For the Peace from Above: An Orthodox Resource Book on War, Peace and Nationalism
Indeed, the final miracle Christ performed before His execution was to heal an enemy`s wound, an injury caused by the Apostle Peter in an attempt to defend his master. Yet, in the course of more than twenty centuries of Christian history, we see Christians often involved in war and, in surveying the calendar of saints, find not only those who refused to take part in war but also those who served in the military, though no one has been canonized due to his skill as a soldier.Besides the millions of Christians who have fought in armies, often against fellow Christians, we also find many priests, bishops and theologians who have advocated war and blessed its weapons. Our subject is an urgent one.
Many people today live either near conflict areas or are directly touched by war or in areas where terrorist actions may suddenly occur. Everyone on the planet is in some way affected by wars in progress or wars in the making as well as the consequences of wars in the past.
Every day thousands of Christians struggle in thought and prayer with some of the most difficult of questions: May I fight injustice by violent methods? Am I allowed to kill in combat? Are there limits on what I can do in the defense of my country? Am I as a Christian allowed to disobey demands that I believe are unjust or violate the Gospel? When the demands of my country seem at odds with the demands of the Kingdom of God, how do I respond to this conflict? Rarely do we find easy answers to these and similar questions.
Thus, those of us in the Orthodox Christian tradition search for help in Holy Scripture, the canons provided to us by ecumenical councils, the witness of the saints, the writing of the Fathers of the Church as well as theologians of recent times. Imitation of saintly forebears alone, however, will not solve our problems. Different eras have adopted different attitudes.
Also many of today`s problems never existed before, not least the changed character of war in an era of weapons of mass destruction, terrorism and mass propaganda. Yet knowledge of the thought and action undertaken by the Orthodox Churches on the issues of war and peace in recent decades surely can help us find ways out of the dead ends that many communities are experiencing today. This is the aim of this book.