Friday, January 29, 2010

The Just War – from Augustine and Aquinas to Blair

Cranmer does not have time to outline the development of this theory. But it is presently constituted of four principal conditions: the threat of the aggressor must be certain; it must be the action of last resort; there must be serious prospects of success; the use of arms must be proportionate.

It is all now conveniently summed up in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.

Of course, the theory has evolved over the centuries, and the foundations actually pre-date Augustine of Hippo. But the conditions were written before the era of ‘weapons of mass destruction’, after which the concept of a pre-emptive strike became rather more important than a ‘certain’ threat or an ‘action of last resort’.

And so today Tony Blair justifies his war. And he does so standing on the shoulders of some of the world’s greatest theologians and philosophers.

But Mr Blair is neither a great philosopher nor a great theologian.

Notwithstanding that he has his own faith foundation, which is more than Augustine of Hippo or Aquinas ever had. And notwithstanding that, since his conversion to Roman Catholicism, he has sought to lecture another great theologian on matters of sexuality.

Today is Mr Blair’s dress rehearsal for his own Judgement Day. Sir John Chilcot is not quite God, and Mr Blair will not call him ‘Lord’.

But only because he has a ‘K’, not a ‘P’.

And Cranmer has no doubt that Mr Blair will swat away these irritable civil servants like flies. His defence will essentially be nothing more than ‘the hand of history was on his shoulder’ and he ‘did what he thought was right’ because he’s ‘a pretty straight kinda guy’. The war may have been insecure in ‘international law’, but Parliament gave its consent (in a way it has never done for any previous war), and this rendered the war legal.

We know that Mr Blair has been re-familiarising himself with documents and reading digests of the evidence given by previous witnesses. And he knows that he is not likely to be asked any questions that he has not already been asked, either by his Cabinet or Parliament, or by Hutton.

But the Chilcot Inquiry represents his last chance to justify the war, and shape the judgement of history.

His performance today is about his ‘legacy’.

And that long since ceased to be political: it is now acutely religious.

His political achievements, even leading governments of vast majorities which had the potential to make lasting revolution, were modest: academies, civil partnerships, minimum wage... He could have taken us into the euro, completely decentralised education, or completely reformed the Upper Chamber. Any of these would have been a revolutionary and lasting legacy. But instead he tinkered at the peripheries, compromising, blowing this way and that, always bending with the strongest wind.

But now he has his own faith foundation: the ‘Tony Blair Faith Foundation’, no less, which bestrides the secular world like a colossus. Well, not quite, but it is his church: it is the shrine to which they come from the four corners of the world to kiss. It is the inspiration for his theo-political quest for peace in the Middle East; the bedrock of his public life as world statesman; the cornerstone of his messianic desire to heal the world.

Spiritually, of course.

He tried to heal it materially, especially that ‘scar on the conscience’ Africa. But human nature got in the way.

So he has decided to tackle that first.

Tony Blair may be more conciliatory and humble today, but he will be no less defiant in his evangelism. When he is scorned, he will reason that a prophet is without honour in his home town.

He will have in his mind that Saddam Hussain started two bloody wars; the first responsible for millions of deaths. It was Saddam who flouted ‘international law’, for it was he who practised genocide upon millions of Shi’a Muslims and used chemical weapons of mass destruction on thousands of the Kurds. He was an abhorrent leader of a foul regime. He was ‘evil’.

And the world is all the better for his riddance.

Whether or not Tony Blair has a ‘Messiah complex’; whether or not he inhabits his own world of ontological Truth; whether or not he is unable to distinguish between his own opinions and those of God, on the Iraq War he was right.

The aftermath may not all have gone according to plan (if, indeed, there was any plan at all). But 50 or 100 years from now, the names of George W Bush and Tony Blair will be written down in history as those who brought democracy where there was dictatorship; who were saviours of a people who were oppressed; who brought light and hope where there was darkness and despair. And there will be statues and commemorative days of liberation, for Iraq, which was a creation of Britain from its inception, defeated evil and liberated its people.

Parliamentary democracy does not come about over night.

England should know.


Anonymous Gareth Webber said...

"Parliament gave its consent (in a way it has never done for any previous war)."

Au contraire: the did for the civil war.

"Parliamentary democracy does not come about over night. England should know."


War is never a good thing. The results of one sometimes are.

29 January 2010 at 11:59  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Webber,

The civil war?

Parliament was not then sovereign! That is what the civil war was about.

29 January 2010 at 12:09  
Blogger Rebel Saint said...

Your grace, I would concur on pretty much all of that save 2 points:

- I don't think he has merely "tinkered at the peripheries". He has undermined much of the foundations of family life, and therefore our national wealth & well-being. And he dismantled our parliamentary democracy & constitution almost beyond recognition.

- The war was not justified. There are so many more places on this earth where war could have been justified far more compellingly. Instead they went about finishing the unfinished business that Dubya's father negligently left undone. The parallels with 2 Chronicles 35:20-27 are uncanny. Just like King Josiah, Blair fought the wrong war and it has been his undoing and left the nation in turmoil

29 January 2010 at 12:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Totally agree. What we need to do now is orchestrate another mass murder 9/11 so we can blame Iran and do the same all over again.

