terms of offering a more systematic development of the just-war criteria into two sets: the first, ius ad bellum, stipulate the requirements for going to war; the second, ius in bello, stipulate the requirements for waging a war justly. These requirements are now virtually definitive of the modern theory of just war:

A. Ius ad bellum

1. Just cause: fundamental rights must be at stake, either directly or indirectly.

2. Legitimate authority: a state may resort to war only if the decision is made by proper authorities and made public both to that state’s citizens and to the enemy state.

3. Last resort: a state may declare war only after it has exhausted all other plausible, peaceful alternatives to resolving a given conflict.

4. Probability of success: a state may not resort to war if it can foresee that doing so will have no measurable impact on the situation.

5. Proportionality of ends: a state must weigh the costs/benefits of engaging in war, in particular the casualties at stake.

B. Ius in bello

1. Discrimination: soldiers are only entitled to target those who are engaged in harm, and cannot attack noncombatants.

2. Proportionality of means: soldiers may only use force proportional to the end they seek. Weapons of mass destruction, for example, are outof the question.[28]Without question, the twofold criteria offered in the modern theory overlap with some of Augustine’s thought on war. For example, while Augustine does not spend a great deal of time on ius in bello considerations, those identified easily follow from his argument that war be limited by the obligationof neighbor-love.[29]

[32] Nonetheless, theologians and political philosophers have sought to retrieve Augustine’s account in order to engage critically and modify the modern theory. Of these retrievals the most influential are those of Paul Ramsey and Reinhold Niebuhr.[30] Ramsey argues that the essence of the Augustinian account of just war is found in three ideas: the recognition of humanity’s fallen nature and “divided will,” the immense distance between the God’s eternal justice and earthly attempts to approximate it, and the priority on neighbor-love, specifically agape. Taken together, these ideas challenge the adequacy of the natural law framework of modern just-war theory. From the outset, “the just-war theory did not rest on upon the supposition that men possess a general competence to discriminate,” by “means of clear universal principles of justice,” whether “one side or social system” was “just and the others unjust.” Rather, it assumed that political communities, bound by a common will rather than a commonwealth of reason, are incapable of discerning the true nature of justice. Further, the pervasiveness of human sin directly affects human capacities for love-we are unable “to will entirely, and with a whole heart” because “the truth is that, according to Augustine, fratricidal love and brotherly love based on love of God are always commingled in history.” Consequently, Christians must recognize the extent to which our attempts to find an “ultima ratio of war” are merely rationalizations of our communal “agreements of will.” An Augustinian understanding of just war therefore does not assume that we can reliably discern “the presence of justice” on “one side, its absence on another,” but allows the possibility that the temporal justice that exists “may tragically be on both sides.” Further, rather than trying to generate the just-war criteria on the basis of a universalizable vision of natural law or political order, an Augustinian account of just war seeks to articulate a “love-transformed justice,” in which agape limits what Christians may do when they resort to force. Specifically, agape challenges ad bellum considerations by stipulating that the overriding concern in war must be to protect our neighbors in need, and in bello considerations by stipulating that noncombatants never be harmed.[31]

[33] For Ramsey, war is therefore justifiably undertaken when it is an act of Christian love on behalf of innocent fellow human beings who are suffering unduly. “While Jesus taught that a disciple in his own case should turn the other cheek,” Ramsey reasons, “he did not enjoin that his disciples should lift up the face of another oppressed man for him to be struck again on his other cheek.” It is “no part of the work of charity to allow this to continue to happen.” Instead, “it is the work of love and mercy to deliver as many of God’s children from tyranny, and to protect from oppression, if one can, as many of those for whom Christ died as it may be possible to save.”[32]

