John C. Rankin (2013)

Shalom is a Hebrew word often used in a transliterated sense for the concept of “peace.” It is the last word in the well known high priestly prayer in the Law of Moses (Numbers 6:24-26):

“Yahweh bless you and keep you; Yahweh make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; Yahweh turn his face toward you and give you shalom.”

The meaning of shalom is much deeper than “peace.” It means “integrity” or “wholeness.” The idea of peace is derivative. And peace is not merely the absence of war or conflict, rather it is the integration of every element in our lives into a cohesive and healthy whole. It is the wholeness of the entire person and social order, in physical, spiritual and economic well-being, is the assumption in the biblical order of creation, that which was given to man and woman in the Garden of Eden, and what was subsequently broken. Thus, in a world full of conflict and war, the only answer lies in the power of redemption that restores to us the original wholeness of the shalom of the biblical order of creation. Jesus, the Messiah and Redeemer, is the Prince of Peace.

The wholeness of the biblical order of creation is unique – all that which is good, true and beautiful – prior to the intrusion of broken trust, the essence of sin.

The Hebrew word shalom encapsulates the reality of such wholeness.

Thus, if we truly care about honest politics in matters of “justice” and “racial” issues, if we care about the same in terms of the environment, then shalom is where we must start. The wholeness of the given shalom in the biblical order of creation is broken by sinful nature, and healed in the first and second comings of Jesus.


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House of Lords 17 October 2017

Text of John Rankin’s address on the occasion of the 500th annive5rsary of the Reformation.