Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

Helsingin yliopisto, Helsinki 2006

Voiko sota olla oikeutettu?

Kirkkojen maailmanneuvoston yleiskokousten kannanotot sotaan kriisien ratkaisuna

Matti Pikkarainen

Väitöskirja, toukokuu 2006.
Helsingin yliopisto, teologinen tiedekunta, systemaattisen teologian laitos.

Can war be justified? Expressions of opinions by the general assemblies of the World Council of Churches on the question of war as a method of settling conflicts.

The purpose of this study is to describe and analyse the expressions of opinions recorded in the documents of the general assemblies of the WCC during the Cold War period from 1948 to 1983 on the use of war as a method of settling international and national conflicts. The main sources are the official reports of the WCC´s assemblies during the years 1948 to 1983.

This study divides the discussions into three periods. The first period (1949-1968) is dominated by the pressures arising from the Second World War. Experiences of the war led the assemblies of the WCC to the conclusion that modern warfare as a method of settling conflicts should be rejected. Modern war was contrary to God´s purposes and the whole meaning of creation, said the assembly. Although the WCC rejected modern war, it left open the possibility of conflict where principles of just war may be practised. The question of war was also linked to the state and its function, which led to the need to create a politically neutral doctrine for the socio-ethical thinking of churches and of the WCC itself. The doctrine was formulated using the words "responsible society". The question of war and socio-ethical thinking were on the WCC`s agenda throughout the first period. Another issue that had an influence on the first period was the increasing role of Third World countries. This new dimension also brought new aspects to the question of war and violence.

The second period (1968-1975) presented greater challenges to the WCC, especially in traditional western countries. The Third World, political activity in the socialist world and ideas of revolution were discussed. The WCC`s fourth Assembly in Uppsala was challenged by these new ideas of revolution. The old doctrine of "responsible society" was seen by many participants as unsuitable in the modern world, especially for Third World countries. The situation of a world governed by armaments, causing social and economic disruption, was felt by churches to be problematic. The peace movement gathered pace and attention. There was pressure to see armed forces as an option on the way to a new world order. The idea of a just war was challenged by that of just revolution. These ideas of revolution did not receive support from the Uppsala Assembly, but they pressured the WCC to reconsider its socio-ethical thinking. Revolution was seen as a possibility, but only when it could be peaceful. In the Nairobi Assembly the theme of just, participatory and sustainable society provided yet another viewpoint, dealing with the life of the world and its problems as a whole.

The third period (1975-1983) introduced a new, alternative doctrine the "JPIC Process", justice, peace and the integrity of creation for social thinking in the WCC. The WCC no longer wanted to discuss war or poverty as separate questions, but wanted to combine all aspects of life to see the impact of an arms-governed world on humankind. Thus, during the last period, discussions focused on socio-ethical questions, where war and violence were only parts of a larger problem. Through the new JPIC Process, the WCC`s Assembly in Vancouver looked for a new world, one without violence, in all aspects of life.

Despite differing opinions in socio-ethical thinking, the churches in the WCC agreed that modern warfare cannot be regarded as acceptable or just. The old idea of a "just war" still had a place, but it was not seen by all as a valid principle. As a result the WCC viewed war as a final solution to be employed when all other methods had failed. Such a war would have to secure peace and justice for all.

In the discussions there was a strong political east-west divide, and, during the last two decades, a north-south divide as well. The effect of the Cold War was obvious.

In the background to the theological positions were two main concepts namely the idea of God´s activity in man´s history through the so-called regiments and, the concept of the Kingdom of God on Earth.

The title page of the publication

Julkaisu on tekijänoikeussäännösten alainen. Teosta voi lukea ja tulostaa henkilökohtaista käyttöä varten. Käyttö kaupallisiin tarkoituksiin on kielletty.

© Helsingin yliopisto 2006

Viimeksi päivitetty 26.04.2006

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