1. Is it possible to have a ‘Just’ war?
Violence and war are ultimately evidences of human depravity. But God ordained a role for human government to punish evil doers (Gen. 9:6; Rom. 13:1-4). This means that measured use of force against evil can be executed with moral justification. Could this apply to wars aimed at the restraint and punishment of evil?
A Just-war theory suggests that it’s possible for a war to be justly initiated and (to a large extent) justly executed. Sometimes war fits into the God ordained function of human government to defend against violent aggression and to protect the innocent.
2. Should Christians follow pacifism?
From a Christian perspective, a pacifist position of non-violence in all circumstances is a failure to make a connection between two chapters of the Bible (Romans 12 & 13).
1) Romans 12:17-21 emphasizes the need to absorb and overcome evil through non-violent means. These are the personal ethics of Jesus’ followers (Matthew 5:38-48).
2) Romans 13:1-4 emphasizes the need to restrain and punish evil through God-ordained government and judicial authority. Such authority is ordained by God for measured and appropriate use of force to deal with evil. In Genesis 9:6, this role of human government was a provision instituted by God to restrain the violence that filled the earth prior to the flood judgment.
Those who belong to God’s kingdom (Colossians 1:13) must function (on a personal level) in this world according to the teaching of Jesus by absorbing and overcoming evil with good. Yet we are to be responsible citizens of the government God has placed us in and under (Acts 17:24ff.; I Peter 2:13-14). The important point is that we must be faithful to all of Scripture.
3. Is war evil or at best a necessary evil? Could war ever be a good thing?
This cuts to the heart of the matter. Are the men and women who defend our freedoms doing an evil work? We must consider the God ordained role for human government (I Peter 2:13-14). It’s possible for a government to become evil in its function but it is equally possible for it to do a good work —even in a just war.
If all war is evil, how could God command war (see Joshua 11:20)? In the N.T., John didn’t tell soldiers to become pacifists, he told them to be content with their wages (Luke 3:14). Two of the early followers of Jesus were centurions (Romans soldiers) and they were never told to renounce their occupations or to drop their arms (Matthew 8:5-15; Acts 10-11).
In Revelation 19:11-19, when Jesus returns in judgment, He will lead a war and there will be no selective service for His followers. It will be a Just war.
The choice to go to war can be a good and right thing to do — even a loving decision. But this does not mean all that happens in war of just cause will be morally acceptable.