for the degree of
Doctor of Philosophy
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
10:00 am, Caldwell Hall, Room 125
The Christian, the Church, and Causes of War:
A Systematic Analysis of the World Council of Churches’ Ecumenical Call to Just Peace
Director: Dr. Michael Root, Ph.D.
The World Council of Churches’ (WCC) Decade to Overcome Violence between 2001-2010 included theological reflection and work to overcome all violence. The results can be read in a document called Ecumenical Call to Just Peace (ECJP). ECJP presents a call to overcome violence and establish Just Peace in four distinct contexts: community, ecology, economy and international politics. As causes of violence differ depending on context, however, can such a holistic approach provide a workable solution for various contexts and their specific challenges? My study focuses on the possible contributions of ECJP’s teaching for the states as actors in international politics.
The purpose of my study is to analyze and assess ECJP from the perspective of the causes of war, especially as such causes have been investigated by realist theories of international relations (IR). I transfer the IR approach which unites work for peace and analysis of the causes of war to the study of ecumenical teaching in ECJP. By placing the ecumenical teaching on Just Peace within the scrutiny of IR theory, my study tests the workability of ECJP’s teaching for states as actors in international politics.
The results of my study show that ECJP’s teaching does not provide a workable plan to overcome wars and to establish Just Peace between states. There are four main reasons for this: Firstly, ECJP’s teaching on war’s causes is limited. Secondly, ECJP’s elaboration of international politics is limited. Thirdly, ECJP’s elaboration of international actors is limited, and fourthly, ECJP’s teaching and policy proposals rely on a theology of Just Peace, rather than a political understanding of the challenges which need to be overcome.
My conclusion is, that WCC’s Just Peace suffers from too wide a scope. Without analyzing properly the challenges of a specific context, ECJP is not able to provide workable solutions for that context. A more focused Just Peace should prioritize those contexts, where Christians and churches have real power to make a change.
More About Saarinen
Tapani Saarinen was born in Turku, Finland. He graduated as Master of Music from Sibelius Academy (2002) and as Master of Arts in Education (2003) and Master of Theology (2006) from the University of Helsinki. Having taken classes at the Catholic University of America while studying in 2003-04 at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, he returned to CUA to pursue a doctoral degree in 2009.
Since 2012 Mr. Saarinen has worked as a lecturer at the Teacher Training School of the University of Helsinki. He served as a secretary for the Finnish Ecumenical Council’s Committee of Theological Issues between 2004-2009. Saarinen co-authored religion textbooks for the Finnish elementary schools in 2004-2008 and worked for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland, Council of International Relations in 2004-2014 as an assistant editor of the journal RESEPTIO, which publishes the ecumenical work of Lutheran Church of Finland.