Reports from the Evangelical Peace Summit

Reports are coming in about the Evangelical Peace Summit held this past weekend. Here’s one from an Australian outlet. Here’s one that sings the praises of Mennonite missiologist David Shenk. Most speakers emphasized evangelical peacemaking as a Jesus-centered initiative more than a social project. Rick Love, one of the conveners, compiled a list of how speakers made this connection:

For Lisa Sharon Harper, Jesus is at the center because our response to terror is modeled after his: building friendships that invite into the better way of enemy love, just as Jesus did with his own revolutionary-minded disciples.

For David Gushee, Jesus is at the center because he models neighbor love that rejects the bloated military budget of the warfare state.

For Governor David Beasely, Jesus is at the center because he relentlessly calls all people to himself, in spite of the trappings of religion and politics.

For Glen Stassen, Jesus is at the center because he provides the transforming practices that make for peace, delivering us from the vicious cycles of revenge and hatred.

For Douglas Johnston, Jesus is at the center because he calls us to genuine respect for our Muslim neighbors, their faith, and their scriptures, rather than simply toleration.

For David Shenk, Jesus is at the center because the communities of his followers around the world testify to the power of the cross as they build peace with their Muslim neighbors, especially in contexts of conflict like Nigeria, Indonesia, and Iran.

For Lisa Gibson, Jesus is at the center because he makes forgiveness possible, both for our own sins and for the sins of our neighbors, which is the foundation of reconciliation.

For Sami Awad, Jesus is at the center because he makes enemy love both a mandate and a possibility, even where there is grave injustice.

For Jim Wallis, Jesus is at the center because his Spirit resides in peacemaking communities, empowering their resistance to the machinations of war.

Evangelical left “plots” a peace summit

The photo accompanying today’s article entitled “Evangelical Left Plots D.C. Pacifist Summit”

Today the Institute for Religion and Democracy’s Mark Tooley denounced the upcoming “Evangelicals for Peace” gathering as “a gabfest uninterested in deep moral reflection and instead seeking the rhetorical satisfaction of denouncing violence and its ostensibly wicked advocates.” Evangelical progressives will likely respond that IRD ignores a long tradition of pacifism (especially pronounced in the early church) and a new and sophisticated literature on “just peacemaking.”

The tussle between the evangelical left and the IRD is long-standing. Here’s a short description in Moral Minority about an incident three decades ago:

In 1983 conservative activists repeatedly disrupted a conference on peacemaking at Fuller Theological Seminary. During a workshop on Central America, one protester shouted his objection to evangelical accommodation with Communist totalitarianism until delegates ushered him out of the room. Another protester berated the 1,700 delegates from a balcony during a plenary session. When the disturbance brought the proceedings to a halt, the audience sang the hymn “Amazing Grace” to drown him out. A display table manned by the Institute for Religion and Democracy urged delegates to sign a “research report” accusing Senator Mark Hatfield and Sojourners’ Jim Wallis of advocating Soviet-style communism. These scenes and what they represented—an increasingly vocal and activist right-wing coalition of Christians—appalled progressive evangelicals.

 

Pacifist Fight Club at Biola

“We will fight for peace, but we will do no violence.”

I don’t normally associate Biola with the evangelical left. But this intriguing group at the conservative evangelical college seems to fit the bill. Biola’s Pacifist Fight Club is putting on events having to with “the least of these,” torture in prison, poverty in Orange County, a book called “War Is Not Christian,” and the dangers of Christian nationalism.

Anybody know who these folks are, where they come from?

Peacemaking for children

If you have kids, you should really buy David LaMotte’s book White Flour. Steve Knight’s review offers a brief synopsis:

“White Flour” is a poem about a day in May 2007 when a group of Klu Klux Klan members rallying in Knoxville, Tenn., were counter-protested by a group of merrymakers, calling themselves the Coup Clutz Clowns. Cries of “White power!” were countered with cries of “White flour!” “White flowers!” Rather than returning hate for hate, this group drowned out hate with humor, brilliantly illustrating the non-violent actions that overpowered the voices of discrimination that day.

LaMotte is a Quaker peace activist and a singer-songwriter. Here’s a video of him reading the book:

An evangelical vision of shalom

Many moderate and progressive evangelicals like to speak of the biblical vision of shalom. Randy Woodley, a professor at George Fox in Oregon, just wrote a book published by Eerdmans called Shalom and the Community of Creation that emphasizes that shalom is not just an absence of warfare. It also includes the concepts of wholeness, safety, soundness, tranquility, fullness, rest, and harmony. Woodley explores these New Testament themes and suggests that the path of Jesus can promote both social and personal health:

reconciliation between Euro-Westerners and indigenous peoples, a new connectedness with the Creator and creation, an end to imperial warfare, the ability to live in the moment, justice, restoration — and a more biblically authentic spirituality.