The horrors of war…

I have been reading a book called War, in which 4 different biblical scholars present 4 different views on war. One of the views is that of nonresistance, in which Christians are not allowed to be violent or be a part of the armed forces unless those things they are doing cause no harm to the other such as a medic or chaplain. Another view is that of pacifism, in which a Christian is to have nothing to do with violence inside or outside the context of war whether it be as a foot soldier, general, medic, or president of the country. The third view was from the just war perspective, in which Christians can engage in defensive war for their country being a part of that at all levels.  The fourth view was that of preventive war, in which Christians are allowed to be a part of the military and engage in wars, in which acting out against the enemy first will prevent greater evils from happening rather than waiting for the enemy to attack. The above summary does not do justice to each of the arguments, so I would suggest finding the book or a more extensive explanation of each of the views. It would take several long posts to elaborate on each view, and my goal is not to give a summary of the book but to give background.

After all of the essays were presented, the editor of the book talked more about the possibility or impossibility of a just war in light of nuclear warfare. In the midst of this discussion, he described the environment after the atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I wanted to quote portions of this description to give an idea of how hideous these nuclear weapons can be.

“The blast” from the explosion of the first atomic bomb on Hiroshima “destroyed over half the city of 320,000, killed over 70,000, and maimed many more. All utilities and transportation services were put out of commission and only three of the city’s 55 health-care units were able to function. The heat was so intense that stone walls, steel doors, and asphalt pavements glowed like molten iron. More than a mile from the center of the blast, the intense heat fused kimono patterns on women’s bodies and children’s stockings were burned on their legs. After the initial blast, a fire storm raged over a mile-wide area” (Clouse 191).

Another quote about an aerial attack that happened earlier in the war has similar things to say. This one describes the “obliteration bombing” of the city of Dresden in 1945 (Clouse 190).

“The city was crowded with refugees and, despite later claims that it was the center of poison-gas production, in reality it was of slight military importance. Waves of British bombers laid a fire storm over eleven square miles of the city. Temperatures soared to 1000 degrees centigrade and hurricane-strength winds swept people and objects into the core of the city. The number of bodies was so enormous that it took weeks to dispose of them and estimates of the dead vary between one hundred thousand and a quarter of a million” (Clouse 191).

I can’t help but think that in the midst of this terrible war and these terrible happenings, these people were just like you and I. Maybe some of them did not even want to be a part of the war and were objecting to the actions of their government. I’m not sure, but I always wonder, looking back as well as looking forward if we had or have exhausted all possible diplomatic measures of peace. Can we work toward peace without an enormous death toll? Can we sacrifice for peace? Is there an alternative to what has always been done to gain peace in this world? I hope so.

Here’s a formal citation of the source that I used so that you can find it if you would like to read it.

Hoyt, Herman A., Myron S. Augsburger, Arthur F. Holmes, and Harold O.J. Brown. War: Four Christian Views. Ed. Robert G. Clouse. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1981.


~ by randallkoehler on April 13, 2012.

One Response to “The horrors of war…”

  1. Wow man. Good thoughts.

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