continued from yesterday
... By contrast, the earthly Jesus modeled for us what it looks like when we are out of power or it is not God's will to use what power we have to bring change to the structures of society. Of course some have argued that Jesus gave us an example for all times and all situations. They argue that Christians should never engage in violence such as war and that a person should never strike another, even in self-defense.  God is the one who fights for us. We are not to fight for ourselves. Even then, God's fighting is full of love for all individuals involved.
These voices are important because they are surely more correct than incorrect. The usual responses to them are also well known. "What about Jesus throwing the money-changers out of the temple?" Some have argued that Jesus only used his whip to drive the animals out of the temple court, not the people (John 2:15).  As honorable as this interpretation is, it seems based more on wishful thinking than the text itself (Mark 11:15).
It seems that Jesus could get "righteously angry" and act accordingly. And although this was only one occasion in an entire ministry without violence, it showed that force was an option on some level. Non-violence was apparently not an absolute for him, even though it was the default, the standard for the vast majority of cases.
Another response looks to the Old Testament, where God seems to command Joshua to obliterate whole cities entirely, including animals (e.g., Josh. 6:21). We have to be careful when applying texts such as this one, for the Old Testament is not complete in its understanding of God without the New Testament. Even within the Old Testament itself, there are often multiple perspectives to be considered. Nahum with its delight over the destruction of Nineveh must be balanced by Jonah with its concern for Nineveh. Ezra with its commands to divorce foreign wives must be balanced by Malachi's hatred of divorce.
The Christian approach to war that seems to take the whole Bible best into account is sometimes called "just war theory." It believes that war can be justified from a Christian perspective if four conditions are met.  First, the impending damage from an aggressor needs to be "lasting, grave, and certain." Second, every other means of putting the aggression to an end needs to have been ineffective or impractical. Next, the war should be likely to be successful. Finally, the use of force should not result in a greater evil than it solves.
These principles seem to capture the Christian spirit, where the use of force is a course of last resort. Force is never used to advance one's own territory or ambition. One always tries non-violent means to resolve situations first. The goal of war is not to devastate the enemy but to protect one's own or others.
Can one wage war and not violate love of neighbor and love of enemy? Certainly one can wage war to protect one's own people. One can wage war to protect the people of the country you are fighting. The problem is that the true intentions of a leader arguing for war will not always be clear. We often do not realize our own true intentions. Any reasonable doubt at all argues against the use of force.
Then there is the question of justice. Would a nation attack another in the name of justice, if it were following Christ's example? If the answer is simply to get back at the other nation, the answer is no. But such matters are also very complex. You may have heard the old Latin saying, "If you want peace, prepare for war." The idea is that strength is in itself a deterrent from the aggression of others.
Again, we are prone to hide our true intentions and hatefulness behind such honorable sounding sentiments. And few of us will ever be in a position to make such decisions, although we vote for those who do. For example, following just war theory, a Christian would not have supported the American invasion of Iraq. Not only was imminent danger from Iraq uncertain, it turned out to be non-existent. Even after the war, it remains to be seen whether, in the end, the resultant situation in the Middle East and the world is better than before the war.
Yet many Christians at the time almost considered it unchristian even to have questions about the Iraq War. This is an indication of the extent to which popular Christianity is removed not only from the actual example of Jesus but from Christian understandings that have been accepted since the time Christians had a voice in such matters. It calls us as believers to be much more cautious in our support of American military action in the future.
The case of World War 2 was much clearer. Hitler had shown his aggression in the most obvious of terms. It even astounds the mind for us to realize now what he was doing to Jews and others behind the scenes, things that were not obvious at the time. For nations like Britain, the question was as much one of survival as of winning. Many today even fault England for engaging in dialog too long. The most balanced position would seem to be that there are very rare occasions where Christians might support a war in the spirit of Jesus.
Of much more immediate importance to us as individuals is how we should apply Jesus' ethic to our daily lives...
 Some key names in this reading of Jesus include John Howard Yoder, The Politics of Jesus, and Stanley Hauerwas, Resident Aliens.
 Yoder, Politics.
 This approach is often associated with Augustine in the 400s. The current list is largely taken from the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraph 2309.