Date of Award

Spring 1992

Document Type




First Advisor

John Hart

Second Advisor

Richard Lambert

Third Advisor

Alexandra Swaney


Who is more aware than a sincere Christian of the dichotomy which often emerges between the theory behind the faith, and its execution or practice? The immense conflicts which arise in our consciences are only compounded by the simple fact that we often have no definitive guideline for our actions. Even those inspired sources to which we in our uncertainty often turn for assurance can give us conflicting responses. This leaves us, in many cases, no better off than we were before.

I hope with this paper to accomplish two purposes. The first is almost exclusively scholarly - to trace the development of the Christian philosophy on war so as to show the various influences to which this philosophy was exposed, especially at the time of its inception and in its first 1,300 years. The second is much more practical - to understand more fully not only how, but why Christians came to think the way they do on the subject; this would be an important first step towards a more complete comprehension of the faith. Hopefully, that understanding will function as an aid to increased tolerance and compassion, both among fellow Christians and among the religions which it influenced - as well as those which influenced it.

The Jain is a reference to Jainism, a Far Eastern relative of the Hindu faith, which espouses the principle of ahimsa, or complete non-violence. I hope to show briefly as an aside some basic similarities between ahimsa and the Christian ethic on war as it existed in its infancy. The Just War, of course, hearkens back to the period of St. Augustine, when a newly Christianized Roman Empire needed explanations of right and wrong at a time of incredible crisis. The Jihad recalls a militant era in the history of Christianity, a time of universal empires, Crusades, and the rise of Islam, a faith far more influenced by Christian example than we are comfortable to admit. All in all, an apt alliteration, I believe.

Admittedly, such an overview must be broad, but I believe there are a number of patterns which can be traced 9 with this particular method, and which in my opinion are a useful addition to the Christian body of knowledge. Finally, if there is an occasional tendency towards the speculative as opposed to the concrete in this paper, I shall apologize beforehand, with the following disclaimer: any ideas backed more by intuition than information will be clearly labeled as such. Too much spice makes any meal unpalatable. Too little, and the food is bland. Hopefully, with this paper, the seasoning is just right.