[34] Niebuhr’s retrieval of Augustine is more measured, disagreeing with some of Augustine’s teaching on specific doctrines, such as the transmission of sin, as well as his characterizations of grace and love, which Niebuhr views as too wed to Neoplatonism.[33] Nevertheless, Niebuhr generally adopts an Augustinian stance. For Niebuhr, humanity is caught between human freedom and finitude to the extent that it is not possible to make a clear distinction between human creativity and destructiveness simply because these values are often expressed in the same action. The human person “stands perpetually outside and beyond every social, natural, communal and rational cohesion.” This freedom makes for great “creativity,” but it also provides the temptation to use these different communal spheres for selfish ends, and this is the source of “destructiveness.” Accordingly, Niebuhr views human nature as inhabiting a “realm of infinite possibilities of good and evil because of the character of human freedom.”[34] Human persons are not totally depraved. A person can do evil only because he or she has freedom, and freedom is the identifying mark of our status as children of God, made in God’s image. Human persons are, however, at the same time morally discontinuous beings who are internally divided, contradictory, and self-centered. Moreover, when persons enter communal life, the only way that they can cooperate effectively is through living according to a “collective egoism” that denies their capacity to live for others.

[35] In every human group there is less reason to guide and to check impulse, less capacity for self-transcendence, less ability to comprehend the needs of others and therefore more unrestrained egoism than the individuals who compose the groups reveal in their interpersonal relationships.[35]

[36] In other words, sin in the form of inordinate self-love is pervasive even in the best of communities.

[37] No matter how wide the perspectives which the human mind may reach, how broad the loyalties which the human imagination may conceive, how universal the community which human statecraft may organize, or how pure the aspirations of the saintliest idealists may be, there is no level of human moral or social achievement in which there is not some corruption of inordinate self-love. [36]

[38] Given this dialectical tension, Niebuhr argues that the great achievement of Augustine is his doctrine of the two cities. In his characterization of the earthly city as dominated by self-love, Augustine is the “first great ‘realist’ in Western history,” offering an “account of the social factions, tensions, and competitions which we know to be well-nigh universal on every level of community.”[37] At the same time, by pairing his account of the civitas terrena with the civitas dei, Augustine’s realism does not degenerate into pessimism. The city of God in Augustine’s view, establishes the ultimate ideal of the love of God that is universal in scope and maintains prophetic distance between the kingdom of God and all attempts to embody it on this earth. Christians must not deny either aspect of the paradox but must recognize that they face a “double task.” The first is “to reduce the anarchy of the world to some kind of immediately sufferable order and unity.” The second is “to set these tentative and insecure unities and achievements under the criticism of the ultimate ideal.” Therefore, “with Augustine, we must realize that the peace of this world is gained by strife.” This does not “justify us either in rejecting such a tentative peace or in accepting it as final.” The “peace of the city of God can use and transmute the lesser and insecure peace of the city of the world; but that can be done only if the peace of the world is not confused with the ultimatepeace of God.”[38]

[39] Niebuhr rejects pacifism, particularly as he finds it in liberal Christianity. When “liberal Christianity defines the doctrine of non-resistance, so that it becomes an injunction against violence in conflict, it ceases to provide a perspective from which the sinful element in all resistance, conflict, and coercion may be discovered.” It thus “prompts moral complacency rather than contrition, and precisely in those groups in which the evils which flow from self-assertion are most covert.” That is to say, the anthropology and political theology of pacifism is insufficiently complex-it fails to respect the dialectical tension inherent in our souls and in our societies. In addition, when pacifism is the chosen position of many wealthy Christians, it obscures the more subtle means through which these persons impose their will-to-power through other less violent means. According to Niebuhr, most pacifists in the liberal church are those who minister to “social groups who have the economic power to be able to dispense with more violent forms of coercion” and can afford to “condemn” all violence as “un-Christian.”

