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.