RE:QUESTA space for resources to help RE teachers and their students explore the Christian faith
Lat Blaylock, Editor, RE Today
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Divergent Christian Teachings About Conflict
The world around us engages in acts of conflict and aggression far too often. This resource explores the Christian view of conflict, including an examination of the teachings which form the basis of their beliefs.
Christian Responses to the Nature and Causes of Conflict
Christians believe that peace is essential, This is because of the teachings from the Bible and Jesus' example. Because of these, they feel that they have a responsibility to help bring about the end of conflict across the world. To this end, they work to resolve causes of conflict, such as injustice, political issues, lack of resource shortages, and human rights abuse.
The Bible teaches Christians about the importance of peace and how they can work to promote it along with justice, forgiveness, and reconciliation. As followers of Christ, Christians are expected to stand up for justice and peace, following Jesus’ example of bringing life to others. Some examples of these teachings include:
- It was what God planned for the world when he created it.
- Peace is central to God's character: 'For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.' 1 Corinthians 14:33
- A key belief of Christianity is to promote peace and harmony in the world.
- Jesus taught it was important and Christians try to follow his teachings. During the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said, 'Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.' Matthew 6:9.
- There are teachings in the Bible that show how important peace is, for example:
'And goodness is the harvest that is produced from the seeds the peacemakers' plant in peace.' James 3:18
'Do everything possible on your part to live in peace with everybody.' Romans 12:18
However, whilst the Church promotes peace, it sometimes accepts conflict because the Bible has many examples of violence and war, some of which are approved of by God. Also, there are some direct teachings in the Old Testament that suggest it can be an option. For example, Exodus 21:23-25 states: 'But if the woman herself is injured, the punishment shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.' This indicates that if you are being attacked, then it is acceptable to respond likewise, even with violence.
Because of this, Christians have occasionally supported conflicts that have been regarded as unavoidable. An example of this might be to protect a country that is being unjustly attacked and is unable to protect itself. Indeed, many Christians support conflict if all the conditions of a just war have been met.
- Never ever.
- Maybe, in certain circumstances.
- I would fight somebody who had something I wanted.
- Yes, definitely, but only if somebody was hurting me first.
- Yes, if I saw my friends in trouble, I would stand up for them.