When Christians gather to talk about war and peace, the ensuing discussion tends to veer either toward naïve pieties about Christians as peacemakers or toward cynical worldliness and accommodation. Last week, March 15-17, Wheaton College's Center for Applied Christian Ethics (CACE), with support from the Pew Younger Scholars Society of Wheaton College, held a conference on "Christianity and Violence" that sought to go beyond these superficial alternatives. While liberation from the old formulas was not complete, the conference succeeded to a remarkable degree in achieving that goal. Ken Chase, director of CACE, assembled a stellar roster of participants, including, among others, Glen Stassen (peace activist and editor of Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War), Regina Schwartz (author of The Curse of Cain: The Violent Legacy of Monotheism), Richard Mouw (president of Fuller Theological Seminary, who gave a superb paper on violence and the atonement), historian Mark Noll, and theologians Miroslav Volf, Stanley Hauerwas, and John Milbank.Hauerwas did not disappoint those who came prepared to relish his provocations. But his most useful intervention, made in a dialogue with Milbank following their lectures, was a gesture of reconciliation. He said Christian pacifists need to learn how to respect and honor their fellow believers who conscientiously dissent from pacifism (while stressing that in his judgment, such conscientious dissent is not the rule). The same, of course, goes for the other direction. This may seem a rather small matter, but in fact such mutual respect among Christians who disagree about recourse to violence has been sadly lacking—a lack evident even at the conference in the responses of some students, ...1
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Peace Be With You
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