Christian Conciliation International (CCI) purposes to educate and assist Christians to resolve disputes in a conciliatory rather than an adversarial manner based on the principles of the Word of God. CCI also seeks to reconcile those who have been alienated by conflict and to help them learn how to change their attitudes and behavior to avoid similar conflicts in the future. Christian conciliation is a process for reconciling people and resolving disputes in a biblical manner. It encourages honest communication and reasonable cooperation rather than unnecessary contention, advocacy and war.
The Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 4:3: "Strive to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." That is the goal of Christian Conciliation and also the goal of this ministry. The word "strive" is the strongest word Paul could use to describe the energy peacemaking requires among the people of God. Sometimes believers "strive" in the wrong way. Often Christians need the assistance of others in order to resolve a disagreement (Matthew 18:15- 17; Philippians 4:3; I Corinthians 6:1-8). Striving to "keep the unity" means seeking that help in situations where the conflict is not successfully resolved privately. With the promise of God's blessing on peacemakers (Matthew 5:9; James 3:18), conciliation can move ahead with the confidence that it is indeed the will of God. It is also a powerful way in which God marks out His people as uniquely His own, distinct from all others. We believe that such a witness can happen today where Christians are committed to following the Prince of Peace. CCI exists to educate and assist Christians in fulfilling that purpose.
When Christians cannot resolve their differences privately, God commands that we turn to the church rather than to the civil courts. Unfortunately, many Christians are unaware of this command or believe that it no longer applies today. Worse yet, many churches ignore this command and do nothing to help Christians settle their disputes in a biblical manner.
This failure was specifically noted by Chief Justice Warren Burger in 1982:
"One reason our courts have become overburdened is that Americans are increasingly turning to the courts for relief from a range of personal distresses and anxieties. Remedies for personal wrongs that once were considered the responsibility of institutions other than the courts are now boldly asserted as legal "entitlements." The courts have been expected to fill the void created by the decline of church, family and neighborhood unity."
Referring to Paul's rebuke in 1 Corinthians 6:1-8, Associate Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia made this observation:
"I think this passage has something to say about the proper Christian attitude toward civil litigation. Paul is making two points: first, he says that the mediation of a mutual friend, such as the parish priest, should be sought before parties run off to the law courts.... I think we are too ready today to seek vindication or vengeance through adversary proceedings rather than peace through mediation... Good Christians, just as they are slow to anger, should be slow to sue."
Thank God that a Justice of the United States Supreme Court has such a high view of Scripture! Justice Scalia reminds us that Paul's instructions to the Corinthians are as relevant today as they were two thousand years ago.
When Paul commanded Christians to resolve their disputes in the church, he had a specific process in mind. Jesus had already established a format that Christians are to follow when they are dealing with sin and conflict (see Matt. 18:15-20). This process involves private discussions, a type of mediation, and authority to make a binding decision. There are many benefits to resolving conflicts in Christian conciliation rather than the courts or on the battlefield. Litigation usually increases tensions and often destroys relationships. War results in needless death and destruction. In contrast, conciliation can actively encourage forgiveness and promote reconciliation, thus preserving valuable relationships. Furthermore, a court process usually fails to deal with the underlying causes of conflict. In fact, the adversarial process, which encourages people to focus on what they have done right and what others have done wrong, often leaves the parties with a distorted view of reality and may actually ingrain the flawed attitudes that caused the conflict in the first place. In contrast, conciliation can help people identify root problems. Once the personal issues are resolved, the legal issues can often be settled with little additional effort. At the same time, conciliation can help people change harmful habits so they will experience less conflict and enjoy healthier relationships in the future.
The results of conciliation bring praise to God by revealing his peace, goodness, and power. At the same time, we improve our ability to tell others how they can be reconciled with God through Christ (see 2 Cor 5:18-20). For these reasons alone, we should make every effort to resolve our differences outside of a courtroom and off the battlefield.
For further information, or for assistance in dealing with conflict, email: Mick_Bandy@Christian-Conciliation.org