Tag: peacemaking

In Memoriam: Glen Stassen

By Alan Bean

I am gratified to see the many tributes to Glen Stassen that have been appeared in the wake of his death last week.  My wife Nancy and I got to know Glen very well in the late 1970s when we were both students at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  The nuclear power industry was gearing up at the time and a plant was scheduled for construction across the Ohio River in Indiana.  If Glen hadn’t brought this to our attention we would have remained oblivious–(Lord knows, none of our other professors were talking about it).  Instead, Nancy and I found ourselves in Indiana protesting a nuclear plant that, thankfully, was never built.

Glen Stassen was in love with Jesus’ vision of the kingdom of God.  Other professors emphasized Jesus’ kingdom teaching on occasion (I am thinking of Frank Stagg in particular), but Glen built his entire theology on a kingdom foundation.  Some would say he was more an Anabaptist than a Baptist, but Glen would have called that a distinction without a difference.

Glen was one of the most intelligent people on the planet, but that isn’t what anyone remembers about him.  When you dropped by his office, the books were double stacked because the ample shelves couldn’t contain his personal library.  But there was a humility to the man; he was all about converting the ideas of Jesus into action (“praxis” was the word he used).

I will never forget the “ethics luncheons” Glen helped organize at Southern.  On one occasion, Duke McCall, the recently retired president of the seminary, defended American economic policy in South America against the critique of the liberation theologians.  McCall counted the presidents of several international firms among his personal friends, he told us, and they had assured him that the American presence in the Third World was an unmitigated blessing.  Glen didn’t agree, obviously, but he didn’t take the disagreement personally.  Glen didn’t think about whether his shirt was tucked in, whether his hair was brushed, what neighborhood he lived in, or what other people thought of him.  He just wanted to change the world. (more…)

Joe Phelps: Jesus’ Rejection of Violence is the Long-term Answer

Pastor Joe Phelps

By Alan Bean

I attended Southern Baptist Theological Seminary with Joe Phelps between 1975 and 1978.  Joe is now pastor of Highland Baptist Church in Louisville.  My wife and I were members at Highland in the early 1990s while I was finishing up a doctorate at Southern.  There is a good article in the Washington Post describing my alma mater’s messy descent into what former Southern Seminary professor Frank Stagg called “obscurantism”.

In this opinion piece written for the Louisville Courier-Journal, pastor Phelps talks about being invited back to Southern Seminary shortly before the invasion of Iraq to talk war and peace from a Christian perspective.  He quickly realized that he was the token pacifist on a panel of five Baptists.

It was five against one. In the midst of the interchanges I drew the evening’s biggest laugh when I expressed surprise at being more conservative than the seminary’s president because “I take Jesus’ words on war and violence more seriously than he does.”

The laughter was loud and long. It wasn’t a disrespectful laugh. It was, rather, a spontaneous reaction to something that sounded to them too preposterous to be serious.

Here in an auditorium filled with young men being equipped to go out and lead churches across the land in the ways of Jesus, not one of them expressed concern that our country was forming its response to the 2001 attacks based on the visceral reactions of the dominant culture more than from a faithful following of the one they’d pledged allegiance to.

If you are a Christian who thinks pacifism is a laughable position, I urge you to hear Joe out.

Jesus’ rejection of violence is the long-term answer

Joe Phelps

I visited yesterday with a young man who is part of a crew remodeling our house. When I learned that he is an Army reservist who is home for a while from the Middle East and will soon be redeployed there in the coming weeks, I thanked him for his service to our country and spoke of the current dilemma in Syria. (more…)

Kiker: Random Reflections on War and Peace

By Charles Kiker

I’m writing this on the 85th anniversary of the signing of the Kellogg-Briand pact on August 27, 1928. Kellogg-Briand made war on war, declaring that the only legal war in international relations was a war of self-defense. The United States Senate, by a vote of 85-1, ratified that treaty, entered into and agreed upon by the world’s major powers. The United States has never officially abrogated that treaty.

In at least 50 of the 85 years since that pact was signed there have been major conflicts involving one or more of the world’s major powers. In a very, very few of those years could one say the world was without some sort of armed conflict.

So much for international law!

The President has promised that the United States will withdraw from Afghanistan in 2014, bringing to a close this country’s longest war.

But it seems likely that before that war ends, our country will be involved in another, a very messy situation in Syria. (more…)