Fighting to be a peacemaker

April 25, 2016

World War I was not good to the world. No one wanted anything like that to happen again. So in 1928, leaders from the United States and 14 other countries, including France and Germany, gathered in Paris to sign the Kellogg-Briand Treaty renouncing war and calling on nations to resolve disputes through pacifist means.

In his statement from the east room of the White House in July 1929, President Herbert Hoover announced, “I dare predict that the influence of the Treaty for the Renunciation of War will be felt in a large proportion on all future international acts.” Within just 12 years, every nation that signed the Kellogg-Briand Treaty was engaged in World War II.

Declaring peace—and even desiring peace—are much easier than achieving peace.

The fight to make peace

Few of us are asked to ratify international peace treaties, but all of us understand the challenge of strained relationships. At times, we find ourselves in the middle of the conflict. At other times, we are on the outside looking in. Either way, the faithful Christian has a responsibility to make peace, but making peace often requires more of a fight than we first expect.

When Jesus said, “The peacemakers are blessed, for they will be called sons of God” (Matt. 5:9), he was not encouraging us to play the pacifist by sweeping problems under the proverbial rug. That is the work of peacekeeping, not peacemaking. Peacekeeping appeases the loudest, rudest voice in the room just to quiet an argument. Peacekeeping settles for injustices because the work of justice is simply too much trouble.

God condemned that kind of triviality when he said, “They have treated My people’s brokenness superficially, claiming, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace” (Jer. 6:14). Declaring peace is easier than making it.

Our first conflict

Perhaps the reason for that is the personal nature of war and peace. Our first conflict is not with the people around us but with the God who created us. He loves us, but our sin is an offense against God and puts a distance between him and us. Although we may try to close the gap, the only way to make things right is to completely remove the offense.

We talk about making peace with God, but he never expects us to make peace with him. Instead, through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection, he removed our sin and replaced it with his righteousness. Therefore, it is by grace through faith that our offense is removed and reconciliation with God is achieved. We do not make things right. Instead, we can have peace with God because Jesus did the essential work of reconciliation on our behalf.

And the peace we have with God then produces the peace of God in the hearts of his people. Notice these words from the apostle Paul, “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses every thought, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7). These were not trite words meant to minimize a problem. Paul wrote them from a prison cell to believers who were facing pressure and persecution of their own.

When we have peace with God, the peace of God defends us against fear. And the peace of God shows us how to thank him in everything because we know that nothing can separate us from the love of God ever again.

The pursuit of peace with man

It is from this place of reconciliation with God that believers do the work of true peacemaking in the world. Christians are the benefactors of God’s mercy, which gives us a ministry of mercy to others. We understand that human conflict is not primarily ethical, political or relational. Instead, it is theological. So real peacemaking invites others to the same cross of Christ that rescued us.

Again, Paul wrote, “Everything is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation.” (2 Cor. 5:18) While relational conflict is a glaring apologetic of the universal need for the gospel, the peacemaker does the work of the evangelist by personally testifying to the peace of God found in Jesus his Son.  

When Jesus rode into Jerusalem on the Sunday before his crucifixion, he visited the temple court where he found vendors selling temple sacrifices for ridiculous profits. He turned their tables over and threw them out as he said, “It is written, My house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves” (Luke 19:46).

Sometimes we interpret this moment as Jesus’ temper tantrum, perhaps to justify our own propensity to outbursts of anger. But Jesus did not throw a temper tantrum. Instead, he confronted the sinful actions of people who were hurting others by making it harder for them to know and worship God.

Everyone else had spent years living with the abuse and looking the other way. But peacemakers cannot look the other way. Just as Jesus disrupted the business of these vendors, peacemakers roll up our sleeves and take action on behalf of hurting people.

Jesus knew peacemaking would cost him, but peace was worth it. We do not step into the conflict because we are offended. We act because people need to hear the good news that God loves them, Jesus died for them, and they can have peace with God forever.

So peacemakers are not bullies looking for a fight, but neither are peacemakers appeasers who sit back while injustice oppresses the weak or discourages the fallen. Peacemakers speak the truth in love and then act with courageous mercy to make peace where there is no peace.

Some people suggest that Jesus is an anti-war pacifist. That is not true. Jesus is anti-death. He waged war on sin so that we could have life. And when Jesus said peacemakers are “sons of God,” he was saying, “As followers of Jesus, this is our family business. This is who we are, and this is what we do together for the glory of the Father.”  So, more than merely declaring peace, let’s fight to make peace around us.

