The Bible emphasises that peace is God's will, as exemplified by the Messianic prophecy of Isaiah 2:4 "They will beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war any more." Jesus taught in Matthew 5:9 "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called sons of God." In Matthew 5:39 he urges his followers "Do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" and in 5:43-44. "You have heard that it was said, `Love your neighbour...Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you". These passages naturally lead to the question whether Christians should oppose all wars, or if not, which wars would meet with their approval. I am going to expound the so-called "just war" doctrine to try to clarify this point, and apply it to the invasion of Iraq in 2003.
1 Does the Bible condone war?
The Old Testament is replete with references to war, notably the invasion of Canaan, with the Lord's approval. See Joshua 11:20 "Joshua waged war against all these kings for a long time..... it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses" While these appear to justify war, the condition is a very specific one. Israel was God's Holy Nation and was waging war under God's explicit command, to fulfil his purpose of punishing the sin of the Canaanites. No nation has this status nowadays. Equally, the war that Christ leads in Revelation 19 is a very specific conflict of good and evil which is not comparable with earthly conflicts.