One of the great political and ethical issues of our day is the question of war and peace. It is both complicated and convoluted. Despair hovers around hearts and minds, for millions expect a nuclear holocaust without the basic hope of afterlife or eternal life.
Today there is a new situation, unparalled in history. Human beings have developed the means of humanity’s own destruction, means that are becoming more and more “effective” and “perfected”—although these are hardly the right words. Since World War II, civilians are no longer just occasionally or incidentally harmed; they have become the target.
Christians believe that war is the result of sin. Since the Fall of man, strife has been a perennial fact of human existence. “Satan delights in war. . . . It is his object to incite nations to war against one another.”—The Great Controversy, p. 589. It is a diversionary tactic to interfere with the gospel task. While global conflict has been prevented during the past forty years, there have been perhaps 150 wars between nations and within nations, with millions perishing in these conflicts.
Today virtually every government claims it is working for disarmament and peace. Often the known facts appear to point in a different direction. Nations spend a huge portion of their financial resources to stockpile nuclear and other war materials, sufficient to destroy civilization as it is known today. News reports focus on the millions of men and women and children who suffer and die in wars and civil unrest and have to live in squalor and poverty. The arms race, with its colossal waste of human funds and resources, is one of the most obvious obscenities of our day.
It is therefore right and proper for Christians to promote peace. The Seventh-day Adventist Church urges every nation to beat its “swords into plowshares” and its “spears into pruninghooks” (Is. 2:4). The church’s Bible-based Fundamental Belief No. 7 states that men and women were “created for the glory of God” and were “called to love Him and one another, and to care for their environment,” not to destroy or hurt one another. Christ Himself said, “Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God” (Matt. 5:9)
While peace cannot be found in official church pronouncements, the authentic Christian church is to work for peace between the first and second advents of Christ. However, hope in the Second Coming must not live in a social vacuum. The Adventist hope must manifest and translate itself into deep concern for the well-being of every member of the human family. True, Christian action today and tomorrow will not of itself usher in the coming kingdom of peace; God alone brings this kingdom by the return of His son.
In a world filled with hate and struggle, a world of ideological strife and of military conflicts, Seventh-day Adventists desire to be known as peacemakers and work for worldwide justice and peace under Christ as the head of a new humanity.
This public statement was released by the General Conference president, Neal C. Wilson, after consultation with the 16 world vice presidents of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, on June 27, 1985, at the General Conference session in New Orleans, Louisiana, USA.