The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Because 'Christ is our peace'

Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers.” Christians are called to the work of peacemaking. The gospel gives Christians distinctive perspectives on that work. A Christian approach to peace can never be identical to that of any political party. The first commandment makes clear that we worship only one God: Christians are free from ultimate allegiance to anyone or anything else. In the United States, this means we can never reduce a Christian approach to peace to that of Republicans or Democrats, conservatives or liberals.

In these days of war, thoughts on Christian peacemaking have focused on the relationship between war and peace. The Christian tradition produced three main approaches to war:

• Christian pacifism says the Christian call to peacemaking is always incompatible with war.

• Christian “just war” theology says war is always a terrible sign of our human sinfulness, but tragically there may be occasions when it’s the least evil choice available.

• Christian “holy war” theology says that in certain cases war is a good thing, ordained by God. This is the theology of the medieval Crusades, in which Christians made war on Muslims with the church’s blessing and encouragement. “Holy war” is a sin of which to repent, not a viable option for Christian action, and won’t receive further consideration here.

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