Christianity, Peace, and War (Part 1)
Posted by Tony Listi on November 22, 2007
“Conservative Christians abandon their Christian duty to be peacemakers when they support a warhawk president.”
There are two fundamental questions raised by this statement: What is peace for the Christian? Are Christians commanded to be pacifists? There is no distinction between just and unjust war in this statement, unless “warhawk” is clumsily meant to imply “unjust war.”
First of all, peace for the Christian is something that comes from God, from the Prince of Peace more specifically:
“Indeed, the spirits of prophets are under the prophets’ control, since he is not the God of disorder but of peace (1 Cor 14:33).”
“The way of peace have they [pagans/non-Christians] not known” (Rom 3:17).
“Having made peace through the blood of his cross . . .” (Colossians 1: 20).
“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5: 1).
“Let the peace of God rule in your hearts” (Coloss 3:15).
“Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you” (John 14:27).
But from the last verse especially, it is clear that the peace of Christ is something different from the peace of the world. It is the peace of being reconciled with God. Therefore, a verse like “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) should be viewed as spreading the peace of Christ. Christians should seek after and spread Christ’s peace first and foremost.
“If possible, on your part, live at peace with all” (Rom 12:18). We should strive, if possible, for peace with all nations. But Scripture tells us we will not be able to create world peace, the absence of violent conflict among nations:
“You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matthew 24:6-7, emphasis mine).
In fact, at the end of times, the Lamb calls forth war for his own purposes: “Another horse came out, a red one. Its rider was given power to take peace away from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another. And he was given a huge sword” (Rev 6:4).
Only when justice is established at the Last Judgment by Christ can peace, both Christ’s peace and world peace, reign. Why? Because then Christ will be our King and all nations will be subject to him:
“For you have assumed your great power and have established your reign. The nations raged, but your wrath has come…” (Rev 11:17-18).
“Out of his mouth came a sharp sword to strike the nations. He will rule them with an iron rod…” (Rev 19:15).
“The government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end” (Isaiah 9:6-7).
Take notice that real peace on earth only comes after justice has been established. Justice takes precedent over peace, conceived of as the absence of conflict. In fact, God’s justice is established by war and violence first and then comes everlasting peace. Government also is given the sword to establish justice (Rom 13:3-4). Thus if the Iraq War was just (meant and able to establish justice), then it was not a violation of the command to be peacemakers. Indeed, where injustice reigns there can be no peace. There was no real peace under Saddam Hussein before the invasion.
Therefore, a verse like “Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:9) should be viewed also as “Blessed are those who establish justice,” for there is no peace without justice.