The Use of Nuclear Weapons Is Inherently Evil

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josh p's picture

Thank you PCinA for continuing to demonstrate that your religion is really "the greater good." 

Andrew K's picture

Agreed. Though I would throw in a caveat for conditions involving rerouting of asteroids or destruction of invading starcraft. Smile

Steve Davis's picture

Trump might be meeting bluster with bluster but this seems to me a gross exaggeration:

"In light of all this, the fact that our sitting president enjoys an enthusiastic willingness to use nuclear weapons indiscriminately, “like the world has never seen,” is deeply troubling."

Of course an anonymous quote from FB sheds mugh needed light on the issue:

"The most egregious—and, yes, extreme—was the fellow believer who proclaimed in a Facebook post that 'Donald Trump is our salvation.'”

There may be willingness if needed if N. Korea acts on its threats. Still "enthusiastic?" I don't think so.  I think Galli has an enthusiastic willingness for exaggeration to prove his point. 

Jay's picture

I am not sure how the planned invasion of Japan during a planned but never realized invasion at the end of World War II is inherently a more 'moral' option than the deployment of 'Fat Man' and 'Little Boy'?  Innocents - tens of thousands of them - would have been slaughtered.

I agree that Galli is exaggerating, and I also think that he's reading more into a key phrase - "It certainly does not give the state “the authority to do whatever”—a most dangerous phrase if there ever were one—to quell the actions of evildoers" than might be merited.

There are some great sections in this article:

And further, “The thought of killing masses of helpless people who are themselves at the mercy of their own government is abhorrent. Only if there were no other way to prevent an even worse catastrophe could nuclear retaliation ever be justified.” The language is nuanced, but the point is clear: The use of nuclear weapons is, in extreme cases, morally just.

Others of us emphatically disagree: Under no circumstances would the use of nuclear arms be justified. Our reasons hinge on the sixth commandment, “You shall not murder,” and the indiscriminate nature of nuclear weapons. Simply put, they end up killing a great many more civilians than combatants, and therefore, their use violates one cardinal principle of just war: proportionality.

and

This passage is plainly about Christians’ response to the governing authority they live under, and does not begin to address how one governing authority is to deal with other nations. In describing the role of government, Paul says that within their jurisdiction, governing authorities “bear the sword … to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” Paul’s point is that Christians who fail to submit to their authorities shouldn’t be surprised if they have to pay some sort of price.

This passage is decidedly not about “taking out” corrupt foreign heads of state. It certainly does not give the state “the authority to do whatever”—a most dangerous phrase if there ever were one—to quell the actions of evildoers.

and

If pressed, these evangelical Christians would say they ultimately trust in God to protect the nation. And they would add that the current President is God’s anointed to do just that. But we have seen a fair amount of evidence to suggest that many evangelicals in the pews are confused about this. The most egregious—and, yes, extreme—was the fellow believer who proclaimed in a Facebook post that “Donald Trump is our salvation.”

None of us, on the left or right, escape the temptation to put our trust in a human leader to guide our nation into peace and justice. But the Bible warns us time and again about this sort of thing:

It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in humans. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes. (Ps. 118:-8-9)

And this:

Do not put your trust in princes, in human beings, who cannot save. (Ps. 146:3)

And this:

The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty, for all that is exalted (and they will be humbled)…,

Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils.Why hold them in esteem? (Is. 2:12, 22)

Yes, it is human beings, especially those in authority, who must take the practical steps to defend our nation. Yes, we need a strong military, with appropriate weapons to do just that. But we can never put our confidence in any leader or weapon (especially nuclear warheads).

But I am still unimpressed at the argument advanced here.  Yes, nuclear weapons are a terrible thing.  Yes, the ability to slaughter millions is within Trump's grasp.  Yes, the Bible does explicitly condemn the slaughter of the innocent. Yes, we should hope that the deployment of nukes is a very, very last option to be considered when everything has tried and failed.

But if the option is to allow a failed, personality cult driven state to develop nuclear weapons for blackmail and trade with other nations, including theocratic Iran, then I'm not sure that 'strategic containment' is the best course of action.  I do think that pre-emptive strikes are an very dangerous option that should at least be considered with all due thought and carefulness.  I especially think that it must be reasonably discussed considering that 'containment' has been ongoing since the '90s and doesn't seem to be working (to understate things a bit).

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Andrew K's picture

I'm familiar with the pragmatic arguments in favor, esp. with regard to Japan. But--and this may surprise a number of people here, for it did me as well--there is actually a strong and largely forgotten conservative tradition of rejecting the use of nuclear weapons as inhumane under any circumstances (see Russell Kirk on this, as well as many others).

