Mission – Violence and Reconciliation
This is a book to be read carefully and often; to absorb, share at length, and hopefully translate into living. Mission, violence and reconciliation have been ever-present challenges in our faith from the earliest days. These papers, from writers of differing denominations and experience, all powerfully represent the need for a changed interpretation of mission in a world where violence is different, and our concept of reconciliation must be explored in the context of reality. We need to listen to them all.
Robert Schreiter’s 'lone' coverage of the initial section, a third of the book’s length, is well justified by the strength and sensibility of his argument. Vatican II Professor of Theology at Chicago University, he brilliantly explores new understanding of Paul’s emphasis on God in Christ 'reconciling the world to himself', and its relevance in missionary training today.
This is about even more than the need for overcoming violence in the contemporary world; it is a revelation of how God relates to our world and views its destiny.
Here, five writers are each involved in situations where a 'cease-fire' has been achieved in armed conflict, but conflict itself remains. We enter the Northern Ireland dilemma through the experience of three different writers. Cecelia Clegg, of the Irish School of Economics, searches the task of 'cross-culture mission' and the oft-missing dialogue of 'repentance, forgiveness and self-emptying'. David Porter, as Director of Evangelism Contribution in Northern Ireland, knows that the Belfast Agreement of 1998 is 'not about reconciliation but about political accommodation. The Church cannot be peacemaker until it is prepared to understand the deep anxieties within its own community which produce the conflict'. Drew Gibson, a Presbyterian Minister teaching in Belfast Bible College, knows that often mission and violence have gone hand in hand. He has urgent things to say about a particular kind of evangelical theology in Northern Ireland, lacking in social involvement.
In Malawi, Kenneth Ross has experience of fighting the forces at work beneath fighting ethnic groups, with the concept of partners in mission through Christ’s reconciling grace.
In Nicaragua, Margaret Raven, an Anglican Priest, now tackles new divisions formed as émigrés return.
This section is a vital testament of hope. Jacques Matthey (World Council of Churches), Kenneth Fleming (Scottish Episcopal Church) and Andrew Wingate (Anglican Canon in Leicester) work to prove possible this reconciliation among and between Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu, Jew and Christian. Sacrificially won results remind us that Christ’s way of reconciliation is the only battle worth fighting.