Three cheers for the English and their wonderful democracy. Jesus I have stomach acid after that.

29 January 2010 at 12:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

All this talk of democracy has me thinking about Holden Caulfield - You gota laugh aint ya.

29 January 2010 at 12:48  
Blogger Ingenieur said...

When oh when will someone please challenge Bliar & Co. over their attempts to link Saddam with 9/11?

The 9/11 hijackers held Saudi Arabian passposts, but we mustn't offend the Saudis by saying that too loudly or too often, because they have got a lot of oil. Not one piece of evidence has emerged to say that Saddam had anything to do with the 9/11 attack.

This is just a BIG LIE that is being repeated ad infinitum, presumably on the principle first enuciated by Goebbels.

29 January 2010 at 13:26  
Anonymous Knighthawk said...

If my memory serves me right, in the run up to the Iraq war Tony Blair said “those who think they there are no weapons of mass destruction will soon be eating their words.” Now if he was part of a US led plot to deceive everyone and knew jolly well that there were no WMD's that would be a pretty dumb thing to say wouldn't it? If he is the “pretty straight kinda guy” he says he is then it looks as if he was telling the truth.

But Tony is Tony, and a man who describes himself as “a pretty straight kinda guy” could be spinning words that in reality amount to him being “a slightly bent kinda guy.” Maybe the price of looking stupid over WMD's was worth it as an insurance policy. A ploy where looking an innocent twerp deflects being proven a liar and subsequently yanked off to The Hague on war crimes charges.

What is the truth? Only God knows.

And God only knows what damage his faith foundation is doing. For iching ears can now hear the nebulous Gospel according to St Tony. Our “pretty straight kinda guy” is peddling religion from an international platform.

Anyway, Tony did not take us into the Euro and for that at least I can forgive him.

29 January 2010 at 13:33  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace,

The thrust of your article rests on this statement:

It was legal because parliament exercising its sovereignty said so (supported by the relatively new, 19th century’s Diceyan doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty).

But if that is the foundation that provides the legal and moral judgment, then our constitution has not advanced since the time of that tyrant Charles I – for all that has happened is that the doctrine of the ‘Divine Rights of Kings’ has been distilled into parliament.

Still, this is the constitution we have.

Secondly, you assert that Blair was ‘right’ (shielding Conservative support for the war). But upon what grounds was he ‘right’?

The national interest? (Why is it that the Americans still ask the question: is it in our national interest and we do not?)

As for:

‘But 50 or 100 years from now, the names of George W Bush and Tony Blair will be written down in history as those who brought democracy where there was dictatorship; who were saviours of a people who were oppressed; who brought light and hope where there was darkness and despair. And there will be statues and commemorative days of liberation, for Iraq, which was a creation of Britain from its inception, defeated evil and liberated its people.’

I do not think so: as Remi Brague wrote in a Templeton esaay for the American Spectator: ‘the mainstarem tradition of Islam has certainly regarded freedom, both personal and political, as valuable – but valuable largely as a means to submission.’

The themes of ‘Democracy’ have come to us via Rome, from Jerusalem and Athens – not from Canterbury and Washington D.C.

29 January 2010 at 13:56  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Awful Whiggish humbug Your Grace.
Parliament 'gave its consent' on the basis of a crucial misrepresentation (amongst others) by Blair. If it had been told the truth it is unlikely it would have consented.
How can that be true consent?
And what is there of the just war about invading a foreign country that poses no immediate (or probably any) military threat to us?

And I am shocked Your Grace that you should seek to argue that anything founded on a lie can be other than wrong. You seem to have been infected with Blair's immorality.

He is so good at lying that I think as John Kampfner has just said on Sky News 'he makes his own truth'. This man was the perfect head of state for our morally relativistic times.
His religious 'conversion' is another deep psychological matter, but he's not the first master deceiver to have sought sanctuary in the embrace of Rome.
Does some part of his soul seek the authority that he has pushed for all his life and finds wanting in the modern world?

29 January 2010 at 14:05  
Anonymous S Lartius said...

Chilcot will be lucky to get a footnote in the history books in 50, 100 years time.

Blair might have been right to join in but it was George W Bush who led and he was simply set upon correcting the error (or bad luck) of his father in not ensuring Saddam Hussein was not removed after the Gulf War (which was clearly a “just” war).

29 January 2010 at 14:09  
Anonymous S Lartius said...


Chilcot will be lucky to get a footnote in the history books in 50, 100 years time.

Blair might have been right to join in but it was George W Bush who led and he was simply set upon correcting the error (or bad luck) of his father in not ensuring Saddam Hussein was removed after the Gulf War (which was clearly a “just” war).

29 January 2010 at 14:12  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

"And I am shocked Your Grace that you should seek to argue that anything founded on a lie can be other than wrong. You seem to have been infected with Blair's immorality."