At any rate, mass destruction of civilians is difficult to justify under nearly any iteration of just war theory, regardless of the presumed felicitous consequences.

Jim's picture

Options against NK:  https://www.forbes.com/sites/anderscorr/2017/07/06/u-s-nuclear-options-a...

Tactical nuclear weapons are an option to destroy North Korea's nuclear arsenal. Speer said, the “only way to stop [a North Korean strike on Seoul] is to use nuclear weapons to destroy the tunnel entrances and to provide the ROK with the tactical weapons to counter the DPRK [North Korean] IRBMs.”

Allowing an autocratic regime like North Korea to threaten large urban areas of democracies is increasingly dangerous. Negotiation just delays the day of reckoning, which is becoming more and more costly. Speer said, “Further talk only adds to the DPRK capabilities.  Nuclear weapons are necessary for the effective defense of the ROK.”

josh p's picture

I disagree with the reasoning that says it's ok to kill some innocents as long as a bunch more bad guys are getting killed. Ultimately it comes down to a moral judgment in which our government has decided that another nation cannot be allowed to have the same weapons as us. They are "bad" and we are "good". I simply do not think North Korea is in our jurisdiction. 

TylerR's picture

Just War theory is very difficult, very slippery and is very disconnected from a proper context in a New Covenant time. Mohler discussed it yesterday. I should read more on it, but haven't made time.

The entire theory is very difficult to put into context in a secular state, with a secular leader, who makes secular decisions from a secular worldview. Not really sure how it applies. Honestly, unless you're in an Old Covenant context, I'm skeptical it really works beyond some vague, generic principles.

Big area to tackle, very difficult to apply.

Tyler Robbins is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

Jay's picture

I disagree with the reasoning that says it's ok to kill some innocents as long as a bunch more bad guys are getting killed. 

So how far are you willing to go with that, Josh P?  The British killed innocents in the American Revolution.  We killed innocents in the Spanish-American War and in the Civil War.  The French, Russians, English, Japanese, and Italians killed innocents in World War II. As long as there has been fallen humans, there have been wars, and even in the OT God commanded the slaughter of the 'innocent' citizens (during the invasion by Joshua, for example).

I'm all in favor of keeping innocents out of war, but I also think that the idea of a war where the innocent avoid suffering is....excessively idealistic, to put it mildly.

If you're going to go to war, people are going to get hurt and people are going to die.  Even the innocent.  The best we can do, short of allowing the enemy to dictate the ROEs, is try to minimize casualties...which everyone is trying to do anyway, with the exception of the DPRK and other nation-states that use their threats of war as blackmail.  That's been the lynchpin of DPRK strategy since Korea - that they will turn Seoul to a sea of fire.  Conservative estimates put 25% of Seoul's citizens as casualties or killed by chemical weapons alone, before we factor in regular artillery or nuclear arms.

I simply do not think North Korea is in our jurisdiction. 

Fair enough - but when does a nation become our 'jurisdiction'?  They have threatened (nuclear) attacks on Japan, South Korea, Australia and US territories like Guam.  They thumb their nose at international laws and non-proliferation agreements.  They fund their country with the manufacture and sale of illegal drugs and weapons, including weapons of mass destruction (Biological/Chemical arms at a minimum).  They kidnap and enslave the innocent - the truly innocent, mind you, not just their own people - and use them for all sorts of heinous activities.  They are one of the worst nations in the world in their brutal barbaric treatment of prisoners.  

At some point the civilized world has to stand up and say no.  So when is that tipping point?

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

Larry's picture

Just War theory is very difficult, very slippery and is very disconnected from a proper context in a New Covenant time. 

Just war isn't that complicated in theory; the difficulty is in knowing when to pull the trigger (no pun intended). But what in the world would it have to do with the New Covenant? The New Covenant, even if it were in effect now, is about the people of God. It isn't about international relations.

TylerR's picture

We're not in a theocratic state, that's why Just War theory is very abstract. How can a secular society, with a secular government, with a secular worldview, even make correct determinations on what is "just" or not!? The very concept only works in a theocratic state, with an agreed-upon divine revelation which establishes moral benchmarks and precepts, and outlines the responsibilities and role of leaders. In the New Covenant, we have no theocracy (yet), and when the theocracy comes, everything will be just . . . Smile

Tyler Robbins is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

josh p's picture

Jay wrote:

I disagree with the reasoning that says it's ok to kill some innocents as long as a bunch more bad guys are getting killed. 

