Overlooked in the celebrity deaths this August (Ted Kennedy, author Dominick Dunne, Canadian pacifist Muriel Duckworth), has been the passing of one of the major leaders of American Christian pacifism since the Vietnam era: James B. (“Jim”) McGinnis (1943-2009). McGinnis was just ordinary American Catholic boy serving in the Indiana National Guard in 1968 when in brief succession, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy were assassinated and McGinnis’ cousin, a draft resister, was killed in a car crash. Sensing a call from God, McGinnis applied and received a conscientious objector discharge and began resisting the war and shortly became a convinced pacifist.
Along with his wife, Kathleen, Jim McGinnis founded the Institute for Peace and Justice, the Parenting for Peace and Justice Network, and the Families Against Violence Action Network (FAVAN). He continued a life of simplicity, peace protest, and teaching and writing resources for peace education. In 1995, Pax Christi, USA, the largest Catholic peace network, awarded McGinnis their Teacher of Peace Award. His books and resources were used by many of us in many traditions.
On 13 August, going out for his usual morning walk, he had a heart attack and died.
He will be sorely missed by those of us who must continue the work.
Some would say that, like his brothers Jack and Bobby, Ted Kennedy’s real gift was his ability to inspire others. His detractors, and even some of his admirers, would say that his legacy must include the way his personal failings helped in the decline of political liberalism.
But surely a major part of Ted Kennedy’s legacy, as the 3rd longest serving U.S. Senator, was the legislation he helped pass. 15, 235 votes in the U.S. Senate–seldom missing one until this last year with cancer. 2,500 bills authored. 552 co-sponsored bills passed into law (most with a Republican co-sponsor–Kennedy’s ability to search among his ideological foes and find common ground–even if only on a single issue–was legendary).
Here is a partial list of milestone legislation that Ted Kennedy had a hand in passing.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1964. (Introduced in 1961 by JFK and championed by LBJ, Bobby and Ted Kennedy ushered its passage through the U.S. Senate.)
- The Voting Rights Act of 1965.
- The Immigration Reform Act of 1965.
- The Voting Rights Act Extension of 1970.
- The Women, Infants, and Children Nutrition Act of 1972. (The WIC program has been called one of the most successful by advocates against hunger and poverty. Kennedy kept pushing for greater funding so that everyone who qualified could participate, but he was often straining into a headwind which only liked government to spend on military matters.)
- The Refugee Act of 1980.
- The Voting Rights Act Amendments of 1982.
- The Civil Rights Restoration Act of 1987.
- The Immigration Act of 1990.
- The Civil Rights Act of 1991.
- The Violence Against Women Act of 1994 (Introduced and written by then-Sen. Joe Biden (D-DE), but pushed out of committee by Ted Kennedy.)
- No Child Left Behind Act of 2001. (This is one law in which Kennedy felt robbed. Last minute changes were made which he felt hurt the final legislation.)
- Bioterrorism Preparedness Act of 2002. (It is worth noting that Ted Kennedy vocally opposed the invasion of Iraq and refused to vote for its authorization in the U.S. Senate–and was right in all his predictions. This at a time when most of his fellow elected Democrats were afraid of appearing “soft on terrorism” if they didn’t follow Bush off his Iraq cliff like so many lemmings.)
- Enhanced Border Security and Visa Reform Act of 2002.
- Matthew Shephard Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2007.
- Civil Rights Act of 2008.
He has called the battle for universal healthcare in this country the “cause of his life.” He did not live to see that cause come to fruition and he later regretted walking away from a Nixon plan in 1974 that was almost identical to the Obama plan, now, public option in competition with private insurers. Kennedy wanted a single payer system that expanded Medicare to cover everyone and thought he could get it–and never realized until much later that the tides were turning in the other direction. But let us look at the many things he did get accomplished to improve the health or ordinary citizens.
It began shortly after he was elected to the U.S. Senate in a special election to replace his brother, Jack, who vacated the Senate to become U.S. president. A plane crash broke Ted Kennedy’s spine and nearly cost him his life. Because of his wealth, he had fantastic care and physical therapy that led to a nearly full recovery. But he reflected on what would have been the case, had he been too poor to afford this care. So, the first thing he did on return to the U.S. Senate was sponsor the creation of a network of free clinics across the U.S.–but he soon realized that this was not enough. (Note: Lack of federal funding has led most of these to close.)
