Peace and war
Is it ever right to go to war?
- What does the Church teach?
The Methodist Church teaches that war is contrary to the spirit, teaching and purpose of Jesus Christ. On the other hand Jesus did not condemn the Centurion (Luke 7:1-10) or even Pilate himself for being part of the military arm. Instead he reminded Pilate that he had received his authority from a greater power and remained accountable to that power (John 19:10-11).
- So is force ever justified?
The Christian pacifist does not necessarily condemn the use of every kind of force, but refuses to employ force unaccountably or to destroy others, for example in either personal or State violence.
The Christian non-pacifist does not justify every war, but reluctantly recognises that violence (force) may be used when authorised to defend against aggression, to rectify a breach of a boundary, or to restrain or replace a 'notorious and tyrannical' despot. The Church upholds the right of individual members conscientiously to choose between these positions, and offers pastoral support to those on both sides of the debate.
- What is the Church's stance on nuclear and chemical weapons?
The Methodist Conference has frequently condemned the possible use of all weapons of mass destruction, chemical, biological and nuclear. It has described the use and threat of use of nuclear weapons as immoral. It is critical of the arms trade and in particular the trade in landmines and instruments of restraint (prison irons) and torture.
- Isn't there something the Church can do to help stop wars?
Peace making is the creative and positive quest for the well-being of humankind and the planet on which we all live. All Christians can seek to create a way of life deliberately designed to overcome evil with good and to promote justice for all.
Source: Methodist Conference Statement on Peace and War, 1957, and subsequent resolutions. Text reproduced with permission from "What the Churches say on moral and social issues" (Christian Education Movement).