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.