Just Peacemaking Theory

Friday, September 01, 2006

Love of enemies is at the center of what the cross means. While we were God's enemies he gave his life for us. Frustratingly though the discussion seems to get forced into a dichotomy of either fighting and hurting and wrath or inaction. This is how the classic dilemma of the cross is presented: God should act in wrath, but wants to show mercy. But if this means inaction that would be unjust.

This dichotomy is not just on a theological realm but comes into every sphere of conflict. Should we bomb the terrorists, or do nothing? In love of enemies God found a way to do something that would reconcile rather than destroy us. With the current spirit of war in our country I am always looking for real alternatives to war and bloodshed. Going beyond just saying what is wrong and presenting a real alternative. I discovered something called Just Peacemaking Theory which does just that.

Twenty-three Christian ethicists, international relations scholars, conflict resolution specialists, theologians, one New Testament scholar, and a handful of Peace Action leaders, have been working for five years to create what they call Just Peacemaking Theory. Just Peacemaking Theory goes beyond the debate of whether war is justified or not, and instead offers ways to prevent war and create peace based on techniques of diplomacy, conflict resolution, repentance, reform, and nonviolent action. They have summed these up into 10 practices that have been empirically proven to prevent wars and end conflict around the world.

1. Support nonviolent direct action.

2. Take independent initiatives to reduce threat.

3. Use cooperative conflict resolution.

4. Acknowledge responsibility for conflict and injustice and seek repentance and forgiveness.

5. Advance democracy, human rights, and religious liberty.

6. Foster just and sustainable economic development.

7. Work with emerging cooperative forces in the international system.

8. Strengthen the United Nations and international efforts for cooperation and human rights.

9. Reduce offensive weapons and weapons trade.

10. Encourage grassroots peacemaking groups and voluntary associations.

Glen Stassen's webpage at Fuller has a lot more details, check it out.



At 6:56 AM, Blogger Weekend Fisher said...

#1-6 and #10 have my full support. I'm not quite sure what is meant by #7.

#8 assumes that the U.N. will call one side right and another side wrong, and do it justly, and will recognize the superiority of "democracy, human rights, and religious liberty" (#5) over the alternatives prevalent in much of the world. I think we can't afford to be quite that unrealistic in peacemaking efforts.

#9 is going to be observed (at best) by those who favor peace, completely ignored by those who do not. Which is why I'd say, again, we can't be naive; we can't have those who want peace disarming unilaterally while those who don't buy up their weapons.

Don't want to be completely negative though, most of the points sounded good.

At 2:25 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey WF,

Don't know if you saw it or not but Glen Stassen gives more detail to each point here:
click me

I notice you mention a lot people who are "against peace" not cooperating (what you call "unrealistic"). One thing I think is really important about a love of enemies is that if there are indeed our enemies that we cannot assume cooperation and agreement. So love of enemies is a way to break through that hostility and unwillingness and create reconciliation and peace. I believe from what I've read of Stassen that this is his view as well, so none of these points assumes cooperation, but instead is actively moving towards reconciliation in a uncooperative hostile environment.

At 3:41 PM, Blogger Weekend Fisher said...

I clicked over to the link and read up on what he's talking about. And don't get me wrong, I'm very much in favor of loving our enemies. However, I don't trust the U.N. further than I can throw them. I would generally be much happier with that list if it didn't assume so much about the U.N. (And again, I think it's one thing to refrain from using force when it is ethical to do so, and another thing to disarm and make yourself incapable of defense.)

But on the U.N.: I think holding governments accountable for actions, decisions, stances, follow-through (etc.) is vital to good government. But who oversees the U.N.? And already they have much to answer for on their record ...

None of which, I hope, should detract too much from the main point that actively pursuing peace -- even against those hostile -- is a good thing.

Straight up, Sharky, do you think the U.N. has been blameless, or always on the right side? And -- I know full well that nobody else is blameless either; that's why we were looking for another entity in the first place, wasn't it? So what happens to checks and balances if we make the U.N. into a government from which there is no appeal? What happens when the time comes when they get it wrong? And that time will inevitably come.

And back to where I started, based on various things already on the U.N. record I don't trust them further than I could throw them.

