Again, “We adore God Who is love, Who in Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, Who offered Himself on the Cross to expiate our sins, and through the power of this love, rose from the dead and lives in His Church. We have no God other than Him.”(Pope Francis, 6/21/14)
There is yet another dimension of CJWT that is of critical importance. It also is involved with the moral principle that whatever act is being considered, “The effort one is obliged to make, in order to acquire the needed moral certainty that a possible choice is morally permissible, is to be measured by the importance of the action itself and the consequences that can be reasonably anticipated” (THE LAW OF CHRIST, Imprimatur, 1960). In choices involving matters that are trivial and where there is uncertainty about the moral permissibility of an act, the effort that needs to be expended to arrive at moral certainty is minimal. But there are those matters, that are so serious in themselves and in their consequences, that a person has to make a most serious effort to determine the truth of these matters in order to reach that very high degree of probability that the proposed act or choice is good and not evil.
The two acts that require this highest of degree of effort before they can be accepted with moral certainty as good rather than evil are causing a human being serious suffering and taking a human life. (In the Roman Catholic Church along with these two an additional two are included: the proper administration of Sacraments of Baptism and of Holy Orders.) The consequences to another human being of causing him or her great suffering or taking his or her life are so grave that only the highest level of moral certainty that it is good that is being done and not evil permits a person to enter into them without sinning. Once again, this is a far, far cry from, “I am a Catholic (Methodist, Etc.). And, my Church says I can go to war and kill the enemy and that’s good enough for me.”
When the Catholic Church and when most other Christian Churches non-infallibly present the CJWT as an acceptable moral choice for Christians, it never means that the CJWT itself or the various ad bellum and in bello norms of the CJWT, must only be met with a mere 50-50 degree of probability that this is a choice that is good and not evil. It is simply rational that mass murder and the mass maiming of human beings would demand a level of moral certainty that no other human choices would have to rise to in order to be morally permissible.
But there is more to be said in terms of “The effort one is obliged to make is measured by the importance of the action itself and the consequences that can be reasonably anticipated.” If one is a Christian, is not the very choice to accept the reasoning that concludes that the Just War Theory is either implicitly present within Jesus’ teachings or can be a substitute for the teaching of Jesus a moral choice? Of course it is. Now, it is just a fact of history that Jesus did not abandon the Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies when the going-got-tough and put in its place justified violence as the Father’s Will and Way. The JEROME BIBLICAL COMMENTARY (Imprimatur, 1970) states, “The customary principle of self-defense is rejected by Jesus; and the customary principle is not replaced by another principle of self-defense.” CJWT is another principle of self-defense. But if one is a Christian, is it not irrational even to consider abandoning Jesus’ Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies when the going-gets-tough and to do exactly what Jesus did not do, that is, put in its place the always available fallback favorite of justified violence as the Father’s Will and Way?
After all Jesus’ Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies is “the power which destroys all other powers, the power of love. It is the love of God revealed and active in Jesus Christ. God revealed in Jesus that He loves man and will deliver him through love and through nothing else” (ibid, THE POWER AND THE WISDOM, Imprimatur). Would it not be irrational and beyond all possibility of reaching the requisite moral certainty needed to choose CJWT as a substitute to His Way of salvation, taught and lived by Him through all hardship and unto death?
It has been emphatically noted in the words of Rev. John L. McKenzie in earlier FAST FOOD Helpings that, “Jesus presents in His words and life not only a good way of doing things, not only an ideal to be executed whenever it is convenient, but the only way of doing what He did. The saving act of Jesus is an act of love of the type he recommends in the Gospels. The power which destroys all other powers is the power of love, the love of God revealed and active in Jesus Christ. God revealed in Jesus that He loves man and will deliver him through love and through nothing else” (THE POWER AND THE WISDOM, Imprimatur 1965).
That any definition of love and/or act of love that flows from Just War Theory would not be the same as “The saving act[that] is an act of love of the type he recommends in the Gospels”(ibid), is too obvious to need comment. But, it is precisely that type of love that “Jesus presents in His words and life not only as a good way of doing things, not only as an ideal to be executed whenever it is convenient, but as the only way of doing what He did” (ibid), that is, that saves.
What possibly could be a benefit that would accrue to a Christian that would motivate him or her to abandon that saving love through which God exclusively delivers him or her and humanity? Jesus addressed this very serious problem head on,“For what will it profit a person if he or she gains the whole world and forfeits his or her soul? What shall a person give in return for his soul?” (Mt 16:26; Mk 8:36-37; Lk 9:25).
For even a Roman Catholic Church—that is ceaselessly conjuring up ever more tortuous arguments in an endeavor to morally and spiritually equate CJWT with the teaching of Jesus as a Way to eternal salvation—has as its last and overriding law in Canon Law, “The salvation of souls, which must always be the supreme law in the Church, is to be kept before one’s eyes” (Canon Law # 1752). In other words some people in the Church may be working as hard as the devil to make CJWT a Way to eternal salvation on the level of Jesus’ teaching of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies, but the Church knows darn right well what the ultimate issue is that Jesus in His person, words, deeds, example and commands is addressing—the eternal salvation for each and all.
Only a person, who by choice or by inadvertence is entrapped in and confused by the wickedness and snares of “the one who has been a liar and murder from the beginning,” could intentionally keep from those to whom he or she has the duty and responsibility of Christian spiritual and moral care, the overwhelming and all-pervading ultimate questions that are forever inextricability tied to CJWT. Do you in good conscience honestly think that there is a high probability that CJWT is equal to or part of the Way of saving love as lived and taught by Jesus as the only Way of salvation? Do you in good conscience honestly think that you possess that needed high level of probability which is necessary to arrive at moral certainty that the CJWT is a valid extension or valid substitute for the Nonviolent Way of Jesus, where the eternal salvation of your soul and the souls of others is at stake? Where is the rational proportionality in taking the risk of replacing the Way of eternal salvation, taught by your Lord, God, Savior and the Word of God Incarnate, which is clearly on the pages of the Gospels in black and white, with your own private CJWT Way of salvation? What earthly gain could possibly match the infinite risk that is being taken? Is eternal life, the eternal salvation of yourself, your loved ones and all human beings so unimportant, so insignificant to you that something that can be gained in this world, e.g., more time on this planet, or control over more dirt on the planet’s, is worth risking eternal salvation?
This is what is ultimately at stake in following the Way of the CJWT. And, because of the unsurpassable significance involved in such a choice all Christians in all the Just War Constantinian Churches must be apprised of the implications and possible consequences of what they are choosing. They must be apprised with an educational effort consistent with the seriousness of the possible consequences of a choice for CJWT over Jesus’ Way of Nonviolent Love of friends and enemies.
So, “How does Jesus save?” By the Way of CJWT?
-Emmanuel Charles McCarthy (To be continued)