B Hemchand Sharma
The Sangai Express
August 18 2011

1. One of the great social problems ranking with poverty and racism, War has evoked a variety of responses from Christians, ranging from non-violent pacifism to the idea of the just war and the concept of Crusade. The reasons of such a variety of opinions include the problem of harmonising the OT and NT and the difficulty applying some of the ethical teachings of Jesus. In the OT many passages endorse armed conflict, such as Dt. 7 and 20 and the war narratives of Joshua, Judges and Samuel. The directions that Jesus gave to His followers that they must be non-violent, in such statements as “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also (Mt. 5:39) and “But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Mt. 5:44).

 Christian attitudes towards war. Augustine led the way in revising by formulating a series of rules to regulate violence and permit believers to fight—He combined the OT with the ideas of Aristotle, Plato and Cicero into a Christian doctrine of the just war. According to this view, war should have as its goal the establishment of justice and the restoration of peace. It must be fought under the authority of the legitimate ruler and be conducted in a just manner, which included keeping one’s promise to the enemy and refraining from looting, massacre and burning, so that noncombatants would not be injured. Also, those engaged in God’s service such as monks and priests should be exempted from military service. Despite his grudging acceptance of the war a genuine respect for pacifism in Augustine’s view.

2. It was left to the medieval Church to reject pacifism completely living in the view of some minor heretical sects. During this period the majority of the theologians supported the ideal of the Christian Knight, and religious and military practices were interwoven. The influx of German barbarians into Europe with martial outlook encouraged the Church to adjust to the new situation. This attitude is illustrated in the series of crusades that were launched to free the Holy Land from the Islamic Control. Beginning in 1095 these Campaigns fought under the auspicious of Church for a holy ideal were characterised by a vicious attitude toward the enemy who were considered to be representatives of the evil one. Consequently, the counsels of moderation of the just-war theory were, suspended, and torture and rapine became the order of the day.

The pacifist, just-war, and crusading interpretations of armed conflict of the middle ages and have continued to be followed by Christians in modern times. (1095 - First Christian crusade to Holy land, 25 Sept 1187 Saladin recaptures Jerusalem, the Holy land from Christians). The wars of Religion, which accompanied the reformation, led the believers to think once more about issues of war and peace. Generally, the Lutherans and Anglicans adopted the Augustinian position of the just war. The reformed and many Roman Catholics felt themselves to be engaged in Crusade, while the pacifism was the approach of the Anabaptists and Quakers.

With the development of large national armies and the ideology of nationalism during the 19th and 20th centuries, the problem of armed-conflict became even more urgent. During this period a number of Societies were founded that work for peace. For example, the Fellowship of Reconciliation, founded in the USA in 1915 as an international pacifist body, continues today its efforts to encourage co-operation and understanding among the nations of the world. The period between the two World Wars also saw a revival of pacifist sentiment both inside and outside the Church. Their efforts found expression in the League of Nations (forerunner of the United Nations) and the movement for independence in India led by Mohandas Gandhi. In the years that followed World War II the balance of terror between the East and West based on Nuclear Weapons has led many in the Roman Catholic Church and the major Protestant denominations to advocate pacifisms; in some cases nuclear pacifism rather than total pacifism. Two examples are Vatican Council II’s “Pastoral Constitution on the World” which recognised pacifism as compatible with Catholic teachings; and the statement of the United Presbyterian Church (USA), “Peace-Making, The Believer’s Calling” (Dictionary of Theology, IVP, USA, Reprinted 1988, 1991, PP.714,716)

3. It has been said that the mandate issued to the age of Plato and Aristotle was “Bring Your beliefs into harmony with one another”; that the mandate of the Mediaeval Spirit was “Bring Your beliefs into harmony with dogma”; and that the mandate of the New Spirit which rebelled against the authority of the Church was “Bring Your beliefs into harmony with facts.