At 12:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"who oversees the U.N.? And already they have much to answer for on their record"

If I took what you say about the UN and swapped the word "UN" with "USA" would you agree with that assessment?

I totally agree with what you say about checks and balances and accountability, I just think that you are worried about the wrong entity if you think the UN is the big problem.

At 9:17 PM, Blogger Weekend Fisher said...

Of course the U.S. has plenty to answer for. And there's election day and a highly-motivated watchdog section that comes with the U.S. of A.

No, really, how many planned campaigns have happened while the U.N. turns its back, or under the noses of its peacekeeping forces? How many of the human rights violators do they actually pursue, and what's the difference between the ones they pursue and the ones they don't? "The U.S. is just as bad" isn't exactly an argument to trust the U.N. There's no accountability there. It's bound to go bad, and (given Murphy) probably fairly often.

At 10:19 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...


I seems that what you criticize about the UN is not things they have perpetrated but with what they have failed to hinder (as opposed to the US who has actually perpetrated crimes).

That being the case, I don't really understand why you would mistrust their motivations or intentions as one would if they had committed crimes or actively encouraged them. Seems to me that what would be needed would be to strengthen their effectiveness.

At 2:48 PM, Blogger Weekend Fisher said...

There are claims that I think worth investigating that they have at least enabled crimes. And here's the thing: who investigates claims against the U.N.? To whom are they accountable?

I don't see the "U.S. v. U.N." thing as an either/or. I don't think we can afford to be picky about where we make our stand for good. Has to be everywhere, doesn't it?

Anyway, I'll keep an eye out for what you have to say about Bonhoeffer.

Take care & God bless

At 12:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"who investigates claims against the U.N?"

I don't want to sound like a cheerleader for the UN, I certainly agree with you that every political body should be accountable, and am sure that the UN is fallible.

But I would think that since the UN is made up of lots of countries that it would be by nature democratic and thus have a natural checks and balances system built in since any country can bring up a grievance. It also abides by several charters as well and answers for them. There are lots of examples of self-investigation: police internal affairs, courts, congressional investigations, etc. I would think they would have a similar process with a committee made up of several countries.

So I guess I don't really get what the problem is. What "enabling of crimes" are you talking about specifically?

At 9:27 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ron Sider, at a Mennonite gathering in 1984, expressed his vision of an army of peacemakers that would give their lives for peace just as so many others give them for war. The text of his message is at http://www.cpt.org/publications/sider.php. His concept was based on his understanding of the Gospel, and has resulted in the formation of Christian Peacemaker Teams.
Desmond Tutu, who knows much of both war and peace, would say the whole possibility of peace among humans depends on one component of item 4 of the "Just Peacemaking Theory", forgiveness. I think this team of scholars, theologists, etc. needs to move forgiveness to the top of their list rather than hiding it in the middle. But, it's easier to assemble a formula than to build peace in one's own life. And, since forgiveness is always a personal act, rather than a cultural, all of the committees philosophizing and formulating will have less impact than a few living examples. A note about unilateral disarmament: that was Jesus' approach. Depending on what you believe about substitutionary atonement and imitating the Savior, you may or may not feel God's call to do the same. Don't forget, however, that for much of Christian history, martyr and saint meant much the same thing. And, there are places in the world today where that is true even now. We in America are too fond of the saying "Being a Christian doesn't mean you have to be a doormat".
Finally I don't see what the United Nations has to do with it. It seems to have deteriorated (if it was ever anything else) into a stage for diplomatic posturing and bullying, along with a good dose of corruption. And it's not just us Americans who abuse the organization in that manner.

At 12:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Anon, thanks for the comments. Very challenging stuff. I read about a Christian peacemaker who was martyred in Iraq that was very moving.

On forgiveness, I agree with the idea of love of enemies - that is asking "how can we reconcile and end our hostility, what can I do to make peace?" the question is: what is the best way to communicate this?

You have good company in your dislike for the UN. I think the point is not to endorse a particular organization, but to move in the direction of international democratic bodies that can stand up for international human rights and justice rather than leaving it to the interests of nations (who operate on their own self interests rather than for the least or for justice).

At 10:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fuller has changed the URL for Glen Stassen's web page. It is now http://www.fullerseminary.net/sot/faculty/stassen/cp_content/homepage/homepage.htm.


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