Daryl Crouch

Following 28 years in pastoral ministry, Daryl Crouch now leads Everyone’s Wilson, a community transformation initiative that helps churches bring the whole community around every school so that every student, educator, and family can live whole. He’s married to Deborah, and they have four children. Read More by this Author

Article 12: The Future of AI

We affirm that AI will continue to be developed in ways that we cannot currently imagine or understand, including AI that will far surpass many human abilities. God alone has the power to create life, and no future advancements in AI will usurp Him as the Creator of life. The church has a unique role in proclaiming human dignity for all and calling for the humane use of AI in all aspects of society.

We deny that AI will make us more or less human, or that AI will ever obtain a coequal level of worth, dignity, or value to image-bearers. Future advancements in AI will not ultimately fulfill our longings for a perfect world. While we are not able to comprehend or know the future, we do not fear what is to come because we know that God is omniscient and that nothing we create will be able to thwart His redemptive plan for creation or to supplant humanity as His image-bearers.

Genesis 1; Isaiah 42:8; Romans 1:20-21; 5:2; Ephesians 1:4-6; 2 Timothy 1:7-9; Revelation 5:9-10

Article 11: Public Policy

We affirm that the fundamental purposes of government are to protect human beings from harm, punish those who do evil, uphold civil liberties, and to commend those who do good. The public has a role in shaping and crafting policies concerning the use of AI in society, and these decisions should not be left to those who develop these technologies or to governments to set norms.

We deny that AI should be used by governments, corporations, or any entity to infringe upon God-given human rights. AI, even in a highly advanced state, should never be delegated the governing authority that has been granted by an all-sovereign God to human beings alone. 

Romans 13:1-7; Acts 10:35; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 10: War

We affirm that the use of AI in warfare should be governed by love of neighbor and the principles of just war. The use of AI may mitigate the loss of human life, provide greater protection of non-combatants, and inform better policymaking. Any lethal action conducted or substantially enabled by AI must employ 5 human oversight or review. All defense-related AI applications, such as underlying data and decision-making processes, must be subject to continual review by legitimate authorities. When these systems are deployed, human agents bear full moral responsibility for any actions taken by the system.

We deny that human agency or moral culpability in war can be delegated to AI. No nation or group has the right to use AI to carry out genocide, terrorism, torture, or other war crimes.

Genesis 4:10; Isaiah 1:16-17; Psalm 37:28; Matthew 5:44; 22:37-39; Romans 13:4

Article 9: Security

We affirm that AI has legitimate applications in policing, intelligence, surveillance, investigation, and other uses supporting the government’s responsibility to respect human rights, to protect and preserve human life, and to pursue justice in a flourishing society.

We deny that AI should be employed for safety and security applications in ways that seek to dehumanize, depersonalize, or harm our fellow human beings. We condemn the use of AI to suppress free expression or other basic human rights granted by God to all human beings.

Romans 13:1-7; 1 Peter 2:13-14

Article 8: Data & Privacy

We affirm that privacy and personal property are intertwined individual rights and choices that should not be violated by governments, corporations, nation-states, and other groups, even in the pursuit of the common good. While God knows all things, it is neither wise nor obligatory to have every detail of one’s life open to society.

We deny the manipulative and coercive uses of data and AI in ways that are inconsistent with the love of God and love of neighbor. Data collection practices should conform to ethical guidelines that uphold the dignity of all people. We further deny that consent, even informed consent, although requisite, is the only necessary ethical standard for the collection, manipulation, or exploitation of personal data—individually or in the aggregate. AI should not be employed in ways that distort truth through the use of generative applications. Data should not be mishandled, misused, or abused for sinful purposes to reinforce bias, strengthen the powerful, or demean the weak.

Exodus 20:15, Psalm 147:5; Isaiah 40:13-14; Matthew 10:16 Galatians 6:2; Hebrews 4:12-13; 1 John 1:7 

Article 7: Work

We affirm that work is part of God’s plan for human beings participating in the cultivation and stewardship of creation. The divine pattern is one of labor and rest in healthy proportion to each other. Our view of work should not be confined to commercial activity; it must also include the many ways that human beings serve each other through their efforts. AI can be used in ways that aid our work or allow us to make fuller use of our gifts. The church has a Spirit-empowered responsibility to help care for those who lose jobs and to encourage individuals, communities, employers, and governments to find ways to invest in the development of human beings and continue making vocational contributions to our lives together.

We deny that human worth and dignity is reducible to an individual’s economic contributions to society alone. Humanity should not use AI and other technological innovations as a reason to move toward lives of pure leisure even if greater social wealth creates such possibilities.

