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Religion Essay

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World peace is an ideal of freedom, peace, and happiness among and within all nations and people. Both Islam and Christianity highlight the importance of world peace within their religious communities and throughout the world by religious principal teachings which are emitted through sacred texts of the specified religion. Adherents of Christianity and Islam use sacred texts as a driving force behind the contribution of each religion to world peace. Christians turn to the bible for guidance and knowledge on how to live out the notion of peace. The New Testament is the normative text for all Christians, it’s the principal and foundational source of teaching for all Christians in which peace is mentioned over ninety times. Christians are taught to reject violence, the strongest statements against engaging violence come from the preaching of Jesus himself. In Matthew 6:39 it states ‘turn the other cheek’, this statement has a strong impact on all Christians and teaches them not to retaliate or return violence with violence.
One major principal teaching supporting this notion is the ‘just war theory’. The Just war theory sought to establish guidelines under which it was morally acceptable to engage in warfare. It maintains that nations are morally justified in fighting war providing that the circumstances of the conflict meet the seven principles that suggest the requirements to be involved in war. In April 1963, Pope John XXIII wrote the encyclical Pacem in Terris due to the cold war which is addressed to not only Christians but ‘all men of good will’. It recognized peace as a necessity and a goal that exceeded all national and denominational boundaries and attracted all on the level of shared humanity. The document established 4 major guidelines for following the pathway of peace; the importance of the inviolability of a person’s rights; the universal nature of the common good; the moral foundations of politics and the strength of reason and the beacon of faith. Pope John the 23rd stated that in order to start peace on earth, the only way is to shadow Gods order, ‘‘a peaceful man does more good than a learned one’. The document “Pacem in Terris’ (peace on earth) acts as a guide to peace building in today’s world, as stated by Pope Francis. Since the establishment of the document it radically affected Catholic social teaching not only on war and peace, but on church-state relations, women's rights, religious freedom, international relations and other major issues. The Catholic Church has declared January 1st each year as the World Peace Day and on this day each year the Pope gives a message encouraging people to work for peace at the beginning of the New Year.

Christians are taught to love their enemies and bless those who persecute them. This in effect seeks to break a negative, destructive cycle of conflict and hatred and begin to build cycles of reconciliation, peace and harmony.
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all” (Romans 12:18). In this extract from Paul’s writings there is a clear understanding of the expectation that Christians live in peace with others. However, this statement is tempered by the qualification “so far as it depends on you”. The teaching of the New Testament indicates that Christians have opportunities in relationships to be people of peace and to work towards harmonious dealings with all people. People are regularly confronted with situations of tension and potential conflict. In many of these situations they have a possibility of escalating or diffusing this tension by their response. The notion of peacemaking in relationships is linked to being able to diffuse situations of tension before they escalate and to create cycles of harmony and reconciliation rather than support cycles of conflict and violence.
Christians are encouraged to forgive one another, to bear with one another, to act with love towards each other and to avoid selfish motives in dealing with each other. These responses in relationships will lead to peace and help avoid the destructive behaviour which often leads to conflict and violence. I saying this, the ‘world council of churches’ has a vision to live out fully the unity of Christians, encourages churches to protect the earth and its people through greater care and live all as neighbours whilst addressing threats to humankind. Some examples of activities include; pilgrimage of peace and justice which is understood to heal a world that’s filled with pain, injustice and conflict. And solidarity with churches in the Middle East which are shared efforts by ecumenical partners to attain justice and peace at local, national, regional and international levels. Through this organisation, an adherent of Christianity can seek to fulfil the notion of world peace on a micro level through nurturing the fora and fauna and connecting with their neighbours, on an equal level, whether their enemies or not.
Christians recognise the importance of inter-faith dialogue and cooperation with people of different religious traditions as an important way of overcoming conflicts and building communities of mutual respect. Inter-faith initiatives are often built around engagement with broader social issues such as the plight of refugees and asylum seekers, environmental concern etc. but they also have the benefit of bringing together people of different faiths and building understanding as a consequence.

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