Mr Philip Walling,

Exodus 1:19
Joshua 2:1-16 cf James 2:25

29 January 2010 at 14:21  
Blogger Manfarang said...

Awful Tory humbug Your Grace.
Have you ever been to this place?
Have you ever read anything about the Mandate? Did it bring democracy?
In a hundred time people will be writing about how the invasion wiped out Iraq's Christian minority.

29 January 2010 at 14:38  
Blogger Frugal Dougal said...

I accept everything Your Grace says, but the flip-side is that "jst wars" will become rarer and rarer as they are replaced by the Bush/Blair doctrine of "pre-emptive war", especially where countries whose administrations turn a blind eye to terrorist training and funding are concerned, even if their populaces are largely innocent.

29 January 2010 at 14:48  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Your Grace at 2.21 pm

'Tis a difficult intellectual and moral problem you present us with.

What if we were in Nazi occupied France and the SS asked the question: where are the Jews hiding?

I would lie to them.

29 January 2010 at 14:52  
Blogger Theresa said...

Your Grace,

Tony Blair's justifications had nothing to do with the Catholic church. JP II had a very public meeting with Tariq Aziz before the Iraq war started to make it clear he was against the war; he also gave George Bush a row in front of the entire Western world over Guantanamo Bay. Noone could be in any doubt what we thought of the Iraq invasion.

29 January 2010 at 15:01  
Anonymous The Huff said...

So you see your self as a kind of righteous prostitute then Your Grace? Pathologically Conservative values. You are scary sometimes, I would not trust you as far as I can piss, and tha's not far in this weather.

29 January 2010 at 15:23  
Blogger OldSouth said...

Your Grace: Thanks for a thoughtful post.

We won't know, for some time yet, what the true outcome of the Iraq episode will be. In my country, conditions were quite unsettled between 1781 (the surrender of Cornwallis to Washington), and 1792 (the adoption of our present Constitution). Likewise, post-1865, the US went through some real uncertainties as it reorganized after the War Between The States.

The Iraq War has cost both the US and UK dearly, in lives, treasure, good-will. The human toll in Iraq has been enormous, mostly not due to the actions of the US or UK military. Our young men and women suffered most of their casualties attempting to protect civilians from the depredations of the militias, Al-Qaeda types, criminals, and let us not forget, the Iranians.

The decision to undertake the effort was a very close call, but I think will prove to have been correct. No one contemplates these days what our world would look like with Uday or Kusay at the helm in Iraq, and Chemical Ali at their disposal.

In 2006, I was in your fair land, enjoying a G&T after a concert, when I was cornered by a vociferous gent who decided to take his frustrations out on me, as I was the lone American in the garden. Iraq was the subject of his rant, and demanded to know my opinion. I was a bit stunned, and quietly responded, 'It was an unfortunate necessity.'

Blessedly, a nice lady nearby rescued me from the angry gent.

But looking back, I still hold to that opinion.

Iraq was unfortunate. And necessary.

29 January 2010 at 15:27  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

And there will be statues and commemorative days of liberation, for Iraq, which was a creation of Britain from its inception, defeated evil and liberated its people.

For an alternative point of view, written by an American soldier serving in Iraq, see How Muslims Defeated the United States.

From the ‘executive summary’ at the beginning of the article:

❛You correctly assessed that we have not gained anything positive from our efforts in Iraq and that the nation is not our ally. (The same is true for Afghanistan.) I will go as far as saying that the Iraqis are our enemies—enemies better equipped to wage jihad against us than they have ever been. We will regret what we have done. We will regret that we created this officially Islamic nation. And we will regret that we created an officially Islamic Afghanistan. We will regret that we have placed ourselves in the service of Islam, waging jihad worldwide as we advance the Religion of Peace and eliminate Christians in the process.❜

29 January 2010 at 15:29  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Mr Old South,

Your wisdom and discernment are exemplary.

29 January 2010 at 15:30  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Mr Singh
Some lies turn out to have a convenient outcome but they are still lies.

If Blair were to admit he lied to get us into the war but then argue 'Hey, look it's turned out all right in the end' (which it hasn't as it turns out) that would be one thing and he would have to take whatever consequences ensued, BUT to compound that lie with all the subsequent (and antecedent) lies and not have the courage to admit he lied shows the hollowness of his original moral position.

And if you want to argue that his lies are all right because they had a convenient outcome, it is quite clear "You shall not do evil that good may come of it."
I can't see that any other position can be a moral one.

29 January 2010 at 15:30  
Anonymous philip walling said...

And Your Grace

Those passages are about obeying the will of God no matter what we men might think of it.
That is what Blair the messiah is trying to rely on, but I'm not convinced he's a prophet or the Lord's anointed or the Messiah.

29 January 2010 at 15:36  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Exemplary my arse. Hey, another thing, it looks like the Irish have rumbled your prostituion raquet and plastic loyalty. I really hope we get a hung parliament, teach you pigs a lesson.

