The Orthodox Church and Peace: Some Reflections
by Olivier Clėment
The spiritual and eschatological meaning that Scripture and Christ Himself give to the word “peace” characterizes the Orthodox Church as it does all Christian communities, although she is perhaps more wary than others of secularizing reinterpretations. The Biblical shalom which the Septuagint translates as eirene indicates the gift, the coming, the presence of God himself, for God is the one and only source of peace. The Messianic title ‘Prince of peace’ that we find in Proto-Isaiah applies in its fullness to Christ, the ‘king of peace’.
In the New Testament, the ‘peace of Christ’ is a synonym for that life stronger than death which is brought to us by the Resurrection. Peace, life and joy are thus almost synonymous. ‘Peace on earth’, the message of the angels, is in fact accomplished by Christ — and in Him — for He reunites God and humanity by triumphing over death and hell. He ‘makes peace by the blood of his cross’....
The Christian, wherever he finds himself, has to become a peacemaker of human and cosmic existence — ‘Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord’, we are told in the Epistle to the Hebrews. The eucharistic community, which in the first centuries was called agape in Greek, caritas in Latin, ought to become, perhaps above all, a seed of peace in the world. The key text here is the Beatitude about the peacemakers, those who work to make peace9 — who ’shall be called sons of God’, adopted in the Son, therefore literally ‘deified’. Thus the disciples of Jesus are ‘to be at peace with one another’ and with all men.
War and Peace in the Eastern Orthodox Church, part 1
War and Peace in the Eastern Orthodox Church, part 2
Nonviolence and Peace Traditions In Early & Eastern Christianity by Fr. John McGuckin
The Teaching of Peace in the Fathers by Fr. Stanley S. Harakas
Fr. Alexander F. C. Webster and Darrell Cole, The Virtue of War: Reclaiming the Classic Christian Traditions East and West. Regina Orthodox Press, 2004.
The Question of Justifiable War St. Vladimir's Theological Quarterly, Volume 47, No. 1, 2003