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Columnist in Good Company with Aquinas, Augustine, Paul and Jesus


Gregory J. Rummo

“Dear Mr. Rummo, My husband and I wanted to write and thank you for your article ‘What Would Jesus Do?’ We thoroughly enjoyed reading it. We've read so many articles on the opinions of this war our country is in and it was great to read a Christian point of view...”

So began an e-mail written to me earlier this year about a column that stirred controversy in several newspapers, one in particular, where it appeared on Easter Sunday with the headline “Jesus Would Have Bombed Baghdad.”

At least one person managed to read past the headline and intellectually assess the merits of the column while keeping both knees from jerking.

I don’t dictate to newspaper editors when to run my columns. I write 2-3 times per week thus affording editors the option of several columns to pick from. And they always can run someone else.

And the headlines I write for my columns rarely make it to the final copy of the newsprint you are now reading. Editors reserve the right to craft their own creative headlines for other columnist’s work and admittedly, in almost every case, they are much better at it than I am.

Nevertheless, it was an interesting exercise to read the negative reactions that blasted me for making the case that Jesus, being the eternal God and author of both Old and New Testaments, would have sanctioned America’s war in Iraq as a “just war.”

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised at the number of “One-Minute Theologians” that sprang up and tried to explain who Jesus was (or who Jesus is, as another letter writer pointed out to me—the tomb was after all empty on the third day.)

When it comes to religion, in particular Christianity and specifically its founder and leader Jesus Christ, I am stunned at the lack of knowledge. Apparently, opinions have been shaped by too many Cecil B. DeMille movies.

But what else to expect from a culture that gave us “The One-Minute Apology” and that breeds blasphemy like the recently released “Bruce Almighty,” in which Jim Carrey plays God. The ground has opened up and swallowed people alive for less.

The idea of a “just war” is well established in Christianity. Thomas Aquinas—no philosophical lightweight—presented in his Summa Theologicae a general outline of what has come to be known as the just war theory. He discussed not only its justification but also the kinds of activity that are permissible in war.

Augustine of Hippo also outlined the requirements for a just war.

In a paper entitled “Just War Theory and the Recent Air Strikes Against Iraq,” Mark Edward
DeForrest, a candidate for juris doctorate degree at Gonzaga University School of Law, Spokane,
WA makes the case:

“Augustine held that ‘[t]he natural order, which is suited to the peace of moral things, requires
that the authority and deliberation for undertaking war be under the control of a leader.’ For
Augustine, war is a permissible part of the life of a nation, and the power of prosecuting a war was
part of the natural powers of a monarch, ordained to uphold peace. War, far from being something
which Christians should shun, is part of the life of a nation, ordained by natural law, a law which
according to the New Testament is ordained by God.”

Paul the apostle didn’t mince words. In his letter to the church in Rome, he wrote, “Let every
soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the
authorities that exist are appointed by God… For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil…
But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an
avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.” Paul may have been the instrument to pen
these words, but they were written under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and are therefore as though
spoken by Jesus himself.

Jesus is “The Word” that existed from the beginning as the apostle John explains in his
Gospel. Jesus was with God, was God and “became flesh and dwelt among us.”

Tradition claims that it was John who laid his head on Jesus’ breast during the Last Supper.
For an interesting contrast, read John’s description in Revelation Chapter 1 of Jesus as he now
appears. The visage so terrified the apostle he “fell at his feet as dead.”

Jesus said many things during his brief 3-year public ministry that ticked a lot of people off. In
fact his claim to be God was what eventually got him crucified—at least that was the excuse the
religious leaders of his day used to falsely accuse him, have him arrested, tried in secret and brought
before Pilate for execution.

The misunderstandings persist to this day.

Gregory J. Rummo is a syndicated columnist. Contact him at

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