Summary Points

Students learn about:

peace expressed through sacred texts from TWO religious traditions drawn from:

  • Christianity - the New Testament

Students learn to:

investigate the understanding of peace and how it is informed through significant writings within sacred texts for TWO religious traditions drawn from:

  • Christianity - the New Testament

The understanding of peace expressed in the New Testament

  • The New Testament is the normative text for all Christians, the principal and foundational source of teaching for all Christians
  • Made up of 27 individual books, 4 gospels, 21 letters and the Acts of the Apostles and the book of Revelation
  • Peace is mentioned over ninety times in the New Testament
  • The announcements of the birth of Jesus (Luke 2:14 )
  • The teaching of Jesus (Matthew 5:9)
  • The life of the early Church communities (Galatians 5:22 )
  • The vision of the messianic age (Revelation 6:4).
  • Commonly used as a form of greeting and/or blessing (Romans 1:7).
  • Many other occasions where peace is clearly an underlying value or principle in the message
  • Peace is at the heart of Jesus' life and ministry
  • Peace is a foundational element of the Christian communities
  • New Testament extols peace as a virtue and identifies it as a key element of the reign of God
  • Jesus is known as the prince of peace and is regarded as the source of peace. Christians are encouraged to model their "peacemaking" on his example
  • Very few practical instructions relating to the seeking of peace and the avoidance of conflict
  • The vast majority of references relate to an inner peace and or a state of peace in interpersonal relationships
  • A small number give guidance to Christians in relation to peace at a global level and the involvement or otherwise of Christians in warfare

The Peace of God

  • Philippians promises that "the peace of God which is beyond all understanding will guard your hearts and minds, in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:7).
  • Inner peace promised to Christians who live faithfully according to the requirements of the gospel and who place their faith and trust in God.
  • Peace understood as a sense of wellbeing, free from anxiety
  • Not merely an absence of conflict and violence but a far deeper notion recognising a profound serenity and sense of wellbeing
  • The peace of God as a foretaste of the peace experienced in eternal life with God
  • In Jesus' ministry peace often accompanies the forgiveness of sin or an occasion of healing. (Luke 7:50 & Luke 8:48 )
  • Jesus promises peace as his parting gift. "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you" (John 14:27 )
  • Peace associated with the presence of God through the gift of the Holy Spirit Peace is seen as one of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22 )
  • Regarded as a sign of God's activity and the fidelity of the Christians to the gospel
  • Contrasted with selfish values which undermine the gospel (Romans 8:6).
  • To experience the peace of God Christians must devote themselves to listening to the good news and commit themselves to following the example of Jesus in his life and ministry
  • Includes a requirement of prayer and contemplation, of communal life and celebration and of commitment to the welfare of others and to the wider community

Peace in Relationships

  • "If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all" (Romans 12:18 ) Christians expected to live in peace with others
  • Christians obliged to be people of peace and to work towards harmonious dealings with all people
  • To diffuse situations of tension before they escalate and to create cycles of harmony and reconciliation rather than support cycles of conflict and violence
  • Christians are encouraged to forgive one another, to bear with one another, to act with love towards each other and to avoid selfish motives in dealing with each other
  • These responses in relationships will lead to peace and help avoid the destructive behaviour which often leads to conflict and violence
  • New Testament communities expected to live peacefully with other members of the Church
  • The peacemakers are recognised as God's children

War and Peace

  • In Matthew 6:39, Christians are told not to retaliate or return violence with violence.
  • The Beatitudes provide another statement against warfare with their praise of the peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9).
  • Other teachings include the command to love your neighbour as yourself (Matthew 22:39 ), the requirement to love enemies (Matthew 5:44 ) and to treat others as you would want to be treated (Luke 6:31 )
  • Jesus was a strong advocate of peace and a staunch opponent of violence
  • Until the fourth century Christians refused to undertake military service and engage in warfare
  • The pacifist stance of the Christian communities came to be one of their identifying features and was one of the reasons that they suffered persecution from Roman authorities
  • The gospels provide accounts of Jesus ministering to the needs of military personnel such as the Centurion's request on behalf of his servant (Matthew 8:5-13)
  • Jesus does question the Centurion's profession
  • There are no indications in the New Testament letters that soldiers who convert to Christianity must renounce their military service.
  • Other issues include the account of Jesus expelling the money changers from the temple (Mark 11:15 -18) and his statement about his mission bringing division not peace (Matthew 10:34 )
  • It is not legitimate to portray them as an endorsement of the use of force or violence
  • In the context of the wider teaching of the New Testament they do not take away the strength of the message condoning peace and condemning violence