29 January 2010 at 15:38  
Blogger John said...

The bloody yanks eh. They have just voted in the biggest pillock of all time and now they scratch their arses wondering what has gone wrong. No good coming here sipping G&T you bloody gormless yank.

29 January 2010 at 15:44  
Anonymous Horse and hounds said...

Your Grace, a good article.


The last 2 comments (15.38 and 15.44) do nothing to add to this discussion and are frankly pointless other than being abusive.

29 January 2010 at 16:49  
Anonymous Welsh Diva said...

"Exemplary my arse. Hey, another thing, it looks like the Irish have rumbled your prostituion raquet and plastic loyalty. I really hope we get a hung parliament, teach you pigs a lesson."

To which Pigs is Anon referring to and what has this got to do with a hung parliament?

29 January 2010 at 16:55  
Blogger john in cheshire said...

How come suicide bombers never blow up those who truly deserve such an end?

29 January 2010 at 16:59  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Phillip Walling

Yes. They are still lies.

29 January 2010 at 17:02  
Blogger Johnny Rottenborough said...

...the names of George W Bush and Tony Blair will be written down in history as...saviours of a people who were oppressed...

Surely Your Grace can stretch a point and include Cherie? She was so disappointed to be denied the title of Holy Roman Empress. ‘Co-Saviour of Iraq’ would cheer her up no end. Odd that Your Grace made no mention of Iraq’s Christian peoples, many of whom have had to flee the all new, all singing, all dancing Iraq.

29 January 2010 at 18:07  
Anonymous graham wood said...

Leaving aside for a moment the theological, or specifically Christian, theory of the "just war", I think we would all agree that Blair's conviction can be summarised under that concept - war was justified because it was a just war.
Prominent in all his arguments all along has been his passionate personal conviction, and it is interesting to notice what that was based on.
Today, and in the past enquiries, two important words are used repeatedly by Blair as part of his justification for going to war.
They are "risk" and "threat"
In his mind Saddam posed both in sufficient degree to warrant what he called today a "decision".
I do not believe the Hutton enquiry, or Chilcot over the past weeks, have questioned Blair and his ministers and advisers with sufficient forensic investigative force in questioning these two ideas which became so prominent in the debates, then and now.
Saddam was of course, a risk and a threat to the region IF he had WMD. He was both to his own people, not least because of his murderous use of chemical weapons upon them and especially the Kurds.
What Chilcot did not press hard enough is the question upon which the whole debate turns - i.e.
was Saddam a risk and a threat to the UK'S OWN SECURITY?
Answer: no.
Was there at any point any actual evidence, either through British or USA Intelligence at the time, of the existence of WMD posing either a "risk" or a "threat" to us?
Once again, the answer is: No.

In a sense this is the only question concerning Blair's decision to take US to war.
Leaving aside then the question mark over the supposed 'regime change' agenda of both Bush and Blair, and given that Hans Blix, the UN weapons inspector and his teams were still undertaking investigations in Iraq just prior to the decision to go to war, that still left any risk or threat factor as entirely unproved at that stage - and indeed later.

All this contrasts sharply with an interesting parallel scenario when the USA nearly went to war on the basis of a perceived threat during the Cuban missile crisis on the high seas and en route to Cuba bases.
In that case the weapons (IBMs)_ were clearly identified in detail. through Intelligence and actual photos, so that the 'threat' to the USA from its immediate back door was only too obvious.
Kennedy courageously confronted the Soviet proxy forces with the threat of catastrophic military retribution by the USA, and the crisis was averted - but only because the threats and the risks were real and proven.
I contend that the threat and risk to Britain was in Blair's mind only in directing him to go to war, and so there were other motives.

29 January 2010 at 18:13  
Anonymous graham wood said...

YG. What about the constitutional position and its implications of the Iraq war.
The following letter by Bob Lomas of the Magna Carta Society is IMO a take on the subject little considered thus far:

Dear Editor,


With regard to the Iraq Enquiry it is doubtful that the most essential issue and pertinent questions will be raised and addressed. Doubtful because the people's Constitution and lawful constitutional constraint has been unlawfully set aside since the European Communities Act 1972.

Below are the most serious questions that the British people should now be asking and demanding answers.

Is it still true that according to the Constitution only the monarch can and may raise a standing army on behalf of the people hence Her Majesty's Armed Forces?

Is it still true that only the Monarch can declare war and only then in a defensive capacity and that the Prime Minister can only declare war if the Monarch is indisposed or incapacitated and only then if the nation is without doubt in imminent danger of physical attack? If this is still true then Parliament had no lawful authority to go to war with Iraq without the full and documented approval of the Monarch who as Commander in Chief of Her Armed Forces is responsible for their actions and well being, their sworn allegiance being only to the Monarch and through the Monarch to the British people. No one owes any allegiance to Parliament as it is called into being by the Sovereign and is time limited in its existence and subordinate to the people through the person of the Monarch.

When questioned a senior lawyer of the House of Lords admitted that there is no lawful legislation in place which would allow Parliament to commit HM Armed Forces to go to war, other than the exception mentioned above, but he claimed that it has been done by convention. This claim however is unsustainable as convention has no force in law as clearly laid out in Halsbury's "Laws of England".

