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On peacemaking

Summary

John Stackhouse offers a brief chronicle of Christian attempts to be people who make peace.

Summary

John Stackhouse offers a brief chronicle of Christian attempts to be people who make peace.

Transcript

Jesus said, in one of his most famous sermons, “Blessed are those who make peace”. And Christians have a long record of making peace. At the domestic level, by lowering friction between parents and children; by improving relationships between husbands and wives – and I don’t want to pass over too quickly the really important sphere of the domestic in making peace, since domestic violence is such a horrifying fact of human life.

Christians have also made peace in their neighbourhoods, by welcoming those who weren’t Christians, by caring for those who were not part of their tribe. And Christians have made peace at much broader levels. Even in the prosecution of war, Christian civilisation has a heritage of people not only protesting war, but agreeing that the war needed to proceed, but then trying to hem in the way the war was being fought, with the restraints of so-called just war theory.

The Middle Ages has a number of examples of popes who are trying to ameliorate these constant wars by increasing saints’ days and feast days as quite an obvious strategy to try to get people to lay down their arms more often. They actually forbid some of the horrible weapons from being used as they were developed, because they were afraid that would give one side such an advantage that there would be devastation. So there are a number of examples throughout history of Christians who are trying to make peace, from the horrible global example of war right down to trying to make peace in people’s homes.