DRAFT version, posted on the internet for the purposes of scholarly exchange.  Comments welcome.  Please contact author for permission to quote or distribute.  -- gws


Just Policing:
How War Could Cease to Be a Church-Dividing Issue

Gerald W. Schlabach
University of St. Thomas


All these considerations compel us to undertake an evaluation of war with an entirely new attitude.

Second Vatican Council[1]


Defining effective international government in this way is of course setting an idealistic goal; but it is less idealistic than the idea that military action could be truly an instrument of justice.

John Howard Yoder[2]


This paper is a thought experiment.  It does not claim that we are upon the threshold of Christian unity vis-à-vis war quite yet.  Rather, it is an exercise in imagining the “conditions for the possibility” of reaching that threshold.  It seeks to chart how just war and pacifist Christians might converge enough that a new horizon would come into view, wherein we might then see more clearly how war could cease to be a church-dividing issue.  Some such convergence may be possible if together we explore a conceptual territory that long-standing debates between pacifists and just war thinkers has left surprisingly unmapped.  Joint examination of policing, I suggest, may point us towards conditions for the possibility of agreement vis-à-vis war.

War: Can We Have It Both Ways?

Virtually every Christian tradition is trying to have it both ways on war.  This may be a sign of honest puzzlement, or it may be a sign of diplomatic fudging, but it is surely one sign of unfinished agenda. 

The Roman Catholic Church has long been custodian of the Christian tradition of just war deliberation, which began when Saints Ambrose and Augustine used arguments from Roman thinkers like Cicero in order to justify some wars while disciplining all wars.  Since the Second Vatican Council, however, the Catholic Church has also given a new level of recognition to vocational pacifism, at least.[3]  In the early 1980s, U.S. Catholic bishops writing on The Challenge of Peace explicitly paired the traditions of just war and pacifism or active nonviolence as legitimate Christian responses to war.[4]  Three years later, Methodist bishops in the U.S. made a similar affirmation of both traditions in their statement In Defense of Creation, insofar as each serves “as a partial but vital testimony to the requirements of justice and peace.[5]

Historic peace churches (Mennonite, Church of the Brethren, Society of Friends) certainly do not recognize the legitimacy of just war thinking with an easy reciprocity that would mirror these statements by “mainstream” Christian traditions.  Yet in their own way, peace churches have found that they too must “have it both ways” by acknowledging the need for someone, somewhere, to use potentially lethal violence to preserve order in a fallen world.  In the formative years of the sixteenth-century Radical Reformation, the Schleitheim Confession of 1527 gave this recognition classical expression for Mennonites by speaking of “the sword” as “an ordering of God outside the perfection of Christ;” accordingly, “secular rulers” are “established to wield” the sword that “punishes and kills the wicked” but “guards and protects the good.”[6] 

Even when representatives of just war thought and pacifism have collaborated and discovered how much they already agree upon, the difficulty of “having it both ways” may remain and actually become more striking.  A case in point is the Just Peacemaking initiative that gathered 23 Christian ethicists annually during much of the 1990s and articulated “ten practices for abolishing war.”[7]  The 23 scholars found much consensus by bracketing debates over theory or principles and instead identifying practices that are obligatory for all Christians.  For those identified with just war teaching these are practices that Christians must seriously engage before resorting to warfare if any claim of “last resort” to military action is to be meaningful.  For pacifists, these are practices that require positive engagement lest the “non” in “nonviolence” imply passivity at worst or mere protest at best.

With its focus on concrete practices, the Just Peacemaking approach offers a major precedent for the approach I will be exploring below.  Yet at one point their consensus proved particularly fragile.  According to the introduction to Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War, all participants agreed to include  among their “ten practices” humanitarian military invention to halt egregious human rights abuses, yet not all were sure they could actually affirm it.[8]  The problem, one suspects, was that for the pacifists in the Just Peacemaking initiative to affirm such a practice unambiguously would seem to have meant assent to a stringent, limited and thus rectified just war approach -- but a just war approach nonetheless.

Even so, the Just Peacemaking initiative certainly moves us forward in at least three ways.  First, by focusing on practices, the initiative reminds us of the path by which many Christians are already creating “conditions for the possibility” of convergence concerning war and peace, and how they should continue to do so.  Second, attention to practices may further offer a way to deal constructively with remaining differences without underestimating or suppressing them.  After all, if Christian practices cannot or should not be identical --insofar as every Christian community thrives on a diversity of gifts and callings, according to St. Paul-- then we will need to pay close attention to what Christian communities must actually do in order to discern authentic vocations from God.  And that may in turn allow us to reduce the differences in practice among currently divided Christians to vocational ones. 

But third, even as the Just Peacemaking initiative has revealed its point of weakest consensus it has also marked out a continuing point of agenda:  Is policing different enough from war that something more like policing (humanitarian military intervention) could possibly constitute a practice for abolishing war? 

The difference between war and policing does make a difference.  So I will argue.  Policing seeks to secure the common good of the very society within which it operates; because it is embedded, indebted and accountable within that community it has an inherent tendency to minimize recourse to violence.  Warfare may also seek to secure the common good of a society, of course; but because it extends beyond that society through threats to other communities it has an inherent tendency to cut whatever slender bonds of accountability would truly limit its use to “last resort.”  And this difference is only the beginning, for having cut loose, war usually jeopardizes not only the common good of international community, but even that of the society in whose name it is being waged. 

Neither pacifists nor just warriors have explored that difference adequately.[9]  If they would do so together and thus all-the-more accountably, however, war might in fact cease to be a church-dividing issue.  How so?  If both attended more fully to the difference between war and policing, then (1) what once was claimed to be “just war” would finally be just because it would just be policing not war; (2) pacifists could fulfill not betray their vocation to call all Christians to the nonviolent way of Jesus Christ by helping societies respond more effectively to the challenges that have historically led to war; and (3) in the process both would have practically yet decisively rejected war.  To begin moving in this direction, however, both traditions of moral reflection need to recognize their respective failures to think in clear and forthcoming ways about policing. 

Policing and the Just War Tradition

The just war tradition of moral deliberation suffers from a kind of slipperiness.[10]  The claim that war can sometimes be morally justifiable, and the tradition of rational reflection that attempts to limit war to morally justifiable exceptional cases, gets much of its credibility by imagining war to be like police action.  It thus seems mere “common sense" that war may sometimes be necessary to protect innocent third parties and maintain order between nations, just as police force does within a given community.  Once wars have been justified in this way, however, very different psycho-social dynamics take over, which move it farther and farther away from policing.

The intention of the just war theory’s more conscientious developers and proponents has been to keep violence at the bare minimum that human societies apparently need if they are to maintain order in a sinful world.  Beginning with a strong presumption against violence, which the tradition shares with pacifism, just war thinkers would allow recourse to lethal violence only as an exception and only as a concession to the realities of our world.  Ours is a world, after all, that does not yet enjoy the fullness of God’s Reign but instead suffers from crime, unjust aggression, exploitation, abuse of human rights, and thus from a general lack of mutual trust.  In such a world, love of neighbor and protection of the innocent seem at times to require the judicious use of violent force.  To be moral and judicious in fact, any recourse to violent force must come only in the wake of sincere attempts to resolve conflicts and sanction the recalcitrant by first using other kinds of force.  Only when the criterion of last resort and other criteria are met may war be justifiable.[11]

Yet skeptics have reason to wonder whether just war reasoning delivers upon its promise to limit the violence of war.  John Yoder once recounted a well-placed incident that represents all too well the way in which just war reasoning loses whatever grip it had on Christian conscience and devolves into something else.  Yoder was in the lecture hall at the University of Basel around 1951 when Karl Barth delivered lectures on war that would later go into volume III/4 of his Church Dogmatics.  As Barth condemned virtually every rationale for war and declared that pacifism is “almost infinitely right,” his students squirmed -- until, at the last moment, Barth allowed an exception:  A Christian republic like his own Switzerland might fight a strictly self-defensive war.  First came a palpable release of tension, then applause.  “What is significant here,” noted Yoder, “is the difference between what Barth said and what the students understood.”  Barth had condemned all but the rarest war, he later came to oppose nuclear weapons categorically, and he even called himself “practically pacifist.”  Yet “every half-informed Christian thinks Karl Barth is not opposed to war.”  If theologians are going to claim their positions are realistic, concluded Yoder, they must acknowledge that this “tendency of theologians’ statements to be misinterpreted is also part of “political reality.”[12]

Just so, just war reasoning all too often devolves functionally into propaganda.  It becomes permissive rather than stringent; it sometimes becomes permissive precisely through the reassuring guise of having been stringent.  It serves to condone wars by establishing the general principle that wars can be just.  Its best-intended practitioners may wish to curtail wars through rigorous moral deliberation over particular wars.  But that is not the message that reaches the pews.  Just war deliberation should require disciplined (even heroic) political action when particular wars fail to meet just war criteria.  If that is not happening, what we have here is a just war rhetoric or theory or intellectual tradition.  What we do not really have is a just war tradition in the full communal sense -- a living tradition with operative practices shaping a community through time.[13] 

Yet despite these failures just war thinking continues its hold on moral discourse because it seems to make simple “common sense.”  We need not rehearse the principles and precepts of the natural law (in accord with Catholic just war thinking) in order to notice why.[14]  All we must do is notice a telling phenomenon:  Non-pacifist Christian thinkers may treat the need for the police function as self-evident and needing no argument,[15] or they may sometimes argue at length for the legitimacy of the police function based in biblical texts such as Romans 13 and 1 Peter 2,[16] and in either case they may then go on to argue analogically for the legitimacy of Christian participation in warfare using the police function as a metaphor -- but they never do the reverse and use war as a metaphor for policing.

