After realising how much time I was spending on this site I decided, that since it was my final year in highschool, I should request a perma-ban until further notice. So, yeah, I shan't be posting till the end of the year basically.
This is a speech I wrote for my studies of religion subject, any questions or comments are appreciated.
Peace can not be looked at
as a single idea, but rather, a multifaceted concept, that encompasses peace
with oneself, peace with God, peace with family, and peace with others and
between nations. It can be observed that peace, as represented in the Bible is
the absence of conflict, and the presence of love. The concept and act of
forgiveness is inextricably linked with the striving for peace in both the Old
and New Testaments.
The two testaments often
place different emphasis on concepts of peace. Peace in the New Testament is often
represented as “The absence of chaos” or simply “security” as written in Luke
11:21 and 1st Corinthians 14:33 .The New Testament places a greater
degree of emphasis on personal peace, peace with God, and Love as an
overarching concept. The teachings of Jesus imply peace as being optimal,
notably in Luke 10 Jesus tells the story of the good Samaritan, and how anyone
in need is thy neighbour, and that we must show love to all. Peace is also used
in other instances with different meanings. In the Old Testament, the word
“Shalom” is generally used as synonymous with peace, and is often thought of as
protection from enemies by God. In the Old Testament peace in association with
material wealth is discussed in relation to prophecy. Material wealth as peace
is associated with the false prophet 1st Kings 22:5 whereas the true
prophet was above the desire for material gain Micah 3:5.
A similar idea is repeated
in the New Testament, Jesus is quoted as saying, in Matthew 19:24, Mark 10:25
and Luke 18:25, “it iseasier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to
enter the kingdom
of God”. There is an intimate relationship between the
concepts of peace and love as presented in Biblical texts.
In all instances, peace is
seen as desirable, a good outcome, and something to strive for.
We can examine the concept
of striving for peace in Christianity in reference to,
Ancient traditions and sacred texts
History of and historical events associated with
And Current Practice associated with Christianity
Within the ancient
traditions and sacred texts of Christianity, peace is viewed with great
importance, with the biblical texts promoting the many facets of peace,
including, peace with God, this is presented in the covenant with God, both
that made with Abraham and that mediated by Jesus.
The teachings of the
testaments vary somewhat in their approach to peace, with less emphasis being
placed on forgiveness and love in the Old Testament. It is important to note at
this point, that the entirety of the Old Testament is very violent. The
Israelites are constantly engaged in conflict, fighting to establish a country.
However, it can observed, that this conflict, is seen as a struggle for peace. The
Israelites strove for peace, though, in doing so, there was a great deal of
conflict, and, as so often happens, this conflict was violent. In the Old
Testament, it is portrayed that God was on the side of the Israelites, and thus
was violent in many of his actions. Therefore it is not surprising that
commentators have said that God as represented in the Old Testament is a God of
violence, not peace. This portrayal of God as a God of violence is perhaps based
on the view of God as protecting his people from enemies, and thereby giving
Conflict, the absence of
peace, is portrayed in the first book of the bible, Genesis, when, firstly, Adam
and Eve are cast out of paradise by God, resulting from a conflict, and, later,
when Cain murders Abel. Peace with your family is discussed several times
within the bible, honouring thy mother and thy father is considered so
important that it is even included in the Ten Commandments.
The striving for peace is presented
in Exodus. The Israelites, imprisoned in Egypt, are effectively, in conflict
with the Egyptians. Conflict continues, even after the Israelites have fled Egypt.
Firstly the conflict occurs amongst the Israelites themselves. As Moses ascends
Mount Sinai, the Israelites construct a golden
calf in order to worship. Upon descending the mount, Moses, angered by this
act, destroys the stone tablets upon which the Ten Commandments were engraved.
The Ten Commandments
proclaim that thou shalt not kill, and thus they can be observed to be
promoting peace, as killing is conflict, the opposite of peace.
Peace with God is an important
element in the Christian scriptures. God instructs the Israelites on how to be
at peace with him in the first four commandments. Peace is often used within
the New Testament in association with God as well, notably; the Christian God
is referred to as “The God of Peace” in 1st Thespians 5:23.
