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GCSE Religious Education > War and Peace

Some definitions related to this subject which you will find useful in the exam:

Right intent
Last resort

Sanctity of life
The rejection of violence in all situations
The aim of fighting must be good
All other means of resolving a dispute should be tried before fighting
Life is holy because God made it
Struggle for justice

Christian Teachings Against War
  • "Turn the other cheek." (Matthew 5) teaches that people should be long suffering and not quick to take revenge.
  • "Do not kill." (10 Commandments)
  • Jesus criticised his own disciple who defended him with a sword when arrested.
  • "Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you." Jesus teaches people always to do good.
  • Jesus was openly critical of the Religious Leaders, but did not encourage violence. This shows the value of non-violent protest.
  • Martin Luther King's leadership of the civil rights movement against racism shows the power of non-violent protest to change things for good.
  • Pacifists refuse to fight under any circumstances for moral reasons. (conscientious objectors) Sometimes they may agree to serve in a non-combatant role. (e.g. as a medical aide to the injured)
Christian Teachings that Permit War
  • God gave people the ability to reason. War may be justified as the "lesser of two evils."
  • "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth." (Exodus 21) shows that punishments should be appropriate to the crime.
  • The Old Testament teaches: injustice should not be ignored and evil men should be resisted.
The Just War Hypothesis
  • Devised by St. Thomas Aquinas.
  • There must be Just cause.
  • War must be started by legal authority.
Moslem Teachings Against War
  • The Moslem idea of "Ummah" (community) encourages believers to value the common good and to work together to build peace and prosperity.
  • "Be not divided among yourselves" (Surah 3) shows the importance of unity and peace among people.
  • "Hate your enemy mildly; he may become your friend one day." (Hadith) expresses the hope that conflicts are ended
Moslem Teachings that Permit War
  • "If people declare war against you, you may fight back." (Surah 22)
  • "Those who are slain in the cause of Allah... will be admitted to paradise." (Surah 47)
Jihad / Holy War
  • Moslems are permitted to fight in defence of their faith when the following conditions are met...
  • All other ways of settling the dispute have failed
  • The freedom of Moslems to practise their faith is threatened
  • War is declared by a recognised religious leader
  • Every effort must be made to protect civilians, animal and plant life.
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