The point here is not that there is complete discontinuity between the role that civic authorities take in ordering the life of communities through the police function, and the role that they play in protecting those communities through the military function.[17]  If the core arguments of this paper prove convincing and fruitful, Christians will need to discriminate carefully among the continuities and the discontinuities in war and policing on their way toward eliminating war as a church-dividing issue.  The point for now is simply that the easy assumption of continuity, based on using policing as a metaphor to explain the workings of war, obscures some very serious differences between policing and war.  That obscurity in turn keeps the just war tradition from working -- even on its own terms. 

For once war is justified as an extension of the self-evident need for policing, war consistently becomes something other than policing, and the just war tradition tends to devolve into either “war realism” or crusading.  War realism” (alternately, “warism”[18]) is the very position that the just war theory has tried to disprove, namely, that war has a life and logic all its own, impervious to moral considerations.[19]  Crusading is the real dynamic that drives putatitively just wars whenever their defenders cite just cause to the exclusion of all other criteria for a just war, whenever unconditional surrender is demanded, whenever the preservation of personal or national honor keeps people fighting long after they have reasonable grounds to expect “probable success,” or whenever claims to righteous causes or sacred duties trump in any other way the demands that just war criteria would impose.[20] 

In all of the following ways war takes on a very different psycho-social dynamic from policing: 

1.      The rally-‘round-the flag phenomenon.  Political leaders draw on the rhetoric of national pride, honor and thus crusading in order to marshal the political will and sustain the sacrifices necessary to fight wars, even if their deliberations initially ran the war through the grid of just war criteria.  This is the phenomenon we associate with phrases such as “rally around the flag” and “war fever.”[21]

2.      The blunt instrument problem.  Even circumscribed warfare, aiming to meet the criterion of noncombatant immunity, is too blunt of a tool to serve the police officer’s basic task of identifying and apprehending criminals.[22]  The very need to appeal to the principle of double effect in order to explain why a nation and its soldiers are not blameworthy when their targeting results in “collateral damage” amounts to a tacit recognition of this problem. 

3.      Failure to meet minimal requirements for the rule of law.  War can never be subject to the rule of law in the way that policing can be.  As Stanley Hauerwas notes, in good policing the “arresting agent is not the same as the judging agent,” but in war “those two are the same.”[23]  If the development of democratic processes since ancient Greeks teaches us anything it is that no rule of law is possible without separating the roles of “judge and executioner,” as the saying goes, or better, judge and arresting agent. 

4.      The football phenomenon.  Coaches and generals both have reasons to insist that the “best defense is a good offense.”  But those then become reasons why “good” military strategy intrinsically tends toward greater and greater firepower while “good policing” inherently narrows the use of violence to last resort.  If the best defense is a strong offense, then striking hard and striking first make sense.  Very quickly, however, key just war criteria such last resort, proportionality and noncombatant immunity lose out.

5.      Adrenaline rush.  We have words like “frenzy,” “berserker” and “berserk” in the English language precisely because our linguistic ancestors noticed what the heat of battle can do to the psyche of warriors.[24]  Irrationality sets in.  Warriors simultaneously experience deep fatigue and intense focus, power and vulnerability, love of comrade and hatred of foe.  Amid this volatile psychological mix they may strike indiscriminately, continue against impossible odds (i.e. improbable success), and survive by drawing on every emotion that Augustine’s theory of “right intention” amid war would rule out.  Those who do not “go berserk” need the rush of adrenaline to survive; those who guide their battles from far from the front lines vicariously feel that rush.[25]

6.      The let-them-not-have-died-in-vain phenomenon.  Even if one no longer has good reasons to be at war, and even if that war never passed the muster of just war criteria, the death of one’s forebears or comrades in an otherwise untenable war gives “reasons” to fight on.  For although the defense of honor is not a just cause in the canon of just war criteria, in the collective mind of any general populace it is probably the most forceful reason to fight.[26]  This and the adrenaline phenomenon consistently make it unimaginable for a nation to sue for peace, even though surrender should be a moral obligation whenever one’s own war effort fails to meet the criteria for a just war.[27]

7.      Militarization.  The more that a civilian population and a military force engage with one another, the more violent and indiscriminate warfare becomes.[28]  Militarizing civilian populations makes them more vulnerable to attack, makes it harder for the military’s enemies to fulfill the criterion of noncombatant immunity, and tends to weaken the social fabric by obscuring the deeper causes of conflict and injustice while offering military solutions to social problems.  On the other hand, the more that a community and its police are engaged with one another the less violent policing can become.  “Community policing” is a new name for a return to an old strategy that gets police out of their patrol cars, onto the street, into town meetings, and integrated into the neighborhoods they seek to protect.[29]  Police cannot do it well without attending to the deeper causes of crime and thus strengthening the social fabric of a community.

This list is probably not unassailable and surely not exhaustive.[30]  Critics might note counter-evidence pointing out psycho-social continuities between policing and war, while sympathizers may extend the list and corroborate it with further research.[31]  Still, the list should be sufficient to demonstrate that, contrary to long usage, policing cannot serve in any kind of facile or automatic way as a metaphor to justify warfare.  For the just war theory to stand any chance of fulfilling its advocates’ best intentions, it must retrace its steps and attend far more closely to the ways in which war is not like policing at all.  “Just war” is probably a misnomer for what can only be just policing if it is to establish a real tradition of actually reducing violence to the minimum possible for a fallen world.

Policing and the Pacifist Tradition

What pacifists, or at least Mennonites, think about policing is no more clear, however.  They are not likely to find early Anabaptist thinkers making clear distinctions to guide them here, because 16th-century magistrates combined the roles of police and warrior.[32] Twentieth century Mennonites have directed most of their attention against military conscription, militarism and warfare.  Their answer to why Mennonites would not be police officers was sometimes that Christians have more important things to do.  This does, however, carry the intriguingly implication that while their pacifism vis-a-vis military action was principled, their pacifism vis-à-vis police action was vocational.

Which brings us to September 11, 2001.  The al Queda terrorist attack that day upon New York’s World Trade Center and the U.S. Pentagon certainly did not “change everything” for Christian believers who know that Calvary is the day that changed everything.[33]  And yet Sept. 11 certainly has dislodged neglected issues of all sorts and forced even people of firm faith to examine their assumptions anew.  For Christians committed to the thoroughgoing practice of nonviolence, the place of policing is one of those issues. 

Strikingly, after all, the best immediate alternative to vengeful retaliation that many pacifist voices could advocate was that nations treat the Sept. 11 attacks as a crime against humanity and try terrorists in courts of international law.  On September 22, the MCC Executive Committee issued a statement that focused on upholding “the call of Jesus to love enemies and live as peacemakers” while praying for and reaching out to people affected on all sides of the conflict.  Following the exhortation of Jeremiah 29:7 that Israelites exiled in Babylon should “seek the welfare of the city,” the statement reiterated that the primary citizenship of Jesus’ followers means living “as citizens of a new Kingdom,” yet also means being “advocates and builders of peaceful systems and institutions” wherever they live.  What then to advocate?  While praying for national leaders, people of faith should “call on governments to exercise restraint and respect for the process of international law and diplomacy.”[34] 

Pacifist theologians, ethicists, and international specialists made similar moves.  Mennonite ethicist Duane K. Friesen urged students and colleagues to view Sept. 11 within a crime framework not a war framework.[35]  Veteran Mennonite peacemaker John Paul Lederach[36] called for a multifaceted response that would address root causes and strengthen the international system; still, his proposals did include recourse to the United Nations or Islamic courts of law, and explicitly, “domestic and international policing.”[37]  Theologian Stanley Hauerwas, a pacifist ally of Mennonites, said he would like to start envisioning ways to take the police function into the international arena, so long as societies learn to do a better job of providing local police with the resources and social cooperation they need to make killing a truly rare event.[38]

What broad appeals to international courts of law do not always clarify, however, is who would apprehend the criminals, how they would operate, and whether the political bodies that conduct international policing would have the support of pacifist churches.[39]  Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners magazine, stated the problem clearly.  He had advocated “the most extensive international and diplomatic pressure the world has ever seen against bin Laden and his networks of terror —- focusing the world’s political will, intelligence, security, legal action, and police enforcement against terrorism.”  Such mobilization would dry up the terrorists financially and politically, and expose their “ugly brutality” before an international tribunal.  “But when the international community has spoken, tried and found them guilty, and authorized their apprehension and incarceration, we will still have to confront the ethical dilemmas involved in enforcing those measures.  The terrorists must be found, captured, and stopped.  This involves using some kind of force.[40]

Wallis was not simply ceding to the claims of that amoral school of international relationships known as Realpolitik, nor to Christian Realism so-called.  The editorial stance of his magazine and his article as a whole make clear that his first priorities remained policies to focus on the conditions of global inequity and superpower hubris that breed resentment and terrorism, initiatives that utilize culturally-sensitive conflict resolution of the sort Lederach practices, and strategies that develop forms of force which remain compatible with nonviolence.  True “realism” would recognize that these may be the only ways to combat rather than breed terrorism, after all.  Nonetheless, Wallis was squarely facing the fact that even a society that did everything he as a longtime peace activist was calling for would still require the police function (for further demonstration of this point, see Appendix B).  Thus we must press the question of whether post-9-11 calls for turning to international legal procedures do not imply positive support for police action.[41] 

Though Mennonites have not been much more forthright about policing than just war thinkers, there are precedents both in Mennonite practice and among leading Mennonite thinkers for seeing policing as a different question than war and soldiery -- leading to different possible answers.  Within and among the “historic peace churches” that have opposed Christian participation in warfare and militaries, the same level of consensus does not exist concerning Christian participation in policing.[42]  Mennonite institutions such as colleges, with responsibility for the security of hundreds of residents, have quietly cooperated with local police -- and even the strongest advocates of nonviolence on their faculties have rarely objected.  Along with a general trend among Mennonites to label themselves as “nonviolent” or “pacifist” rather than “nonresistant,” and in turn to accept nonviolent direct action as compatible with Jesus’ teachings, Mennonites have been leaders in developing nonviolent alternatives to the criminal justice system.  Parallel to the work of John Paul Lederach in international conflict transformation, Mennonites such as Howard Zehr have launched programs for victim-offender reconciliation -- with restitution rather than retributive punishment as the judicially-recognized consequence of crime wherever possible -- while helping provide a conceptual basis for what many now know as “restorative justice.”[43]

Such efforts have certainly gone forward in the same spirit as efforts to conceptualize and then launch pilot projects in unarmed civilian-based defense, which would allow nations to imagine and then begin the process of transarmament away from the violent weaponry upon which their militaries depend today -- but there is one subtle difference.  That difference might allow Mennonites and other pacifists to participate in policing institutions in a way that they cannot conscientiously do within military institutions.  It is this: 

On one hand, military transarmament would require military institutions to become something qualitatively other -- organizers and mobilizers of the broad civic participation needed to make societies unconquerable, with last resort recourse only to the potentially lethal force of true policing on the international level.  On the other hand, transarmament for the criminal justice system requires police institutions to do a better job of what their mandate is already to do -- preserve community order and secure the safety of all citizens with only rare, minimal, and judicious use of violence.  In short, nonviolent strategies for responding to international conflict constitute alternatives to war that would displace the military as we know it, while nonviolent strategies for reforming the criminal justice system simply make the police into better and better police.  Thus, cooperation with and eventually within the policing system could be imaginable for Christian pacifists in a way that working within the military system is not. 