[40] For Niebuhr the central task in social ethics is to advocate for a “balance of power” among the competing forces and interests that are in tension in our communities. The allowance that Augustine makes for the pilgrims of the heavenly kingdom to make use of temporal justice becomes, in Niebuhr’s hands, permission to do whatever it takes to achieve this balance. He argues, “if a season of violence can establish a just social system and can create the possibilities of its preservation, there is no purely ethical ground upon which violence and revolution can be ruled out.” Therefore a “responsible relationship to the political order” makes “an unqualified disavowal of violence impossible.” Thus, there will always be crises in which “the cause of justice will have to be defended against those who will attempt its violent destruction.”[39]

Toward an Augustinian Theory of Just War

[41] Though substantial, I believe that the retrievals offered by Ramsey and Niebuhr are selective and that these do not do full justice to the complexity of Augustine’s thought on war. In Ramsey’s retrieval, war becomes less of a tragic necessity and more of a positive good, as a duty or requirement of agape that in generalis clearly known.[40] Ramsey’s characterization of the agape that should direct our thinking is not defined in terms of intentionality, as it is for Augustine, but in terms of a universal respect for persons. The benefit of this shift is that Ramsey’s account is less subject to the possibilities of exploitation that we noted in Augustine’s original formulation. The liability incurred, however, is that Ramsey’s account owes less to Augustine and more to deontology, which is Ramsey’s favored system of ethics. Finally, Ramsey’s practical concerns focus on political doctrines such as containment and nuclear deterrence, which were topics of great interest in the historical context in which he developed his retrieval.[41] I have not taken the space to review these practical aspects of Ramsey’s thought because, now that the cold war is over, the issues we currently face are different, and these must be taken into account in any forthcoming retrieval of Augustinian just war.

[42] Where, however, Ramsey’s retrieval threatens to make straight the roads that Augustine intentionally paved crookedly, Niebuhr’s retrieval goes too far in emphasizing the ambiguity and paradox of Augustine’s doctrine of the two cities. The permission Augustine grants to the citizens of the heavenly city to make use of those institutions that ensure temporal peace becomes in Niebuhr’s hands blanket approval for any action as long as it promotes the best outcome. Thus, if Ramsey forces Augustine into a system of deontology, Niebuhr forces Augustine into a system of consequentialism. Niebuhr disregards the criteria that Augustine provided for testing whether or not one wages war justly. Niebuhr writes that,

once we have . . . accepted coercion as a necessary instrument of social cohesion, we can make no absolute distinctions between nonviolent and violent types of coercion or between coercion used by governments and that which is used by revolutionaries. If such distinctions are made they must be justified in terms of the consequences in which they result.[42] Finally, of course, as with Ramsey, the historical context of Niebuhr’s engagement with just-war theory determines in large part the practical issues that he addresses. In addition to sharing Ramsey’s concern with issues attending the cold war, Niebuhr was also motivated by his disappointment with the Social Gospel movement.[43] Here as well, Niebuhr addresses topics that are not the same as those we currently face.

Despite these shortcomings, Ramsey and Niebuhr provide important insights concerning what shape an Augustinian account of just war would have to take to be responsive to the theological, philosophical, and cultural issues mentioned in my discussion of pacifism. Here I will present in brief my own outline of what such an account might look like.

[43] As we have seen, central to Augustine’s thought on war is an awareness of eschatology. The kingdom of God is both real and not yet realized. Christians must take seriously the demands of neighbor-love in the New Testament, but they must also realize the extent to which the paradoxical tension of “real and not yet realized” dictates our embodiment of Christ’s neighbor-love. While recognizing that our fundamental identity rests on the kingdom of God in its fullness, our deliberation and action are still conditioned by the fallen created order that we inhabit. This means, however, that we regrettably still find ourselves in situations in which force is necessary to respond to threats that are both internal and external to our society. The regret that accompanies the use of force is not an expression of sentimentality but reflects the fact that each of us shares in the responsibility for coercion, even if force is delegated to the particular offices of law enforcement or the military. It also reflects our awareness that human sinfulness compromises our basic judgments about right and wrong, and to this extent ambiguity always attends our decisions regarding war. Moreover, the vision of the heavenly city places eschatological pressure on the institutions we use to maintain temporal peace. Christians are called not only to help maintain the social order but to work to transform it through making its institutions more equitable and fair-in other words, just. Therefore the just-war criteria test the extent to which a war serves the end of preserving peace or simply extends the national interest in domination. The criteria apply to the national justifications for acts of war, and in this capacity they provide a common moral vocabulary that enables discussion over the merits of a given proposed conflict. In other words, they also provide a way for individual soldiers to test their own consciences regarding the ethics of a given war. Throughout the application of the criteria, some basic guidelines apply: If an act of war does not express neighbor-love in terms of protecting the innocent, the vulnerable, or the powerless, then there are good reasons to believe that the war cannot be justified, even within the broad categories of justification allowed by Augustine. Those justifications of war that initiate a conflict under the categories of intervention or preemptive attacks would be subject to the strictest scrutiny. Finally, when a war is deemed both unavoidable and justified, the just-war criteria establishes parameters for how that war is to be humanely waged.

