Peace Church Beta: What if we left Just War theory behind?

As the Pres­by­ter­ian Church (U.S.A.) begins a process of dis­cern­ment on whether to embrace non­vi­o­lence offi­cially, the Pres­by­ter­ian Peace Fel­low­ship con­venes peace­mak­ers from across the church.

by Matthew Black
from Unbound

We Pres­by­te­ri­ans know all about mir­a­cles— they hap­pen in committees.

This par­tic­u­lar mir­a­cle begins a few years ago, when some dream­ers in the Pres­by­ter­ian Peace Fel­low­ship (PPF) began imag­in­ing what it might be like for the Pres­by­ter­ian Church to really dis­cuss the issue of war the­o­log­i­cally. War­fare has dras­ti­cally changed in this cen­tury, and Just War theory—the con­cept that war can be jus­ti­fied if it meets the right criteria—seems less and less help­ful in deter­min­ing how Chris­tians should faith­fully respond to vio­lence in mod­ern times. “What if,” these dream­ers thought, “rather than yelling at each other every time our denom­i­na­tion wres­tles with tak­ing posi­tions on par­tic­u­lar wars, we instead took the time as a church to really think about this, talk about this with each other, and dis­cern God’s voice?”

Those dream­ers shot for the moon: an over­ture to the Gen­eral Assem­bly ask­ing all of us to con­sider mov­ing away from Just War The­ory and embrac­ing non­vi­o­lence. They thought it was just a dream. In a denom­i­na­tion that has for gen­er­a­tions oper­ated under Just War the­ory, pass­ing an over­ture con­sid­er­ing becom­ing a peace church prob­a­bly would take a mir­a­cle. “It will never pass, but at least the church might talk about it.”

But it did pass.

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