Its Christ Or War


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But religion and war have gone hand in hand for a long time. Armies go into battle believing that God is with them, often after prayers and sacrifices to keep God on their side. In tribal cultures including Biblical ones when a people lose a war they often have to change to the worship of the winner's gods. However involving God as part of the campaign does not make a war a holy war - for a war to be a holy war, religion has to be the driving force. Many of the wars fought in the name of religion do conform to the just war conditions, but not all of them.


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Francis Bacon said there were five causes for holy war: he wrote in a Christian context, but the categories would be usable by any faith. Only the first of these causes is completely outside the scope of the conventional idea of a just cause. Some of the other causes, because of the length of time that can pass since the offending act took place are probably not just causes either. The legitimate authority for a holy war is not the government of a state except in a theocracy but the Church, or the relevant organisation or person who heads the religious institution concerned.

In ancient times the authority was often God - in the Bible there are several occasions where God gave direct instructions to peoples to wage war. This would not be the case today. The third condition of a holy war is a spiritual reward for those who take part. The doctrine of the just war does not refer to any personal rewards for the participants - and such rewards would be against such a generally austere doctrine. The first holy war was probably in October CE when the Roman emperor Constantine saw a vision of the cross in the sky with this inscription "in hoc signo vinces" in this sign you will win.

Constantine trusted the vision and had the cross inscribed on his soldiers' armor. Even though his forces were outnumbered, he won the battle against an army that was using pagan enchantment.


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  • Historians regard this as a turning point in Christianity's fortune. The great series of western holy wars were the Crusades, which lasted from until CE. The aim was to capture the sacred places in the Holy Land from the Muslims who lived there, so it was intended as a war to right wrongs done against Christianity.


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    • He raged at the capture of the holy places and the treatment given to Christians, and ordered a war to restore Christianity. He said that the war would have the support of God:.

      Let this be your war-cry in combats, because this word is given to you by God. When an armed attack is made upon the enemy, let this one cry be raised by all the soldiers of God: It is the will of God! It is the will of God! Whoever shall determine upon this holy pilgrimage and shall make his vow to God to that effect and shall offer himself to Him as a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, shall wear the sign of the cross of the Lord on his forehead or on his breast.

      The first Crusade captured Jerusalem after bitter fighting, and the residents of the city were brutalised and slaughtered by the Christian invaders. Muslims also associate the cross with violence; crusaders' rampages were undertaken under the sign of the cross. The statement attributed to Jesus " I come not to bring peace, but to bring a sword " has been interpreted by some as a call to arms for Christians. The bloody history of the tradition has provided disturbing images and violent conflict is vividly portrayed in the Bible. This history and these biblical images have provided the raw material for theologically justifying the violence of contemporary Christian groups.

      For example, attacks on abortion clinics have been viewed not only as assaults on a practice that Christians regard as immoral, but also as skirmishes in a grand confrontation between forces of evil and good that has social and political implications. Higher law has been used to justify violence by Christians. The study of Christian participation in military service in the pre-Constantinian era has been highly contested and has generated a great deal of literature.

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      Through most of the twentieth century, a consensus formed around Adolf von Harnack 's view that the early church was pacifist, that over the second and third centuries a growing accommodation with military service occurred, and by the time of Constantine a just war ethic had arisen. This consensus was challenged mostly by the work of John Helgeland [26] in the s and s. He said that early Christians mostly opposed military service due to the Roman religion and rituals of the Roman army, and not because of killing. David Hunter has proposed that a "new consensus" has emerged including aspects from both Helgeland and Harnack's views.

      Hunter suggests that early Christians based their opposition to military service upon both their "aboherrence of Roman army religion" Helgeland's view and their opposition to bloodshood Harnack's view. Hunter notes that there is evidence that by the 2nd century Christian practices had started to diverge from the theological principles espoused in early Christian literature. Hunter's third point of the "new consensus" is the assertion that Augustinian just war theory reflects at least one pre-Constantinian view. Finally, to these three points, Kreider added that Christian attitudes towards violence were likely varied in different geographic locations, pointing out that pro-militarist views were stronger in border areas then they were in "heartland" areas more strongly aligned with the Empire.

      There is little evidence concerning the extent of Christian participation in the military; generalizations are usually speculation. Just war theory is a doctrine of military ethics of Roman philosophical and Catholic origin [32] [33] studied by moral theologians, ethicists, and international policy makers, that holds that a conflict can and ought to meet the criteria of philosophical, religious or political justice, provided it follows certain conditions. The concept of justification for war under certain conditions goes back at least to Roman and Greek thinkers such as Cicero and Plato.

      In Ulrich Luz 's formulation; "After Constantine, the Christians too had a responsibility for war and peace. Already Celsus asked bitterly whether Christians, by aloofness from society, wanted to increase the political power of wild and lawless barbarians. His question constituted a new actuality; from now on, Christians and churches had to choose between the testimony of the gospel, which included renunciation of violence, and responsible participation in political power, which was understood as an act of love toward the world.