[44] Within this overarching eschatological vision, the church’s role is to recognize the extent to which it must live with the same gifts and burdens as other human institutions. Relationships within the church are characterized by love and kindness as well as selfishness and cruelty. Nonetheless, though the church is always morally compromised, Christ has established it as the vehicle for God’s salvation of the world. The church is therefore called to cultivate a love-shaped ethic in order to live as faithfully as it can after the vision of the heavenly city. This means that the church must engage in proclamation as well as self-criticism-a repentant people who know their own sinful propensities but who hope and work for the renewal of all things in Christ. In its political theology this witness takes the form of respecting the pluralities that exist, both religious and cultural, throughout the world. Such a stance is required of those who are called to love their neighbors. The church is therefore wary of any attempts by the state to establish its own totalizing vision of justice or peace-its own “new world order.” Such visions destroy the particularities of our neighbors by forcing them into a monoculture, and these ambitions have historically resulted in regimes noted for their hubris andbrutality.[44] Consequently, the church must hold the state accountable by the standards of the heavenly city. When the topic is the legitimacy of coercion, the church critically engages the state through the just-war criteria. Application of just-war criteria is not a simple task of placing a template over a particular set of circumstances, given the extent to which sin affects our judgments of right and wrong. As such, using the criteria is a virtue that is developed over time by thoughtful consideration of the different justifications for the use of force, all the while recognizing our own fallibility. Therefore it is imperative for clergy and laity to be familiar with the criteria in order for the church to engage in these wider discussions. Finally, the church has a prophetic role to play even when a given war is acknowledged as necessary-the church is called to pray for the state’s enemies as well as for the state, and to work for reconciliation.

[45] This eschatological and ecclesial framework makes possible an account of just war that is sensitive to some of the concerns expressed by postmodernism noted earlier. The particular narratives of the Christian faith determine its overall vision as well as its employment of just-war criteria. At the same time, while the Christian narrative provides the basis for any ultimate justification for the just-war criteria, its insights and values are intelligible to others who do not share this narrative. In other words, just-war criteria are not entirely a matter of social construction but identify truths that are essential to our basic humanity, even if every culture and religion does not agree on every aspect.[45] Such agreement is evident in the overlap noted earlier between Augustinian and secular approaches to just war.

[46] Finally, the eschatological and ecclesial framework provides an important check on the pervasiveness of secularism in our liberal society. An Augustinian account of just war allows that there is an important distinction between the spheres of church and state, but at the same time, while distinct, these spheres are not completely separated. There are citizens of the heavenly city in both spheres, as well as citizens of the earthly city. Nonetheless, one of the ways in which the church expresses its distinctive moral vision is through its prophetic engagement with a wider society in terms of the legitimacy of the use of force. As we have seen, essential to such a witness is the recognition that any claim of justice in modern just-war theory is at best a relative claim that must be challenged and occasionally rebuked. From the Augustinian perspective, no one can claim absolute righteousness in any action, particularly when that action entails bloodshed. To this extent the term “just war” can be misleading if, by justice, it means that one party stands firmly in the right and another in the wrong. Rather, in the Augustinian account, wars are only “justified” given a specific set of circumstances and in light of the exigencies of living “between the times.” War, in others words, is always a cause for lamentation, and even when a particular war is justified, our consciences are never clear but at best comforted.

