Author's Preface
The Jesus Factor in Justice and Peacemaking

This book was envisioned originally with a specific audience in mind, namely, the cross-cultural international inter-religious group studying at the Center for Justice and Peacebuilding at Eastern Mennonite University. That group is highly diversified, representing many nationalities, cultures, and religions, and it cannot be expected that they will be intimately acquainted with all complexities of American religious culture. Most of them, including Americans from various Christian backgrounds, have little knowledge of the biblical or theological grounding of Christian concepts of peace and peacemaking.

Religious figures from the Hindu Gandhi to the most rightwing evangelical Christians may lay claim to the words of Paul in Ephesians 2:14, “He [Jesus] is our peace [who] has . . . broken down the dividing wall, that is, the hostility between us,” but their interpretations of the meaning and implications differ widely. With this in mind I have tried to locate my approach within the wide variety and nuances in the North American Christian understanding of peace, at the same time recognizing the significant contributions that other religious traditions have made.

As the months of writing and rewriting, which eventually turned into several years, passed I began to focus the approach more directly on the American situation, realizing that the United States religious scene is a virtual potpourri of religious concepts. So what role does the first-century Jesus play in contemporary Christian understandings of peacemaking? How do his concepts of peace relate to those of the Vietnamese Buddhist Thich Nat Hahn, for example, who shows great reverence for Jesus in his quest for peace? More specifically, how does Jesus factor into the politicized process of professional conflict transformation and peacebuilding? That is the subject of this book.

—C. Norman Kraus
Harrisonburg, Virginia

 

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