A Christian-ethical evaluation of worldviews: Christianity and Islam
Western countries have been fighting the War on Terror against Islamic terrorist organizations for the better part of three decades. The defined objectives of this ongoing military campaign are many but the ultimate goal is to achieve a durable and comprehensive world peace. Notwithstanding this noble-sounding cause, the War on Terror has raised many moral issues, with critics charging, among other things, that Western countries have committed human rights violations while pursuing their real objective of imperialism. In the War on Terror, three broad ideas dominate discussions: just war theory, pacifism, and jihad. In order to address ethical considerations of whether to engage in war and how to execute a war, Western countries have mostly relied on variations of just war theory. The version of this tradition entrenched in biblical doctrine was first advanced by St. Augustine in the early Middle Ages. Just war theory gives weight to the notion that war is inconsistent with God’s creative order. However, war can be ethical if it is an instrument to restore the peace of God’s creative order. "The morality of a nation will be revealed by how and when it fights wars" is the way Peter S. Temes (2003:4) conveys this sentiment. Further, terrorism has introduced new challenges to just war theory, such as the propriety of preventative strikes, the use of torture in interrogations, and more recently, the use of drones against terrorist targets. Terrorism is frequently equated with the Islamic theory of jihad, which can be interpreted as "holy war." Osama bin Laden, an avowed enemy of the West, said that "he prescribes violence as the only way to defend the truth," (cited by Hoffman, 2006:51). This sentiment challenges peace-seeking Western nations to fashion a moral response and to consider how Islam defines truth. If some Muslims define truth as fighting a holy war against Western interests which they frame as a "just war," Western leaders are confronted with ethical considerations in countering this threat. There are some Western scholars who blame Western policies for creating an environment that fosters terrorism, arguing jihad’s moral equivalency based on perceived injustices perpetrated by the West. Despite the military and economic power utilized by Western countries, the threat of terrorism continues mostly unabated. In fact, it can be argued that the response of Western countries to radical Islam has actually increased the spread of terrorist organizations. This raises the question of what has caused the ineffectiveness to date of Western countries’ foreign policy response to terrorism. This work will argue that the myth of peace in the context of the struggle against Islamic jihad is not a deficiency of just war theory or an endorsement of pacifism but a failure to comprehend vastly differing worldviews.
- Theology