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SlackerBabbath (2)
Monday, June 08, 2009

The Strive for Peace in Christianity, Part 4

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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 of Iraq 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 as meditation.

 

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”.

 

 

Conclusion

 

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 act.

 

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.

4:10 pm - 1 comments - 2 Kudos - Report!
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SlackerBabbath wrote on Jun 8th, 2009 12:43pm

Very interesting, and a great read too. Have a couple of kudos.

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