Even when leading Mennonite thinkers have explained why they believed faithful Christians could not serve as police, they have offered precedents for thinking the question of policing through to a different answer.  At mid-20th century, Guy F. Hershberger’s no to policing was clear.  The state is ordained by God according to Romans 13, but as a “sub-Christian” measure that God provides for a sinful world.[44]  When pressed that police operations “may be necessary for the successful operation of a state in a sinful society,” however, Hershberger’s simplest and in some ways most elegant answer was that “the Christian is called to live a life on a higher level than this” and thus has better things to do by witnessing to Christ in word, deed, and ministries of reconciliation.[45]

Within a few years John Yoder would identify the question of calling as potentially decisive, but would on principle refuse to decide -- because deciding must be the case-by-case task of discerning communities who hold their members accountable, offer them binding pastoral guidance in particular historical circumstances, and make those judgments by the Christian community’s own standards of gospel proclamation[46] not by a reading of the “natural” order that is so easily confused with the limited standards of a fallen world.[47]  Like Hershberger, Yoder was prepared to affirm the legitimacy of the state, with its police function, as God’s provision to limit evil in a world estranged from God.[48]  And though far readier to approve of Christian political advocacy,[49] Yoder certainly agreed with Hershberger (and early Anabaptists) that God’s ordering of the state did not automatically warrant Christian participation in the state. 

Yoder, however, used this basic Anabaptist-Mennonite framework to make somewhat different points.  Affirming the legitimacy of the police function provided a wedge for more pointed critiques of war and militarism.  Since the biblical standard for judging a magistrate’s legitimacy was protection of the innocent and punishment of the guilty, “the state never has a blanket authorization to use violence.”[50]  Indiscriminate warfare and the use of war for any purpose beyond “the localized readjustment of a tension” are therefore “wrong for the state, not only for a Christian;” though limited police action within society or by the United Nations could not be condemned in principle, “all modern war” stood condemned “on the realistic basis of what the state is for.”[51]  While keeping Christian social ethics focused primarily on witness to Christ’s reconciling lordship according to the standards of Jesus’ gospel proclamation of God’s Reign, Yoder was widening that focus enough that Mennonites could recognize social and political engagement to promote social justice and limit violence as part of this very witness. 

Having suggested that limited police actions --domestic or international-- might not be condemned in principle, however, Yoder then needed to revisit the question of whether a Christian could be a police officer. Characteristically, his answer reframed the question:

The question, May a Christian be a policeman? is posed in legalistic terms.  The answer is to pose the question on the Christian level:  Is the Christian called to be a policeman?  We know he is called to be an agent of reconciliation.  Does that general call, valid for every Christian, take for certain individuals a form of a specific call to be also an agent of the wrath of God?[52]

If Yoder was moving the discussion of policing from the domain of principle to the domain of vocational discernment, the immediate result was not to make it any more likely that Christian pacifists would apply to become police officers.[53]   Rather, Yoder drove home the point that the conditions do not now exist to make this morally possible:

Stating the question in this form makes it clear that if the Christian can by any stretch of the imagination find his calling in the exercise of state-commanded violence, he must bring us (i.e., lay before the brotherhood) the evidence that he has such a special calling.  Long enough we have been told that the position of the conscientious objector is a prophetic one, legitimate but only for the specially called few; in truth we must hold that the nonresistant position is the normal and normative position for every Christian, and it is the use of violence, even at that point where the state may with some legitimacy be violent, that requires an exceptional justification.[54]

Yoder reported never having met anyone “testifying to such an exceptional call.”  But could he -- ever? 

Nothing is possible here if Christian communities lose their frame of reference -- the Gospel, not the natural order except as known through the lens of Christ’s revelation of its true character;[55] ministries of reconciliation, not the functions of state except as used instrumentally to achieve limited nonviolent ends; the mission of the Church, not the self-interest of nations except perhaps as defined through the preferential option for the poor and transnational solidarity.  In other words, Hershberger and Yoder were right to insist that as a rule Christians do have better things to do than police.[56]  For even if exceptions to the rule exist they are ordered teleologically to the end of Christian witness that defines the rule.

Whatever is possible here will require consistent practices for testing vocation of the sort Yoder outlined before concluding that he knew no one who had passed the test.  And whatever practices of accountability are possible will require churches in which nonviolence is the norm for all their members.  To envision such practices vis-à-vis policing we can extrapolate from what Yoder recommended in a later speech for any Christian who holds “a position of relative power in the wider society.”  On one hand, such a person can only be trusted in that role if they do not claim “autonomy in that station by virtue of God’s having made it an authority unto itself,” but instead “will listen to the admonition of his sisters and brethren regarding the way he discharges it.”  On the other side, the peoplehood called Church should understand itself to be an ekklesia in the original Greek sense with which the church of the Apostles adopted the word: “it meant parliament or town meeting, a gathering in which serious business can be done in the name of the kingdom.”  Yoder was proposing that discernment groups and accountability procedures become standard practices so that the Church would not only “model” the kind of community God intends for the world, but would offer “a pastoral and prophetic resource to the person with the responsibilities of office.”

Sometimes the function of the community will be simply to encourage him to have the nerve to do what he already believes is right.  At other times, other church members, thanks to their participation in other parts of society, will bring to his attention insights he would have missed; sometimes the community’s proclamation of the revealed will of God may provide for him leverage to criticize the present structures.

But in no case would the public office become “autonomous as a source of moral guidance.”[57]

Practicing for Just Policing

Let us be clear:  Should the concept of “just policing” gain currency, the first task of advocates will continue to be resistance to the militarization of currently constituted police forces.  None of these arguments aims to affirm all that goes by the name of policing, nor to encourage Mennonites and other pacifists to join their local police forces as currently constituted, nor to discourage Mennonites and Catholics alike from denouncing police brutality and human rights abuses wherever they occur.  Nor is our intention to justify any nation taking on the role of “policeman of the world,” which is actually a euphemism for imperialism, not international police forces accountable to the rule of international law.  The militarization of the police forces poses real dangers in many urban areas of the United States, for example, where racism and endemic social ills have too often conspired to place police on a war footing vis-à-vis minority populations.  On one hand, all of the just war criteria for assessing whether the exercise of violent force is acceptable should continue to apply for the purpose of minimizing not rationalizing violence.[58]  On the other hand, pacifist work to strategize alternatives to war and the overall criminal justice system should not neglect the need for nonlethal and nonviolent tactics for apprehending and detaining criminals.  Thus, both traditions have contributions to make simply in the improvement of ordinary policing.  In doing so, the patterns may emerge by which war could cease to be a church-dividing issue.

Looking back, two trends have already brought us to a point from which to envision a way toward further convergence.  Coming from a direction that pacifists can recognize and own is the development of nonviolent action.  Coming from a direction that non-pacifists can recognize and own is the development of community policing. 

As Tobias Winright has pointed out, the development of efficacious nonviolent action for political ends in the 20th century, coupled with a shift among pacifists toward identifying their position as Gandhian nonviolent resistance rather than Tolstoy’s nonresistance, has already begun to change the shape of debates about policing:  “With this type of pacifism in mind, then, the efficacy of violence in policing, generally assumed by nearly everyone [until recently], is called into question.  That is, when the greater efficacy of nonviolence is granted, policing itself can be envisioned in a completely different way.”[59]

Converging from the other direction is the model of “community policing.”  By extending it into the international arena Catholics may be able to fulfill the mandate of the Second Vatican Council to “undertake an evaluation of war with an entirely new attitude,”[60] to make the enforcement of international law into “just policing,” to integrate the contributions of pacifists have already been making to international peacemaking, and to invite their further participation in “just policing” without requiring them to condone warfare in exceptional cases. 

Though the concept of community policing is only a decade or two old, it has already produced a large literature, with debates over both the best ways to implement it and the worst case dangers that can come with its abuse.[61]  What makes it an appropriate model to extend by analogy into the sphere of international policing is the way that it integrates (1) the very sort of work on root causes of violence and conflict that pacifists have advocated as basic for achieving real peace with justice, (2) a continued but modified role for apprehending criminals, and (3) ample room for developing less-violent and nonviolent tactics for even that apprehension.  Community policing, wrote one commentator,

refers to a shift from a military-inspired approach to fighting crime to one that relies on forming partnerships with constituents.  It employs health and human service programs as well as more traditional law enforcement, with an emphasis on crime prevention.  It represents a change from a reactive model of law enforcement to one dedicated to developing the moral structure of communities.[62]

”Moral structure of communities,” yes, and the web of community relationships that constitutes healthy society.

