By Daniel Downs
“Blessed are the peacemakers” (Matthew 5:12)
During the days of Jesus, Augustus Caesar was the acclaimed prince of peace. This praise was without critical comment. Peace in the Roman Empire was not won by reasoned negotiation but by the power of the sword. In the book of Revelation, John sees a rider on a white horse. The rider went conquering and to conquer. This vision describes Caesar, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, and many other leaders whose peace was packaged for subjugated peoples in terms of existence. Peace meant “my way or else.” A more accurate way of putting it would be don’t make me come back to deal with rebellion or with disruption of the flow of taxes or trade. Maintain law and order as well as tax payments and all will be well. That was the peace of Pax Romana.
In our modern Pax Americanus, the substance behind rhetoric of world peace is often about conflict over trade and disputes about the flow of goods like wheat, oil, and weapons. It is true that concern about the health and well-being of others is debated and money spent to resolve perceived problems. Yet, such concerns remain secondary to the kind of peace necessary for the continued growth in the global economy.
The issue of Middle East peace is one example. The on-going conflict between Israel, Palestinians, and Arabs may be religious and territorial in nature but our contemporary Caesars see the problem as an unnecessary disruption to the flow of goods regionally and globally. The not-so-powerful see the achievement of peace in the Middle East as an end to poverty among Palestinians. Others see poor Palestinians as one weapon of war against the continued existence of the Zionist state, which also means Arabs could have ended Palestinian poverty long ago.
In Pax Americana, liberal special interest groups often criticize Christian conservatives for focusing on politics rather than on the moral reform of individuals in society. Although valid to a point, the criticism is based on the belief that religion is not relevant to public policy affecting all aspects of daily life. The source of this belief is humanism or enlightenment rationalism exemplified by French intellectuals. This view was not held by most early Americans, which is one reason the liberal belief is erroneous. Because religion is both a world view encompassing life now and hereafter as well as a means to resolving problems, religion is crucial to politics.
In fact, religion is likely the only source to genuine peace.
Some will find such as statement outrageous because they see religion as one of the primary sources of violent human abuses, global conflicts, and war. Yet, the same can be said of secularists who have followed Marx such as communist leaders around the world. To the credit of secular statists, hundreds of millions of citizens as well as enemies have been tortured, maimed, and killed.
The mantra of secularists has been “you cannot legislate morality,” which by the way is the basis of peace. The opposite was held by the founders who regarded legislating immorality as an anti-law act. America’s inheritance of the rule of law concept goes back at least to the biblical accounts of the legal and consensus covenant between God and Israel and the development of their law codes and governing institutions. These in turn influenced the development of constitutional law in the American colonies.
The American experiment was the application of previous centuries of the Protestant (Puritan) struggle for religious freedom constituted by culture and law. The testimony of history is religion and bureaucratic power always result in human injustice, institutional led violence, and war. As noted above, the problem is not limited to religion but to ideologies instituted through power of governance. As the horrible news reported daily by the media proves, Calvinist-Puritans are still right about inherent depravity of humanity. It was this self-evident truth that led to the development of written legal compacts of which the US Constitution is one part and contract laws.
As the early Americans understood, peace is achieved by doing what is right according to the law of God and of nature. When laws, public policy, and behavior conform to this law, the result has to be peace. Only then will there be peace on earth and perpetual good will toward men, women, boys, and girls. International terrorism, wars, domestic violence, poverty, greed, envy, revenge, and the like will subside. Goods and services naturally will flow unhindered and without imperialist manipulations. Populations will control themselves without a death culture operated by paternal elitists.
That is exactly why the human race requires salvation by the only real prince of peace—Jesus Christ. Jesus entered the world on a peace mission. Many then and now see his death as mission failure. However, his death accomplished terms of reconciliation between God and humanity that know one else could achieve. His death paid the eternal price required to satisfy God’s justice concerning all of our moral crimes. He was raised from death in order to officiate over its implementation for every human. By accepting God terms of peace, each and all people will learn the way of peace. That is the reason Jesus commissioned his apostles to make disciples of all nations. Only then could there possibly be lasting peace on earth.
Many religions pursue peace as at least one, if not, the primary goal. However, most religious never really obtain peace with God. They miss the requirements of divine justice by only focusing on the necessary behaviors for right standing under God’s rightful rule. The problem is God cannot acquit (forgive) moral crimes committed any more than human judges do. The penalty for crimes committed must be paid. Good behavior before or after a moral crime is not sufficient to pay for the crime committed against God’s law. As the prophets and apostles proclaimed, “The soul that sins it shall die.” That is the price Jesus paid. His lordship guarantees the resources necessary to live right before God and thereby achieve the peace we all desire. Peace with God–the starting point to world peace.
To those who seek peace, Merry Christmas.