With this regard either the Queen committed Her Armed Forces to engage in an act of naked aggression against a sovereign state that had in no way threatened the defence of this realm, or PM Blair usurped the authority of the Crown and the British people and by so doing "imagined the death of the Monarch, an indictable offence placing him subject to charges of treason under the Treason Act 1351 and the Treason Felony Act 1848.

One must be mindful that the reason the Queen was at the time of her coronation made Commander in Chief of the nation's Armed Forces was to ensure the defence of the realm which could under unfortunate circumstances include the lawful enforced removal of a despotic Parliament.

Either the Iraq Enquiry will address the implication of the British Constitution, its constraints and the Rule of Law or it will endeavour to create a political fudge on a 'smoke and mirrors' principle and by so doing place the Queen in breach of Her coronation oath and denounce Her lawful authority as Governor of the nation and Head of the Executive and consequently disregard the British people as being the supreme sovereign power in the land. Only time will tell, but people who have reported according to their civic duty their suspicion that treason has been committed have been informed the treason is a political matter and therefore of no concern of the police..

Bob Lomas. The Magna Carta Society.

29 January 2010 at 18:26  
Blogger Janice said...

Dear Cranmer (in whom I have so often found words of wisdom) -

For this post : Shame on you. SO wrong. Tony Blair brought chaos where there was a balance of power. And did nothing to support the vulnerable once he had undermined the status quo. Result : hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, millions of refugees. And still - no hint of so-called western democracy.

This war was only about oil.

Now I think I may have to delete you from my favourite blogs. Feeling so let down.

29 January 2010 at 18:47  
Blogger Archbishop Cranmer said...

Dear Mrs/Miss/Ms Janice,

A divorce over one slight difference of opinion?

Is the world so fickle?

So sensitive?

So intolerant of a contrary view?

29 January 2010 at 19:30  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

Crany, unfortunately the answer to that question is yes, just look at the quality of the replies any one difference of opinion illicits on your very pages.

Funnily enough, i'm surprised you weren't branded as a socialist for having a different opinion.

29 January 2010 at 19:57  
Blogger English Viking said...

Your Grace,

The passages you quoted are both instances of persons lying in order to save lives, not take them. Blair lyed repeatedly, consistently and arrogantly (shall we guess who his father is?) and the result has been the loss of up to a million lives, so far.

We will not be reading of the birth of democracy in the history books of Iraq in 100 years time. The muslims will have burnt all but one book by then.

May the Lord reward this man according to his deeds. 2 Timothy 4 v 14

29 January 2010 at 20:16  
Blogger English Viking said...


Lied, not lyed.

29 January 2010 at 20:17  
Blogger Semper said...

Is not the trouble with the Doctrine of Just War that it has always been spun and twisted by warmongers?

The idea that churchmen can license wars has no connection with the teaching of the Apostles.

29 January 2010 at 20:26  
Anonymous John Malcolmson said...

With regard to the dialogue between Mr Walling and Mr Singh - I have to say that I'm with Mr Singh on this one.

Surely, for the Christian, the question is not whether lies are absolutely wrong, but the intentions of the liar. If those intentions are honourable (as in Mr Singh's example about not betraying the whereabouts of Jews to the Nazis), would not Christ condone them?

As an agnostic, I have to confess I'm not very well read on scripture. But is there anywhere in the Bible that states that it is fundamentally and definitively wrong to tell a lie, regardelss of the circumstances?

29 January 2010 at 20:32  
Blogger Lord Lavendon said...

Your Grace, couldn't we have gone into Rhodesia as well, as that country is also run by a president who is a dictator and has harmed millions of his own people? Or is there not enough oil there?

29 January 2010 at 20:57  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Mr John Malcolmson @ 20.32, start with the Ten Commandments: 'Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour'. It's an unambiguous, unqualified and unconditional 'command'.

However in Islam the telling of lies is permitted in furtherance of spreading the word of the prophet. Which means a Muslim can lie with a clear conscience because he is spreading the word of the prophet, isn't he? I use the masculine because in Islam women are mere chattels and beneath men in all regards.

29 January 2010 at 21:13  
Anonymous philip walling said...

No, Mr Malcolmson,

There is nothing in the Bible (to my knowledge) that says it is always wrong to tell a lie. (Bearing false witness is to do with misrepresenting God's truth, I think). Lying is necessary sometimes and has great utilitarian and emollient effect on many occasions.

BUT, my first point is that lying is lying however you dress it up.

And my second is that obedience to God's will would justify lying (or any other act that we humans think wrong, eg Abraham's willingness to obey God's instruction that he kill his son Isaac) but again, it's still lying although you trust you would be instantly absolved if God told you to do it.

But Blair simply lied - and continues to do so (I don't think God has anything to do with it, despite the former's messianic delusions). And as Lord Lavendon so trenchantly observes, why Iraq and not Rhodesia if his purpose was to overthrow tyranny? At least the people there would have been grateful and we wouldn't have had the terrorism and killing after the invasion.

