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Transcript of FOR PEACE IN GOD’S WORLD - ELCA Resource Resource Repository/PeaceSS.pdf-1-Evangelical...

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    Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

    A social statement...


    Adopted by more than a two-thirds majority vote (803-30) as a socialstatement of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America by the fourthChurchwide Assembly on August 20, 1995, at Minneapolis, Minnesota.

    We of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America share with the Churchof Jesus Christ in all times and places the calling to be peacemakers. Inthe liturgy of Holy Communion we pray for the peace of the wholeworld, asking, Lord, have mercy. Our petition unites faith in the TriuneGod with our worlds sufferings and hopes.

    At the end of a tumultuous and violent century, we share with peopleeverywhere hope for a more peaceful and just world. With this statementon international peace, we strive to strengthen our global perspective asindividual Christians and as a church body, in spite of strong currents thatpush us to turn in on ourselves. As our world discards the mind-set of theCold War and faces the new threats and opportunities of a changing time,we join with others in searching for what makes for peace.

    Most importantly, this statement recalls that the basis of the Churchspeace-calling is in Gods final peace, the peace of Gods eternal reign.That calling is to proclaim the Gospel of Gods final peace and to work forearthly peace. This statement understands earthly peace to meanrelationships among and within nations that are just, harmonious, and freefrom war. It offers direction as we act to keep and to build earthly peaceon the eve of a new millennium.

    We are grateful for the legacy of peacemaking given to our church by itspredecessor communities.1 We confess that too often we have fallen shortin our responsibility for peace. We pray for forgiveness, and for the faiththat in love acts for earthly peace. We dedicate ourselves anew to pray andto work for peace in Gods world.

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    The biblical narrative reveals Gods resolve for peace.

    God created all things and gives unity, order, and purpose to a world ofdifferent creatures. All humans are created in the image of God (Genesis1:27), made for life in communitywith God, with others, and with therest of creation.

    All humans also are bound together in sin. Sin, the rupture in our relationwith God, profoundly disrupts creation. Centeredness in self, rather thanin God, destroys the bonds of human community. In bondage to sin, wefall captive to fear. Sin entangles our social structures. The Bible describesthe power of sin: ingratitude, deceit, distrust, hatred, greed, envy, arrogance,sloth, corruption, debauchery, aggression, cruelty, oppression, and injustice.These violate community and generate killing and war.

    God nonetheless preserves the world, limiting the effects of sin, bringinggood even out of evil and making earthly peace possible. Through theLaw, the sovereign God of the nations holds all responsible for theirneighbor, protects community, and blesses creation ever anew. Godworks often in hidden and inscrutable ways. Gods judgment comes upona sinful humanity for failure to live together justly and peacefully, and callsall to repentance and faith in God. Gods just wrath against all that causeschaos and destruction is in the service of the divine resolve for peace.

    Gods resolve for peace was manifested in a new way through one people,chosen to be a blessing to all. Through the people of Israel, God acted soas to reconcile creation, promising a reign in which peace and justice willkiss each other (Psalm 85).

    Gods promise is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Rejected by humans, Jesus wasconfirmed by God who raised him from the dead in the power of the HolySpirit, so that on earth there might be peace (Luke 2:14). In bringingthis peace,

    Jesus taught love for ones enemies; he reached out to the oppressed, downtrodden, and rejected

    of the earth; he prayed for his enemies while himself being rejected on the


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    above all, through Jesus violent death, God redeemed theworld, for...while we were enemies, we were reconciled toGod through the death of his Son (Romans 5:10).

    This reconciling love of enemy discloses how deeply peace is rooted inwho God is. The cross of Christ enacts Gods resolve for peace once-for-all. The God of peace2 suffers with and for a suffering and sinful worldso that all of creation will enjoy the loving community of Father, Son, andHoly Spirit.

    The Gospel of peace (Ephesians 6:15) heals our broken relationshipwith God, removing the ultimate root of violence and injustice. TheGospel breaks down the dividing walls of hostility among people, createsa new humanitymaking Christ Jesus our peace (Ephesians 2:13-22)and promises the reconciliation of all things in Christ.3 The peaceof the Gospel is the final peace God intends for all. The baptizedcommunity already takes part in this peace through the Word and faith asit hopes for creations fulfillment in a new heaven and a new earth wheredeath and pain will be no more (Revelation 21:1, 4).