And there is seasonable process of learning when that is a very proper answer; men must be content at many times and in many matters to accept the expert opinion of their day. But this is only tolerable if in every Science there are experts who are forever questioning and testing. When the tradition Stereotype doctrine, it is as bad for knowledge (Naga - Style Ku Klux Klan) as close guilds and monopolies are bad for the industrial arts, they shut the door upon improvement - as in the case of ‘Peace-Building’ in the North Eastern Region (India). Authority of Naga plays, and Indian Constitution must play, a great part in the North-Easterners’ life since the Partition of British India into Independent Pakistan and India, and the merger of 565 princely States into the Union of India. North-East, AFSPA 1958 Act, Re-organization Act of 1972 - not only in practice, but also in things of the intellect. But the Free Spirit is necessary, which insists on satisfying itself that what is offered upon authority has claims on its own account upon our acceptance.

St Francis Xavier wrote from Cochin on 20 Jan, 1548 to King John III of Portugal, “...You must declare as plainly as possible...That the only way escaping your wrath and obtaining your favour is to make as many Christians as possible in the countries over which they rule. See Macnicol, The Living Religions of India (1934), P 268 N The African Explorer HM Stanley remarked, when he inspected the original maxim Gun, what a splendid instrument for spreading Christianity and civilization among the Savages of Africa!”.

Sir Charles Eliot, who affirms that “it is clearly absurd for Europe as a whole to pose as a qualified instructor in humanity and civilization”. He writes: “If Europeans have any superiority over ASIATICS it lies in practical Saint are authority and power to organize; in other respects their superiority is imaginary (HINDUISM and BUDDHISM, Vol. i(1921), PP. xcvi and xcviii).

The International Missionary Council at its JERUSALEM meeting held in 1928 declared: ‘We would repudiate any symptoms of religious imperialism that would desire to impose beliefs and practices on other in order to manage their souls in their supposed interests. We obey a God who respects our wills and we desire to respect those of other. The Report calls upon non-Christian in resisting the attacks of those who deny God and the World of Spirit. We call on the followers of the non-Christian religion to’ hold fast to faith in the unseen and eternal, in the face of the growing - materialism of the world as of the fellowship of the believers in the God, in the deep places of the spirit. The report of the American Layman affirms that it is unwise to undermine man’s faith in their traditions. Dr. Frick writes in the International Review of Mission (Oct. 1926): ‘As long as we claim to be Christians in deed and truth, we must cultivate a certain consciousness of Superiority’ (P.10).

4. Mahatama Gandhi writes: In the matter of religion I must restrict myself to my ancestral religion; that is, the use of my immediate surrounding’s in religion. If I find my religion defective, I should serve it by purifying it of defects’. He told the Christian Missionaries: ‘it is no part of your call, I assure you, to tear up the lives of the people of the East by the roots’ (CF Andrews, Mahatama Gandhi’s Ideas, and P.96). The famous anthropologist Pitt-Rivers writes: ‘The Public at home probably does not appreciate how strongly the majority of field ethnographers, sympathetically anxious to learn all about the customs and religions of the people and working in all parts of the world, have been driven, often against their inclinations, to the conclusion that Christian proselytism has done irretrievable harm to native races by disintegrating their culture and to us also by the unrest and antagonism the process evokes’ (The Clash of Culture and Contact of Races, P.240).

Macnicol, is Christianity Unique? (1936), P.52. He Writes: ‘Christian nations have produced, and indeed produced in the name of Christianity, things even more hateful that the pariah village of India.’ But if that can be affirmed to be the very offspring of the spirit of HINDUISM, at that which, by its nature, drains life of all significance and poisons its springs, whereas on the other hand the gross and evil things that Christians have fashioned flout the whole purpose and challenge of their faith, then the choice between the two types of religion may be in fact a choice between what is false and what is true, between the type of religion that denies the values that enrich life and that which seeks to conserve them’(P.67).

5. Take, for example, the maxim, that ‘man hate those who have conferred a benefit on them’. We may say that as, in the first place, an induction formed from the consideration of many instances of ill will, which are unaccountable otherwise, than on that principle, yet so far it remains a thing obscure and unintelligible, a relation which facts forbid us to dispute and conflicts, but in which we see no necessity. Now if a man were to say that men hate to feel themselves in a position of inferiority that they do feel themselves in a position of inferiority to those from whom they have received a benefit, the maxim follows deductively; and these principles are not only, like the original maxim, capable of being inductively supported by an appeal to experience, but they are also intelligible to us in a way in which that was not, it is mercifully untrue to say that they appear necessary, but they do appear more or less natural.

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