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Can We Make a Deal for Peace?

By Editorial Staff
Published April 3, 2008

By Lee Grady

During the Vietnam War, American students protested by wearing love beads and peace signs, or by celebrating the coming of the Age of Aquarius by burning their draft cards. Today, the approach is much more sophisticated. In the progressive ’80’s, a growing number of students are enrolling in a popular new study program concentrating on world peace. What was once taking place rather noisily on campus lawns has now quietly moved into the classroom.

Newsweek on Campus (October 1987) reports that world peace is now vying for a legitimate place of its own in the college curriculum. Today, more than 100 schools are offering majors or minors in peace-related subjects. Students at Boston College can take an undergraduate concentration in peace, while University of Hawaii students can major in International Peacemaking. At Wayne State University, the peace curriculum offers electives in “The Philosophy of Peace” and “Race Relations in the Urban Society,” while other campuses actually conduct live video dialogues about peace with students in Moscow as a part of the classroom experience.

According to Robert Holt, a psychology professor who pioneered the addition of a peace studies minor at New York University (NYU) two years ago, courses in peace have been growing rapidly since 1980. Many of the courses focus on the 20th century history of the West, with emphasis on U.S./Soviet relations. At the University of California/Berkeley this year, students could take advantage of a special peace studies course on resolving the conflict between North and South Korea.

But critics of the new trend warn that most of the peace curricula in current university programs are biased toward left-leaning, anti-nuclear propaganda. Herbert London, a dean at NYU, actually attacked the new minor in 1985 by saying: “In the 1920s, people who taught such nonsense at least had the courage to define their position as pacifism. Their views didn’t masquerade as a new scholarly discipline.“1

Definition, Please

There’s nothing wrong with studying about peace or the peacemaking process. We live in a society that is desperately in need of some concrete, workable ways to bring about peace. But before I ever enrolled in a university-level program of study in international peacemaking, I think I would do some preliminary research into the professors in the department and the courses that they teach. My first question would be simple: “How do you define peace?”

One of the greatest problems we face in the 20th century is a distorted definition of peace. To the modern humanist, peace is the state of cease-fire between warring nations. It is the act of disarmament on a national scale, even when opposing nations adhere to diametrically opposite values. It is, in essence, the erroneous notion that nations can live in harmony and still be governed by different value systems. It is the idea that we can all live happily ever after in a pluralistic society – giving every man the right to do whatever he wants or believe whatever he wants, as long as he doesn’t hurt anyone else.

Is that your definition of peace? If it is, then you are by definition a humanist. You believe that almighty Man can initiate a second Eden by hammering out summit agreements, peace accords, and arms negotiations – with the help of the United Nations and other international police forces. The Beatles used to sing a song that expresses succintly the philosophy of the humanist in regards to international relations: “We can work it out.” A similar song was popular among the builders of the Tower of Babel until their work was divinely interrupted.

My dictionary defines peace in this way: “Freedom from civil disturbance or war; harmony in personal relations; mutual concord; freedom from fears, agitating passions, and moral conflict.” Notice the part about moral conflict. Morality is a part of the definition. Morality does not, however, enter into the modern classroom discussion of international peacemaking, nor is it on the agenda at most U.S./Soviet summits.

True peace, therefore, is a state in which there is no conflict of values or morals. It is not just a cease-fire between opposing forces. It is not unilateral disarmament. It cannot be brought about by give-and-take compromises over the summit table. True peace must require surrender on the part of all opposing parties. Only then will there be an absence of moral conflict.

Humanists do not like this definition. It infers that one party is morally superior to another, and this is not a popular opinion among those who think all values are relative. Humanists believe in the doctrine of moral equivalence, for example, when addressing the conflict between the Soviet Union and the United States. They believe that these two countries represent two large superpowers which have basically identical value systems. They equate the invasion of Grenada with the invasion of Afghanistan. And they assume that if the leadership of our two nations would just meet together over lunch, and promise to eliminate all of our deadly weapons, our problems would be solved.

To the humanist, peace is really pacifism. My dictionary accurately defines pacifism as “opposition to war or to the use of military force for any purpose; an attitude of mind opposing all war and advocating settlement of international disputes entirely by arbitration.” I agree with Dean London of New York University: people majoring in the current “peace studies” programs in U.S. colleges should be called pacifism majors. No professor in any of these universities is offering any way to achieve peace according to the true definition.

The definition of peace was rewritten in this country when progressive educators like John Dewey tried to eliminate the idea of the fallen nature of man from the national psyche. Dewey did not like the idea that man cannot be trusted because he in inherently evil, nor did he appreciate the Christian doctrine that man needs salvation from his sin problem. And so, like all humanists, he decided to ignore that fact, and to strike it from the nation’s textbooks. It did not seem such a dangerous idea in the 19th century classroom; today, when it comes into play during arms reduction talks, it is deadly.

The Myth of “Value-Free” Peace

We hear a lot of discussion today about a “value-free” society. It has become a popular catch-phrase, particularly among members of the educational community. Their goal is “the value-free classroom” – which was the original goal of John Dewey & Co. Value-free proponents believe that there is a place on earth that can be neutral in regards to ethics and morals.

