by Rick Love
chris riceChris Rice spent 17 years in Jackson, Mississippi serving in an inner-city neighborhood and, more recently, has spent the last 10 years as Co-Founder and Director of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. He grew up in Seoul, South Korea and is now heading back to facilitate a Northeast Asia Reconciliation Initiative with the Mennonite Central Committee.

I first met Chris in January of 2010 when Jim Mullins and I flew to Duke Divinity School to share with him about the birth of Peace Catalyst. I was impressed with his wisdom and gentleness and noticed that he exuded such peace that he seemed like a bit of a mystic. I liked being around him.

We met again at the Lausanne gathering in Cape Town, South Africa in October of 2010 where he masterfully facilitated the reconciliation track I participated in.

Chris’s three award-winning books are Reconciling All Things (Christianity Today Book Award), the memoir Grace Matters (Publishers Weekly Best Adult Religion Book of 2002), and More Than Equals: Racial Healing for the Sake of the Gospel (Christianity Today Critic’s Choice Award). In my opinion, Reconciling All Things is one of the best books available on peacemaking.

Chris’s latest interest concerns mission drift and recovering the “faith” in faith-based organizations. He recommends three books:

The Miracle, the Message, the Story: Jean Vanier and L’Arche
by Kathryn Spink
A wonderfully written story of a ministry struggling to keep its identity through thick and thin.

Moral Minority: The Evangelical Left in an Age of Conservatism
by David R. Swartz
A history telling a story of evangelical commitment to the least of these

The Ephesian Moment: At a Crossroads in Christian History
by Andrew Walls
Why does diversity matter for growing into the full stature of Christ?

“Those who love peace must learn to organize as effectively as those who love war.”

– Martin Luther King Jr.

 

Most pastors believe that peacemaking should play some significant role in the church. But there seems to be a gap between this belief and the actual practice of peacemaking in most churches. So where does a pastor or Christian leader start? Here are some fundamental peacemaking practices that outline a Bible-sized view of peace. Feel free to share this video with anyone you think would appreciate it.

 

Many Christians, especially missionaries, around the globe have lived under the stress of having dual identities or being “undercover” for Jesus. In this video, Rick Love tells his personal story, what he’s learned about this, and why we at Peace Catalyst place such high value on having one message that makes sense to everyone who listens to us. Listen through to the end – this is good stuff and important for followers of Jesus and peacemakers in every context.

 

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For more Peace Catalyst videos, visit our YouTube channel.

by Rick Love

This is part three is a series on freedom of religion. See here for part 1 and part 2.

Over fifty years ago, President John F. Kennedy gave a compelling commencement address on world peace. In one of his famous quotes, Kennedy declared, “If we cannot end now our differences, at least we can make the world safe for diversity.”

What a profoundly practical definition of peace.

So how do you feel about making the world safe for diversity?

Coca Cola ran an ad for the 2014 Super Bowl celebrating America’s diversity by featuring a beautiful rendition of “America the Beautiful” sung in English, Tagalog, Spanish, Hebrew, Hindi, Keres, and Senegalese-French. I personally was deeply touched, but many Americans reacted negatively.

I understand that everyone struggles with diversity at some level. We don’t like certain beliefs or lifestyles. But diversity is a fact of life in the 21st century, and America is one of the most religiously and ethnically diverse nations on earth.

rick blogI once sat next to an Ayatollah from Iran during a meeting about freedom of religion and at one point in the discussion, he declared, “Everyone has the right to be wrong!” I laughed.

He turned to me and growled, “Why are you laughing?”

I said, “I agree with what you are saying; it just sounds funny when you put it that way.”

It sounds funny, but this pithy saying, “Everyone has the right to be wrong,” describes one of the keys to making the world safe for diversity. It describes a key tenet to promoting and protecting freedom of religion.

Those who hold to exclusive truth claims, like Christians and Muslims, must allow for other viewpoints, no matter how heretical in our eyes.

I attended a conference in the Philippines on Christian-Muslim relations a few years ago. I was one of the speakers, so I eagerly greeted people as they walked in, and a Mormon missionary shook my hand and told me stories of his missionary outreach. “This is a conference for Christians and Muslims. What is he doing here?” I mused silently. I didn’t like the idea of Mormons sharing their “wrong version” of Christianity with Muslims or anybody else.

Followers of Jesus who affirm Christian orthodoxy will never agree with Mormons or Muslims, Atheists or Hindus. But should we protect the rights of those who hold different views than we do?

Jesus said that he was the way, the truth, and the life – the only way to God (John 14:6). Jesus was also known as the friend of sinners who taught that we are to love our neighbors and even our enemies (Matthew 11:19; Luke 15:1-2; Mark 12: 31 Matthew 5:44). In other words, Jesus taught and modelled both exclusive truth claims and inclusive love aims.

Christians, Muslims, and Mormons should all have the right to persuade others about their faith’s exclusive truth claims. But this freedom is forbidden in countries like China, Burma, or Iran. Thus we need to advocate for laws protecting minorities around the world.

It takes more than laws, however, to make the world safe for diversity. Habits of the heart that cultivate civil discourse – such as gentleness and respect (1 Peter 3:15) – also need to be promoted. In a multicultural and multireligious world, we need to learn the art of persuasion instead of coercion, invitation instead of intimidation, dialogue instead of diatribe.

Followers of Jesus are respectful of other faiths and tolerant of other viewpoints not because we minimize the importance of truth. But because Jesus allows people to reject the truth. Because Jesus commands us to treat others as we want to be treated. Because Jesus commands us to love our neighbor as we want to be loved.

So I think President Kennedy and the Ayatollah were right. We need to make the world safe for diversity.

We’ve got some work to do!

Glenn-Stassen-PicLink: Just Peacemaking: The Practices

Recommended Reading: Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War

I first met the late Glen Stassen in 2007 at a human rights conference in Washington DC. He was promoting his book, Just Peacemaking, which I bought immediately. Since that time I’ve had the privilege of working with Glen in many other venues, including the Evangelicals for Peace Summit in 2012 at which he spoke.

The long-asked question concerning the Christian response to war has historically had two answers: pacifism, meaning that war is never justified; and “Just War” theory, meaning that there are certain circumstances which justify killing during war. That was, until Glen Stassen presented his third option: “Just Peacemaking,” an approach focusing on proactively preventing wars from happening in the first place.

Stassen had been advocating for peace since the ’60s, when he participated in the civil rights March on Washington, at which Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Stassen graduated with a degree in nuclear physics, but not willing to contribute to the development of nuclear weapons, he soon gave it up and actually became a key activist against nuclear weapons during the Cold War, later turning his efforts fully toward peacemaking. He earned a Ph.D. from Duke University and has impacted countless lives through his more than 50 years of university and seminary teaching.

Dr. Glen Stassen leaves Christianity and humanity with his profound contribution to peacemaking and the prevention of war, and we think all peacemakers would benefit from studying his work. Among his writings, Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War and Kingdom Ethics: Following Jesus in Contemporary Context (with David Gushee) are two of the most notable.