Genesis 1:27; 2:5; 2:15; Isaiah 65:21-24; Romans 12:6-8; Ephesians 4:11-16

Article 6: Sexuality

We affirm the goodness of God’s design for human sexuality which prescribes the sexual union to be an exclusive relationship between a man and a woman in the lifelong covenant of marriage.

We deny that the pursuit of sexual pleasure is a justification for the development or use of AI, and we condemn the objectification of humans that results from employing AI for sexual purposes. AI should not intrude upon or substitute for the biblical expression of sexuality between a husband and wife according to God’s design for human marriage.

Genesis 1:26-29; 2:18-25; Matthew 5:27-30; 1 Thess 4:3-4

Article 5: Bias

We affirm that, as a tool created by humans, AI will be inherently subject to bias and that these biases must be accounted for, minimized, or removed through continual human oversight and discretion. AI should be designed and used in such ways that treat all human beings as having equal worth and dignity. AI should be utilized as a tool to identify and eliminate bias inherent in human decision-making.

We deny that AI should be designed or used in ways that violate the fundamental principle of human dignity for all people. Neither should AI be used in ways that reinforce or further any ideology or agenda, seeking to subjugate human autonomy under the power of the state.

Micah 6:8; John 13:34; Galatians 3:28-29; 5:13-14; Philippians 2:3-4; Romans 12:10

Article 4: Medicine

We affirm that AI-related advances in medical technologies are expressions of God’s common grace through and for people created in His image and that these advances will increase our capacity to provide enhanced medical diagnostics and therapeutic interventions as we seek to care for all people. These advances should be guided by basic principles of medical ethics, including beneficence, non-maleficence, autonomy, and justice, which are all consistent with the biblical principle of loving our neighbor.

We deny that death and disease—effects of the Fall—can ultimately be eradicated apart from Jesus Christ. Utilitarian applications regarding healthcare distribution should not override the dignity of human life. Fur- 3 thermore, we reject the materialist and consequentialist worldview that understands medical applications of AI as a means of improving, changing, or completing human beings.

Matthew 5:45; John 11:25-26; 1 Corinthians 15:55-57; Galatians 6:2; Philippians 2:4

Article 3: Relationship of AI & Humanity

We affirm the use of AI to inform and aid human reasoning and moral decision-making because it is a tool that excels at processing data and making determinations, which often mimics or exceeds human ability. While AI excels in data-based computation, technology is incapable of possessing the capacity for moral agency or responsibility.

We deny that humans can or should cede our moral accountability or responsibilities to any form of AI that will ever be created. Only humanity will be judged by God on the basis of our actions and that of the tools we create. While technology can be created with a moral use in view, it is not a moral agent. Humans alone bear the responsibility for moral decision making.

Romans 2:6-8; Galatians 5:19-21; 2 Peter 1:5-8; 1 John 2:1

Article 2: AI as Technology

We affirm that the development of AI is a demonstration of the unique creative abilities of human beings. When AI is employed in accordance with God’s moral will, it is an example of man’s obedience to the divine command to steward creation and to honor Him. We believe in innovation for the glory of God, the sake of human flourishing, and the love of neighbor. While we acknowledge the reality of the Fall and its consequences on human nature and human innovation, technology can be used in society to uphold human dignity. As a part of our God-given creative nature, human beings should develop and harness technology in ways that lead to greater flourishing and the alleviation of human suffering.

We deny that the use of AI is morally neutral. It is not worthy of man’s hope, worship, or love. Since the Lord Jesus alone can atone for sin and reconcile humanity to its Creator, technology such as AI cannot fulfill humanity’s ultimate needs. We further deny the goodness and benefit of any application of AI that devalues or degrades the dignity and worth of another human being. 

Genesis 2:25; Exodus 20:3; 31:1-11; Proverbs 16:4; Matthew 22:37-40; Romans 3:23

Article 1: Image of God

We affirm that God created each human being in His image with intrinsic and equal worth, dignity, and moral agency, distinct from all creation, and that humanity’s creativity is intended to reflect God’s creative pattern.

We deny that any part of creation, including any form of technology, should ever be used to usurp or subvert the dominion and stewardship which has been entrusted solely to humanity by God; nor should technology be assigned a level of human identity, worth, dignity, or moral agency.

Genesis 1:26-28; 5:1-2; Isaiah 43:6-7; Jeremiah 1:5; John 13:34; Colossians 1:16; 3:10; Ephesians 4:24