Saturday, December 11, 2004

INCARNATIONAL PARADOX. “Maker of the sun, he is made under the sun. In the Father he remains, from his mother he goes forth. Creator of heaven and earth, he was born on earth under heaven. Unspeakably wise, he is wisely speechless. Filling the world, he lies in a manger. Ruler of the stars, he nurses at his mother’s bosom. He is both great in the nature of God, and small in the form of a servant.” -- Augustine (354-430 AD)

AUGUSTINE'S INFLUENCE. Augustine of Hippo (354-430 AD) was one of the most articulate voices and influential leaders of the post-Nicean church (that is, the church after the Council of Nicea of 325 AD). His Confessions and City of God are still being published and read. This painting of Augustine by Raffaello Sanzio is one of few that do not portray either a bishop's headgear or a halo on or around Augustine's head (a superfluous attribution of honor assigned to revered saints). In Sanzio's eyes, Augustine must have seemed somewhat human.

AUGUSTINE AND "JUST WAR." By the way, Augustine's writings provide much of the fodder for the "Just War" provisions outlined some 800 years later by Thomas Aquinas (see Aquinas' "Just War" guidance). The "Just War" theory, as I read it through 21-century eyes conditioned by Biblical theology, is thoroughly untennable as it stands. Their use of Scripture is what we call "proof texting"; it takes statements out of context and uses what the Scripture "allows" (or does not specifically and pointedly prohibit) to justify the desires and actions of men. It may sound arrogant, but it is fair to say we now "know better" than Augustine and Aquinas.

AMERICA'S ATTACK ON IRAQ IS NOT JUST. But even if one takes Aquinas' 13th-century "Just War" provisions as the "standard" measure by which a nation or state would justify going to war, the United States of America's attack on Iraq is out of bounds and unjustifiable. Read the terms for yourself. I wonder how many American evangelical church leaders and laypersons who champion President Bush's war on Iraq and "preemptive strike" policy are aware of this?

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