Page 4, 13th April 1990

13th April 1990
Page 4
Page 4, 13th April 1990 — deterrence

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IF I may join G P W Chapman (April 6) in highlighting New Testament texts that underpin the teaching of successive popes on deterrence, none surely is more decisive than Our Lord's sombre discourse filling Matthew's chapter 24, or more relevant in our day.

As when Our Lord foresees a time of great fear and of factions distraught as to which way Christ would have us to go: "Lo, Christ is here, or there" (cf. Mt 24:23).

Whereas notwithstanding the alarm, there is here evidently no occasion for turning the other cheek. On the contrary I find it striking that, to illustrate this Parable of Final Perseverance Our Lord turns — "but this know ye" (cf v. 43 sqq) — to the instinctive resolve of the goodman of the house (or paterfamias) to maintain instant readiness to repel aggression, the better to clinch the parable's moral.

And its worth noticing also, I believe, how Matthew 24 leads into John XXIII's Pacem in terris, with its emphasis on the impossibility of "securing" and "guaranteeing" peace on earth "except by the scrupulous preservation of divinely established order".

Wallingford S E MacKenzie I FEEL it is misleading for Mr Chapman to quote part of St Luke's Gospel (Ch. XI v 21-23) to condone the necessity of arms for self-defence.

The brief extract he refers to comes immediately after the dialogue with Jesus and the Jews about Beelzebul. Surely (and please correct me if I'm wrong) the true interpretation of this text is that the strong armed man is satan inside a person's heart, referred to as a palace. The stronger person is Jesus Christ who takes away the "armour" (human sinfulness) that a person relied on, and "disarms" him.

Then all the endowments of mind and body are converted into Christ's service, instead of Satan's. It's nothing to do with secular armament in case of war.

Likewise, the quotation from St Matthew Chapter X v 34 is not an authority for war. Christ came to give the sword of the word, with which his disciples fight against the world, and the sword of persecution with which the world fights against the disciples. Preaching the gospel may have the effect of creating opposition, but this is not the fault of the gospel, but of those who do not choose to receive it.

Robert Copsey Hindhead

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