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Divinely appointed killing in Gita and Summa

[ by Charles Cameron — two focal texts for Landmines in the Garden plus the matters of just war / peace ]

Herewith two quotes, one (upper oanel) from the Bhagavad Gita, the other from the Summa Theologica of Thomas Aquinas — each of which expemplifies the notion that someone, in the first case Arjuna, in the second, Abraham — has divine authorization to kill:

SPEC DQ Summa and Gita

It is noteworthy that Arjuna does in fact kill those he has been ordered to kill, and that in contrast Abraham is reprieved from the necessity of killing his son by the same divine authority which had first demanded that extraordinary sacrifice — but God (the Father) in the Christian narrative goes on to kill his own Son in what is both the perfection and completion of sacrifice..

And from the perspective of military chaplains blessing members of the armed forces on their way into battle in a just war, the same divine approval presumably holds.

But are wars ever just?


Further Readings:

  • Foreign Policy, What Happens When You Replace a Just War With a Just Peace?
  • National Catholic Repoorter, Pope considering global peace as topic of next Synod of Bishops
  • Rome Conference, An Appeal to the Catholic Church to Re-Commit to the Centrality of Gospel Nonviolence
  • United States Institute of Peace, Abrahamic Alternatives to War
  • It is worth noting that a sometime commenter on this blog, William Benzon of New Savanna, has a new, small & handy book out:

  • Bill Benzon, We Need a Department of Peace: Everybody’s Business, Nobody’s Job
  • 3 Responses to “Divinely appointed killing in Gita and Summa”

    1. Jim Gant Says:

      What an incredibly difficult and profound question you ask…
      Are wars ever just?
      Just? I do not know. Necessary? I would say with certainty – yes.
      Keep up the great work. I really enjoy reading your posts.

    2. Charles Cameron Says:

      Hi Jim:
      As someone who read One Tribe at a Time some years back, and who returns to it from time to time, I’m moved, and very much appreciate your saying that.

    3. zen Says:

      Hi Gents,
      Regarding Aquinas here, who regrettably I have not read, I’ll recommend Moshe Halbertal’s On Sacrifice again on this topic:
      I reviewed Halbertal in Blood Sacrifices: Violent Non-state Actors and Dark Magico-Religious Activities, a fine tome on the strangest and most macabre aspects of irregular conflict, edited by Dr. Robert Bunker. BONUS: it features a chapter by….Charles Cameron!

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