But this in turn is how analysts like Lederach would urge nations to respond to terrorism -- holding criminals accountable to international law; strengthening the preventive system by beginning the hard work of changing “patterns of political, religious, and economic roots of social exclusion, isolationism, and oppression that contribute to the origins of terrorism;” and integrating these immediate and long-term approaches by relying upon (not resisting) the interdependence of nation with nation.[63]  Terrorism is not located in any one territory, after all, notes Lederach.  Instead it uses “the power of a free and open system” for its own benefit.  This makes its threat comparable to a virus, which enters into a system and uses the resources of its host against that host.  “And you do not fight this kind of enemy by shooting at it. You respond by strengthening the capacity of the system to prevent the virus and strengthen its immunity.”[64]

Even if the community policing model can be manipulated and abused,[65] what distinguishes it from military strategies is --once again-- that committing greater resources will make police more attuned to community needs and make policing less violent over all,[66] whereas committing more resources to military strategies will increase their store of destructive weaponry and tempt soldiers and civilian leaders toward short-cuts that ignore social needs.  The psycho-social dynamic of policing moves those who invest in it towards less violence because community policing has always been integral to good policing, even without the name.  What prevents good police from taking a war footing vis-à-vis the populations they are sworn to protect is that their relationships are intra-community -- not we-vs.-they but we-are-they.  Community policing only underscores what was already the case, that any violent consequences to “them” will be consequences for “us.”  This reduces the chance that violence will desensitize police officers to further violence, and increases the likelihood that any use of violence will truly be last resort.

The framework of community policing, then, is one within which members of both the just war and pacifist traditions can contribute, and can in fact “provoke one another to love and good deeds” (Hebrews 10:24).  Any further convergence of the two, however, will require more than theory or pronouncements, more than right intentions.  It will require practices -- a firm pastoral commitment to engendering and forming communal practices down to the parish level.  

I choose the more Catholic word “parish” here because in the formation of those practices we need to make war into less-and-less of a church-dividing issue, the Roman Catholic Church and other representatives of the just war tradition bear a somewhat greater burden of proof.  “Proof” connotes reason, and the strength of the just war tradition down through the centuries has been its claim to reason.  Reason, reflecting upon common human experience, rightly ordered through the authoritative teaching authority of the Church, is supposed to have been strong enough to minimize recourse to war.  Yet it is not at all clear that just war thinking has established enough of a track record of doing so that it really constitutes a communal (rather than merely intellectual) tradition.  In order to convince pacifists that the just war approach offers a legitimate resource for Christians, Catholics will need to embody their “proof” with practices that would transform the just war tradition back into what it has claimed to be -- in effect, just policing.[67]

If the bearing of burdens here is asymmetrical, however, it is nonetheless balanced, for Mennonites in turn bear a somewhat greater burden of charity.  The strength of their pacifist tradition down through the centuries has been its claim to the power of Christ-like love.  It is faith in this power that leads Mennonite pacifists to hope against hope for the reconciled healing of relationships in even the most intransigent of human conflicts.  Yet it is not at all clear that the descendents of persecuted Anabaptists have established an adequate track record of applying this faith and hope for the healing of Christ’s divided Church.  In order to convince Catholics that their tradition embodies the transformative power of love rather than the schismatic hardening of resentment, they will need to interpret Catholic willingness to take on and grapple with the problems of civic governance as charitably as intellectual honesty allows -- rather than marking down every instance of the Catholic exercise of civil authority as evidence of corruption, the “Fall of the Church,” or “Constantinianism.”

Practicing for just policing, Mennonite

Relative to their size, Mennonites do already have a remarkable track record of sending their people to work among the poor around the world, build relationships in nations labeled “enemy,” return home with lessons for addressing the root causes of injustice, work behind the scenes at international mediation, launch pilot projects for the unarmed defense of populations subject to human rights abuse, and create alternatives to criminal justice procedures to bring restorative not retributive justice.  The challenge that they face is not so much to establish a track record as to articulate what they are doing or will do when that very “track” leads to wider institutional~ization of their initiatives, in some cases by civil authority.[68]  Catholics and other Christians with fewer scruples about participating in the state may legitimately ask, So what will you do if you win?  Are you willing to help implement the changes for which you have called?  Why then is governance not legitimate for Christians?  Mennonites have faced this question with varying degrees of consistency when their own ministries have positioned Mennonites to take governmental roles in health systems, welfare programs, international development agencies, and so on.  Yet these state functions already assume the rule of law, made possible through policing.  What if Mennonites now propose alternative forms of policing itself?

In order to work at this challenge for other functions of state, Mennonites have increasingly seen themselves in the role of Jeremiah’s exiles, whom the prophet exhorted to “seek the shalom of the city” in which they found themselves while remembering that their primary loyalty was to God and God’s covenant people.[69]  What Mennonites must show in practice in order to socially embody their arguments, is whether and how the Jeremianic model provides a convincing response to the legitimate challenge of governance.  Some of Jeremiah’s exiles were civil officials, after all.  If this is a model for critical engagement with the tasks of structuring and governing society without Christian officials losing their ethical moorings within the master narrative of Israel, Jesus, and the Church,[70] how will Mennonites guide their members and hold them accountable?  What will happen if society’s need for some kind of policing meets the possibility of non- or less-violent policing -- perhaps because Mennonites have advocated for just policing? 

For now, Mennonites need not answer these questions by commissioning some of their members to become police officers.  Direct responsibility for showing how Christians can “just” participate in “just policing,” domestic and international, without once again rationalizing war, falls upon Christians who have identified with the just war tradition.  What Mennonites must do (and do before their own acculturation makes the practice even more difficult) is broadly implement the kinds of accountability groups that Yoder encouraged for Christians in positions “of relative power in the wider society.”  That should not only mean the few Mennonites who hold administrative positions in government bureaucracies or the even fewer who hold elected office, but should just as surely mean Mennonites in corporations, the academy, journalism, law, and other professions.  A few Mennonite individuals and congregations have taken up Yoder’s suggestions in this regard,[71] but the practice has not become widespread.  It must yet become so, either for the Jeremianic model of exercising social responsibility to convince other Christians that it is an adequate response to the challenge of governance, or for Mennonites to have a basis for calling Catholics to the practices that will transform just war into just policing -- or both. 

Practicing for just policing, Catholic

As we have seen, war would already be less of a church-dividing issue if the Catholic Church’s just war theory were in fact -- in the fullest communal sense -- a just war tradition of limiting military action to operations that credibly resemble police functions, reminding Catholics to resist the claims of nationalism, training Catholics to interrogate the legitimacy of every particular war, and expecting Catholics to refuse participation in wars that fail to meet the just war criteria.  Mennonites and other historic peace churches might still not sign on, but they would find the tradition far less objectionable.  That is why we may begin to chart the practices needed to make war no longer a church-dividing issue by exploring what the Catholic Church needs to do to implement the just war tradition, even though we hope to displace it with a tradition of just policing.[72]

The basic proposal is quite simple:  The Catholic Church needs practices that are church-wide and parish-deep enough that they correspond with the magisterium’s teaching that the just war tradition begins with a strong presumption against violence, allows wars only as an exception, and does so only in last resort. 

Bishops: Whenever bishops or their local conferences consider making pronouncements concerning the justice of particular wars, it only seems fair to expect that they will oppose the war unless arguments in favor of its justice are overwhelming.  This means that in “close calls” in which “reasonable people may differ” in their “prudential judgments” concerning the justice and advisability of a war, the default mode of the bishops would logically remain one of opposition.[73]  If anything, the presumption against use of violence should have led bishops to oblige Catholic consciences to oppose the war.  Thus the “presumption against violence” would coincide with the “presumption of truth” to be accorded the magisterium and would translate into communal (not just individual) selective conscientious objection.

Advisers: The presumption against violence must also outweigh the less formal and more cultural presumption that the Church can only be effective at influencing policy makers if they make enough concessions to “stay in the loop.”  Leading Catholic theologians act not only as advisers to the bishops but as political commentators influencing public opinion. Once the U.S. administration had resolved to go to war against Iraq in 1990-91, some of these advisers who had raised serious questions about whether the war would pass the muster of jus ad bellum criteria began to speak as though it had, no doubt so that they could maintain the access they needed to urge that they war be waged according to just in bello criteria.[74]  For the shaping of public discourse and Catholic conscience, such shifts undermine the very vibrancy of that presumption against violence which the Church needs not only to maintain the principles upon which the just war criteria stand, but to mobilize forms of Christian opposition to unjust wars that may well be more efficacious than that “loop.”

Laity: Only when the default mode of Catholics is the practice of active nonviolence rather than the uncritical acceptance of the state’s summons to war will the logic of the just war theory be operative.  John Yoder was only calling Catholics and others to accountability to their own principles when he insisted that military participation should be at least as rare for Christians as conscientious objection to the military is today, and that such participation should always require exceptional justification.[75]  For that to happen, of course, the Church’s institutions of formal and nonformal education must take a lead in training Catholics in the theory and practice of active nonviolence, and form them in virtues of courage, patience and love that correspond to that practice rather than warrior virtues.

Parishes, colleges and universities: And for that to happen, parish level resources must be available to encourage Catholic youth who are considering military service to transfer their desire for adventure, higher purpose and service of the common good to justice advocacy, conflict resolution, and even nonviolent peaceforces.  Full communion and moral support for military service -- or eventually, international policing -- should only be available to those who are willing to pass through a time of vocational testing akin to both Mennonite accountability groups and Catholic novitiates.  Such testing would require them to know well the criteria that are currently associated with the just war theory.  It would prepare them to uphold those criteria even when that means resisting orders.  And in line with Augustine’s attempt to insist on right intentions of love for enemy rather than cruelty and vengeance even in times of war, candidates who show a disposition toward retaliation or demonization of enemies would be forbidden from participation in military, police or international police forces.  Meanwhile, Catholic campuses that host programs such as the U.S.’s Reserve Office Training Corp would organize their curricula along these lines in the short run, and become leading think tanks for transarmament to nonviolent civilian-based defense in the long run.  If governments object to Catholics training their soldiers-then-international-police in this way, it will only be fair to expect institutional conscientious objection. 