And the analogy with lying to Germans about the whereabouts of hidden Jews doesn't make Blair's lying right, it just gives an extreme example of when lying can have a beneficial utilitarian result for somebody else, but it doesn't alter the fact that it's a lie.
I can't see the moral difference between that and lying to save your own skin if nobody else is harmed as a result (eg saying you've forgotten to do something objectively not important when really you just couldn't be bothered.)

29 January 2010 at 21:42  
Anonymous John Malcolmson said...

Mr Bluedog - are you saying Mr Singh is wrong, or not?

Please be unambiguous, unqualified and unconditional in your reply.

29 January 2010 at 22:05  
Anonymous John Malcolmson said...

Mr Philip Walling

I reject your point entirely.

I simply don't accept that a lie uttered as a result of a heartfelt desire to protect somebody who, in the mind of the person telling the lie, needs their protection, is wrong.

You, I note, are a Christian. If you are really telling me that the Christian faith tells us that a "lie" issued from the heart, out of care and love for the person whom it is designed to protect, is simply something that cannot be attributed with any greater epithet than having a "beneficial utilitarian result", you are simply reinforcing my agnosticism.

29 January 2010 at 22:18  
Blogger English Viking said...

Mr Malcolmson,

I am a Christian. The Lord God has, on a very, very few occasions, used the lies of certain persons for His glory.

As far as I am aware, lying is NEVER condoned in The Bible, NEVER taught as permissible in a believer.

There are some situations, so very far beyond the pale as to occur maybe once in a lifetime, when a lie will serve the greater good (the Nazi seeker/Jew hider, for example), but surely the greater good of this action is clear? ie, the prevention of the taking of life.

Blair's lies resulted in slaughter on a vast scale. He is not a Christian. He does not follow Christ. He is a Catholic. Believe me, there is a world of difference.

This most dreadful of men will occupy a special place in God's thoughts.

29 January 2010 at 23:21  
Anonymous Ginro said...

I have always been of the opinion that Blair saw the enormous popularity that Mrs Thatcher achieved from the Falklands War, and decided somewhere along the way that this would be his chance to become the 'big man, the 'hero' if you like. He has always been a very self-serving character (like his wife, two peas in a pod), and a liar (very apparent from his appearances prior to the 97 election), and it is highly unlikely that a person such as he is would do anything for the greater good of others.

29 January 2010 at 23:24  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Dear Mr Malcolmson

How do you know I'm a Christian?
Do you detect something uniquely Christian in what I write?

I don't see it as anything other than a matter of absolute truth - which is something we have to be humble enough to try to find out. If it isn't to our liking it doesn't alter its existence. A lie is a lie, is a lie, no matter which way you spin it.

Just as theft is theft.

It's a different argument to say that sometimes lying or thieving have beneficial consequences as far as the liar or the thief or someone he wishes to help are concerned.
If that is not true then every bad act or crime would be conditional on the intention of the doer; and if the thief stole with the intention of giving his loot to someone he deemed worthy of his largesse then, by what i take to be your argument, it would never have been theft in the first place.

29 January 2010 at 23:28  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Mr Malcolmson @ 22.05, I do not speak for Mr Singh. I am sure that Mr Singh will answer the question that you have put to me himself, if he considers that you have made a valid point. Evasive? Moi?

30 January 2010 at 07:54  
Anonymous FX 初心者 said...

Being an outstanding hero depends on not only personal qualities but also right place, right time.

30 January 2010 at 08:37  
Anonymous glownuff said...

All of this is proof that there is no God and that you can pick out Bible verses to support just about any old thing.

30 January 2010 at 10:01  
Anonymous John Malcolmson said...

Philip Walling

Forgive me if I've wrongly assumed you to be a Christian. I believe, as you suggest, that there must have been some things you have written in the past (most of which I agree with wholeheartedly, by the way) which led me to this conclusion.

I accept your argument about absolute truth, in the sense that a lie is a lie whichever way you look at it (and I don't think I tried to argue that it wasn't). However, it seems to me that there are "degrees" of absolute truth, by which I mean that some absolute truths are more significant and important than others and consist of more than facts.

For example, it is an "absolute truth" to say that Tony Blair was Prime Minister of the UK from 1997 to 2007, but it is not a very significant truth, because it doesn't tell us anything we didn't know already. I believe that what may be termed "higher" absolute truths always have some moral context: thus the interesting question is not whether a statement is a lie or not - it is whether it is always wrong to tell a lie, and if not, can we define the justifications for it?

In this regard, I'm a little puzzled by your apparent lack of distinction between "beneficial consequences" for the liar and "beneficial consequences" for someone the liar is trying to help. Surely the whole point is the distinction between the "selfish" and "selfless" lie, and selflessness being central to the ethos of Christianity, all I was suggesting was that I could not see any insuperable conflict here for the Christian trying to decide whether a lie was justified
or not.

