Conflict / War and Peace

By Jesus dying on the cross, God satisfied his judgement against sin, forgave the sins of the world, and reconciled man to God. This is why Christians have such specific beliefs about the issues of justice, forgiveness and reconciliation.

The Christian beliefs about justice are that justice is achieved when a fair, equal and honest settlement is achieved. Christians believe God is absolutely just. In the book of Romans, we are told that God give the government the power to do justice. “All of you must yield to the government rulers. No one rules unless God has given him the power to rule, and no one rules without that power from God. So those who are against the government are really against God.” Jesus showed us that justice will prevail through his parable of the sheep and goats. The son of man will separate men, like a shepherd separates sheep from the goats. He will welcome those on the right to his kingdom, “For I was hungry and you gave me to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me to eat.” They will reply “When did we do these things?” and the King will reply, “What ever you do to my brothers, that you did for me.” Then he will say to those on the left, “Depart from me, you are cursed. When I was naked you did not clothe me, you did not clothe my brothers.”

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The Christian beliefs about forgiveness, is where a persons sins have been forgotten and forgiven. The Christian religion involves forgiving others, in order to achieve personal forgiveness, in prayers and practical life situations. All sins are forgiven by God, countless times. Jesus taught us to be forgiving through his parable of the Unmerciful Servant. Peter came to Jesus and said, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?” Jesus answered, “I tell you not seven times, but twenty-seven times.” This shows us that to act in a Christian way, is to forgive sins all the time.

Similar to forgiveness is reconciliation; however reconciliation is absolute forgiveness, to start a fresh and to ‘turn over a new leaf’. The parable, The Forgiving Father is in relation to reconciliation it explains how sins should be forgiven. In the story the father’s youngest son left the family, with his inheritance money. He soon wasted his money and had spent everything he had, when a severe famine spread a cross that country. He soon realised the mistake he made and decided that he would set off back home in hope that is father would accept to treat him like a hired worker. His father welcomed him back home with open arms and the son told his father that he was no longer fit to be called his son. Nevertheless the father called his servants, “Bring the best robe and put it on him. Then let us celebrate with a feast. For this son of mine was dead, but he is now alive, for he was lost but now he has been found.” When the elder brother returned home, he was angry at how his younger brother had been welcomed home. He was annoyed at the fact that his father had given him nothing despite he had never disobeyed his orders. His father then said, “But we had to celebrate and be happy because your brother was dead but now he is alive.” The father was reconciled with his lost son.

A pacifist is a person who has total opposition to war and any other type of violence. A conscientious objector is someone who will refuse to fight in a war because there conscience does not allow them too. They may not be religious; they may just decide a war is not justified. However a religious conscientious objector may refer to the commandment do not kill. The “Peace of Earth”, states that in this age with the nuclear power we have, it no longer makes sense to use war in order to repair justice.

These beliefs can be applied in situations of conflict today. A particularly significant area of conflict today is in Iraq. The American and British forces invaded Iraq in 2003. The reasons given for the invasion were that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction, which needed disarming by the co-operating forces. The forces pushed through Iraq eventually capturing the main cities to liberate the citizens from the Iraq leader, Saddam Hussein. Military force and bombardment from the airships was used therefore there were lives taken. In this situation a strict Christian, should object to the war as it goes against the commandment, do not kill. Also I do not believe this was a fully just war, as it was no means the last resort. The nations will say that weapon inspectors were sent in however they were not given enough time to fully investigate, and also they did not find any weapons. The war was not fully undertaken by lawful authority, as Tony Blair did not have backing from the United Nation. In the parable of the Sheep and Goats we discover that we are judged by our actions. Being born into a Christian family does not automatically allow eternal life; this must be earned through our time on earth. In this parable the condemned did nothing wrong as such, but by ignoring Christ in other humans beings; they turned their backs on Jesus. This is what America has done by not being reconciled with its enemies.