Concluding Remarks

[47] Admittedly, the Augustinian account of just war that I have sketched in this essay is not free of the potential for abuse. As we have seen, Augustine’s account does not exclude the possibility of manipulation and deceit. In addition, one of the risks inherent in the Augustinian account is that it becomes so focused on the theological justifications for war that one is tempted merely to accept without further qualification the criteria established in secular theory. When this is the case, the Augustinian account does little more than “baptize” commonly held beliefs. In addition to these shortcomings, the Augustinian account that I have sketched does not address particular ethical issues that we currently face. Humanitarian intervention, preemptive attacks, noncombatant immunity, nuclear proliferation, and stateless terrorism are merely the more pressing issues that an extended retrieval of Augustine will need to engage and treat at length.

[48] I hope I have shown, however, that an Augustinian account of just war does have a great deal of explanatory power-at least as much, if not more, than pacifism. Although there are good reasons for continuing the tradition of pacifism in the church, we will lose a great deal if our witness becomes one-sided. As Michael Walzer argues, war is a moral activity-moral arguments accompany both its initiation and its conduct, and these arguments can therefore be tested and found either sufficient or wanting.[46] If the church refrains from entering this discussion, its appeals for peace, however heartfelt, will be misunderstood, dismissed, or ignored.

[1] Menno Simons, Foundations of Christian Doctrine in The Complete Writings of Menno Simons, c.1496-1561, ed. John C. Wenger, trans. Leonard Verduin (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald, 1955), 108. Quoted from Cahill, Love Your Enemies, 164. For more on Anabaptist attitudes toward violence, see Roland H. Bainton, Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace: A Historical Survey and Critical Re-evaluation (Nashville: Abingdon, 1990), 152-65.

[2] Menno Simons, Foundations of Christian Doctrine in The Complete Writings of Menno Simons, c.1496-1561, ed. John C. Wenger, trans. Leonard Verduin (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald, 1955), 108. Quoted from Cahill, Love Your Enemies, 164. For more on Anabaptist attitudes toward violence, see Roland H. Bainton, Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace: A Historical Survey and Critical Re-evaluation (Nashville: Abingdon, 1990), 152-65.

[3] John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus: vicit Agus noster (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans; Carlisle, U.K.: Paternoster, 1994), 96.

[4] John Howard Yoder, Nevertheless: A Meditation on the Varieties and Shortcomings of Religious Pacifism (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald, 1971), 132.

[5] Obviously, the description I offer here cannot account for the many versions of postmodernism at work in the current marketplace of ideas. Nonetheless, I believe I have given an adequate account of its broad insights, particularly with regard to the relevance postmodernism has for pacifism. For more on postmodernism and ethics, see Zygmunt Bauman, Postmodern Ethics (Oxford, U.K., and Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell, 1999). See also Gene Outka, “The Particularist Turn in Theological and Philosophical Ethics” in Christian Ethics: Problems and Prospects, ed. Lisa Sowle Cahill and James F. Childress (Cleveland: Pilgrim, 1996).

[6] Stanley Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom: A Primer in Christian Ethics (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1983), 7-12.

[7] Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom, 102, 47, 97, 87, 94, 99.

[8] Wolfhart Pannenberg, “How to Think About Secularism,” First Things 64 (June/July 1996): 29. For two influential studies of secularism, see also Stephen Carter, The Culture of Disbelief: How American Law and Politics Trivialize Religious Devotion (New York: Basic Books, 1993); and Richard John Neuhaus, The Naked Public Square: Religion and Democracy in America (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1984).

[9] Hauerwas, Peaceable Kingdom, 102.

[10] Here I draw from Raymond E. Brown, An Introduction to the New Testament (New York: Doubleday, 1997), 178-79.

[11] Joachim Jeremias, The Sermon on the Mount, trans. Norman Perrin, Facet Biblical Series 2 (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1963), 1-12. As Cahill notes, Jeremias is representative of even more intricate and complex schemas of interpretation in the critical literature. See Cahill, Love Your Enemies, 27-28; and in conversation with my colleague, Christopher Bryan, professor of New Testament at Sewanee.

