In March 2003, my daughter and son-in-law, Leah and Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, traveled to Baghdad as members of a Christian Peacemaker Team. They were in the city for much of the "shock and awe" campaign before they were expelled by the Iraqis. (Their story is told in Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove's To Baghdad and Beyond, Wipf and Stock, 2004.) When Leah and Jonathan told me and my wife about their commitment to CPT and their call to Baghdad, I realized that I needed a more articulate account of the Christian pacifism that I had been teaching my students for several years.
More recently, we have prayed and held vigils for the CPT members who were taken hostage in Iraq. Many questions have been asked following the death of CPT member Tom Fox and the release of the three other CPTers. Didn't their presence in Iraq make matters worse? How can anyone think that they could contribute to making peace there? Aren't they and other pacifists naïve, idealistic, and deluded?
Such questionsand the complexities that CPT recognizes in its actionsremind us that we need constantly to wrestle with the claims of Jesus and the call to peacemaking as a practice of Christian discipleship.
As we wrestle with this call, we must not reduce peacemaking to a naïve, wimpy practice that draws more on liberal, optimistic views of reality than on the gospel of the Crucified One. There are many wrong ways to argue for and practice peacemaking. These have nothing to do with Christian discipleship. Some of the most vocal opponents and mockers of pacifism misconstrue the practice of peacemaking. But so do some of the representatives of Christian pacifism.
I do not speak for CPT, nor will I address directly many of the questions raised by their presence ...1
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