So how far are you willing to go with that, Josh P?  The British killed innocents in the American Revolution.  We killed innocents in the Spanish-American War and in the Civil War.  The French, Russians, English, Japanese, and Italians killed innocents in World War II. As long as there has been fallen humans, there have been wars, and even in the OT God commanded the slaughter of the 'innocent' citizens (during the invasion by Joshua, for example).

I'm all in favor of keeping innocents out of war, but I also think that the idea of a war where the innocent avoid suffering is....excessively idealistic, to put it mildly.

If you're going to go to war, people are going to get hurt and people are going to die.  Even the innocent.  The best we can do, short of allowing the enemy to dictate the ROEs, is try to minimize casualties...which everyone is trying to do anyway, with the exception of the DPRK and other nation-states that use their threats of war as blackmail.  That's been the lynchpin of DPRK strategy since Korea - that they will turn Seoul to a sea of fire.  Conservative estimates put 25% of Seoul's citizens as casualties or killed by chemical weapons alone, before we factor in regular artillery or nuclear arms.

I simply do not think North Korea is in our jurisdiction. 

Fair enough - but when does a nation become our 'jurisdiction'?  They have threatened (nuclear) attacks on Japan, South Korea, Australia and US territories like Guam.  They thumb their nose at international laws and non-proliferation agreements.  They fund their country with the manufacture and sale of illegal drugs and weapons, including weapons of mass destruction (Biological/Chemical arms at a minimum).  They kidnap and enslave the innocent - the truly innocent, mind you, not just their own people - and use them for all sorts of heinous activities.  They are one of the worst nations in the world in their brutal barbaric treatment of prisoners.  

At some point the civilized world has to stand up and say no.  So when is that tipping point?

I agree that it's a difficult situation but from my perspective until we are attacked we have no right to attack them. I am just as repelled by their despicable behavior. I also do not believe there is any chance that NK would launch a nuclear weapon at the US. It would be the end of their entire civilization. 

I don't think I'm being idealistic in not wanting to destroy innocent lives. I used to be quite the war hawk but I just see it differently now. If an intimidating man began to yell at me in the street and brandish a knife I do not believe that I have the right to shoot him as he has not actually attacked me. Same thing here on a much larger scale. 

Bert Perry's picture

Take a look at the map; the artillery capable of hitting Seoul are on a peninsula closest to the city.  Now, just for a mind question, if war were to break out, do you take those howitzers out piece by piece over months and possibly let hundreds of thousands of innocent South Koreans die, or do you hit that peninsula with a nuke, probably kill tens of thousands of North Koreans in the process, and end the threat to Seoul?

In the same way, the tradeoff Truman faced was up to 200,000 lives in Hiroshima and Nagasaki versus millions of Japanese civilians who would have lost their lives in an invasion, if the aftermath of the battle of Okinawa, where up to half the civilians are said to have perished (many at the hands of the losing Imperial Japanese Army), is any indication.

Like it or not, war is all about lousy choices, and when the enemy has nukes, those choices get lousier.

josh p's picture

Unless I am greatly misunderstanding the president's "fire and fury" remarks, the threat was made if NK continues to threaten the US. That's much different than an actual war. I would certainly favor war if we are actually attacked but that is not the context of his statement. He is threatening to nuclear bomb a country for threatening us. 

So to answer your question Bert, I would choose door number three- tone down the rhetoric and do not bomb a country whose petulant leader is making outlandish and frankly absurd threats. 

Andrew K's picture

TylerR wrote:

Just War theory is very difficult, very slippery and is very disconnected from a proper context in a New Covenant time. Mohler discussed it yesterday. I should read more on it, but haven't made time.

The entire theory is very difficult to put into context in a secular state, with a secular leader, who makes secular decisions from a secular worldview. Not really sure how it applies. Honestly, unless you're in an Old Covenant context, I'm skeptical it really works beyond some vague, generic principles.

Big area to tackle, very difficult to apply.

Broadly speaking, if you believe that war for is justified for the Christian under some circumstances, you hold to a form of just war theory. There are many subsequent developments, but that's neither here nor there. I hold to the perspective generally outline by Augustine. Not sure what Mohler was talking about. I'll listen later.

Larry's picture

We're not in a theocratic state, that's why Just War theory is very abstract. How can a secular society, with a secular government, with a secular worldview, even make correct determinations on what is "just" or not!? The very concept only works in a theocratic state, with an agreed-upon divine revelation which establishes moral benchmarks and precepts, and outlines the responsibilities and role of leaders. In the New Covenant, we have no theocracy (yet), and when the theocracy comes, everything will be just . . .

I am a bit confused. You earlier said it was related to the New Covenant. Now you are saying it is related to a theocratic state. The only theocratic state was the Old Covenant. Even if the New Covenant were in force now, it wouldn't be a theocratic state.

