Reflections on War, Violence, & The Prince of Peace

This is Normandy Beach, looking down on the path of assault on D-Day during WWII 

I’m doing some reflection and reading on the topic of war and violence. It is so relevant today in our world and touches on our immediate work here in Europe and situations dealt with by our focus friends, many of whom come from areas of war, ethnic and religious strife and violence. At this point I have more questions than answers. Admittedly, I also have questions about what it means for Christians who follow the Prince of Peace [see Christmas reflection earlier in this blog] and how religious convictions are many times marshaled to argue for or against war and violence. I plan to do some musing on the theme in several posts here in this blog. Bear with me. I don’t intend to arrive at hard and fast conclusions. It is a theme, however, that followers of Christ need to think seriously about, especially today.

Here are some of my questions that I intend to explore–What do we believe about war and violence? What are the teachings of Christ on this and how do they sit with other apparent teaching in Holy Scriptures? How are we to behave as followers of Christ in the world today in situations of war and violence and what kind of response should we give to the questions posed by the headlines almost everyday? Are there ways we answer the questions as citizens of a country that are different than as members of a church? Are there grounds for responding differently in separate situations? Maybe more specifically, are there situations in the past, present or future, in which we can claim "Just War" theories to support them? Whether we answer that in the negative or positive what kind of thinking can we marshal for going forward today in our present situation?

We visited sites in France over Christmas that stand as some of the significant historical footprints in our collective memory about World War II. The photos that accompany this series are from there. The impact on us was sobering. To help in my reflection I’m reading some interesting books that I would also recommend to anyone interested: Violence in God’s Name by Oliver McTernan; Waging Peace on Islam by Christine A. Mallouhi; Resident Aliens by Hauerwas and Willimon; Faiths in Conflict? By Vinoth Ramachandra; A God of Vengeance? By Erick Zenger which is a commentary on the Psalms; A History of Christian-Muslim Relations by Hugh Goddard and the Place of Tolerance in Islam by Khaled Abou El Fadl. As always, please feel free to comment along the way.

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