But there is a major problem with value-free anything. There is no place on this planet that is free from moral requirements. This world operates by laws … not some vague, generalized natural laws, but the specific moral requirements of a benevolent Creator. This world and its inhabitants are totally subject to His authority, and are judged by His standards. You cannot avoid God or His moral requirements by declaring something “value-free” anymore than you can nullify the law of gravity by saying hocus-pocus. Humanists have been trying to pull off this magic trick for centuries … to no avail.

To try to live in a value-free society is to live in total unreality. It is suicidal. It is also just plain stupid. Anti-God rock musician John Lennon used to sing about his humanist utopia by singing “Imagine there’s no heaven / It’s easy if you try / No hell below us / Above us only sky / Imagine all the people living for today.” Lennon lived in a psychedelic dream world, along with a large percentage of his cohorts in the ’60s. And while he was shooting up mind-bending drugs and writing songs about free sex and yellow submarines, the world was racing toward the harsh realities of international conflict. Reality interrupted the music.

Some people woke up from that dream world. Many of the staffers and policy makers in our State Department did not. They are still trying to achieve a value-free peace in their value-free world. They are still trying to “imagine” peace. Christian economist Gary North, in his groundbreaking new book Healer of the Nations (Dominion Press, $8.95), says this: “Modern men have systematically neglected the chief connection and chief division among men and nations: religion. Religion, not politics or economics, is the crucial issue in international relations.” 2

To deny these religious differences – which are clear-cut moral differences – is to live in a dream world. Western leaders actually believe that they can achieve a workable plan for peace without addressing these fundamental differences. If such a policy is pursued for too long, we will wake up one day to the cold, harsh reality of the gulag. If not the gulag, the terror of Islamic Jihad. Communists are working to achieve world peace: peace through worldwide submission to Marxism. The leaders of Islam are working for world peace, too: peace through international allegiance to Allah. What kind of peace are we working for?

We are in a battle for ownership of the world. Western leaders don’t want to admit this. They do not want to appear hostile. But it doesn’t matter whether you believe it or not. It is a reality. The atheists, the communists, the humanists, and adherents of Islam, and the Christians are all vying for the title of world leader. This is why peace cannot be gained through compromises at the bargaining table. Peace must be waged. To deny that we are in an ideological war is to capitulate to the enemy. As long as rival religious ideas remain, men will always be at war. It is silly (i.e., dumb, empty- headed) to discuss peace apart from this context.

Will a Summit Save Us?

Pagan cultures throughout history have always been characterized by the worship of centralized political power. Christian author Gary DeMar calls this phenomenon “the pyramid society.” It is a society in which the people spend the majority of their time working to transform the civil sphere of government to the near exclusion of themselves, their families, churches, schools, businesses, and local civil governments. It is a preoccupation with power, coupled with the idea that political power has the power to save us. 3

(This is why ancient cultures were preoccupied with building towers, pyramids, ziggurats, and other symbols of top-down control. Everyone looked up to the central power for salvation. They worshipped the omnipotent State.)

In modern America, we see this preoccupation with centralized power exhibited by the over-emphasis placed on Washington, D.C., and the leaders who are working in an ever-growing federal bureaucracy. And in the field of international relations, it is evidenced in a preoccupation with summits and peace talks between leaders. We believe that if President Reagan and Mr. Gorbachev would dine together on the top of the pyramid, they could somehow arrive at a magical formula for peace as they look down below at the conflicts of nations.

Gary North, in Healer of the Nations, powerfully refutes this notion by reminding us of the history of U.S. foreign policy. When the Department of State was created in 1789 by President Washington, the staff consisted of six persons. In 1870, slightly less than 100 years later, the entire personnel consisted of only 53 persons – in spite of the great expansion of our borders and growth in population. By 1909 it grew to 202 persons, and rapid expansion ensued after the two World Wars. By 1980, the figure had climbed to 23,497. This included over 3,500 Foreign Service Officers, the elite corps of specialists who staff our embassies and consulates. 4

How, you may ask, could the U.S. function as a world power with such a tiny Department of State for so many years of its history? Who was conducting the summits? Who was monitoring the arms agreements? Who was drawing up the treaties and doing all the research? Who was hammering out the peace plans?

Answer: No one. The United States had made one treaty with France in the 1700s, which was abrogated in 1778. We made absolutely no entangling alliances with any nations during the 19th century.5 Dexter Perkins, a specialist in U.S. foreign policy, writes in his History of the Monroe Doctrine that “nothing is more characteristic of American diplomacy than its general aversion to contractual agreements.“6 On the contrary, nothing could be more characteristic of our present foreign policy than our infatuation over contractual agreements, as well as summits, treaties, alliances, pacts, and deals between world powers. We also have a recent fixation over meddling in disagreements between other nations.

