The TRUE Christian Perspective on Waging Peace vs. War
Reflection at the end of first Peace Week Delaware
Author: Jeanne Swartz
Date: Monday, September 26, 2016
For 15 years I have been traveling from Wilmington DE to Philadelphia to be a part of a large interfaith, peace loving, just culture movement and the many meetings offered by groups there. I became involved particularly with the Philadelphia Walk for Peace and Reconciliation that was started after 9/11 from vision of Christian, Jewish, and Muslim activists who wanted something good to come out of such tragedy. The group, known as the Interfaith PeaceWalk, was touted by the Harvard Pluralism Project as the longest sustained interfaith group in the entire USA that is still totally grassroots, funded entirely by “member” donations. Actually the only requisite is to show up and give from your heart, there are no dues, no annual pledge drive, and the PeaceWalk receives no funding from any large entity or grant, secular or religious.
So seeing and getting to be a part of what happened in Delaware this week (that blew away organizers of the longer running Peace Day Philly) was more than exciting, awe-inspiring, and humbling; to see the hearts of so many coming together to commit to nonviolence, loving each other and promoting peace, rather than hatred, violence, guns and (local to worldwide) wars that eventually stem from use of any weapon.
Sadly, most media outlets gave Peace Week Delaware very little press. Also sadly, I could not participate in most of the major events, because I had already committed to several Peace Day Philly events and Unity Day in Cecil County as part of People to People International Delaware Chapter. PTPI was started on September 11, 1956 by President Eisenhower when he realized that even being POTUS he was having little effect to end the push to have the USA become a military industrial complex with an economy so ingrained in the development and sale of weapons worldwide that it would endanger the very existence of the USA and the entire world.
Eisenhower’s dream was to have average people from different countries and cultures meet face to face to foster “peace through understanding” because when you become friends with someone you will think twice before pulling or using a gun or going to war and dropping a bomb on them. Happily, I was able to get to several Peace Week Delaware events to live out PTPIs motto and vision and my personal commitment to pacifism.
To me, altho every event I went to was excellent, the most moving was to hear John Dear, Fr. Daniel Berrigan’s mentee, announce that a group of Catholic activists have been asked to draft an Encyclical on Non-Violence, that will include Pope Francis renouncing “just war” theology! It always amazes me that large swaths of Christians tie their faith to patriotism, and think that has to include defending the USA through force at home or abroad. While our Constitution does clearly state the right to bear arms (meaning that the common man forms a militia for defense, not just an army organized by the government) and I harbor no ill will toward anyone who owns a gun for that reason, or to hunt for their own sustenance, I simply can not comprehend how any Bible-believing Christian can support or promote our taxes being used to develop mass destruction technology, or widespread promotion and sale of arms made in the USA, much less ongoing involvement in wars around the world, that many have questioned meet the terms of “just war” theology.
I constantly hear especially evangelicals stating the USA needs to be involved because so many of these wars are really related to support of Israel’s “holy land”. I urge them to consider that regardless of the position you hold as to the Lord’s return being amillenial, pre or post-millenial, the Word is clear HE ALONE will protect His people in a mountain ABOVE the holy land. Nowhere does the Bible indicate believers will be involved in a physical fight/war. As the Lord reigns on the Holy Mountain of the “holy land”, the Lord will lead many leaders to beat their swords (weapons) in to plowshares, because they come wanting to achieve the same utopia that exists between the Lord and His people above them.
But ultimately, the lust for worldly power wins out. So when the battle of Armageddon takes place it will be between rulers and peoples who are not in God’s protected area and do not believe in or follow the Lord’s Way of peace. And after this major battle when the world is close to being decimated, still Satan will hold minds and hearts hostage, refusing to bow to the Lord and His truth. But the Lord’s final destruction of all evil is done thru the SPIRITUAL sword of His Word “piercing” non-believers as they realize their folly in lusting after worldly desires and remaining in a state of war against each other and the Lord. Although Revelation does state the Lord will be leading a great “army” of His people, it is ONLY the Lord who uses this Sword of the Word, and the One who ends all evil with blazing fire of the Word, as He is the only One with authority for final judgment to determine where each soul’s destiny for eternity.
And seriously, since even the “holy land” will ultimately be destroyed as the Lord ushers in a new heaven and earth, is this small plot of land REALLY that important to be killing another soul over?
So the only true position Christians should hold is the only fully exampled by Jesus Christ while He walked on this earth, and proved as He walked through the trials and crucifixion on Calvary. Jesus NEVER took up a sword, never fought back, never even said a harsh word to His accusers or those taking part in putting Him to death. The Bible tells us He could have brought down armies of angels to cause chaos and destruction, but did not do that. His life was a testimony to total nonviolence as was the life of early believers who were all pacificts and went willingly to their death. They only “force” they all used was the power of prayer – and there are many stories as to how God showed up to defend and save His people. I truly believe that if Christians today would once again rely on the power of intense prayer, personal or communal, the Lord would appear with similar miraculous manifestations that would cause many still hell-bent on destruction through violence to change their ways so we can create a more peaceful city, state, nation, and world – until the Lord’s return that alone can effect true, lasting, eternal peace.
That is my ultimate “vision” of what Peace Week Delaware could bring about if more Christians believed this and got involved.
Jeanne Swartz, Wilmington, De Member Phila Interfaith PeaceWalk Board member, People to People International Delaware chapter (J.Swartz, November 2012)
Wisdom of the ages
Keep me from my madness and my folly. For Your wisdom will keep me from folly. Just as light is better than dark, better than dark. O Holy Light sear in to darkness; The deepest darkness of my soul. For Your wisdom will keep me from judgment. And lead me to Your way of life and love, happiness and peace.
And the armies in heaven, clothed in fine linen, white and clean, followed Him on white horses. Now out of HIS mouth goes a sharp sword, that with it He should strike the nations. (Revelation 19: 14-15, NKJV)
And I saw the beast, the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against Him who sat on the horse and against His army. Then the beast was captured, and with him the false prophet who worked signs in his presence, by which he deceived those who received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped his image. These two were cast alive into the lake of fire burning with brimstone. And the rest were killed with the sword which proceeded from the mouth of Jesus who sat on the horse. (Revelation 19: 19-21, NKJV)
When the thousand years are up, Satan will be let loose from his cell, and will launch again his old work of deceiving the nations, searching out victims in every nook and cranny of earth, even Gog and Magog! He’ll talk them into going to war and will gather a huge army, millions strong. They’ll stream across the earth, surround and lay siege to the camp of God’s holy people, the Beloved City. They’ll no sooner get there than fire will pour out of Heaven and burn them up. (Revelation 20: 7-10, The Message)