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Blessed [Are] the Peacemakers... Grotius on the Just War and Christian Pacifism

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In The Law of War and Peace Grotius needs many more pages for the theological arguments in the debate on war and peace than for the arguments derived from natural law and international law. Apparently the controversy within Christendom on the justifiability of warfare was one of the most important issues to be addressed in his magnum opus. The general discussion in his days was about the proper interpretation of the Holy Scriptures, the authority of which was accepted by all participants. This contribution focuses on the position of Hugo Grotius in this debate, confronting his ideas with the biblical arguments of those who (almost) completely rejected warfare, more in particular Erasmus and the Anabaptist branch of the Reformation. Grotius rejected the arguments in favour of Christian pacifism, which was to a considerable degree defended by Erasmus and which formed a central tenet of the Anabaptists. The latter's apolitical stand was not shared by Grotius or by Erasmus who were both albeit to different degrees involved in the political debate and practice in the field of war and peace.


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