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Hope in Times of War

A Theological Ethic of Contemporary Conflict


David E. Roberts

Hope in Times of War: A Theological Ethic of Contemporary Conflict builds on the work of Karl Barth and H. Richard Niebuhr concerning the second World War to propose an alternative to the classical just-war theory. This theological ethic argues that God must remain primary in ethical decision-making, while allowing for meaningful human action in response to prior divine acts in history. In this way we can be realistic as to the boundaries of human action while remaining hopeful for the future. We do this by realizing that human beings are not rational beings who seek logic and rationality in all their experiences but as symbol-users who strive to understand ourselves and our world by means of symbols or patterns from our traditions. For Christians, Jesus Christ is central to these symbols, and Trinitarian symbols can be used to understand the ethical problem presented by war. The book’s final chapter applies this model to Yugoslavia and demonstrates how one ought to think ethically about conflict situations.