Violence among Christians or among supposedly civilized states makes some wonder what the Prince of Peace is up to. How can the mass slaughters of the twentieth century, or of more Christian eras such as the Thirty Years War be reconciled with the peace that Christ brings? 

Information overload is part of the problem. Since 1945, wars have declined in intensity and number. The world is at peace now more than it has been in a long, long time. But the newspapers, television, and now the internet make the terrors of war omnipresent.


The total number of American dead in Iraq is less than that of a single day in World War II, or of an hour in the great trench battles of World War I. As populations have grown, the numbers of dead in war have also grown, but the proportions have fallen. 

I am an amateur student of archeology of the American southwest, and for decades archeologists have painted a picture of peaceful societies who learned violence from Christian Europeans.


This is simply false. I have just read Deadly Landscapes: Case Studies in Prehistoric Southwestern Warfare. Violence was endemic among the peoples of the southwest before Europeans arrived. Massacres were common; probably whole nations and languages were wiped out. The book contains a final essay, “Giving War a Chance,” by Lawrence Keeley, author of War before Civilization: The Myth of the Peaceful Savage. There is strong evidence that about 25% of males in pre-civilized societies meet their deaths by violence.  

Christianity has not removed, but has tempered the violence of man. The Prince of Peace is at work, but he has difficult material to work with: us.

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