War by its very nature is a spectacle of violence, destruction, suffering, and death. War is filled with many horrors and is a great human tragedy. War tends to unleash the worst of human passions: hate, vengeance, wicked ambition, cruelty, base desires, and blood-lust. Erasmus was fond of the adage of Pindar: “Sweet is war to him who knows it not.” Or as those who do know war testify: “War is hell.” These things being true, how could a Christian ever be in favor of war?
The undeniable fact of history is that war is a common condition in human affairs. From the earliest days of man’s existence, he has been at war with his fellow man. How has the church responded to the fact of war? There have been two basic stands concerning war among Christians and their particular church denominations: pacifism and just war. Pacifists declare that all war is evil and contrary to the principles of Jesus and the New Testament. Hence, Christian participation in war is forbidden. Just war adherents believe that a war may be just if it meets certain criteria. If the war is just, then a Christian may participate in it. The purpose of this article is to summarize and defend the just war position.