Thoughts on War in the Bible and Terrorism in the 21st Century, Essay 7

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For an introduction to the series, see here.

Major General Durie was a strong advocate of the Just War theory, and his essay is not less adamant that Just War can be maintained in the fight against modern terrorism. He notes, rightly, that terrorism is generally what the other person doesn’t like. During the period immediately following 9/11, Reuters, if memory serves, published a story stating that one’s man terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. This was not received well by the American public who was still in the midst of subjective response. But, the statement is accurate. Durie writes,

…popular usage demands that we treat terrorism typically as an instrument of a resistance struggle. Whether or not it is unlawful depends on how it is used. (p115)

We should note that the same flip of meaning goes along with the words treason, traitor and the like. It depends, in the end, on who wins. Had the Founder Fathers lost, they would have been known as traitors. It is in this light that Durie tackles terrorism, asking for if terrorism is ever legitimate. It may surprise the answer, especially if we subjectively name it something else (p117). And while some terrorism may have been justified, rarely (Durie cites one instance where it was used solely against the military p116) did it not touch the noncombatants. Further, he notes, that it is justified, it will not work if the rules are completely followed (p117).

Durie is ‘big’ on the rules, especially in use of terrorism and response to terrorism. He writes,

The absolute necessity for governments to behave legitimately and accountable must be constantly reinforced and checked. If a legitimate government behaves illegally, wrongly, unethically, or immorally, it undermines its own authority and legitimacy and provides a precedent for its opposition to do the same. (p118)

If only, I think, that our Government officials consistently felt the same way, but you and I both know that they do not, not even ours. Durie’s essay is concerned with legitimacy, but I have wonder, that if as he even notes, legitimacy rarely wins, then what are we left with? How must ‘illegitimacy’ are we going to endure in order to ‘win’ any conflict, local, national, or international. In the War Between the States, Lincoln shredded the Constitution and treated fellow Americans as war-criminals, allowing a holocaust of sorts for Southern prisoners. Or, of Sherman’s scorched earth policy? If we follow Durie’s line, then we must re-examine Lincoln’s actions as well as our present course in understanding our guilt, first, and how our government as be effected by these things. One of his final sections is about holding national governments accountable. How do we do this if in doing this, we reveal the ugly actions we’ve undertaken to ‘preserve our way of life’?

But, it is in this accountability and indeed, in following the Just Peace and Just Rulemaking dictum’s of Christian theology that not only holds governments accountable, but neutralizes terrorism in many ways. Interesting enough is Durie’s appendix on Criteria on Justified Response.

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Post By Joel Watts (10,115 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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