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A better way than war

Originally printed as an editorial in the Christian Science Sentinel

In the aftermath of war, it becomes clear once more that physical force is a blundering instrument for achieving stability or justice. In fact, war only intensifies the conviction that there must be a better way to end hostilities and achieve peace.

That conviction has been alive a long time. Thousands of years ago, a Hebrew prophet described a "Prince of Peace," who would establish justice through wisdom and spiritual understanding (see Isa. 9:6). And St. Paul outlined a means of victory that involves no bloodshed: "For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds; casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" (II Cor. 10:4, 5).

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Again and again, the wisdom of the ages tells us that the power of God and obedience to what is right withstand, and ultimately unloose, the iron grip of cruelty. Yet war always presses the questions, Doesn't force have to be met with force? What good is spirituality in the face of brutality?

Here, the human mind reaches an impasse. To move beyond it requires nothing less than a fundamental change of perspective. Paul described this perspective when he indicated that those "strong holds" we confront are not physical and personal, as they appear to be, but rather are "imaginations."

The early followers of Christ Jesus, Paul among them, were no strangers to violence. Yet, even when they were victims themselves, they maintained that the crucial battle is not fought against people and with weapons. It's waged in the realm of consciousness, with the cutting-edge power of prayer and understanding. These people recognized the primary evil of the world to be wrong thinking, "imaginations," to be destroyed with truths like the ones Jesus taught and lived.

News analysts emphasize that hatred is deeply entrenched between certain peoples. We can't be naive about the persistence that's necessary to eliminate it. Yet no matter how firmly rooted in human thinking any hatred appears to be, its hold is actually tenuous. Evil can't really possess anyone. That's because at the most basic level the creator determines the nature of all identities, and the creator is God, who is entirely good. Goodness is indelibly stamped in the hearts of God's offspring. The spiritual method of warfare is to see this truth with such laserlike clarity that it utterly cuts through the imagination that cruelty can control anyone.

When I was in college, a glimpse of each person's unerasable likeness to God protected me from rape. I could not escape the man who threatened me or overpower him physically. Right through my fear, I reached out to God for help. The idea came to speak to this man as a child of God. I told him that God was our Father. That I was his sister, and he didn't want to harm me or anyone. I know it wasn't just the words that touched him. It was the power of the truth awakening him to what he intuitively knew was his real nature. He began to cry - and thanked me. Then he left quietly.

That experience encourages me to pray with the same kind of spiritual understanding for victims of terror wherever they are. God's love and power are right there to give them the ideas they need, and to heal them. God's law of goodness governs all creation. It's even within the hearts of those who are currently victimizers. And its power can stop aggression, bloodshed, crime.

In 1904, at a time of war between Russia and Japan, Monitor founder Mary Baker Eddy said: "God is Father, infinite, and this great truth, when understood in its divine metaphysics, will establish the brotherhood of man, end wars, and demonstrate 'on earth peace, good will toward men' " ("The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany," pg. 279). The time has never been riper to commit to this better way - to the exercise of spiritual power.

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You can visit the home page of The First Church of Christ, Scientist:

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