Friday, August 23, 2013

Violence in Defense of Justice

Studying for an exam as I begin my PhD studies I came across a quotation that I had to share.

Richard Hays, one of the premier biblical scholars in the world, attempts to explain how the Bible can function as a resource for ethics in his book Moral Vision of the New Testament. As a case study, Hays asks, “Is it ever God’s will for Christians to employ violence in defense of justice?” 

In an excellent chapter arguing that it is not God's will for Christians use violence in defense of justice Hays quotes the words of Father George Zabelka, the Catholic priest who administered mass to the pilot who dropped the atomic bomb on Nagasaki. These are the words of Zabelka years later: 

To fail to speak to the utter moral corruption of the mass destruction of civilians was to fail as a Christian and as a priest as I see it. [. . .] Catholics dropped the A-bomb on top of the largest and first Catholic city in Japan. One would have thought that I, as a Catholic priest, would have spoken out against the atomic bombing of nuns. (Three orders of Catholic sisters were destroyed in Nagasaki that day.) One would have thought that I would have suggested that as a minimal standard of Catholic morality, Catholics shouldn’t bomb Catholic children. I didn’t. I [. . .] was heir to a Christianity that had for seventeen hundred years engaged in revenge, murder, torture, the pursuit of power, and prerogative violence, all in the name of our Lord.

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