Enemy Love as the Key to the Gospel of Peace

Enemy Love as the Key to the Gospel of Peace

Throughout history mankind has sought the key to peace with one another. Many methods have been tried to bring peace to the world. The most consistent and predominate method of peacemaking is what some term the Myth of Redemptive Violence. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myth_of_redemptive_violence) Since Cain killed Abel, this method has been used consistently in human attempts to bring peace to this earth.

The Myth of Redemptive Violence has never solved mankind’s problems with one another throughout thousands of years, no matter how many times it is tried over and over again. It is impossible to defeat Evil with Evil. Evil must be defeated with Good, self-sacrificial good, or from a Christ centered perspective, Cruciform Love.

We all live in and live through and are affected by various systems in our journey through life. There are educational systems, political systems, religious systems, gender based systems, patriarchal systems, tribe based systems, racial systems, family systems, community systems, etc. All these systems vary throughout the world and throughout our lives as we move through and are affected by these systems. I realize myself, I am writing, even though in my own personal journey, that I have moved through various systems, which currently I write from being influences by a Judeo-Christian system, and I am affected by a Western democratic political system. ((Refer to Dr. Frank J. Ostrowski’s book, “Beyond Systems: Achieving Peace Through Our Shared Humanity”, (http://www.amazon.com/Beyond-Systems-Achieving-Through-Humanity/dp/1425721443) for additional understanding of systems.)) We must move beyond our own individual systems as the end of this peacemaking process. We must also value other perspectives to Peacemaking, even if they do not come from the system by which we have been influenced.

I believe Jesus radically moved beyond his Jewish system, and radically beyond his Roman Empire political system. His radical beliefs challenged and over time drastically affected and changed the systems in which he lived, and still continue to radically affect the systems in which we live now. (http://www.amazon.com/Politics-Jesus-John-Howard-Yoder/dp/0802807348) (http://perthanabaptists.files.wordpress.com/2008/06/politics-of-jesus-simplified-january-2005.pdf) Jesus challenged the Myth of Redemptive Violence. Although he was offered the Kingdoms of the World at virtually no cost as far as losing his life is concerned, he chose to take a different path regarding the defeat of Evil. It was a costly path, that of Cruciform Love. So must we, if we are to defeat Evil, as Christ followers, choose the same costly path.

It appears the vast majority of “Christians” do not choose this path, the same one as Jesus, but keep choosing the path of Redemptive Violence, keep going to war with one another and other Christian and non-Christian countries, and keep undermining the political systems of other countries at our own whims over and over and over again. As I write, world tensions are being tuned regarding the Iranian nuclear weapons disagreement. Of course, we and Israel, are preparing for war, the same method we used unsuccessfully in Iraq, and Afghanistan, to name just two ventures, not even knowing the reason we are doing these things. Perhaps the reason is, as Pavlov’s dog, we are just conditioned to react in these manners and can think of nothing else.

I cannot think of a war that has brought lasting peace. I can think of cases where, after war, new generations are born and grow up across nationalistic and political divides, to like one another, then eventually to begin to love one another. I can think of when I visited Germany perhaps 20 or more years ago, that I could sense animosity in some of the older generation, some of the men in particular, yet sensed contrition, and willingness to move on in peace among the younger generation. As older generations die out, hope springs that younger generations can bring change to this earth. For instance, in Iran today, I believe 70% of Iranians have been born since the Revolution of 1979. Perhaps the young of our world can look beyond the hatred and bitterness fostered by historic myths and gradually overcome corrupt political systems of all kinds, including that of our own United States of America.

Why can we not as nations and as people begin to like each, then to love each other, before war, instead of after war? Why can we not move beyond our systems and love one another more readily?
I believe Jesus presented the key to Peace in advance, as another way of expressing that he himself was our personified key of peace, namely that we should “Love our enemies, and do good to those who despitefully use us.” Although very few “Christians” carry this key, or have ever used it, or tried to use it, I believe this key will open doors to peace beyond nationalistic systems, political systems, racial systems, gender systems, and all systems. It is the key to moving beyond systems, to love one another as fellow human beings as brothers and sisters, whether we are Christians or not. After all, we are all humans. The key to the Gospel of Peace which all human beings may use, is enemy love, a matter that very few  seem to understand. One day I will write about the Gospel of Peace also, but I believe if we can begin to understand the way Jesus moved beyond the systems in which he lived we will begin to understand the Gospel of Peace, which is Good News this broken world so desperately needs, and has needed for thousands of years. This is a walk of Faith, not of sight.

Let us all, even if we are not “Christians”, take this key in our hand, it is a Universal key, that anyone can use, whether “Christian” or not, that of Loving our Enemies, and follow the example of Jesus, at least in this one regard, and open the doors of Peace and Nonviolence not just for yourself, but your children and future generations. Jesus dying for us while we were still his enemies brings to us the good news of the Gospel of Peace that God is not mad at us, but He is now at Peace with us and beacons us all to come to him and live in Peace with him and with each other. This, to me, is Jesus’ radical intention, that we should dispose of the Myth of redemptive Violence, the myth that one defeats Evil with more Evil, that one brings Peace to the world with War, but that we bring Peace to the world by Loving our Enemies.



Grace & Peace,

John Cooper

About jcooperforpeace
Spiritual Director, Spirituality of Inner Peace

2 Responses to Enemy Love as the Key to the Gospel of Peace

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks for your posting. Part of what you wrote echoes what Erasmus once said about Christians:

    — snip 8< —

    What country, in which the earth has not been fertilized with the blood of christians shed by christians? What river or sea, that has not been discoloured with purple tide of human gore? Yes, I am ashamed to declare, that christians fight more savagely than Jews, than heathens, than the beasts of the field?

    — snip 8< —

    You made reference to Ostrowski's book, "Beyond System." One book that I would recommend is "Blood Guilt" (New Covenant Press, 2011). http://www.covenant.nu It covers this topic in greater detail.

  2. jcooperforpeace says:

    Thanks for your comment. I will check out your references….

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