[12] Thus Richard Hays interprets the Sermon on the Mount from the perspective of the “focal images” of “cross, community, and new creation.” These “focal images,” however, determine in advance the interpretation Hays will find most plausible. For as Hays makes clear, one image that he lays to the side is that of “love,” which he believes “cannot serve as a focal image for the synthetic task of New Testament ethics.” As we will see, love is precisely the hermeneutical lens that Augustine uses to argue for just war. See Hays, The Moral Vision of New Testament: Community, Cross, New Creation: A Contemporary Introduction to New Testament Ethics (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1996 ), 198-203; 317-44. It is interesting to note that the forms of just war that Hays discusses depart significantly from the just-war tradition. See Hays, 216-36. Compare Hays&=javascript:goNote(39s interpretation of the “Sermon on the Mount” with that of Allen Verhey in Remembering Jesus: Christian Community, Scripture, and the Moral Life (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2002), 413-18.

[13] This connection between conceptions of justice and justifications for coercion is noted by Hauerwas. “Once ‘justice&=javascript:goNote(39 is made a criterion of Christian social strategy, it can too easily take on meaning and life of its own that is not informed by the Christian’s fundamental convictions. It can, for example, be used to justify the Christian’s resort to violence to secure a more ‘relative justice.'” See Hauerwas, Peaceable Kingdom, 112-13.

[14] See Augustine, Contra Faustum, XXII, 74, in The Political Writings, ed. Henry Paolucci (Washington, D.C.: H. Regnery, 1962), 164; Martin Luther, Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed, in Martin Luther&=javascript:goNote(39s Basic Theological Writings, ed. Timothy F. Lull (Minneapolis: Fortress, 1989), 655-703; John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 2 vols., ed. John T. McNeill and Ford L. Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 4.20.1-31.

[15] The following works on Augustine have provided important background for my reflections: William R. Stevenson Jr., Christian Love and Just War: Moral Paradox and Political Life in St. Augustine and His Modern Interpreters (Macon, Ga.: Mercer University Press, 1987); Herbert A. Deane, The Political and Social Ideas of St. Augustine (New York: Columbia University Press, 1963); and Carol Harrison, Augustine: Christian Truth and Fractured Humanity (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).

[16] Augustine, Homilies on the First Epistle of John 7.7, quoted from Robert L. Holmes, “St. Augustine and the Just War Theory,” in The Augustinian Tradition, ed. Gareth B. Matthews (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999), 325. As I will argue, I see Augustine&=javascript:goNote(39s ambiguity regarding motivation and intention as less fatal to his just-war thought than Holmes does.

[17] Augustine, Homilies on the First Epistle of John 8.9, quoted from Holmes, “St. Augustine and the Just War Theory,” 327.

[18] Contra Faustum, XXII, 74-76, in Paolucci, ed., Political Writings, 164-65.

[19] Augustine, The City of God, trans. M. Dods, in A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church: Vol. II, ed. Philip Schaff (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1993), XIV.28, 282.

[20] Augustine, City of God, XIX.12, 407.

[21] Here I draw from Stevenson, Christian Love and Just War, 16-17; and Deane, The Political and Social Ideas of St. Augustine, 28-38.

[22] Augustine, City of God, XIX.17, 412-13.

[23] Augustine, Homilies on the First Epistle of John 8.9, 138.2.15, quoted from Stevenson, Christian Love and Just War, 113.

[24] Augustine, Homilies on the First Epistle of John 8.9, 189.6 and 209.2; Quaest. Hept., 6.10; Augustine, Homilies on the First Epistle of John 8.9, 47.5, quoted from Bainton, Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace, 95-96.

[25] See Bainton, Christian Attitudes toward War and Peace, 108.

[26] See Cahill, Love Your Enemies, 84.

[27] See Paul Christopher, The Ethics of War and Peace: An Introduction to Legal and Moral Issues, 2nd ed. (Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, 1999), 47-103; Michael Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars: A Moral Argument with Historical Illustrations, 3rd ed. (New York: Basic Books, 1977); John Finnis, “The Ethics of War and Peace in the Catholic Natural Law Tradition,” and Jospeh Boyle, “Just War Thinking in Catholic Natural Law,” in The Ethics of War and Peace: Religious and Secular Perspectives, ed. Terry Nardin (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996), 15-53.