Transnationally: Of course, for all of this to fulfill its promise in the arena of international peacemaking, Catholics will need venues for taking strategies for nonviolent action towards the next level, in that defense of the human rights of whole populations which we currently know as national defense.  Until governments invest in the strategies and institutions of national defense, and thus commit to a process of transarmament, the Church should explore doing nothing less than developing a transnational, nonviolent army or peaceforce of its own.[76]  The Church should never have forgotten to recognize itself as history’s archetypical transnational society, together with Diaspora Judaism, and in keeping with the teaching of early Church Fathers.[77]  Within the Second Vatican Council’s re-affirmation of the Church as a transnational “Pilgrim People of God” which has meanwhile renounced direct political control, there is conceptual space for launching a nonviolent army or peaceforce for that transnational nation which is the Church.  In any case, on many smaller levels, building on parish/diocesan social justice offices, and making fuller use of its college/university Justice and Peace Studies programs, the Catholic Church must take a lead in forming strategic think tanks, action groups and pilot projects for the nonviolent defense of peoples.  Otherwise, Catholic soldiers and international police stand no chance of fulfilling the criterion of last resort. 

Prophetically: Admittedly, these proposals assume and add up to a thorough cultural transformation within the Roman Catholic Church.  For to institutionalize such practices, Catholics will need to act in ways that may be uncomfortably counter-cultural for them at first.  In the context of what Pope John Paul II has called the modern “culture of death,” there may in fact be no other way to be pro-cultural in the best and most human sense.  But ultimately such labels are irrelevant at best and misleading at worst.  For sometimes the Church is properly counter-cultural, sometimes properly inculturated, always properly multicultural, and always a defender of vulnerable human cultures.  In every last case, however, Christians can only know which is the appropriate response when cultural acceptance is the least of their concerns. 

Here too, Mennonites have gifts to share.

Concluding Notes on Ecclesial Vocation

Given historic power imbalances, Mennonites certainly have some legitimate reasons to be stubborn in defense of what they believe to be the gospel truths of nonviolence.  Yet their own commitment to discipleship should also lead them to embody nonviolent ways of struggling for justice without creating new injustices or demeaning their opponents, ways of dissenting without tearing down the very principle of ecclesial authority, and ways of creatively searching for “third options.”  Might all this not include dreaming and working toward fresh ecclesial models for maintaining a resolute witness for nonviolence within the Church Catholic?

In charting the kinds of communal practices that the Roman Catholic Church will need to engender in order for war to cease being a church-dividing issue, we have stressed the need for much wider practices to discern, test, and maintain accountability to lay vocations -- and yet the concept of vocation can be problematic for Mennonites at this one point.   Putting pacifism into the category of vocation is problematic if it means the wider Christian Church accepts their pacifism as legitimate only because it is relegated to the status of vocation.  Mennonites have already encountered the patronizing attitude by which the 20th century Protestant thinker Reinhold Niebuhr said they were not heretics, and had a place in the Christian tradition, so long as they accepted their marginal and socially irresponsible role as living reminders of the rigorous but impracticable standards of Jesus’ ethic.[78]  They will not be wrong to reject gentler offers of recognition for their vocation too, if that is what vocation means.

The need to embody our arguments socially through communal practices, however, suggests the sense in which it is proper to speak of a pacifist vocation.  In a divided Christian Church, we must presume that history and circumstance have made some gifts, lessons, and words from the Lord relatively inaccessible to some Christians -- though intended by God for all.  In this situation, the very vocation of Christian pacifist communities may well be to offer a living, socially-embodied argument that nonviolence is normative for all.  To call this a vocation is not to compromise the integrity of that very argument, but to name the urgent sense of responsibility that some community must take on in order to do what will first make it intelligible, then imaginable, then credible to other Christian communities and ultimately to the whole, catholic, body. 

The question beginning to loom on the horizon is whether God is giving us any fresh ecclesial models that would allow for taking the gift of this Mennonite witness into the Catholic Church, rather than forever witnessing at the Catholic Church.  If this is ever to happen, the Catholic part will be to invite Mennonites into unity in such a way that the invitation promises not to coopt (at worst) or domesticate (at best) the very gift that Mennonites would bring into Catholic communion.  The Mennonite part will be to take the very risk that their tradition confesses is the way to preserve one’s idenity -- the risk that none will gain their life except by losing it.  The ecclesial models for doing this may themselves not quite be in view, yet waiting for us if only we walk far enough over the horizon to see what else we must do to reach their reality.  God surely is not calling all Mennonites to walk forward with Catholics toward the horizon where they might discover those models.  But for a few us, that too is a vocation.





First, whether lethal force may be used is governed by the following criteria:

·         Just Cause: force may be used only to correct a grave, public evil, i.e., aggression or massive violation of the basic rights of whole populations;

·         Comparative Justice: while there may be rights and wrongs on all sides of a conflict, to override the presumption against the use of force the injustice suffered by one party must significantly outweigh that suffered by the other;

·         Legitimate Authority: only duly constituted public authorities may use deadly force or wage war;

·         Right Intention: force may be used only in a truly just cause and solely for that purpose;

·         Probability of Success: arms may not be used in a futile cause or in a case where disproportionate measures are required to achieve success;

·         Proportionality: the overall destruction expected from the use of force must be outweighed by the good to be achieved;

·         Last Resort: force may be used only after all peaceful alternatives have been seriously tried and exhausted.

These criteria (jus ad bellum), taken as a whole, must be satisfied in order to override the strong presumption against the use of force. 

Second, the just-war tradition seeks also to curb the violence of war through restraint on armed combat between the contending parties by imposing the following moral standards (jus in bello) for the conduct of armed conflict:

·         Noncombatant Immunity: civilians may not be the object of direct attack, and military personnel must take due care to avoid and minimize indirect harm to civilians;

·         Proportionality: in the conduct of hostilities, efforts must be made to attain military objectives with no more force than is militarily necessary and to avoid disproportionate collateral damage to civilian life and property;

·         Right Intention: even in the midst of conflict, the aim of political and military leaders must be peace with justice, so that acts of vengeance and indiscriminate violence, whether by individuals, military units or governments, are forbidden.




Consider the following scenario:  Let us wildly assume that the U.S. which was struck in September 11 had political leaders who had somehow been impressed by the nonviolent victories against tyrants in the 20th century,[79] become convinced by arguments in favor of civilian-based defense put forth by political scientists such as Harvard’s Gene Sharp,[80] and had begun a process of “transarmament” toward increasing reliance on such strategies.[81] 

Such a U.S. would embark on a sturdier and more authentic course of coalition-building, taking European and Arab League concerns far more seriously.  It would thus recognize the 9-11 strikes as a tragically late wake-up call reminding Americans that in a globalized world, true security can only come by building upon interdependence not spurning it, and by addressing global inequity rather than flaunting it.  This imagined U.S. would already have welcomed and strengthened the institutionalization of international tribunals for trying cases of genocide and war crimes, rather than bowing out of relevant treaties. 

And while we’re at it, let’s imagine that Christians in the West had paid far greater attention to Pope John Paul’s Jubilee Year calls for repentance from historic sins such as the Crusades, and were communicating far more broadly their remorse and desire for qualitatively new relationships with the Muslim world. 

No doubt all of this would already have gone far toward removing the causes of terrorism.  But proponents of Realpolitik have a point when they argue that socioeconomic change can never come fast enough to eliminate all resentment and threats.  So let us concede that the 9-11 strikes could still have happened.  Fortunately, all of this would also have cleared the way for waging a nonviolent campaign on various fronts. 

While diplomats appealed to Afghani tribal elders to turn over al Queda leaders to an international tribunal, culturally sensitive nonviolent practitioners and mediators would disperse throughout Afghanistan and the Muslim world to communicate Western and Christian willingness to learn and correct the reasons “why they hate us.”  Combined, these efforts would do enough to begin drying out the social network of support for al Queda that Afghani leaders would then have the political cover they needed to remove their support for al Queda. 

Still, since the premise of all these alternative policies is that terrorist crimes against humanity should be treated within the rubric of prosecuting criminals not waging war, we must assume that as criminals, the perpetrators would probably refuse to turn themselves in.[82]

So what now?  It actually turns out to be far easier to imagine the conditions in which societies could dispense with war than it is to imagine dispensing with the police function.  It is in fact realistic to imagine dispensing with war because all of the strategies to which I have alluded are in development by theorists and practitioners employing pilot projects.  Further, global interdependence makes successful military strategies increasingly unimaginable (if success means proportionately less violence, not simply winning wars).  Yet to complete the final phase of the scenario I have imagined, some kind of SWAT team with recourse to lethal violence still seems necessary.  So too for the prison guards to hold them.  Thus we must press the question of whether post-9-11 calls for turning to international legal procedures do not imply positive support for police action.[83]




[1]. Second Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes [Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World] (1965), §80.

[2]. John Howard Yoder, The Christian Witness to the State, Institute of Mennonite Studies Series, no. 3 (Newton, Kan.: Faith and Life Press, 1964), 47.

[3]. “[W]e cannot fail to praise those who renounce the use of violence in the vindication of their rights and who resort to methods of defense which are otherwise available to weaker parties too, provided this can be done without injury to the rights and duties of others or of the community itself.”  Vatican Council, Gaudium et Spes [Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World], §78.

[4]. “Catholic teaching sees these two distinct moral responses as having a complementary relationship, in the sense that both seek to serve the common good. They differ in their perception of how the common good is to be defended most effectively, but both responses testify to the Christian conviction that peace must be pursued and rights defended within moral restraints and in the context of defining other basic human values.”  National Conference of Catholic Bishops (NCCB), The Challenge of Peace: God’s Promise and Our Response (Washington D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1983), §76. 

[5]. The United Methodist Council of Bishops, In Defense of Creation: The Nuclear Crisis and a Just Peace, Foundation Document (Nashville: Graded Press, 1986), 33, 88.

