Here is my Patheos column for this week.
Suggesting that the American Revolution was unjust seems almost sacrilegious. There have been periods in American history when promoting such a view could lead to charges of treason. But in the 1770s, cases for war against England failed to conform to classic Christian arguments used to support what we commonly refer to today as a “just war.” In fact, just war arguments, often associated with historic church leaders such as Augustine and Aquinas, were rarely if ever employed by Revolutionary-era Protestant ministers and were certainly not employed by the founding fathers.
The just war tradition affirms that government is ordained by God to preserve peace and maintain justice. War is to be avoided whenever possible, but at times the desire for peace might make war necessary. War is thus justified only as a last resort. It must be declared by a legitimate government and have an attainable goal, namely the restoration of peace. It must protect the lives of noncombatants.
Read the rest here.
Andrew Vogel says
Some discussion regarding this on my Facebook if you are interested: http://goo.gl/P9GRA
John Fea says
Thanks, Andrew! I am glad to see people actually talking about this in their social media “communities.”
Jamie Boehmer says
I posted a link to your column on facebook, and a friend of mine read it and asked this question. I am wondering what you think of it:
The writer asks if the colonies were justified in revolting against Britain, the freest country in the world. Maybe it was the freest, but what if there were a country that could be made to be “freer” than Britain?
And while I'm at it, reform from within our from without?
Tom Van Dyke says
Calvinist “resistance theory” provided the theological cover, just as it did in the English Civil wars of the 1600s.
Mr. Dalrymple well observes that the conditions for “just war” did not obtain: it was not a war between sovereign nations. We see in Hamilton's “The Farmer Refuted” that the colonies didn't recognize parliament's authority over them; their charters were from the Crown.
The D of I similarly dismisses Parliament as sovereign authority, and claims the king “has abdicated Government here, by declaring us out of his Protection and waging War against us.”
That King James II “abdicated” in 1688 was precisely the justification for the installation of William and Mary and the end of the English Civil Wars. In their own eyes, the colonists had done nothing new, politically or theologically.