Peace on Earth?
“If the atom bomb should fall tomorrow on the world, it will be because you quarreled with your neighbor today.”
The foregoing quotation was made by the Revered Father Dominique Georges Pire, a Belgian priest, who received the Novel Peace Prize in 1958, and who has since founded The Heart Open to the World, a nondenominational organization dedicated to teaching young people of all nations how to live together in peace.
The article in which Pire’s quotation is found is in the January 1965 issue of one of our nation’s leading magazines. Along with Pire, the author of the article approached four other of the world’s, so called, most distinguished and knowledgeable spokesmen for peace—all winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, which honors those who, according to the broad specifications for the award, “have done the most or best to promote brotherhood among nations…”
They are Sir Norman Angell, author and journalist, who received the prize in 1933; Lord John Boyd Orr, internationally known nutritionist and agricultural scientist who was the first head of the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization, the prize winner in 1949; the Revered Pire; Philip Noel-Baker, educator and former high official of the British Government, who was the winner of the prize in 1959; and the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference and the latest recipient of the prize.
The Nobel Peace Prize winners were asked several questions on the subject of peace. Paraphrased in brief below, are some of their answers.
On what do you pin your hopes for world peace?
There is a hope for peace in the future because there is the existence of certain qualities that I have encountered all over the world. One of these qualities is goodness. Despite the fact that we live in a harsh world, I dare to affirm that man is fundamentally good. And all men have wishes which are in common. One of these wishes is their yearning for peace. Peace will not come until after tomorrow. But we must struggle for peace today.
Peace can be achieved only when rival political doctrines are marked by toleration. We are beginning to realize that we cannot survive a third world war. Nations must learn to live at peace with one another and then and only then can we hope for peace.
My hopes for peace are based mainly on three things. First is the rapidly increasing number of those in international organizations working for world unity and peace. Secondly there is the growth of international trade which shows that agreements can be reached among nations. My third basis for hope lies in the rapid increase of tourism. People are finding that foreigners, who are bad, really are instead people like themselves with the same wishes and fears.
What makes me most optimistic is the preamble to the test ban treaty and the speeches of the late President Kennedy and former Premier Khrushchev made about it
The greatest hope for world peace today may well be the realization on the part of people all over the world and the leaders of the nations of the world that war is futile. In short, there must be a peaceful coexistence or there will be co-annihilation.
What evidence is there to show that religion has ever been or in the future could be effective in promoting peace and good will among men?
All the great religions of the world have always sought to promote peace and good will among men. In their ethical systems love is always the center. The central message has always been peace and good will among men. But sad it is that too many adherents of a particular faith have only creeds for religion and follow not this pattern for a walk of life.
If brotherhood is to become a reality, religion must somehow get into the thick of the battle and influence the minds of men and women to be true to their ethical insights. But I am sure that if the religions of the world are to bring about peace they must rise to the level of not fighting among themselves. There is a need for individual religions to realize that God has revealed Himself through all religions and that there is some truth in all. And no religion should permit itself to be so arrogant that it fails to see that God has not left Himself without a witness, even though it may be in another religion.
The influence of the later Pope John, of Pope Paul, and of the Protestant leaders shows how important it is in bringing nations to accept the ideas and policies on which peace depends.
And further comments:
There can be no permanent peace, no security against nuclear annihilation, save by the creation of a workable world government.
If governments, instead of collaborating for war, would begin to collaborate in developing the vast potential wealth of the earth, mankind would enter a wonderful new age of economic prosperity and of peace and friendship between nations.
And finally again Father Pire:
If the atom bomb should fall tomorrow on the world, it will be because you quarreled with your neighbor today.
These above quotations are bold, brazen, wicked statements you say? As Protestant Reformed Young People I am sure we all agree to that fact. We cannot look, work, or pray for peace here on earth you say? Surely we agree with that. The desire and prayer for earthly peace is not in harmony with the will of God. We know that the purpose of God is to bring about His kingdom in the way of wars and rumors of war. For thus saith the Lord to His people in Matt. 24:4-8: “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumors of war: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes in diverse places. All these things are the beginning of sorrows.”
It is evident that all these things must come to pass before the coming of the Lord in Glory. When we, therefore, desire that God’s kingdom should come then we must needs pray for wars and rumors of wars to come to pass, because we know that Christ’s Kingdom is coming only through this way.
Certainly there is no difficulty in seeing the folly of praying or desiring peace form war and destruction. From little on we have heard from the pulpit, from catechism, in the school, and in the home that a child of God does not pray and cannot pray for earthly peace.
But is this the end? Do we just say these five Nobel Peace prize winners are wrong because they do not understand that you cannot pray for earthly peace?
No! There is more wrong than the mere incapability to pray for peace on earth. The fundamental evil of these men’s theories is that no one can pray for peace without having peace in his own heart. There is only one kind of peace and that is the peace which only the child of God has in his heart. It is the peace which only the elect sinner has and which only can be given by God through His Son Jesus Christ.
In Matt. 5:9 we read, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
Moses received commandment of God to speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, “On this wise shall ye bless the children of Israel, saying unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee: the Lord make His Face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: the Lord lift up His Countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Numbers 6:23-26. And so throughout the ages and unto us too, God blesses His people and only His people.
And why then are not men like King, Baker, Angell, Orr, and Pire peacemakers, although they profess to be? Simply because they seek peace without the Cross of Christ. God said: There is no peace, saith the Lord to the wicked.
But wicked man continues to build its foundations for peace. It continues to call its peace conferences through religious organizations, political organizations, and brotherhood organizations, or whatever it may be. But all their works are vain and futile. In Judges 6:24 we read, “God is peace.” All peace finds its source in God. There is peace and harmony in God Himself as the Covenant God lives in harmony as Father, Son and Holy Ghost.
Through the sin of Adam, man lost his peaceful life in Paradise, and the world has continued in sin through the ages culminating now in the last days in manifestations of war and unrest.
But the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, our Lord, came to earth. We were dead in sin, destruction, enmity, strife, war, but Christ through the cross annihilated all the war in His children by His blood on the cross.
Now we too as Christ’s children can strive for peace. Oh, we do no act as reformers or good workers. We suddenly don’t preach from street corners or call revival meetings to proclaim that we wish to reform the world.
But we now are peacemakers because we continually fight against the old man of sin which is in us. We do not let our hearts be troubled nor are we afraid. Christ is for us, who can be against us? Our hearts are at peace because we know we are God’s children.
We know then that there is a people of peace. And so too we can hope for a land of peace: the New Jerusalem. It is the city of peace. The city which God has prepared as His throne in the heavens is the place where God dwells. Herein lies our hope for peace. Christ is even now coming on the clouds of heaven to take us home to be with Him, where we will live to glorify God forever in that eternal land of peace.