    Gods steadfast resolve for peace encompasses our time as it does alltimes. In creation and redemption, through Law and Gospel, Godsfaithful love acts for peace.


    A. Divine Calling

    Through the Gospel, the Holy Spirit calls and gathers a people from allnations to worship and witness to the God of peace. The called andgathered are sinners, forgiven and righteous on account of Jesus Christ.

    In publicly gathering to proclaim and celebrate Gods Gospel ofpeace, the Church uniquely contributes to earthly peace. Its most valuablemission for peace is to keep alive news of Gods resolve for peace,declaring that all are responsible to God for earthly peace and announcingforgiveness, healing, and hope in the name of Jesus Christ. In praying forpeace in the world, in interceding for all who suffer from war and injusticeand for those in authority, the Church acts for peace.

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    The vastly different Christian communities of faith that gather in all partsof the globe are one in the Gospel, called to maintain the unity of theSpirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-6). The Church, with adiversity of gifts, contributes to earthly peace in living the oneness wehave receivedin our congregations, in our church body, and in theChurch universal. Nonetheless, divisions among competing groups(1 Corinthians 1:10-17) and human differences frequently outweigh ouroneness in Christ (Galatians 3:28) and abuse our divine calling.

    Where the Church does live in unity, overcoming such divisions andwelcoming the stranger and outcast, the Church contributes to earthly peace.Where the followers of Jesus refuse to repay evil with evil but turn the othercheek and go the extra mile (Matthew 5:38-42), where in their life togetherChristians creative, nonviolent responses to hostile acts open up possibilitiesfor reconciliation, the Church contributes to earthly peace. Where churchesin different countries work in solidarity for human dignity, the Churchcontributes to earthly peace. Peace in the community of faith serves byexample the ministry and message of reconciliation entrusted to the Churchfor the world (2 Corinthians 5:18-19). Blessed are the peacemakers, for theywill be called children of God (Matthew 5:9).

    By equipping the faithful to act for peace in all their communities,the Church contributes to earthly peace. In recalling our identity inbaptism, in gathering in peace around the Lords Table, in telling thebiblical narrative, in teaching faith, hope, and love, the Church providesthe basics of peacemaking for all of life. The Church is the school of theHoly Spirit, who molds and equips us to be peacemakers. The fruit ofthe Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness,gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22). With its ministry of Wordand Sacrament, the Church sustains believers in their conscientiousdecisions, including people who serve in the military and defense industries,and people who refuse to participate in all wars or in a particular war.

    B. Faithful Presence

    When the Church fulfills the mandates of its divine calling, it helps in wordand deed to create an environment conducive to peace. When the Churchforsakes these mandates, it also fails to serve earthly peace. Throughfaithfulness in its life and activities as a community for peace, the Churchin the power of the Holy Spirit becomes a presence for peace that disturbs,reconciles, serves, and deliberates.

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    The Church is a disturbing presence when it refuses to be silent andinstead speaks the truth in times when people shout out, Peace, peace,when there is no peace (Jeremiah 6:14). The Church is this presencewhen it names and resists idols that lead to false security, injustice, and war,and calls for repentance. We therefore denounce beliefs and actions that:

    elevate our nation or any nation or people to the role of God; find ultimate security in weapons and warfare; ordain the inherent right of one people, race, or civilization to

    rule over others; promise a perfect, peaceful society through the efforts of a

    self-sufficient humanity; and despair of any possibility for peace.

    As a reconciling presence, the Church creates bonds among differentpeoples, whether local or distant. It has special opportunities to bringconflicting parties together and to keep tenuous lines of communicationopen during times of crisis and war. The Church serves reconciliation bycountering religious movementsincluding ones claiming to be Christianthat preach and practice hate and violence, by challenging stereotypes ofthe enemy, and by encouraging imaginative solutions to conflicts.

    The Church is called to be a