Grace AND Peace

Re-coupling Grace and Peace

I often wonder if Christianity would be more effective if it returned to its Historic Roots….

I got to thinking about all this again, as I am wont to do….  It seems to me that a foundational problem in Christianity is the de-coupling of what seemed to be a very important association by the Apostle Paul, as well as Peter and John, concerning Grace AND Peace.  Many greetings are dressed with the term grace and peace….

It seems both Grace and Peace together were very important as a pair in the early Christian Church as seeds of the Kingdom of God and the Gospel, including the Gospel of Peace were preached….  Maybe it was because they had warfare back then….  Maybe because a commitment to Grace and Peace and refusing to worship the Emperor and the military-political systems of the day could result in becoming lion feed……  Don’t we have warfare now also?

Some are aware of my concerns for Peace, Social Justice, and Nonviolence….  I believe we find all three of these concerns as also concerns of the Early Christian church up until around 170 AD, at which time the teachings of the foundational fathers of the church dimmed, and in Ca. 320 AD, the Christian church allied with Constantine and became the official Roman religion.

Since that time, it seems the subject of Grace has been well studied, and preached, partially by the less than perfect and less than grace filled individuals such as Martin Luther and Calvin….  As far as I know, those adhering to nonviolence, such as the early Anabaptists, were actually persecuted and even killed for their beliefs, often by the very “Christians” who espoused the Grace of God most adamantly… (I have the book, “Martyr’s Mirror”, for instance, that chronicles some of these events.)  So were the Muslims, for that matter….. How about the Jews also????  So were they…. And, the Aztecs, to whom it was agreed they were cannibals, so we could kill them…  I hate to bring this up, but; Where are all the American Indians?

Has anything really changed, even today in our largely Post Christian society?  When we think of Grace, how many of us think of Grace AND Peace?  If we study the Gospel of Grace so much, why not also study the Gospel of Peace?  Now, I like Grace a lot, but I also like Peace….  I recall the word of the Poem, “Fire and Ice”, by Robert Frost…

Some say the world will end in fire,

Some say in ice.

From what I’ve tasted of desire

I hold with those who favor fire.

But if it had to perish twice,

I think I know enough of hate

To say that for destruction ice

Is also great,

And would suffice.

Therefore, not for destruction, but for living eternally, it seems to me that if I can like Grace, and I can also like Peace….

For perishing people, (and all of us are perishing…) all of us who from birth have believed in the Myth of Redemptive Violence, from the God of Babylon, Marduk, on to the cartoons of Popeye and Pluto, to the solution to Evil offered by this world’s fallen governments, that is, we can solve violence, we can solve Evil, by killing it….  That fallen philosophy was not that of Jesus, nor of the Early Christian church…  The Jesus who suffered and died to defeat Evil.  The early Christian Church who followed in Jesus’ steps, also suffering and dying to defeat Evil, seemed to believe also in this other way, the way of peace and nonviolence.  Grace, AND Peace, if you will….

Why, we Christians actually consider it once per year, on average, and make some mention of it, generally around the Christmas season, we manage to add Peace to our vocabulary….  Grace, all the time, we need it.., but Peace, well… we do not seem to need it so much….

Therefore, let us call out today, for the Christian Church (and all people, for that matter) to return to Christianity’s Historic Roots, and to re-couple both Grace AND Peace.  Perhaps is so doing, we will regain the respect of unbelievers who see this separation of Grace and Peace, to be inconsistent with the ethics of Jesus, even if most of Christianity appears not to see this inconsistency, and blindly goes on in the systems of the world with which it is most comfortable.

Grace AND Peace,

John Cooper

About jcooperforpeace
Spiritual Director, Spirituality of Inner Peace

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