Boston Consultation: “We Find Christ Anew in the One Who Offends Us Most”
I’m still contemplating three invigorating days last week at “Teaching Religion, Conflict Transformation, and Peacebuilding: A Consultation of Educators,” held at the Boston University School of Theology. I love Boston, and it was a refreshing space with people committed to being more than theoretical, including a couple Jewish leaders I really enjoyed meeting.
Three things I’m thinking about:
First, while the church’s many conflicts are cutting the knees out of our credibility, convenor Tom Porter’s claim that “we’re in the early stages of a movement” putting peace witness at the heart of Christianity struck me as true. Regarding “early stages” Tom cited Willard Swartley’s recent, important book Covenant of Peace: The Missing Peace in New Testament Theology and Ethics. Regarding the “movement” part I have written about emerging “communities of the restless.” The BU gathering was another example.
A second challenge: peacemaking is about who we become, not just what we do. There is a growing professionalization of “peacebuilding.” But healing deep wounds is not a technical issue. The consultation raised critical questions not only regarding the sustainability of the peacemaker over the long haul (creating social change leads to spiritual exhaustion) but the peacemakers’ conversion. One participant named “the mistaken notion that you can get to justice by bypassing righteousness.” How is peace and justice work rooted not in resistance and judgment but in gratitude, grace, and joy?
Third, Marc Gopin from George Mason University contrasted what is marketed as peace (especially by the academy) versus the wisdom gathered from lives and communities on the ground (Charles Marsh’s work in The Beloved Community is a good example of the latter). Gopin talked about the many “peacemaking geniuses” he meets at the grassroots across the world. A couple great quotes: “Academics kills practice – it makes the theoreticians the experts” and “The genius of a PhD does not require a PhD.”
Finally a word from Jan Love, dean of Candler School of Theology, is bugging me (in a good way):
“We need to move beyond tolerance and beyond offense to engage the profound differences we experience … This is what Paul’s understanding of love means [in 2 Corinthians 13]. We find Christ anew in the one who offends us most”
About the Author: Chris Rice is co-director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. He is author of Reconciling All Things, Grace Matters, and More Than Equals. He writes regularly at the blog Reconcilers.
Last 5 posts on the Reconcilers Blog:
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