The Just War theory doesn't depend on a a theocratic state. Just means justified, and there are certain criteria laid out in the Just War Theory for when and how a just war is to be carried out. It isn't hard, in most cases, even for a secular society to determine what is just. The image of God in man and God's common grace actually make it rather easy. It doesn't take special revelation to know that the Holocaust was unjust. Or that Boko Haram is unjust. There are some complicated issues in Just War to be sure, but relating it to a theocratic state isn't one of them. 

Are you a pacifist? Don't you have to be if you don't think a Just War can be wages now (since I presume you aren't in favor of an unjust war)?

Joeb's picture

Josh this is what you are against by what you are saying.  It's funny how past American Leadership has done this  before and it ended up in one big mess  i.e. Iraq.  Josh I side with you.  

Who cares if NK has nukes.  Just make sure shorty knows if he uses 1 he gets hundreds in return.  It's the same thing we have been living with for years with the old Soviet Union.  Nothing new here boys.  

Lee's picture

There is no such thing as a good war.  War was formulated in the mind of Satan and springs from the pit of Hell.  Even the most "just" war (dare I use that word?) steals something from your soul. 

I am not a pacifist; neither do I think war is not sometimes necessary.  That would be foolish.  But to glamorize war with terms such as "good" or "just" is a monstrous disservice to what war is--a concept of Satan foisted upon mankind at the fall; a collective assault by man upon the image of God that each one bears, and that will someday be put under the feet of King Jesus once and for all. I, frankly, am ready for that day to be here.

Lee

Jay's picture

Lee, I appreciated that post.  Thanks for sharing that.

As for this: "He is threatening to nuclear bomb a country for threatening us."

I don't think that Trump is arguing that nukes are his first choice for a strike weapon.  I think he was saying that if the DPRK attacks Guam, we WILL reply with force of some sort.  There's room for interpretation there (at least, I hope so!).

But there are a lot more people who are more optimistic about this situation than I am.  I hope they are right.

JoshP, thanks for clarifying.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture

I'll try to be clearer:

  1. Just War theory is a Christian doctrine which seeks to explain under what circumstances war may be justified, according to Christian principles.
  2. We do not live in a Christian society, or in a theocratic state, or under the auspices of a state church. The only theocracy under which such principles could be truly implemented was OT Israel, and that theocracy has been abolished. The New Covenant has not established a theocracy yet. It will when Jesus returns, but He has not.
  3. Therefore, the theory of "Just War" as a distinctively Christian concept for justifying warfare under certain concepts is largely inapplicable. At best, we're left with vague principles. However, without a theocratic foundation based on the God of the Bible (and all the moral foundations that come along with it), we cannot expect anything like unanimity about what circumstances justify war. There is no self-conscious common worldview or moral foundation in a secular age.
  4. Therefore, arguing for war against North Korea using the theory of "Just War," when Donald Trump is our President, seems to be a very abstract notion. I don't believe Trump, or our government in general, makes decisions for war based on a self-consciously Christian understanding of "Just War." I believe these decisions are more in line with pragmatic, secular, nationalistic self-interest.

So, how would "Just War" apply to the decision to go to war today, in a secular age? As I just mentioned, I have no confidence the state makes decisions to go to war on confessedly Christian principles - therefore "Just War" is generally inapplicable at the national level. It seems to me it is best implemented in a contemporary context at the individual level, but pacifism is not a virtue allowed in the armed forces!

So, what to do? Not sure. This is why I mentioned at the outset that "Just War" is a very slippery, very difficult doctrine to discuss in today's religious context (i.e. the New Covenant; a non-theocratic arrangement where Christ has not come to assume the throne yet).

Hopefully, I have been clearer, even if you disagree with me.

Tyler Robbins is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

Bert Perry's picture

josh p wrote:

Unless I am greatly misunderstanding the president's "fire and fury" remarks, the threat was made if NK continues to threaten the US. That's much different than an actual war. I would certainly favor war if we are actually attacked but that is not the context of his statement. He is threatening to nuclear bomb a country for threatening us. 

So to answer your question Bert, I would choose door number three- tone down the rhetoric and do not bomb a country whose petulant leader is making outlandish and frankly absurd threats. 

Josh, apart from the fact I was responding to a more general question--whether the use of nukes could ever be justified--I think you've misunderstood the President.  He's not threatening to nuke a country for threatening us, but rather noting that if North Korea goes WMD/nuclear, it will not end well for them.