An interesting quote
concerning peace with God is the line from Philippians 4:7 “And the peace of
God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through
Jesus Christ”. It can be understood from this, that, to achieve the peace of
God and for you to “keep” that peace, you must follow the teachings of Jesus.
The concept of personal
peace is explored frequently in the New Testament, notably in John 14:27 and
16:33 Jesus says unto his followers, “My peace I give to you” and “…that in me
you may have peace”. This concept of Jesus giving his peace unto others is
symbolic of God giving peace to all people.
Matthew 5:9 shows the importance
given to peace in the scriptures “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall
be called sons of God”. This idea, that peacemakers are so close to God that
they shall be called his sons highlights exactly how important peace is to
When Peter came to Jesus and
asked how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins againstme, the response from Jesus that forgiveness should have no
boundaries encapsulates the concept of striving for peace in personal
Despite the importance with
which peace is viewed, the concept of righteous anger is also explored within
the testaments. Two notable example of righteous anger are recounted in the New
Testament. Firstly in Mark 3:5 when Jesus entered the synagogue at Capernaum and
was greatly angered by the hard hearted people, and secondly when he entered
the temple in Jerusalem and cast out the money lenders and people who sold
doves Mark 10:15, “And they came to Jerusalem and Jesus went into the temple, and
began to cast out them that sold and bought in the temple, and over-threw the
tables of the money-changers, and the seats of them that sold doves”. Thus it
can be observed, that, there is righteous anger, and therefore, righteous
conflict. This can be considered the justification behind many of the “just
wars” fought in the name of Christianity. And this brings us to the next facet
of Christianity that must be looked at in terms of its struggle of peace.
Christianity has a history
of ultimately striving for peace, and yet the contrast and contradiction is
that Christianity has a violent past, and is, perhaps, one of the most violent
religions still practised.
In the early formative years
of Christianity, Christians avoided conflict of all types, preferring to die
rather then fight to defend themselves.
The ways and means
associated with the striving for peace in Christian history can be seen to be
contradictory, both when compared to each other, but also when compared to
teachings presented in the Bible.
This contrast was perhaps initially
fuelled by the adoption of Christianity as the official religion of two of the
largest empires in history, the Roman and Byzantine. It could be said that the
marriage between a large militarily based political body and a religion
promoting the concept of peace at a number of levels, led to interpretations of
religious texts and ideas that better suited political aspirations. Building on
the concept of righteous anger, the concept of the “Just War” was used for
This concept of a “Just War”,
meant, effectively, that a Christian could engage in military conflict, so long
as it was “justified”. The boundaries between political aspirations,
motivations, and religious justification of war, and other conflicts, have throughout
history often been blurred.
Christianity has long been
used as a tool in the justification of wars, not least the crusades, which
occurred in the period between 1095 and 1291 AD. Other acts of extreme violence
sanctioned by various Church organisations include the Spanish, and other
In contrast, many Christian
groups have consistently lobbied for peace related initiatives, including, anti
war movements, prison reform, factory reform, civil rights, and many other
These two facets of Christian
history appear to be at odds with each other, one, being effectively, Church
sanctioned bigotry, and xenophobia. The other being anti-discriminative action,
which was effectively in direct contrast with actions such as the Spanish
inquisition, which were based upon discrimination of people due to their faith.
The striving for peace in
historical Christianity, appears to have been largely governed by the idea,
that to create peace, everyone had to practice the Christian faith. This
perhaps based on an interpretation of the comment by Jesus that he who is not
for me is against me as said in Luke 11:23.This arguably, actually worsened
relations between Christians and people of other Religions or faiths, causing
the exact opposite of the desired effect.
In conclusion, when we look
at the historical record of Christianity, the spiritual aspirations for peace as
portrayed in the Bible, have often not been reached in the actual application
of Christianity as a religion.
In relation to modern
Christianity all the facets of peace previously discussed, are evident.
Modern Christianity, is
perhaps one of the most peaceful phases of Christianity in history.
In contrast to the often
portrayed Old Testament concepts of peace focused on protection from enemies, the
modern concept of peace in Christianity is based strongly around both personal
peace and world peace.