30 January 2010 at 14:19  
Anonymous John Malcolmson said...

Mr English Viking

I made no mention of Blair, neither did I try to justify HIS lies.

30 January 2010 at 14:23  
Anonymous John Malcolmson said...

Mr Bluedog

Are you suggesting I should ask Mr Singh whether he is wrong or not?

What do you think the answer will be?

30 January 2010 at 14:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"who brought light and hope where there was darkness and despair."
Do you think Christians in Iraq everyday thank God Blair brought them light and hope?

True Saddam was evil but we have not liberated Iraq - they are not free.

30 January 2010 at 17:09  
Anonymous TheGlovner said...

John Malcolmson

'What do you think the answer will be?'

Depends if he agrees with you or not.

If he does then he will massage your ego and tell you how spot on you are.

If he doesn't he will endlessly quote other people interspersed with claims of your socialist actions in a patronising tone.

30 January 2010 at 19:56  
Anonymous bluedog said...

Mr Malcolmson @ 14.28. At 20.32 on 29th January you wrote, " But is there anywhere in the Bible that states that it is fundamentally and definitively wrong to tell a lie regardless of the circumstances". Taken at face value, the Ten Commandments contain such a statement.

As a Christian I believe in a loving God who would I hope be understanding if I told a lie to save the life of one of my children, to think of a specific dilemma. You say you are an agnostic and I'm not sure by what moral code, if any, you lead your life, or what you would do faced with the dilemma I mention. It may not be relevant to you.

You ask me whether or not you should ask D Singh for an answer to your question @ 14.28. If you are genuinely interested in his answer the smart thing to do is to ask D Singh yourself.

30 January 2010 at 20:45  
Blogger D. Singh said...

Mr Glovner

So that you may not be denied the opportunity of making a wise contribution to this debate:

Mr L. Hoffer in 1951 defined the game of chess as ‘… a battle between two armies, numerically equal, of which the two players are the generals.’ Would you argue that at least one of the chess players should reveal to the other his stratagems, tactics and feints?
Should Oscar Schinldler, rather than get thousands of Jews out of Nazi Germany, have surrendered them to the authorities?
Should the allies have revealed their lies and deceptions to the German High Command prior to the Normandy landings?

On point ‘3’ C.S. Lewis argued that we should not as they were the enemy and not our neighbours. But let us take the actions and omissions of our own politicians, who throughout the decades have deceived us over the European Union.

Are the British people, on this issue, regarded as their enemy?

30 January 2010 at 22:34  
Anonymous John Malcolmson said...

Mr Bluedog 20.45

My original question to you was "Do you think Mr Singh is wrong?"

I've already said that on this issue, I agree with him, so I see little point in questioning him about it.

You still haven't answered my question, although I do acknowledge that you have clarified your position somewhat.

31 January 2010 at 08:57  
Anonymous len said...

I think God is a lot more compassionate and a lot more intelligent than a few communicants are giving Him credit for.
Does God have a rule book that He judges us by?, Or does
God look into the heart and minds of men to see what their motives are, what their intentions are?. God sees beyond the outward appearance.
I give you a few illustrations,
Pharoah demanded that all male babies be killed,

Exodus 1:15-21- The midwives blatantly lie to Pharoah about their disobedience to his obviously wicked command. Their motives were obviously good (v 17), intending to save the Israelite babies out of fear for God. Not only does God not disapprove of their deception, but He compliments and rewards their methods (v20,21). Is it OK to do a "small" sin to avoid doing a "large" sin?
This is just one example.

31 January 2010 at 09:43  
Anonymous len said...

Just an additional thought,
This whole theme is about right and wrong. Wrong to lie and right to tell the truth.
The Law ( commandments) was given to unsaved,unconverted men so they could differentiate between good and bad behavior, between the Law of sin and death, and the law of the Spirit of Life in Christ Jesus. Sadly men have discarded Gods Law and made up their own'law' to come into alignment with their fallen nature, which unfortunately follows the law of sin and death.
A born again Christian has as a guiding light" the inner witness" of the Holy Spirit to guide and instruct him.
Romans 8 say the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit. That means that God's directions come from inside, not outside of you.

31 January 2010 at 10:43  
Anonymous philip walling said...

Dear Mr len

It isn't a sin to obey God. God is testing their obedience when He commands certain persons to do what would otherwise be sinful.

God's ways are a mystery to us.
C G Jung writes of a recurring dream he experienced in which he was shown a marvellous altarpiece, all sparkling with gold and precious stones, and as he gazed in awe at its beauty a great quantity of foul excrement fell on it and defiled it.
He puzzled over this repellent dream for a long time until he realised he was being told that what God creates God can defile and destroy. It is not for us to question His purposes.
(I may have misrepresented this a little because it's done from memory because I can't find the reference.)
The question is simply are you obeying the Lord or your own will.

Mr Singh

On C S Lewis's point about your enemy not being your neighbour, I am not sure this is right. It's a bit Manichean for my liking; all men are my neighbours, even those who would try to kill me. But I am justified in trying to defend myself against my neighbour's efforts to kill me, and if in the process I kill him it is my problem what is in my heart at the time I do it; I will have to answer to the Lord when the time comes, as will he.

