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IRD Lecturer: On Terrorism and Christian Ethics, Pacifism Falls Short

"Abraham helpfully notes that in the messiness of conflict, there's no running away from prudential judgments." -- IRD President Mark Tooley

Contact: Jeff Walton, Institute on Religion and Democracy, 202-682-4131, 202-413-5639 mobile, jwalton@TheIRD.org 

WASHINGTON, Oct. 10, 2013 /Christian Newswire/ -- Both pacifism and an overly-strict Just War Theory are unworkable responses to the War on Terror, theologian William Abraham argued Monday at the Institute on Religion and Democracy's Diane Knippers Lecture.

"In dealing with terrorism," Abraham says, "we live on the edge of a moral apocalypse." The response to terrorism from political leaders, therefore, "may land in places where our standard moral markers have been destroyed."

"In such circumstances," he continued, "the only moral compass that may remain is the mandate to do the least bad thing in the circumstances. The best moves we can make by way of the justification of our actions is that we do the least evil we can, given all the options available. We can engage in justified action, but the depth of evil that we face has obliterated the option of just action or just war."

Abraham is the Albert Cook Outler Professor of Wesley Studies at Southern Methodist University's Perkins School of Theology. The lecture was based upon his most recent book, Shaking Hands with the Devil: The Intersection of Terrorism and Theology.

A full transcript of the event is available on IRD's blog viewable here.

Video is also available on IRD's YouTube Channel at: www.youtube.com/MyIRD

Christian Post coverage of the event can be viewed here.

IRD President Mark Tooley commented:

    "Abraham rejects pacifism because it abrogates any recourse to protect the innocent from attack. There cannot be an approximate justice without police and military.

    "He correctly notes that in the messiness of conflict, there's no running away from prudential judgments. Christians must accept responsibility for difficult decisions.

    "Conflicts increasingly have no conventional enemy state with an army or declaration of war. In this newly uncertain world, Abraham suggests that some Just War Theory criteria need updating."