Gary North writes: “This centralization came at the expense of private activities and responsibilities. In the field of international relations, no one before this era had perceived a need for the United States government to send official representatives to every nation or to seek alliances, agreements, and arrangements with every nation. People assumed that private interests would be the basis of the vast bulk of international relations. But in the 20th century, men have lost faith in the power and importance of government-unregulated activities. Nowhere has skepticism regarding private activities been more deeply held than in the area of international relations. In the place of international relations in the broadest sense, we have seen the creation of a vast network of intergovernmental relations.“7

This is the heart of the problem in foreign policy, according to Dr. North. “Voters in the West have passively turned over the conduct of foreign policy to professional diplomats.“8 Now, you may ask: If professional diplomats aren’t supposed to be conducting foreign policy, then who is? That brings us to Dr. North’s most important theme in his book.

The Christian World Order

The Christian view of world peace is simple and forthright: world peace will envelope the globe as more individuals, families, institutions, and nations submit to the gospel of Jesus Christ and embrace Christianity. This process began when Christ defeated Satan at the cross and rose from the dead victorious. The Roman Empire surrendered to Christianity three centuries later – thus ending one of the most tyrannical communist states that ever controlled a human population.

The influence of the gospel went on to civilize Europe and many of its colonies. Christianity spawned political liberty in England and America, and the process continued to bring political liberation throughout the world in the subsequent century. The process continues today. More and more nations are being leavened by the power of the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit in the church.

Dr. North makes an obvious conclusion about this onward progress of the gospel: “If the gospel proves successful, and the Great Commission is steadily fulfilled, and a majority of people convert to Christ in nation after nation, and then they seek to do God’s will in every area of life, won’t we see the creation of a worldwide Christian order that will steadily replace the worldwide disorder of Satan’s divided kingdom?“9

Obviously the answer is yes. This is a central theme throughout the Bible. Global peace through the worldwide reign of Christ is the hope of orthodox Christianity. God fully intends to establish His government – the government of His Majesty Jesus Christ – on earth as it is in heaven. His government will ultimately triumph in every nation as men surrender on His terms. Hatred, strife, and all other other roots of human hostility will progressively be banished from this planet, and the result will be peace.

Practically, foreign policy in this Christian world order will be conducted by missionaries and members of the Christian business and trade community who know how to represent the cause of Christ abroad. Their business as ambassadors of Christ is not to work out terms of compromise; it is to persuade men and governments to surrender to the government of Christ.

The prophet Isaiah spoke of a progressive, worldwide surrender to the gospel when he wrote: “The law will go forth from Zion … and He [God] will judge between the nations, and will render decisions for many peoples; and they will hammer their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war” (Isaiah 2:4).

It is important to note that the act of transforming swords into plowshares takes place after the people of the earth voluntarily confess, “Come and let us go unto the mountain of the Lord, that He may teach us His ways” (v. 3). God is waiting for knees to bow in submission before He resolves international conflict. That is His condition for peace.

North summarizes this idea: “There can never be peace in history outside of Christ. There can be temporary cease-fire agreements, but never a lasting peace. What Christians must understand is that peace is attained through the preaching of the gospel and the discipling of the nations. There is no other way. God will not permit peace on any other terms.“10

Humanists scoff at this idea. Humanists have always tried to downplay or ignore the power of Christ. But God has always opposed their attempts to build their “value-free” Tower of Babel. When He confused and scattered the original builders of that monument, He promised that pagan man would never again be successful in his attempts to build a godless civilization. Satellite technology and media propaganda will not make it any easier in the 20th century. The building permit for Babel has been revoked.

Meanwhile, the deed for ownership of the earth has been issued to those in covenant with Christ. As this redeemed community grows, and as they disemminate this world-transforming message internationally, more and more nations will enter into allegiance to the government of Christ – and thereby enjoy all the benefits of a true, lasting, worldwide peace.

1 Christopher Bellitto, “Peace in the Classroom,” Newsweek on Campus, October 1987, page 21.
2 Gary North, Healer of the Nations: Biblical Principles for International Relations, Dominion Press, c. 1987, Ft. Worth, TX, page 18.
3 Gary DeMar, “The Pyramid Society,” in The Biblical Worldview, November 1987, American Vision, Atlanta, GA, page 1.
4 North, page 15. 5 Ibid., page 17. 6 Ibid., page 15.
7 Ibid., page 17. 8 Ibid., page 18. 9 Ibid., page 94.
10 Ibid., page 119.

Note: The author highly recommends that any serious student of peace read Dr. North’s book. Even if you are not a Christian and disagree strongly with his conclusions, his ideas deserve a fair hearing in the classroom debate. Order your copy from Dominion Press, P.O. Box 8204, Ft. Worth, TX 76124. A special offer has been made to all readers of The Forerunner: You can purchase your copy for $5.00 rather than the $8.95 retail price.

1 Christopher Bellitto, “Peace in the Classroom,” Newsweek on Campus, October 1987, page 21.
2 Gary North, Healer of the Nations: Biblical Principles for International Relations, Dominion Press, c. 1987, Ft. Worth, TX, page 18.
3 Gary DeMar, “The Pyramid Society,” in The Biblical Worldview, November 1987, American Vision, Atlanta, GA, page 1.
4 North, page 15. 5 Ibid., page 17. 6 Ibid., page 75.
7 Ibid., page 17. 8 Ibid., page 18. 9 Ibid., page 94.
10Ibid., page 119.

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