      Just war theorists combine both a moral abhorrence towards war with a readiness to accept that war may sometimes be necessary. The criteria of the just war tradition act as an aid to determining whether resorting to arms is morally permissible. Just War theories are attempts "to distinguish between justifiable and unjustifiable uses of organized armed forces"; they attempt "to conceive of how the use of arms might be restrained, made more humane, and ultimately directed towards the aim of establishing lasting peace and justice. The just war tradition addresses the morality of the use of force in two parts: when it is right to resort to armed force the concern of jus ad bellum and what is acceptable in using such force the concern of jus in bello.

      In , at the Council of Clermont , Pope Urban II declared that some wars could be deemed as not only a bellum iustum "just war" , but could, in certain cases, rise to the level of a bellum sacrum holy war. The religious sanctioning of the concept of "holy war" was a turning point in Christian attitudes towards violence; " Pope Gregory VII made the Holy War possible by drastically altering the attitude of the church towards war Hitherto a knight could obtain remission of sins only by giving up arms, but Urban invited him to gain forgiveness 'in and through the exercise of his martial skills'.

      In the 12th century, Bernard of Clairvaux wrote: "'The knight of Christ may strike with confidence and die yet more confidently; for he serves Christ when he strikes, and saves himself when he falls When he inflicts death, it is to Christ's profit, and when he suffers death, it is his own gain. Jonathan Riley-Smith writes,. The consensus among Christians on the use of violence has changed radically since the crusades were fought. The just war theory prevailing for most of the last two centuries — that violence is an evil which can in certain situations be condoned as the lesser of evils — is relatively young.

      Although it has inherited some elements the criteria of legitimate authority, just cause, right intention from the older war theory that first evolved around a.

      War on Christmas - RationalWiki

      The Inquisition is a group of institutions within the judicial system of the Catholic Church whose aim was to combat heresy [49] The Spanish Inquisition is often cited in popular literature and history as an example of Catholic intolerance and repression. In the Portuguese Inquisition the major targets were those who had converted from Judaism to Catholicism , the Conversos , also known as New Christians or Marranos , were suspected of secretly practising Judaism.

      Many of these were originally Spanish Jews , who had left Spain for Portugal. The number of victims is estimated to be around 40, It was established in , briefly suppressed from —, and finally abolished in Salomon and Rabbi Isaac S.

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      Sassoon state that between the Inquisition's beginning in and its temporary abolition in , some 16, persons were brought to trial by the Inquisition. Of this number, it is known that 57 were sentenced to death and executed, and another 64 were burned in effigy this sentence was applied to those who had fled or died in prison; in the latter case, the remains were burned in a coffin at the same time as the effigy.

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      The Roman Inquisition , during the second half of the 16th century, was responsible for prosecuting individuals accused of a wide array of crimes relating to religious doctrine or alternate religious doctrine or alternate religious beliefs. Out of 51, — 75, cases judged by the Inquisition in Italy after , around 1, resulted in a death sentence. The period of witch trials in Early Modern Europe [59] was a widespread moral panic caused by the belief that malevolent Satanic witches were operating as an organized threat to Christendom from the 15th to the 18th centuries. The legal basis for some inquisitorial activity came from Pope Innocent IV 's papal bull Ad extirpanda of , which explicitly authorized and defined the appropriate circumstances for the use of torture by the Inquisition for eliciting confessions from heretics.

      Thus the inquisitors generally knew what would be the fate of anyone so remanded, and cannot be considered to have divorced the means of determining guilt from its effects. Except for the Papal States , the institution of the Inquisition was abolished in Europe in the early 19th century, after the Napoleonic Wars and in the Americas, it was abolished after the Spanish American wars of independence.

      The institution survived as part of the Roman Curia , but in , it was renamed the "Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office". In , it was renamed the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Christian terrorism comprises terrorist acts that are committed by groups or individuals who use Christian motivations or goals as a justification for their actions.

      As with other forms of religious terrorism , Christian terrorists have relied on interpretations of the tenets of their faith — in this case, the Bible. Such groups have cited Old Testament and New Testament scriptures to justify violence and killing or to seek to bring about the " end times " described in the New Testament. After the Constantinian shift , Christianity became entangled in government.

      While anthropologists have shown that throughout history the relationship between religion and politics has been complex, there is no doubt that religious institutions, including Christian ones, have been used coercively by governments, and that they have used coercion themselves.

      Do Christians have a battle to fight?

      He cites Jesus striking Paul during Paul's vision on the road to Damascus. He also cites the parable of the great banquet in Luke — Such short term pain for the sake of eternal salvation was an act of charity and love, in his view. Examples of forced conversion to Christianity include: the Christian persecution of paganism under Theodosius I , [78] the forced conversion and violent assimilation of pagan tribes in medieval Europe, [79] the Inquisition , including its manifestations in Goa , Mexico , Portugal , and Spain , the forced conversion of indigenous children in North America [80] and Australia , [81] and, since , the forced conversion of Hindus in Northeast India.

      Early Christianity variously opposed, accepted, or ignored slavery. Both the Old and New Testaments recognize the existence of the institution of slavery.

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