[6].  John Howard Yoder, ed. and trans., The Schleitheim Confession, with an introduction by Leonard Gross (Scottdale, Penn.: Herald Press, 1973), art. 6.  Although conservative rather than activist Mennonites are most likely to quote the Schleitheim Confession today, many of the very Mennonites who most sought to oppose the “war on terrorism” looming in September and October of 2001 found themselves reflecting the logic of Scheitheim nonetheless when (as we will see) they called for alternative, international, judicial responses to terrorism that still would require some military or police force to apprehend the criminals.

[7]. Glen Stassen, ed., Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War (Pilgrim Press, 1998).

[8].  The introduction closes with a page and a half of lingering differences and unfinished business.  Only one sentence on those pages broaches a matter so fundamental that it might have meant crossing off one of the “ten practices” to make them nine:  “We do not all agree with [the] affirmation of humanitarian [military] intervention” to halt egregious human rights abuses, “but we think it should be included.” ( Stassen, Just Peacemaking, 26.)  This refers to “practice” number eight, which called for strengthening the United Nations and other international peacekeeping forces -- military ones -- in order to halt genocide and other egregious human rights abuses. 

[9]. Corroborating this claim on the basis of a much wider literature review is Tobias Winright, “From Police Officers to Peace Officers,” in The Wisdom of the Cross: Essays in Honor of John Howard Yoder, eds Stanley Hauerwas, et al. (Grand Rapids, Mich: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1999), 86, 91-92.  A partial exception was John H. Yoder, who was noting the difference more and more regularly in the latter years of his career (see for example the emendation to the revised edition of The Politics of Jesus, 2d ed., reprint, 1972 [Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1994], 205), and encouraging students such as Winright to pursue its implications at the time of his death.  The many references and footnotes to Yoder in this paper none~the~less only begin to indicate my debt to him, not only with regard to the question of policing but in his theology of Christian pacifism and his analysis of the just war tradition.  I cannot attribute every idea I might owe to Yoder, not only because my reading of him spans 25 years, but because I learned his analysis of the just war tradition less from his writing than from a doctoral seminar on that topic at the University of Notre Dame.

[10]. Cf. John Howard Yoder, When War is Unjust: Being Honest in Just-War Thinking, rev. ed., with a foreword by Charles P. Lutz, with an afterword by Drew Christiansen (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1996), 50-70. 

[11]. For classic catalogs of the criteria for a just war, see: Augustine, Contra Faustum Manichaeum [Reply to Faustus the Manichaean] 1.22.74-76; Aquinas, Summa Theologica II-II 40.1; Francisco de Vitoria De iuri belli [On the law of war].  John Yoder provided a quite detailed catalog in appendix 5 of the revised edition of When War is Unjust, 147-61 [note that this is not available in the first edition, Augsburg Publishing House, 1984].  Also see the 1992 Catechism of the Catholic Church, ¶¶ 2307-2317, and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, The Harvest of Justice is Sown in Peace, pastoral letter (Washington D.C.: United States Catholic Conference, 1993), section I.B.2, Http://www.nccbuscc.org/sdwp/harvest.htm.  The Harvest of Justice offers a list that is commendable for thoroughness yet brevity (see Appendix A).

[12]. John Howard Yoder, “Peace Without Eschatology?” in The Royal Priesthood: Essays Ecclesiological and Ecumenical, edited by Michael G. Cartwright (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1994), 166-67.

[13]. Cf. note 67.

[14]. Nor need we belabor the objections that arise (in accord with Mennonite pacifist doubts about the reliability of common sense) as to whether the natural law is universal or accessible enough to guide us.  For a standard version of those objections, however, see Yoder, Christian Witness to the State, 33-34.

[15]. Augustine, in Ep. 47.5 to Publicola, provided an argument that a public functionary was no more guilty of homicide when acting to defend his city against villains who would threaten public order than the builder of a wall would be if it fell upon someone trying to tear it down -- but he first took it as axiomatic that a Christian who was not to defend his own life might “happen to be a soldier or public functionary acting, not for himself, but in defence of others or of the city in which he resides.”  In City of God 19.6 Augustine began the chapter with a rhetorical question that took civil judgment and  thus policing to be a self-evident need: “What of those judgements passed by men on their fellow men, which cannot be dispensed with in cities, however much peace they enjoy?”  Once he had established that a just man would reluctantly sit as civil judge (thus participating in the police function), Augustine argued that this same man would participate in just wars.

Martin Luther, in arguing that soldiers could be Christians, exclaimed that if he gave in on this point he would have to conclude that policing was wrong too ( Martin Luther, “Whether Soldiers, Too, Can be Saved,” 1526, translated by Charles M. Jacobs and Robert C. Schultz in The Christian in Society III, vol. 46 of Luther’s Works, edited by Robert C. Schultz, Helmut T. Lehmann, gen. ed. [Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1967], 98-99).  Though Luther did go on to refer his readers to another treatise on Temporal Authority for a fuller explanation, his exclamation suggested a working assumption the legitimacy of policing was basically self-evident.

[16]. John Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, vol. 2, edited by John T. McNeill, translated by Ford Lewis Battles, The Library of Christian Classics, vol. 21 (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1960), IV.20.

[17]. John Calvin articulated the continuity that many people take to settle the matter when, after many pages defending the legitimacy of civic authority, he summarily justified warfare in a few sentences:

Indeed, if [kings] rightly punish those robbers whose harmful acts have affected only a few, will they allow a whole country to be afflicted and devastated by robberies with impunity?  For it makes no difference whether it be a king or the lowest of the common folk who invades a foreign country in which he has no right, and harries it as an enemy.  All such must, equally, be considered as robbers and punished accordingly.  Therefore, both natural equity and the nature of the office dictate that princes must be armed no only to restrain the misdeeds of private individuals by judicial punishment, but also to defend by war the dominions entrusted to their safekeeping, if at any time they are under enemy attack. 

Calvin, The Institutes of the Christian Religion, 4.20.11.

[18]. Duane L. Cady, From Warism to Pacifism: A Moral Continuum (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 1989).

[19]. As John Yoder once remarked in a seminar, if as the war realists sometimes say, “war is hell,” there is presumably no morality in hell.  Even if war is not entirely impervious to morality, as the development of international laws of war suggests, what matters here is the tendency.  The fragility and tenuous of respect for the norms of international law amid war only confirms that tendency. 

[20]. See Yoder, When War is Unjust, 12-14, 130-35. 

[21]. While the rituals surrounding police work include flags, oaths, and appeals to honor, they manage to proceed in far less feverish ways.

[22]. As Stanley Hauerwas has said, “B52s turn out to be very crude police officers.”  Jim Wallis, “Interview with Stanley Hauerwas,” Sojo.Net: The Online Voice of Sojourners Magazine, January-Februaruy 2002, http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=news.display_archives&mode=current_opinion&article=CO_010702h   

John Yoder made this same point at greater length in Christian Witness to the State, 46-47:

We should ... be reminded that as long as an international agency uses war as if it were police action, it is not a simple extension of the state of Romans 13 to the international level.  Even the smallest and most gentlemanly war strikes more innocent that guilty persons.  For an international system of courts and coercion to be truly spoken of as police, ways would have to be found to make its sanctions apply to responsible individuals on the bases of clearly defined crimes, with individual nations not promising to accept punishment as a nation but agreeing to extradite any offender, even political leaders, for trial and eventual punishment.  Defining effective international government in this way is of course setting an idealistic goal; but it is less idealistic than the idea that military action could be truly an instrument of justice.

[23]. Wallis, “Interview with Stanley Hauerwas.”  The larger context of this quote relates directly to the larger context of this paper:

Wallis: ... We've done the critique of the bombing and the violence. What about a global police force?

Hauerwas: I think a police force is the best institutionalization of what just war should be about. But then the arresting agent is not the same as the judging agent. In war, those two are the same. I am extraordinarily sympathetic with the police in this country, because we take them from a social class usually just above criminal class, put them in the most complex social situations, and then we blame them for becoming hardened. Give me a break. What we need to do is to ask ourselves, "What kind of social cooperation do we need that can make it possible for people to be called to the police function of the state in a manner that they will have some confidence that they will never have to kill anyone?" I'm willing to do that. I'm deeply committed to it as a matter of fact.

     In the international arena, it's even harder, but I would certainly like to start envisioning the possibility of that kind of police force. The difficulty is of course police are only legitimated to intervene in violent contexts where there is a prior legal restraint. I can arrest you for theft because I know what theft is. The problem in the international arena is there is not that much law that can give you direction to know what to do, and the way you've got to build it up is through common action, but God knows that's going to be a hard matter. I'm certainly willing to enter into those kinds of discussions and hopefully make some modest arrangements in that regard.

[24]. For an elegant and historically literate essay on some of these dynamics, see Lee Sandlin, “Are we Finally Losing the War? / Losing the War,” two-part series, Chicago Reader, 7-14 March 1997. 

[25]. Though adrenaline surely courses through the veins of police SWAT teams too, and constant exposure to danger and frustration can lead to police brutality even without factors like racism, war changes the chemistry in significant ways.  The setting is more likely to be outside of the soldier’s own community, so that neither bonds of identification or the rule of law constrain the psychology of frenzy.  (Racism and racial disparity increase the prospect of police brutality precisely because they give police the sense of being at war with the neighborhoods they are sworn to keep safe).  Further, the military campaigns that create the conditions for frenzy are prolonged so that the conditions become endemic, whereas the high-intensity occasions for SWAT team police actions are just that -- occasional.

[26]. Cf. point 1 of the list in the text.  That late-20th-century Serbian nationalists cited a thirteenth-century defeat in order to stoke their sense of heroism suggests how powerful this phenomenon can be.  But this is only an extreme case of how far the psycho-social dynamics of real wars can take us from the dispassionate rationality of just war theory and the practical precision of good policing. 

[27]. John H[oward] Yoder, “Surrender: A Moral Imperative,” The Review of Politics 48 (Fall 1986): 576-95.

