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The Problem of War: C. S. Lewis on Pacifism, War & the Christian Warrior

Darrell Cole

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More reflection on morality and war.

Christians in the West, and in America particularly, are once again thinking a great deal about the moral problems of war. The terrorist attacks on America, the ensuing war in Afghanistan, and the likelihood of war in Iraq have driven Christians to consider what their tradition has to say about Christian involvement in state-sanctioned violence.

Traditional Christians have a rich heritage of Christian just-war reflection to draw upon to provide moral guidance. Lutherans and Calvinists, too, have a body of reflection by their founding fathers. The early Fathers (Augustine in particular), Aquinas, Luther, and Calvin--to mention the largest figures--all have many useful things to teach us about deciding on the morality of warfare. A worthy modern disciple of traditional Christian thought on war is the Anglican apologist C.S. Lewis.

Lewis is an excellent resource for contemporary Christians who are trying to decide about the morality of warfare. He was in a unique position to champion what the Christian tradition has always referred to as just-war doctrine. To begin with, Lewis was a medievalist at heart and in mind. Like the great medieval thinkers that preceded him, he was a shrewd synthesizer of the best thought of his intellectual forebears. In this respect, he was following his main two theological teachers: Thomas Aquinas and Richard Hooker. As a scholar who thought like Aquinas and Hooker, Lewis was immune to the liberal-humanism that has tarnished so much recent thinking about war in modern Christianity, both Protestant and Roman Catholic. Too, Lewis had been a soldier, so he knew what it was like to experience that essential nature of all battle, so aptly summarized by Homer as "men killed and killing."

Read the entire article on the Touchstone Magazine website.



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