Christian groups such as Pax
Christi have consistently lobbied for nuclear disarmament and have lobbied
against wars such as the invasion of Iraq in 2003. Current practices
associated with achieving community and world peace include charity work, such
as that undertaken by The Salvation Army. Many Christian people feel that it is
a religious duty to donate to charity, this is partially due to the concept of
the Good Samaritan, and fulfilling the commandment of Jesus to love thy
neighbour, as is referred to in Luke 10.
A peace initiative that has
risen in prominence in recent years is the Catholic “World Youth Day” initiated
by Pope John Paul II in 1986. As a movement for peace World Youth Day seeks to
unite all young Catholics, this can be seen as a peace movement because it
unites a group of people and brings them together in a peaceful circumstance
with a peaceful message. Some would argue that these actions are actually
promoting division and conflict, with persons who are not Catholic.
The striving for peace in a
modern Christian society is being influenced not only by media representation
of world events and conflicts, but also a growing awareness of the extreme
variation between living standards in countries.
A notable example of
conflict within the Church can be seen in the recent events at Saint Mary’s Church
in Brisbane. The
catholic minister and his congregation were allowing, homosexuals and other
minority groups frowned upon by the Church hierarchy to participate in the Church.
These actions became surrounded by controversy, resulting in the highest levels
of the Catholic Church dismissing the priest, and condemning his actions. This
is perhaps indicative continuing inability of the Church to be inclusive of all
peoples, as would be the ultimate Christian ideal and the basis for peace.
Many would say that the rise
of fundamentalist Christian ideas within the US political system has promoted,
or caused, a large amount of conflict. Particular examples of conflict
justified by the utilisation of fundamentalist Christian ideas being the invasion
in 2003. Fundamentalist Christianity has, and continues to be used as a political
tool to justify actions of governments and to unite people in support of the
government and its ideas. This fundamentalism is perhaps the greatest example
of conflict associated with Christianity in the modern world.
Personal peace, in modern
Christianity is strived for through a number of practices. These are based
heavily around practices appropriated from both, older traditions of
Christianity, such as the study of scriptures, confession, and prayer, and
newer traditions appropriated from different philosophies and religions, such
Prayer is a very important
practice in Christianity, both in its modern form and through out history. The
Book of Common Prayer, used by many Anglican Christians contains several
prayers relating to peace. Notable examples of prayer referencing peace are,
the Morning Prayer, wherein the minister says “Give peace in our time, O Lord”,
and, in the Litany which reads “We beseech thee to hear us, good Lord. That it
may please thee to give all nations unity, peace, and concord”. The peace
referenced in these extracts, is a peace, of the world or community, it is
wishing the peace of the Christian God upon other nations, and peoples. In the
Evening Prayer, a reference to personal peace and peace with God is included “Give
unto thy servants that peace which the world cannot give”.
The teachings of
Christianity vary in their emphasis on the differing facets of peace and how it
is best achieved. The teachings in the Old Testament have a greater focus on violence,
and fighting to achieve a country, and the peace which would be associated with
having a country of your own. Teachings present in the New Testament place a greater
emphasis on forgiveness and love.
Despite the contrast between
the testaments, overall, both testaments can be seen to be focusing around a
struggle for peace, a struggle for peace with God, a struggle for peace with
self, and a struggle for peace with others, or world peace. It can thus be
determined that the teachings of Christianity are geared towards achieving
peace in its many facets, however throughout history, texts and ideas
associated with Christianity have been interpreted by both governing bodies and
individuals in such a way as to provide justification for desired actions, many
of which have not resulted in a peaceful outcome.
Christianity in its modern form
appears to be experiencing a revival of striving for peace, this could be
largely due to the change in media focus on things of significance to peace. This
media focus is particularly important to the concept of world peace, with the
advent of fourth generation warfare, as can be seen in current Middle Eastern
conflicts, the war is brought into people’s houses, and it is therefore much
more real and apparent to them, therefore they feel more of an obligation to
The confounding influences
of political powerbases and human foibles have meant that despite the
groundings of Christian sacred texts and teachings which support the striving
for peace, that in reality the historical record demonstrates an ongoing story of
both success and failure in the striving for peace in Christianity.