[28]. Along with the development of increasingly lethal technologies of war, this has been the story of modern warfare, whether we are talking about the creation of mass armies since the French Revolution, the interpenetration of guerrilla movements with their civilian bases, or expansion of “military-industrial complexes.”

[29]. Although the various tactics of low-intensity warfare (creating lightly-armed civilian patrols, engaging in nonmilitary projects to win over the loyalty of a suspicious populace, etc.) may seem analogous to community policing, low-intensity warfare weakens the social fabric of communities by inviting neighbors to inform on one another, or use martial procedures to settle old grudges.

[30]. For a similar list, overlapping in part with my own, see Winright, “From Police Officers to Peace Officers,” 102.  The two lists are complementary not competitive because Winright’s focuses on differences in legal status, while mine focuses on what I am calling psycho-social dynamics.  Also note Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, 205. 

[31]. Note for example the passing statement by Drew Christiansen SJ in a 1999 article in the context of Kosovo bombing: “Clarity and certainty are far less easy to attain today on the ethics of using force than at times when the international system was more stable.”  Might this point to yet another psycho-social dymanic, by which the more policy-makers need the just war tradition, the less likely it is to provide them with clear guidance?  See Drew Christiansen, S.J., “Peacemaking and the Use of Force: Behind the Pope’s Stringent Just-War Teaching,” America, 15 May 1999, 13-18.

[32]. On the origins of modern, separate, police forces in the 19th century, see Winright, “From Police Officers to Peace Officers,” 87-89.

[33]. Stanley Hauerwas has since sought repeatedly to remind U.S. Christians of that (see quotation, e.g. in Jim Wallis, “Hard Questions for Peacemakers,” Sojourners, January-February 2002, 32; http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=magazine.article&issue=soj0201&article=020112).  I would add that Christians will be even less likely to buy the cliche that Sept. 11 changed everything if they practice the preferential option for the poor and the virtue of solidarity well enough to know that most of the world suffers many things but no illusion of invulnerability, and if they remember that Jesus never promised his followers freedom from pain and death except on the other side of cross-bearing.  As I wrote to a struggling student in the following days, Christian pacifists who are truly committed to Jesus’ nonviolence will not abandon that commitment just because the enemy they are called to love turns out to be a lot nastier than they expected. 

[34]. In a report to the MCC Peace Committee meeting in Winnipeg, November 26-27, Daryl Byler of the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC) Washington Office noted that he had already begun taking this approach within days of the attack.  A few weeks later, on October 15, the Mennonite Church USA Peace and Justice Committee issued a “Statement to Mennonite Congregations” along similar lines.  Appropriate to the focus that Mennonite social ethics has on the distinctive witness of the Christian community itself, the statement expanded most upon personal and congregational ways of praying and working for peace.  Those not only included calling “on our government to address the root causes of the problem,” however, but also encouraging “the governments of the world to use the existing mechanisms of the United Nations Security Council and world court system to deal with the present crisis.

[35]. Friesen is author of Christian Peacemaking & International Conflict: A Realist Pacifist Perspective and professor at Bethel (KS) College.  At a campus forum already on the afternoon of Sept. 11 he prepared a handout for a campus forum held the day of the attack, which has since been published as a sidebar in an MCC publication.  See “Naming What Happened and How we Respond,” Peace Office Newsletter 32, no. 1 (April-June 2002): 7. 

[36]. Lederach is Professor of International Peacebuilding at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

[37].  John Paul Lederach, “Quo Vadis? Reframing Terror from the Perspective of Conflict Resolution,” Town Hall Meeting (University of California, Irvine, 2001), http://www.nd.edu/~krocinst/sept11/ledquo.html.  Also see John Paul Lederach, “The Challenge of Terrorism: A Traveling Essay” (2001), Http://www.mediate.com/articles/terror911.cfm, and Jim Wallis, “An Interview with John Paul Lederach,” Sojo.Net: The Online Voice of Sojourners Magazine, January-February 2002, http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=news.display_archives&mode=current_opinion&article=CO_010702l. 

[38]. Wallis, “Interview with Stanley Hauerwas.”

[39]. The American Friends Service Committee did release a paper detailing legal remedies available to the United States through international courts and tribunals.  See AFSC, “International Legal Remedies in Response to the Attacks of September 11th, 2001” (2001), Http://www.wcc-coe.org/wcc/behindthenews/analysis20.html.  It should be noted that the Society of Friends (Quakers) has been more open than Mennonites to Christian participation in policing, including international police forces, from their inception.  See Guy Franklin Hershberger, The Way of the Cross in Human Relations (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1958), 178-79; Winright, “From Police Officers to Peace Officers,” 105.  Winright cites James F. Childress, “Answering That of God in Every Man,” Quaker Religious Thought 15 (1974): 25. 

[40]. Wallis, “Hard Questions for Peacemakers,” 31.

[41]. “Positive” here would contrast with the “double negative” logic by which pacifists have sometimes taken a stance that does not oppose police actions (or military operations more closely approximating police action) when they fall within the legitimate functions of the state according to Romans 13. 

[42]. For a succinct survey of representative positions, see Winright, “From Police Officers to Peace Officers,” 96-108.

[43]. Howard Zehr, Changing Lenses: A New Focus for Crime and Justice, Christian Peace Shelf Selection (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1990).

[44]. Guy Franklin Hershberger, War, Peace, and Nonresistance, 3d ed., reprint, 1944, Christian Peace Shelf Selection (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1969), 54, 156, 311.  Police operations might well be less violent than warfare ( War, Peace, and Nonresistance, 311; Way of the Cross, 179), and the use of force within a system of international law and policing might be “much less objectionable than that now exercised in our world at war,” ( War, Peace, and Nonresistance, 174) but Hershberger was sure that the basic task of the police and military was fundamentally the same -- to maintain order using methods of force that “do not harmonize with the New Testament way of nonresistance” ( War, Peace, and Nonresistance, 162, 311). 

[45] Hershberger, War, Peace, and Nonresistance, 162.  This response might seem curt or aloof in some contexts, but it grew from Hershberger’s vision of the Christian community richly contributing people of moral character and ministries that are always in far shorter supply than are soldiers.  Toward the end of a later chapter answering charges like those of Reinhold Niebuhr that a nonresistant people is socially irresponsible or even parasitic, Hershberger wrote (252-53):

Perhaps if the Roman people had directed their energies more to the quiet and unassuming task of building the local communities where life and national character are created, and less to those spectacular enterprises which are life consuming, the final story of the Empire might have been different.  Therefore, the Christian youth of today who would make a permanent contribution to American life is wise if he understands that the most constructive work which can be done is not to be found in those glamorous and spectacular enterprises associated with urban industry, military service, and the affairs of state, but rather in the quiet and more fundamental task of building the small Christian community.  The Mennonite youth, in particular, if he is wise, will understand that nonresistant groups like his own, living the Christian brotherhood type of life which has characterized them for centuries, are a veritable salt of the earth.  No the nonresistant people with their historic emphasis on religious freedom and community brotherhood are not parasites; they are making a contribution of first-rate importance to modern society. 


[46] This was characteristic of Yoder’s lifelong approach (he would not have wanted to say “methodology”) to theological reflection and ethical discernment.  On the implications of this approach for the specific issue of policing, see Winright, “From Police Officers to Peace Officers,” 108-14.


[47] On this last point, see Yoder, Christian Witness to the State, 36: 

Much recent discussion of “Christian responsibility” has been extremely confusing -- rather than definitely false -- because of its failure to clarify the standards by which such responsibility should be measured.  If these standards should be understood to signify Christians’ accepting the ultimate priority of the work of the state over that of the church, then such responsibility would be treason to their own higher commission.  The validity of our witness to society, including the critical address to the state and the statesman, hangs on the firmness with which the church keeps her central message at the center: her call to every man to turn to God and her call to those who have turned to God to live in love. 


[48] Yoder, Christian Witness to the State, 12f, 36; The Politics of Jesus, 196-98, 201-02, 203-05. 


[49] See Yoder, Christian Witness to the State, 28 (and cf. 56) for signals of Yoder’s willingness even to consider Christian participation in some government functions.  The book as a whole represents Yoder’s argument for the Christian political advocacy.


[50] Yoder, Christian Witness to the State, 36.  Yoder continued: “The use of force must be limited to the police function, i.e. guided by fair judicial processes, subject to recognized legislative regulation, and safeguarded in practice against its running away with the situation.  Only the absolute minimum of violence is therefore in any way excusable.  The state has no general authorization to us the sword independently of its commission to hold violence to a minimum.”  Also see pp. 5, 46-47. 

[51] John Howard Yoder, The Original Revolution: Essays on Christian Pacifism, Christian Peace Shelf (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald Press, 1971), 74f; Yoder, “Peace Without Eschatology?” 159-60; self-quoted in Yoder, Christian Witness to the State, 5.


[52] Yoder, Christian Witness to the State, 56-57.


[53] The logic of Yoder’s position is a kind of triple negative:  Christian policing was not unthinkable, but he was not yet convinced, so three negatives calculated out to a continuing negative.  And even if he were convinced, a double-negative could never mean unqualified affirmation.


[54] Yoder, Christian Witness to the State, 57.

[55] Stanley Hauerwas has begun charting a way that Christians who accept Yoder’s theological ethic might nonetheless affirm a version of natural law.  Hauerwas argues in With the Grain of the Universe: The Church’s Witness and Natural Theology, Gifford Lectures delivered at the University of St. Andrews in 2001 (Grand Rapids, MI: Brazos Press, 2001) for a natural theology that is not autonomous from but rather enclosed within the yet-prior claims of Christology.   While drawing most explicitly on Karl Barth, Hauerwas’s With the Grain of the Universe honors Yoder by pursuing Yoder’s own hints that it is only unbelief which prevents us from seeing that the cross does “run with the grain” of all God’s creation after all. For the source of that title phrase, see John Howard Yoder, “Armaments and Eschatology,” Studies in Christian Ethics 1, no. 1 (1988): 58; Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, 246.