[28] With some modification and differences in emphasis, the criteria that I offer here can be found in most standard theories on just war. See, for example, Brian D. Orend, “War,” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, at

[29] See Paul Ramsey, War and the Christian Conscience: How Shall Modern War Be Conducted Justly? (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1961), 34-59.

[30] This point is Stevenson&=javascript:goNote(39s; see Christian Love and Just War, 126. Stevenson overlooks, however, the extent to which Ramsey’s and Niebuhr’s retrievals of Augustine are conditioned by their respective commitments to deontology and consequentialism.

[31] This point is Stevenson&=javascript:goNote(39s; see Christian Love and Just War, 126. Stevenson overlooks, however, the extent to which Ramsey’s and Niebuhr’s retrievals of Augustine are conditioned by their respective commitments to deontology and consequentialism.

[32] This point is Stevenson&=javascript:goNote(39s; see Christian Love and Just War, 126. Stevenson overlooks, however, the extent to which Ramsey’s and Niebuhr’s retrievals of Augustine are conditioned by their respective commitments to deontology and consequentialism.

[33] This point is Stevenson&=javascript:goNote(39s; see Christian Love and Just War, 126. Stevenson overlooks, however, the extent to which Ramsey’s and Niebuhr’s retrievals of Augustine are conditioned by their respective commitments to deontology and consequentialism.

[34] This point is Stevenson&=javascript:goNote(39s; see Christian Love and Just War, 126. Stevenson overlooks, however, the extent to which Ramsey’s and Niebuhr’s retrievals of Augustine are conditioned by their respective commitments to deontology and consequentialism.

[35] This point is Stevenson&=javascript:goNote(39s; see Christian Love and Just War, 126. Stevenson overlooks, however, the extent to which Ramsey’s and Niebuhr’s retrievals of Augustine are conditioned by their respective commitments to deontology and consequentialism.

[36] This point is Stevenson&=javascript:goNote(39s; see Christian Love and Just War, 126. Stevenson overlooks, however, the extent to which Ramsey’s and Niebuhr’s retrievals of Augustine are conditioned by their respective commitments to deontology and consequentialism.

[37] This point is Stevenson&=javascript:goNote(39s; see Christian Love and Just War, 126. Stevenson overlooks, however, the extent to which Ramsey’s and Niebuhr’s retrievals of Augustine are conditioned by their respective commitments to deontology and consequentialism.

[38] This point is Stevenson&=javascript:goNote(39s; see Christian Love and Just War, 126. Stevenson overlooks, however, the extent to which Ramsey’s and Niebuhr’s retrievals of Augustine are conditioned by their respective commitments to deontology and consequentialism.

[39] This point is Stevenson&=javascript:goNote(39s; see Christian Love and Just War, 126. Stevenson overlooks, however, the extent to which Ramsey’s and Niebuhr’s retrievals of Augustine are conditioned by their respective commitments to deontology and consequentialism.

[40] This point is Stevenson&=javascript:goNote(39s; see Christian Love and Just War, 126. Stevenson overlooks, however, the extent to which Ramsey’s and Niebuhr’s retrievals of Augustine are conditioned by their respective commitments to deontology and consequentialism.

[41] See Ramsey, The Just War, passim.

[42] Niebuhr, Moral Man and Immoral Society, 179-80.

[43] See Robin W. Lovin, Reinhold Niebuhr and Christian Realism (Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995), 235-48.

[44] Here I draw from Jean Bethke Elshtain, “Just War and Humanitarian Intervention,” American University International Law Review 17:1 (2001), published online at

[45] Here I am thinking in particular of the in bello consideration of noncombatant immunity, which Islamic ethics of war do not recognize. Such an exercise in comparative ethics would be essential to a fuller description of the Augustinian just-war theory than I can present in this essay. For more on the understanding of war in Islam, see John Kelsay, Islam and War: A Study in Comparative Ethics (Louisville: Westminster John Knox, 1993), 57-76.

[46] Walzer, Just and Unjust Wars, passim.