What is Peace?

For the purpose of Evangelicals for Peace (EfP), the best way to frame peace is through the Hebrew word, shalom. Shalom refers not only to an absence of conflict or violence, but more important, to the ideas of justice and positive peace  – the conditions that allow for flourishing of relationship between an individual and 1) God; 2) others; 3) oneself; and 4) all of creation. The term shalom implies wholeness and completeness of being, and is at the center of what Jesus meant when he said that he came that we might have abundant life (John 10:10). 

 

Thus, the goal of EfP is to work for shalom. We seek to advance solutions to violent conflict, encourage foreign and security policies that advance justice and peace, and work for the reconciliation of global enemies. 

 

While we view shalom as the ultimate goal, we recognize that in a fallen world we must celebrate the intermediate accomplishment of a limited peace – a peace defined as the absence of conflict, in which the conflict may have officially ceased, but the underlying reasons for the conflict may not have been addressed.   

 

Thus, we celebrate the end of violent conflict, but continue to work toward positive peace or shalom.

 

our approaches to achieving peace with others

As evangelicals, we fundamentally agree that peace is something to which God has called us. However, the question of how to achieve peace remains. EfP members represent a range of beliefs and frameworks for the promotion of peace in various contexts. Three common orientations are outlined below. Though they differ, they overlap, making collaboration possible.  We view them as interacting frameworks along a spectrum.

 

Just War: True adherents of Just War Theory actively pursue peace and seek to avoid war. They acknowledge the costs and implications of war, yet view war as sometimes necessary to achieve peace, provided that it meets certain criteria regarding both the decision to go to war and the way in which war is conducted. Just War Theory aims to reconcile the competing beliefs that taking human life is wrong and that nations must defend their citizens and maintain justice, concluding that protecting human life sometimes requires limited force.

 

Pacifism: Christian adherents of Pacifism look to Jesus' example of restraint in the face of violence and his teachings of love of neighbor and enemy and conclude that war of any kind is morally unacceptable and/or pragmatically not worth the cost. Although pacifists may use forms of non-violent resistance, they reject the use of physical violence to attain political, economic or social goals, and are opposed to violence under any circumstance.

 

Just Peacemaking: Just Peacemaking focuses on the importance of ten proactive practices that prevent war and facilitate peace. These can function as criteria for determining specific actions or sets of actions we might choose in order to engage conflict before, during or after violence breaks out. This new peace ethic can and should be promoted by both pacifists and proponents of just war.