[56] Cf. John Howard Yoder, Christian Attitudes to War, Peace, and Revolution a Companion to Bainton (Elkhart, Ind.: Dist. by Co-op Bookstore, 1983), 31, 34. 


[57] All quotations in this paragraph are from John Howard Yoder, “The Biblical Mandate for Evangelical Social Action,” in For the Nations: Essays Public and Evangelical (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1997), 186-87.  For a far more extensive exposition of Yoder’s conception of Christian congregational discernment and discipline, see John Howard Yoder, “Binding and Loosing,” in The Royal Priesthood: Essays Ecclesiological and Ecumenical, edited by Michael G. Cartwright (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans, 1994), 323-58.


[58] See Winright, “From Police Officers to Peace Officers,” 92-96, drawing on the work of Ralph B. Potter and Edward A. Malloy.

[59] Winright, “From Police Officers to Peace Officers,” 106  This trend was one factor in the shift we have already seen as Yoder moved away from Hershberger’s categorical rejection of Christian participation in both domestic and international policing.  Of course, the development of politically efficacious nonviolence has also been a factor leading the Roman Catholic magisterium toward an increasingly stringent application of the just war theory, according to Drew Christiansen S.J.  See Christiansen, “Peacemaking and the Use of Force: Behind the Pope’s Stringent Just-War Teaching.”; “What is a Peace Church?: A Roman Catholic Perspective,” paper presented at the International Mennonite-Roman Catholic Dialogue (Karlsruhe, Germany, 2000). 


[60] Gaudium et Spes §80. 

[61] David H. Bayley, Police for the Future, Studies in Crime and Public Policy (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994); James Chacko and Stephen E. Nancoo, Community Policing in Canada, edited by James Chacko (Toronto: Canadian Scholar’s Press, 1993); Robert R. Friedmann, Community Policing: Comparative Perspectives and Prospects (New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1992); Stephen J. Gaffigan and the Community Policing Consortium, Understanding Community Policing: A Framework for Action (Washington, D.C.: Bureau of Justice Assistance, 1994); Jack R. Greene and Stephen D. Mastrofski, Community Policing: Rhetoric or Reality, edited by Jack R. Greene (New York: Praeger, 1988); Kenneth J. Peak and Ronald W. Glensor, Community Policing and Problem Solving: Strategies and Practices (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1996); Robert C. Trojanowicz and Bonnie Bucqueroux, Community Policing: A Contemporary Perspective (Cincinnati, Ohio: Anderson Pub. Co., 1990); Robert C. Trojanowicz and Bonnie Bucqueroux, Community Policing: How to Get Started (Cincinnati, Ohio: Anderson Pub. Co., 1994); Robert C. Wadman, Community Wellness: A New Theory of Policing, A PERF Discussion Paper (Washington, D.C.: Police Executive Research Forum, 1990).

[62] Christopher Freeman Adams, “Fighting Crime by Building Moral Communities,” The Christian Century 111, no. 27 (5 October 1994): 894.

[63] Lederach, “Quo Vadis?”


[64] Lederach, “Challenge of Terrorism.”.  Lederach continued: “It is an ironic fact that our greatest threat is not in Afghanistan, but in our own backyard. We surely are not going to bomb Travelocity, Hertz Rental Car, or an airline training school in Florida. We must change metaphors and move beyond the reaction that we can duke it out with the bad guy, or we run the very serious risk of creating the environment that sustains and reproduces the virus we wish to prevent.”

[65] Admittedly, military strategists and just war thinkers have attempted pale versions of community policing when they have turned to “low-intensity warfare” replete with public works to “win the hearts and minds” of populations who might be harboring clandestine adversaries, or when they air-dropped food aid into Afghanistan.  But if Lederach’s recommendation is to strengthen the viral immune system of the international body politic, then public works programs coordinated with low-intensity warfare are like sending an impoverished patient home after a shortened hospital stay because she does not have health insurance.  And the air-drops over Afghanistan were like using antibiotics to treat a viral infection, which every physician knows to be a useless misdiagnosis. 


[66] In personal correspondence (4 February 2002) in response to the draft of a preliminary paper I had written on the question of policing, J. Denny Weaver noted the potential of “a larger but unarmed police force.  If it was known that police were unarmed, the perpetrators would know that they did not need weapons. And larger numbers of police would bring more chances to observe, embarrass perpetrators, as well as do the kind of restorative work that would change people so that they did not do bad stuff. Of course, a larger (unarmed) police force would cost more money for salaries and training. But the fact that it will not be considered because of money still shows that there are other options between doing nothing and advocating violence.”


[67] The notion of and need for socially embodied arguments is a major theme in the work of Catholic philosopher Alasdair MacIntyre, carried through his books After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory, 2d ed. (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1984); Whose Justice? Which Rationality? (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1988) and Three Rival Versions of Moral Enquiry: Encyclopedia, Genealogy, and Tradition, The Gifford Lectures 1988 (Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1990).  One of the most succinct statements of MacIntyre’s case, however, is also one of the sources of this terminology: Alasdair MacIntyre, “The Privatization of Good: An Inaugural Lecture,” The Review of Politics 32 (1990): 344-61, especially pp. 356-61. 


In the context of ecumenical dialogue, proofs embodied in practices are especially necessary if Catholics hope to convince Mennonites of their claims, since Mennonites have sometimes called discipleship the “essence of Christianity.”  (See Harold S. Bender, “The Anabaptist Vision,” Church History 13 [March 1944]: 3-24.) 


[68]. For a broader theological discussion of this question, see Gerald W. Schlabach, “Deuteronomic or Constantinian: What is the Most Basic Problem for Christian Social Ethics?” in The Wisdom of the Cross: Essays in Honor of John Howard Yoder, eds Stanley Hauerwas, Chris K. Huebner, Harry Huebner, and Mark Thiessen Nation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999), 449-71. 

[69]. John Yoder increasingly explained his understanding of how Christians should serve the world within the rubric of this “Jeremianic” model for being a diaspora people that needs neither territory to maintain its identity nor control of state to render its service “for the nations” ( John Howard Yoder, For the Nations: Essays Public and Evangelical [Grand Rapids, Mich.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1997], 1-4, 41-42, 51-78.)  Mennonite Central Committee executives used this image to articulate their position following the events of September 11, 2001 (See page 7).

[70]. I.e., without allowing public office to become “autonomous as a source of moral guidance,” as Yoder put it ( “The Biblical Mandate,” 186) .

[71]. I myself recognized that the time had not yet come for me to become Roman Catholic, but did accept my current position at a Catholic university, in consultation with an ad hoc “discernment group” of this nature. 

[72]. I wish to thank Professor Todd Whitmore of the University of Notre Dame for stimulating many of the proposals that follow by sharing in personal conversation some of his own ideas for a far more thorough study of what the Roman Catholic Church must do to operationalize the just war theory.  Dr. Whitmore should not be assumed to concur with all the particulars of my own proposals, of course, particularly since our conversation took place a few years ago.

[73]. In the months of late 1990 that led up to Gulf War against Iraq, for example, this is precisely what did not happen.  The bishops lacked a “sufficiently clear consensus" to declare the war unjust, admitted Archbishop John Roach of Minneapolis-St. Paul, chairman of the bishops' international policy committee; though they did offer appropriate warnings that according to Catholic teaching war must always be limited, some bishops condemned the war and others called it justifiable.  ( John Dart, “U.S. Bishops Split on War’s Morality,” Los Angeles Times, 26 February 1991, A-11.)  This, however, meant that as a body they had in effect deferred to the judgment of government policymakers. 

[74]. I recall Fr. Bryan Hehir posing the rhetorical question about whether to make such a tactical shift in a lecture at the University of Notre Dame at the time of the Persian Gulf War.  Corroborating this recollection is the article he wrote soon after the war began: “The Moral Calculus of War,” Commonweal 118, no. 4 (22 February 1991): 125-26.  The article charts his moral deliberation step-by-step, as the public debate shifted from why to when to how questions. 

[75].  Yoder, Christian Witness to the State, 57.  See p. 10 above.

[76]. Such an enterprise is more realistic than first blush may suggest.  For in an era of globalization, political scientists recognize that nation-states are already ceding some of their prominence as international actors not only to corporations but to the network of nongovernmental organizations that constitute the best hope for the kind of global civil society that Catholic social teaching calls for in the name of human solidarity. 

[77]. Epistle of Mathetes to Diognetus 5-6; Shepherd of Hermas sim. 1; Clement of Alexandria, Stromata 6.5-6; Tertullian, The Apology, 38; Origen, Against Celsus 8.75; Pontius the Deacon, The Life and Passion of Cyprian 11; Gregory Nazianzen (recounting the interrogation of Basil the Great), Oration 43.49; Augustine, City of God 19.17 and 19.26.

[78].  Reinhold Niebuhr, “Why the Christian Church is not Pacifist,” in Christianity and Power Politics (New York: Charles Scibner’s Sons, 1940), 1-32. 

[79]. India, KKK terrorists in the U.S., Philippines, Poland, Czechoslovakia, the Soviet Union, South Africa, etc.

[80]. Gene. Sharp, Making Europe Unconquerable: The Potential of Civilian-Based Deterrence and Defence (Cambridge, Mass.: Ballinger Pub. Co., 1985).

[81]. In this context, everything that the actual Washington leadership has said about terrorism constituting a new kind of threat and requiring a new kind of war would mean something very different but be more not less appropriate!

[82]. Theorists of nonviolence themselves have stressed that their strategies do not require the conversion of adversaries --though they do leave open that possibility in a way that violent action does not-- but rather aim at altering the system of social supports that allows adversaries the power to continue committing their injustices.

[83]. “Positive” here would contrast with the “double negative” logic by which pacifists have sometimes taken a stance that does not oppose police actions (or military operations more closely approximating police action) when they fall within the legitimate functions of the state according to Romans 13.