For the past 30 years there has been on-going conflict in Northern Ireland, and the lives that have been taken during this have done little to change the situation. Both parties think they are not receiving justice, therefore they have lost faith in peace and the violence has escalated. On 15th August 1998, a bomb was detonated in Omagh, Northern Ireland. This was a result of the conflict and concluded with 29 deaths and hundreds of injuries, it was known as the Omagh Bomb. Various attempts had been made to reconcile the two communities; the most recent was the Good Friday Agreement, however still both sides thought they were not at justice and the agreement has fallen away. Jesus himself taught that “if someone hits you on the right cheek turn the left one.” This teaches us that violence is never the answer and if both parties agreed to disagree, much hurt, fear and violence could be stopped. The groups would need to come to an agreement, they could be reconciled together and the love that Jesus taught us to show could be renewed. The Bible tells us to “forgive your brother or sister from your heart.” And this is what these communities should do, to reach an agreement.

Through the Great Commandment, Jesus told us to “love your neighbour as yourself,” with conflict and war enemies are not showing love to their neighbours. To live in order and peace we one another we need to justice, forgiveness and reconciliation. These are the basic principles of Christian Faith hence why they are very important as Christian beliefs. Jesus taught us to show these through his teachings, when he was dying on the cross he begged God to forgive his persecutors. As Christians we should, try to understand the reasons behind the conflicts, however not condone the actions and not resort to any means of violence as that evidently goes against the teachings of Jesus. If communities and nations spent more time compromising and negotiating rather than killing then we may live in a healthier state.

Since the Second World War nuclear power has been an option for most nations. America dropped nuclear warheads on Japan in 1945, during the Second World War. Tens of thousands of civilians were injured and killed here, and the future of many was damaged from radiation induced cancer. Weapons of mass destruction can cause a great deal more damage and devastation than simple weaponry of the past.

In some ways I agree with the statement, because the effects of nuclear war are massive and the immediate destruction of vast areas of land and population could never be justified by Christians. Christians believe the result of nuclear war could never be justified, and there is no cause serious enough to allow that amount of killing. “The cause must be serious enough to justify the amount of killing and suffering which a war causes,” therefore in the eyes of the church nuclear war is not a ‘Just War’, as it does not pass this condition. Christians view the use of nuclear weapons as morally wrong, as the whole planet that God created could be wiped out in a matter of hours. There would be no survivors or winners and parts of the planet would no longer be fit for human habitation. The Chernobyl disaster shows us the possible effects of nuclear war and disasters. Countries may argue that their nuclear weapons are for defence purposes and not attack, however there is no holding back with nuclear weaponry, it is all of nothing. Some Christians believe that if great nations dismantle their arsenal then others will follow suit. The pope damned nuclear war in the Vatican Document, “Peace on Earth,” and many others agree. Nuclear war is very expensive and costs nations millions of pounds, of tax payers’ money. The government overspend massively on the technology to kill people, when they could be giving it to people who really need the money.

On the other hand, many people argue that as long as there is an evenly based amount of effective weapons threatening the main capitals then peace will be maintained because no one nation could win the war, all would be destroyed. Also, many people row that the use of nuclear weapons ended the Second World War and prohibited the invasion of mainland Japan and saved many American troops from death. It has been said that powerful countries such as Britain and America have avoided major wars because of their immense nuclear power.

I see conventional war as an accepted part of history, the present world and no doubt of the future. Throughout our time on earth and the future, people will always try to stray from what other people accept to be correct, and by doing this they will not be showing love to their neighbours. Conventional war will always be used to set these people back to there place, as long as this war is justified. It is an integral part of life as we, Christians know it and personally I do not think it will change.

Overall, I see the use of nuclear warheads a waste of time and money. If all the nations disarmed, then others would no doubt follow suit, however I do not ever think that all countries will disarm therefore other countries will begin to spend money on nuclear warheads yet again. As a result of nuclear war, I do not think there will be a winner just a planet of losers who will destroy God’s planet. As a Christian I do not see the use of nuclear war acceptable.