A reader writes: Just another “Just” War?

A reader writes …

I finished Everything Must Change and thought it is excellent. I like the fact that while you fervently uphold Jesus’ revolutionary vision, you do not shrink from admitting the many failings of the institutional church throughout history. I just read a horrifying book about the persecution of Michael Servetus by both the Catholic Inquisition and by John Calvin:
Out of the Flames: The Remarkable Story of a Fearless Scholar, a Fatal Heresy, and One of the Rarest Books in… by Lawrence Goldstone and Nancy Goldstone (Sep 2, 2003)
The only thing that disappointed me was your discussion of Just War. I think you should be more categorical about rejecting this vile notion. When Augustine formulated it most Christians lived within the Roman Empire and would not have had to fight against Christian brothers in enemy kingdoms. But I am sure you would agree that over most of the past 1500 years since the fall of pagan Rome, European nations have shed each other’s blood liberally all in the name of Just War!
Indeed the Servetus book above explains that during the Thirty Years War between Protestants and Catholics, parts of Europe lost half their population! And both world wars shed enormous quantities of Christian blood.
I like to say the following: “Just War” is just another war! I think even the standard justification invoked for it to oppose someone like Hitler is bogus, since the vast majority of Hitler’s military was comprised of believing Lutherans and Catholics. Had they categorically rejected the so called just-war option, then we would not have faced the crisis in the first place.
Today the same grim scenario is being repeated in Ukraine. Putin is by every measure a devout Christian, but most American evangelicals seem almost eager to demonize him and pigeon hole him as a “closet commie.” The very people who so oppose virtually every policy of Obama seem to be straining at the leash to embrace a possible war in Eastern Europe. This I believe perfectly reflects the unwillingness of the church to categorically reject the poisonous option of war.

Thanks for your note. There is horror in any human blood being shed, whether that blood flows from a Christian, Muslim, Jew, Hindu, atheist, secularist, or whatever, as I’m sure you’ll agree. Minimizing that horror – even glorifying it – can only serve to make it more common.
With wars, veterans, prisoners of war, and the like in the news so much lately, I’ve been hearing a lot of talk that glorifies war and minimizes its horrors and tragedies. No nation seems to be very honest about its wars, and calling a war “just” easily hides a lot of ugly secrets that most people seem happy to hide. The old story of Cain and Abel penetrates our fog of deception and reminds us that all wars are civil wars, and our enemies are our brothers. Add to it the story of the Prodigal Son, and we remember that our enemies are beloved by God just as much as we are. I just need to sit with that realization a while today.