It is fashionable (and about all the English have to hang on to at the moment) to portray the Second World War as a fight between good and evil, but I don't think it's as simple as that - all sides did reprehensible things. And it does us English no good to twist ourselves into knots trying morally to justify everything we did.

31 January 2010 at 10:46  
Anonymous len said...

Phillip Walling,
I don`t think Jung a good example!"In The Jung Cult (1994), clinical psychologist Richard Noll amply documents Jung’s immersion in the paganism and occultism of German culture near the turn of the last century. Although raised in a Christian environment, Jung’s passion focused on the rediscovery of ancient mystery religions that emphasized occultic initiations and sun worship. He immersed himself in the study of mythology and archeology in the hope of finding a primordial wisdom that had been obscured and rejected by the Christian conquest of paganism. Jung resolutely rejected the Christian view that God transcends the creation. Instead, he embraced pantheism, with its god within" very new age

31 January 2010 at 11:41  
Anonymous len said...

Phillip Walling,
God may TEST us,
But When tempted, no one should say, "God is tempting me." For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;( James 1:13)

31 January 2010 at 11:47  
Anonymous St Bruno said...

Quite recently in a conversation with a devout Irish Catholic friend, he said something that has some relevance to the varied ‘debate’ in reply to His Grace’s excellent blog.

‘The worst sort of Catholic is the convert. They are too convinced academically, and know very little about the Catholic schools, Jesuit priests and being in a family of devout Catholics. It’s about indoctrination and belief over a lifetime of prayer and devotion. Just like the dogma of Blair and Brown’s form of socialism that has somehow become the real face of New Labour Marxist agenda along with the queen behind the throne, Blair’s wife. Truth will be out in the end’ He then went on to express his thoughts on present day Northern Ireland and Gerry Adams.

He knows more about the ins and outs of the Catholic Church than I will ever know, if you believe him or not is up to you and me. It is anyway his opinion and mine to a point.

31 January 2010 at 23:04  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your Grace

I beg to differ on the following "But 50 or 100 years from now, the names of George W Bush and Tony Blair will be written down in history as those who brought democracy where there was dictatorship"

I bleieve it unlikely history will see it that way.

However, in the event history is indeed re-written, it should include this...

and where there was democracy it was replaced by dictatorship.

1 February 2010 at 07:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Archbishop Cranmer
Re James 2:25
On a very FEW occasions in the bible God commends lying to protect a life.
However, Satan is called the father of lies by the Lord Jesus Christ.
Lying "for good ends" is normally plain old lying and evil ie sin. It deprives the hearers of the lie of free will to make rational and just decisions or to form rational, fair and sensible opinions. It is manipulative. It is evil.
Such evil has always existed. Though lying out of fear may be understandable (see Abraham), it is still not right or commended, and God cannot and does not bless lying.
There is a difference between shrewdness or discretion and lying. To encourage or enable people to pressure intelligence services, parliament or the British people to be manipulated, and in such a serious way, is despicable.
It seems also these days (though lying first started in the garden of Eden when Adam attempted to make Eve a fall-girl) that lying and "ends justify means" (not just with sins of lying) is common these days, and also approved by many, including in churches. I consider this evil and an affront to the Lord. Does not lying grieve the Holy Spirit? Do not dirty tricks harm good apples in society or different professions i.e. those who try to live ethical lives, whether they be Christian or not (though we are all sinners needing God's forgiveness through Jesus' atonement)? Is sin not sin any more?
As someone who has been slandered and had extremely dirty tricks played against myself, including by those using lying and framing - no doubt sometimes "for the sake of good" if they have believed other lies about myself (and how can those who approve of lies and dirty tricks expect to be discerning about the truth and not tricked themselves by liers? If they are professing Christians practicing deciet how can they be sure they will hear the Holy Spirit if they have not listened to His being grieved by their lying or approving of lying?) I have seen practically the harm that lies bring. But experience is not the core basis for truth. The Bible is and it says in Revelations ?21 or 22? that those who practice lying will go to hell, not heaven, and that includes "professing" yet fake Christians who practice or approve of the practice of deceit.
On a non-religious level, how much damage has been done to the British people, parliament, intelligence, the Iraqis by the lies that led to approval to go to war based on lies? And even more importantly, how much damage has there been to the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and to His churches?
I hope that thos who approve of lying will repent and find mercy with the Lord jesus Christ lest they get a nasty shock on Judgemnt Day when spin will not work. And before anyone says anything. Yes, God sent a lying (evil) spirit to deceive someone in the Old Testament. But we are not God, and we are called to try not to sin or approve of sin. We should not try to be manipulative. We are not all-knowing, all-wise, all-loving, all-merciful, perfect etc. We are humans. God can do some things which would be sin for us to do becuase we are human. And finally, to tempt new beleivers or others to sin by approving of sin is not loving or wise.

1 February 2010 at 12:55  

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