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Joe Carter writes:

The subject of torture is once again being widely addressed--at least in certain segments of the blogosphere. But while bloggers and other pundits have entered the fray, the Christian intellectual community has been relatively silent.

In the Fall of 2006, Justin Taylor and I decided to host an online symposium and encourage several leading Catholic and Evangelical ethicists and thinkers to provide guidance on how to think morally about the issue by responding to Dr. Charles Krauthammer's then current Weekly Standard article, The Truth About Torture. We asked them to address several questions, including: "What is the truth about torture from a Christian worldview? Is torture ever allowed? And if so, under what conditions and circumstances?"

The entries are collected here. You can read each essay by clicking on the author’s name below:

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13 thoughts on “Torture and Ticking Timebombs: A Christian Ethics Symposium”

  1. Michael C. says:

    JT, FWIW, Mark Thiessen responded to Joe’s FT piece on waterboarding, etc.

  2. Jeremy says:

    I didn’t read through all of the responses, but they might be answering the wrong question. Krauthamer’s scenario is one to think about, but the problem is 1) being absolutely certain that a terrorist planted a nuclear bomb and 2) not knowing where it is, might rarely occur. When torture is used, oftentimes it leads to false leads because the terrorist is tempted to say anything to get the torture to stop. If the military/police only have a few precious hours to find and defuse the bomb, running after false leads is incredibly dangerous and possibly a waste of time that could result in the death of thousands or hundreds of thousands of people.

  3. chris taylor says:

    Al Mohler writes:

    “McCain wants a categorical ban, but accepts that exceptions may, under extreme situations, be made. Krauthammer wants to define the exceptions so that a policy may be more coherent and, in his view, honest.”

    He then indicates that he leans towards McCain’s position, and I think he’s right.

    However, under US law, we do have a structure in place that allows us to ban a practice outright, and then forgive. We call it the Presidential Pardon.

    So I agree with Dr. Mohler and Mr. McCain. Ban it outright. That will raise the standard. If one of these exceptional circumstances arises, the President will not need to spend any political capital on pardoning the guilty. And the unpardonable guilty will be held accountable.

  4. Thanks for posting this, Justin. One of the best resources on the web. Cole’s essay still remains my favorite, but all are worth reading through carefully.

  5. Patriot says:

    Perhaps all this could be avoided if America just declared war on Islam (the real threat) rather than terror (a tactic). Face it, Islam is a religion that is both violent and ambitious. Any Muslim who says otherwise is simply ignoring the Koran.

    Even Thomas Jefferson came to recognize this.

  6. Tad says:

    Its a good idea to declare war on a religion, lets send them to hell by killing them without spreading the gospel.
    Statements like yours make Christians appear as if they are all a religion of violence and hate. Lets let God deal with those who dont believe in him. Let us never wage physical war on another religion.
    Instead lets tell them about the glorious gospel of grace as Jesus Commanded us to do.

  7. Richard says:

    Patriot, don’t you see the extreme irony in your comment? American Exceptionalism/Patriotism is also a religion I consider inherently violent and idolatorous, which much of the evangelical world buys into. Does that mean the rest of the world should declare war on America? Also, you’re not an Islamic scholar of law, you don’t understand Islamic jurisprudence or history, therefore you should shut your mouth. You probably can’t read Arabic and don’t know the first thing about Sharia, other than what you have heard on Fox.

    1. Patriot says:

      I am not for premptive war, not aggressive wars on foreign soils. I want America to be free from the internal fear that the ridiculous wars we are now involved in have wrought. Did you vote for Bush? I didn’t. I voted for Ron Paul. But, now that we are in the thick of it, what do you propose?

      Are you actually engaged in evangelizing the local mosque in your city, or just talking big?

      And, you don’t know the first thing about me. Can we keep the conversation at the level of argument, not personal attack? I don’t need to flash my credentials before I say something, do I? What Islamic scholar would you like to discuss?

      Oh yeah, I don’t watch FOX. I read books.

      1. Patriot says:

        Islam is monist in its beliefs, and as such it will not stop until everyone is the same, uniformly. Sharia law permits men to beat their wives, and to kill their daughters. Do you need the specific passages quoted, or do you have the texts in front of you? A man who does not kill his unclean daughter is considered to be disobeying Allah and is himself subject to punishment. Sound appealing?

        Every time an event has taken place since 2001, in regards to terror activities, it is has been perpetrated by a Muslim. Why then do we keep patting down our grandmas from Wisconsin and making incontinent gramps sit in his seat for the last hour of the flight?

        Osama is winning. We are doing exactly what he hoped we would do. Our financial system is collapsing because we are warring on foreign soils, spending billions monthly, not fighting the war here.

        Unlike you, I do not consider all religions equal. Neither do I believe that the sword is something that the Christian is supposed to leave alone. If you want to be a panty-waste when the crap hits the fan, go right ahead. But if the West remains the West it will not be because of men like you.

      2. Tad says:

        Im sorry if my post came out wrong. As Christians, I believe that we are called to live peaceful lives. We are to proselytize to the lost, not violently kill those who are against us. The Muslim religion is no worse than any other religion that does not have Jesus Christ, the prince of peace, at its center, and the Gospel of grace as its call.
        Muslims deserve death, but it is not ours to give, and we deserved death as well but were given life by Jesus Christ. There are people who are actively trying to spread the gospel to the muslim people we should support them in their missionary work rather than declaring war on them.
        Not to mention I have witnessed to muslims, currently I live in a town where I do not believe there are any, but I have in the past.

        1. Patriot says:

          I would prefer to live next door to a Buddhist or an atheist rather than a Muslim. The West exists as an identifiable reality because of Christ, not despite Him. Men seek asylum here as escapees from tyranny and poverty. This is good. Christendom is worth defending. It is the city of refuge.

          Islam would destroy it all and the plan is to do just that.

          I suggest this book if you are not convinced:

          Also, read Dutch and European news if you want to know what is happening in those Western countries. Islam has a real face, and it is not nice.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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