World peace

Daily Reading for July 12 • Nathan Söderblom, Archbishop of Uppsala and Ecumenist, 1931

It is my belief that “leaving ourselves in peace” with our self-conceit and evil passions does not lead to real peace. Peace can be reached only through fighting against the ancient Adam in ourselves and in others.

Our generation has lived through not only a world catastrophe, but also through a violent inner revolution. People with unshakable faith in progress, believing that the world was on the road to Paradise, suddenly found themselves plunged into the darkest hell of hatred and duplicity. Filled with anguish, we asked ourselves whether the church, which had been called the Prince of Peace, had fulfilled its duty. Had we not sung on every Sunday “Glory be to God on high, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men”? . . . Many of us in different countries and of different creeds, both in the Old World and in the New, asked ourselves this question and realized that more could be done for peace by a Christendom united at least in its most essential principle: to live according to the commandment of love. We also realized that ignorance should be dispelled and that religion and morality should be based on the following two major premises: (I) the commandment of love transcends all frontiers, as enunciated by the Savior in the parable of the Good Samaritan, the son of a hated neighboring people; and (2) the Christian concept of justice is generated by a continuous process of divine creation, as are the sanctity and the dissemination of Christian justice. . . .

If efforts toward peace are to get anywhere, they must be more realistic than in the past. The question is not whether one is orthodox in conforming to some peace formula or other, but whether one does something to promote peace. No road to peace exists other than that of the narrow path whose name is conversion. All men of goodwill ought to unite in perceiving this. We must not allow ourselves to be lulled into any monistic peace dream. We must struggle to win peace, struggle against schism, against the mad measures of fear, against the ruthlessness of Mammon, against hatred and injustice. This fight must be directed primarily toward the primitive man within us. Impatient minds may perhaps find such a concept hopeless, pessimistic, and old-fashioned. But we must face reality. The noble and practical measures for world peace will be realized only to the extent to which the supremacy of God conquers the hearts of the people.

From the Nobel lecture “The Role of the Church in Promoting Peace” delivered at the University of Oslo by Nathan Söderblom on December 11, 1930; found at

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