Now if you said that Trump should learn Roosevelt's (old west African?) rule that one ought to speak softly and carry a big stick, I would agree.  However, the ugly reality of North Korea, is that within the past decade, they allowed up to a million of their own people to die by disease and starvation--one in every 20 approximately--because their leaders weren't willing to give up WMD programs.  We are therefore talking about a nation that really needs a wee bit of directness to dissuade them from the greatest of barbarities.

josh p's picture

Bert,

You could be right but that is how it was being reported in what I heard. I realize that they are an atrocious state but many other nations are equally (or close to) as evil. Perhaps they have more ability to being about their evil schemes. I should probably just go ahead and bow out of this one since I have radically different views of what the state is doing and should do. I do fully respect the motivation of a person who reacts against atrocities, even if I disagree with their opinion on how to handle it. 

Larry's picture

Thanks Tyler. Here's my response:

1. I don't find the principles that vague. I think they are rather clear. They are an attempt to apply biblical ethics to decisions about war. It may be hard to know when the time for a "last resort" has come, or how best to protect innocents. But it is not because the principles of just war are vague. 

2. It is possible for Christian principles to be lived out absent a theocracy. In fact, that is our calling as Christians. So to object to applying Just War principles because we don't live in a theocracy would seem to be undermined by our calling as Christians. It is even possible for unbelievers to live by Christian principles and to use Christian principles in their decision making. So again, to object on the basis that some making the decision may be unbelievers seems to be undermined by common grace. 

3. You may be right about our nation's interest in going to war. 

Bert Perry's picture

Josh, to illustrate how biased the media are:

1.  When Trump speaks against the atrocity in Charlottesville and does not name names, all **** breaks loose. It is as if he were driving the car.

2.  When Obama spoke against terrorism but did not mention radical Islam, crickets from the media.

I don't trust the media any further than I can throw them.  You can do the same regarding the clear allegations (her server & classified info) against Mrs. Clinton vs. the vague ones (Russian election interference) against Trump, and a whole lot more.  

josh p's picture

Bert,

Ok one last one. I agree that the media is extremely biased but I also think they are out to make a profit. Sensationalism is unfortunately what sells. It is in the media's best interest to whip up the American public into a war fervor. I guess I'm not sure what you are suggesting. That the media is biased and therefore is downplaying the fact that Trump's response was really to a NK nuclear attack? Or maybe that they are trying to make Trump look reactionary when really he is levelheaded? That's a tough sell. 

 

Jay's picture

You know, I'm really getting tired of talking about how biased the media is.  We know that, and we can't change them, but we can control ourselves. 

#Hatersgonnahate #liarsgonnalie #obfuscatersgonnaobfuscate

As an aside, I found these two article this morning that might be helpful or encouraging.  I hope that the authors are right.

Trump’s Full-Court Press Is Squeezing the Nukes Out of North Korea
China issues order to implement U.N. sanctions on North Korea

 

 

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

TylerR's picture

Does anybody have any good reading suggestions on Just War theory; particularly its contemporary application?

Tyler Robbins is a former Pastor. He lives with his family in Olympia, WA. He blogs as the Eccentric Fundamentalist

josh p's picture

Found this online but haven't read it:

Charles Hodge: Systematic Theology, Part 3, Chapter 19, Section 10.

 

Bert Perry's picture

josh p wrote:

Bert,

Ok one last one. I agree that the media is extremely biased but I also think they are out to make a profit. Sensationalism is unfortunately what sells. It is in the media's best interest to whip up the American public into a war fervor. I guess I'm not sure what you are suggesting. That the media is biased and therefore is downplaying the fact that Trump's response was really to a NK nuclear attack? Or maybe that they are trying to make Trump look reactionary when really he is levelheaded? That's a tough sell. 

No argument that Trump is totally levelheaded--again, he needs to listen to Teddy Roosevelt a lot more.  All I'm saying is that the level of bias among the media is getting to a point where they can and do indeed completely misrepresent things--and they're doing it a lot, IMO.  

Jay's picture

Does anybody have any good reading suggestions on Just War theory; particularly its contemporary application?

I have two books that get into this and may have one more but have to look for it.  The first is Evangelical Ethics: Issues Facing The Church Todayedited by John Jefferson Davis. The other, which looks to have covered the subject a little more thoroughly, is Ethics For A Brave New World, edited by John S. and Paul D. Fineberg.  Both books have been revised and expanded since I bought my copies.

It's been a while since I have looked in either, but I'll review the contents and get back to you.  The Fineberg work, especially, is usually quite good and thorough. Evangelical Ethics was the textbook for my Christian Ethics class at NBBC / NIU back in the day.

"Our task today is to tell people — who no longer know what sin is...no longer see themselves as sinners, and no longer have room for these categories — that Christ died for sins of which they do not think they’re guilty." - David Wells

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