“God and war are incompatible”

“God, as He meets us in Jesus Christ, and war are incompatible.” Bishop emeritus Dr. Friedrich Weber (photo center left) , President of the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe, used these words to open the central service of worship in Gunsbach, Alsace, commemorating the outbreak of World War One. At the same time, Weber reminded those present of the many Protestant theologians who sanctioned their own country’s entry into what they deemed a “just war” in theological terms, but also recalled those members of the national and free churches who convened as late as 1st August 1914 at a meeting in Constance to search for pathways for peace and routes to reconciliation, but whose voices went unheard. He called for God’s blessing upon the continually vital processes of reconciliation and emphasised that “the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe will not be deterred by the ongoing flair-ups of armed conflict, including those in Europe, from its promise and mission to follow the Gospel,” for: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9). Citing the World Council of Churches from 1948, that “According to the will of God there should be no war,” Dr. Irmgard Schwaetzer, President of the EKD synod, observed that these words are “so clear and yet so difficult to enact” and called for resistance against the spirit of violence and for the propagation of peace. Schwaetzer expressed her appreciation for the generally peaceful coexistence of the European nations these days, whilst recalling that this peaceful order cannot be taken for granted. Given that conflicts are still being fought with armed force in Europe to this day, she continued, the call for peace remains as urgently vital as it has ever been. The invitation to this central service of worship on 3rd August 2014 was issued by the Community of Protestant Churches in Europe (CPCE), the UEPAL (Union des Églises protestantes d'Alsace et de Lorraine) and the EKD (Evangelical Church in Germany). Some 200 worshipers attended the service in Gunsbach, Alsace, right beside the battlefields of the Linge and Hartmannswillerkopf. Military bishops offered prayer for forgiveness, and young people from an EKD youth camp and serving volunteers from twelve nationalities travelled there to join the worship, where they performed the Kyrie to motifs of war. Leaders of German and French churches were also in attendance, along with the EKD’s peace commissioner, representatives of several national governments and delegations from France and Scotland.
Photo: epd Bild

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