Students learn about:

principal teachings about peace in TWO religious traditions

Students learn to:

outline the principal teachings about peace in TWO religious traditions

Principal teachings about peace in Christianity

  • New Testament affirms the centrality of peace to the Christian message
  • At the heart of the life and ministry of Jesus
  • Sought after and taken up by the Christian
  • Peace is more than merely an absence of violence and conflict
  • Refers to an overall sense of wellbeing
  • Peace is found in union with God
  • Christians are taught to live at peace with others, both within their own communities and in the wider human family.
  • Christians initially adopted a pacifist position and refused to engage in military service or warfare
  • This contributed to them being marginalised in the wider community and persecuted by the Roman authorities
  • Despite this Christians refused to engage in warfare, believing that to do so would be contrary to their faith
  • Situation changed with the conversion of the Emperor Constantine in the fourth century
  • Christians now part of the establishment and the empire was their ally rather than a threat to their existence
  • Resulted in a rethinking of the position of the Christian Church in relation to its involvement in warfare
  • Created a number of philosophical challenges to the pacifist stance held by the Christians
  • How could they maintain and guarantee the freedom of people in the society, in particular their religious freedom
  • How could they protect their property from theft or destruction
  • How could they protect innocent people in the light of acts of aggression by others

The Just War Theory

  • The challenges of this new situation over time led to the development of a Just War theory
  • This theory originated from Augustine in the fourth century, modified and refined by others including Aquinas in the middle ages and de Vitoria in the 16 th century.
  • The "Just War" theory sought to establish guidelines under which it was morally acceptable to engage in warfare
  • The Just War theory is the source of ongoing debate
  • The Just War theory maintains that nations are morally justified in waging war providing that the circumstances of the conflict and the waging of the war meet the following seven principles.
  • War must be aimed at repelling or deterring aggression and safeguarding human rights.
  • It must be authorised by a legitimate authority.
  • The stated objectives for going to war must be the real ones.
  • War must be a last resort; all peaceful alternatives must be exhausted.
  • The probability of success must be sufficiently clear to justify the human and other costs.
  • The damage inflicted by war must be proportionate to its objectives.
  • Noncombatants must not be targeted.
  • The application of the Just War theory remains problematic
  • In recent decades religious authorities have been virtually unanimous in their condemnation of warfare.

Peace and Justice

  • In modern times emphasis has been placed on the underlying causes of the conflicts that undermine peace
  • Leaders of the Christian Churches have increasingly focused their attention on the relationship between poverty, justice and human rights and the escalation of conflicts
  • That the world cannot expect to achieve peace without first achieving justice and that while so many people live in poverty and without basic human rights that there will always been unrest leading to conflict and violence

Students learn about:

the contribution of TWO religious traditions to peace in the context of:

  • the individual - means of achieving inner peace

Students learn to:

demonstrate how TWO religious traditions guide the individual in achieving inner peace

Guidance for Christians in achieving inner peace

  • New Testament literature reveals an important relationship between an individual's fidelity to the requirements of the gospel and their own sense of peace and wellbeing
  • Christians can expect to find inner peace in and through living out their vocation as disciples of Jesus Christ and directing their lives towards the following of his teaching.
  • Jesus is regarded as the bringer of peace and to live in close relationship to him and his teaching will allow the follower to experience this peace
  • Jesus' life is seen as a model of living in peace
  • Christians are encouraged to model their lives on his example in doing so they will be able to find peace

Integrity and Fidelity

  • Integrity and fidelity to one's vocation fundamental to finding inner peace
  • Not possible to achieve inner peace while experiencing turmoil and inner conflict due to compromising personal values
  • Jesus faced temptations to compromise his integrity
  • These temptations are about serving self or avoiding challenging situations
  • Jesus' example shows the importance of being true to the values of the gospel and not being prepared to accept compromise
  • Compromise would inevitably erode a sense of inner peace as it amounts to a lack of integrity and will result in inner conflict
  • By refusing to be tempted Jesus retains his integrity and is able to faithfully go about his ministry
  • Selflessness is a liberating quality which has a significant impact on the capacity to achieve inner peace

Prayer and Service

  • Ministry of Jesus highlights prayer and service being kept in balance
  • Jesus portrayed as a man of prayer who is frequently in communion with God Occasions of prayer are particularly evident leading up to significant moments in Jesus' ministry
  • Prayer is a vehicle through which Jesus is able to nurture and sustain the relationship with God which is the source of his wellbeing and inner peace
  • Prayer is something which followers of Jesus try to emulate in order achieve this sense of peace and serenity.
  • Prayer is not a withdrawal from the events of daily life
  • Prayer an opportunity to reflect on events and gain strength to face challenges Jesus' ministry conveys a sense of balance between prayer and contemplation on one hand and active service on the other
  • Two elements are seen as complementary, not in competition with one another Prayer is seen as an essential adjunct to the active ministry
  • Ministry is seen as a practical expression of the life of prayer
  • Prayer enables the Christian to sustain and nurture their relationship with God Through prayer Christians draw meaning and understanding concerning day to day life
  • Christians also gain strength and inspiration from prayer to enable them to meet daily challenges
  • Service flows out of the contemplative element of prayer
  • Understanding gained through prayer and reflection informs and guides the Christian to respond to the call to service
  • Strength and inspiration gained through prayer enables Christians to rise to the challenges they may face in serving others.
  • Christians are encouraged to find a balance between the contemplative and the active elements of life
  • Overemphasis on prayer and contemplation can lead to insularity
  • Overemphasis on active service can lead to burn out
  • Either of these excesses will undermine the search for an inner peace

Community

  • Christian community is an important source of help and support
  • The unity exists in community assists in the search for inner peace
  • Jesus' community of followers shared a great deal of his experience, learned from him and supported him in his ministry
  • Elements of sharing, learning and supporting will assist individuals to find a harmony and sense of purpose in community which assists in the search for inner peace and wellbeing
  • The absence of community leads to isolation and separation
  • The breakdown or disintegration of a community through conflict, disunity etc will also have a negative effect on an individual's sense of wellbeing

Towards Inner Peace

  • Following the example of Jesus is a fruitful and worthwhile path to find inner peace
  • Various groups within the Christian tradition will have established methods of following this example
  • These include the use of prayer, ritual and the reading of scripture, the service of others and the participation in community with those of similar beliefs
  • A basic orientation in life which supports the quest for integrity and fidelity to the gospel is an important foundational element
  • Not be possible to achieve inner peace while values are seriously compromised.
  • Maintaining a balance between prayer and service is also fundamental to the quest for a sense of peace and wellbeing
  • Both prayer and service are essential and each should support and draw from the other
  • Engaging with a local community is also an important element
  • Communities provide important occasions of interaction for sharing, for learning and for support
  • The absence of meaningful community undermines the possibility of achieving inner peace

Students learn about:

the contribution of TWO religious traditions to peace in the context of:

  • the world - means of achieving world peace

Students learn to:

discuss how TWO religious traditions are contributing to world peace

Contribution of Christianity to World Peace

  • The Christian tradition makes significant contributions to world peace at a number of different levels
  • These contributions include public statements by Church leaders, programs of action at local and international levels, organisations dedicated to bringing about peace, courses of study, commemorative days etc.

Public Statements

  • Church leaders have frequently made statements in support of peace
  • Some have been specific appeals for peace in particular circumstances however,
  • Some have also published more comprehensive statements on the need for peace and the means of achieving it.
  • In the Catholic community, one of the more well known statements was the 1963 statement of Pope John XXIII "Pacem in Terris" (Peace on Earth)
  • In Pacem in Terris John XXIII discusses an issue of critical importance to the establishment of peace
  • Other organisations such as the World Council of Churches and individual denominations such as the Society of Friends (Quakers) have also released many public statements relating to peacemaking
  • In the months before the beginning of the 2003 Gulf War, Christian Churches in the United States made frequent public appeals to avoid the conflict
  • The Society of Friends website contains excerpts from over forty statements from US Churches, many of them representing the views of groups of Church leaders from a particular State or region
  • Similar statements were made throughout Europe and the UK
  • In Australia statements were made by leaders of most major Christian denominations together with representative statement issued by the National Council of Churches of Australia (NCCA)

Programs and Organisations

  • There has always been a tradition of opposition to warfare in Church communities
  • Francis of Assisi is a famous example of opposition to war. Another interesting example
  • The Society of Friends (Quakers), a Christian group with a pacifist stance.
  • The modern peace movement has a strong link to Christian peace groups in its infancy.
  • Movements such as the Catholic Worker movement led by Dorothy Day and Peter Maurin have been prominent in the quest for world peace
  • The Catholic worker movement developed an approach of active non-violence and often used civil disobedience as a means of protest.
  • Another well known organisation is the international group Pax Christi who have pioneered peacemaking at an international level for decades
  • In preparation for the coming of the third millennium, Pax Christi published a manifesto for a culture of peace and non violence.
  • This manifesto came in support of the United Nations declaring a decade for a culture of peace and non violence beginning in the year 2000.
  • Pax Christi's declaration contained 6 principles which it invited people to take up
  • respect the life and dignity of every person without discrimination or prejudice
  • practise active non-violence, rejecting violence in all its forms: physical, sexual, psychological economic and social, in particular towards the most deprived and vulnerable such as children and adolescents
  • share my time and material resources in a spirit of generosity to put an end to exclusion, injustice and political and economic oppression
  • defend freedom of expression and cultural diversity, giving preference always to dialogue and listening rather than fanaticism, defamation and the rejection of others
  • promote consumer behaviour that is responsible and development practices that respect all forms of life and preserve the balance of nature on the planet
  • contribute to the development of my community, with the full participation of women and respect for democratic principles, in order to create together new forms of solidarity
  • The World Council of Churches in launched a campaign of a "Decade to Overcome Violence"
  • This campaign provides an ecumenical dimension to the search for peace and highlights the commonalities held among Christian Churches in this area
  • The campaign of the Decade to Overcome Violence has also highlighted the statistic that domestic violence is responsible for the deaths of more women worldwide than any other single cause
  • Other important organisations include the Church and Peace alliances in Europe and the UK as well as the Kairos organisation in Canada and the USA .
  • In Australia major Christian denominations have organisations which have responsibility in working towards peace
  • These include the Uniting Church Board of Social Responsibility and the Australian Catholic Social Justice Council
  • These organisations, together with the National Council of Churches of Australia have peacemaking as an important part of their mandate
  • The element of working towards peace is carried out alongside other social concerns such as justice and ecology
  • This highlights the close relationship between the search for a more just society and the search for peace
  • Church organisations have frequently stated that the achievement of lasting peace will only be possible with a renewed social order where there poverty is substantially overcome and there is justice among people and between nations

Courses of Study

  • Throughout the world major learning institutions provide studies in peacemaking. Among these, universities run by Christian denominations often feature prominently in offering such courses
  • Some significant organisations providing for the study of peace and peace making include the Washington based Center of Concern and the Maryknoll Justice and Peace Office
  • In Australia the Society of Saint Columba (Columbans) have been prominent in providing peace education
  • Firstly through their Columban Mission Institute and through their Centre for Justice, Ecology and Peace.
  • Courses of study in peacemaking are available at major theological institutes such as the United Theological College and the Catholic Institute of Sydney

Days of Commemoration

  • Christian Churches have made use of significant days of commemoration to help focus people's attention on the need for peace
  • All major denominations will have special liturgical events on Anzac day
  • Many would also hold events on other occasions such as Remembrance Day and Hiroshima Day
  • Palm Sunday has become a day for public gatherings, marches and rallies in support of peace
  • Christian churches have traditionally sponsored these events which usually begin with an ecumenical service followed by a rally and a march through city streets
  • Palm Sunday rallies have become a regular feature of life in Australian cities
  • The numbers of people attending had tended to fluctuate depending on the world situation at the time
  • Very large numbers gathered in 2003 to protest against the war in Iraq
  • Smaller, but still quite significant numbers took part in subsequent years