- Creation of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.
- Medical Device Amendments of 1976.
- Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act (COBRA) of 1985–allows workers whose employers provide them with health insurance to temporarily take that with them if they lose their job or must change jobs.
- Nutrition Labeling and Education Act of 1990.
- Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.
- The Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990 (Ryan White CARE Act. Must be renewed or lapse early this September!)
- National Institutes of Health Revitalization Act of 1993.
- Freedom of Access to Clinic Entrances Act (FACE) of 1994 (Made blocking women from entering health clinics where abortions are performed a federal offense. Abortion opponents can exercise their free speech in opposition, but must not keep women from medical services, including legal abortions.)
- Health Inurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPA).
- Food and Drug Administration Modernization Act of 1997.
- Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) 1997.
- Healthcare Research and Quality Act of 1999.’
- Children’s Health Act of 2000.
- Minority Health and Health Disparities Research and Education Act of 2001.
- Project BioShield Act of 2003.
- Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2005.
- Family Opportunity Act of 2006.
- Minority Health and Health Disparities Elimination Act of 2006.
- FDA Amendments Act of 2007.
- Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act of 2008.
Kennedy also championed things that did not pass–but paved the way for future battles. For over 30 years he championed the Equal Rights Amendment–which would finally end gender based discrimination in America. He championed ending the poll tax in 1964 and lost–but 2 years later the Supreme Court struck down the poll tax as unconstitutional. He pushed for stronger schools–including a shift away from funding public education primarily through local property taxes since these lead inevitably to rich schools and poor schools. He fought for the civil rights of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, and transgendered persons.
Though a military veteran from a family of WWII veterans, Ted Kennedy mostly opposed wars, including pushing for lower military budgets, opposing the Vietnam War, both Gulf Wars, American secret support for “hidden wars,” and nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. He opposed Reagan’s “Star Wars” missile defense program as a violation of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty. He worked against the militarization of space, seeing it as a betrayal of the space program’s peaceful purposes instituted by his brother, Jack. He worked for a full employment economy, even running against Pres. Jimmy Carter (D-GA) in 1980 (contributing to Carter’s loss against Reagan) because Kennedy disagreed with Carter’s fiscal conservatism in the face of massive unemployment. He was a champion of peace in the Middle East and in Northern Ireland, finally living to see that one achieved. He was a champion of religious liberty and church-state separation. Invited to debate these matters with Rev. Jerry Falwell at Falwell’s Liberty University, Kennedy warned against setting precedents for government favoritism in matters of religion since “today’s Moral Majority can easily become tomorrow’s persecuted minority.” He drew the distinction between religious witness to government (which he strongly supported) and the attempt by churches and other religious institutions to use the power of the state to enforce moralities they could not PERSUADE people to adopt themselves.
Yeah. He had his faults. A binge drinker and long-rumored womanizer, he pled guilty to leaving the scene of a fatal accident at Chappaquiddick where he had driven his car drunkenly off a bridge and a woman on his staff died in the car. Many have suspected that he was guilty at least of manslaughter here and the full truth will probably never be known. I grew up in a region where Ted Kennedy’s challenge to Jimmy Carter in 198o resulted in huge sales of “Teddy for Lifeguard” bumperstickers. Years later, Kennedy was drunk (and one witness said walking around pantless!) at his Palm Beach, FL vacation home when his nephew was accused of rape. (The nephew was aquitted and Ted never charged with any crime, but this incident led to a loss of influence for years.)
Shakespeare had Marc Antony say of Julius Caesar, “The evil that men do lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones. So let it be with Caesar.” But I want to plead for the converse for Sen. Ted Kennedy. May the GOOD he did live on after him and multiply and the evil he did–whatever extent that was in truth–be buried along with him. Shouldn’t that be a Christian attitude toward all of us mere mortals?
My friend, David Fillingim, currently Associate Professor of Philosophy, Shorter College, Rome, GA, will be annoyed to find himself listed as a “new voice” in baptist theology because he has always insisted that he “doesn’t believe in theology.” If you press him hard, he’ll break down and admit that what he really means is that he doesn’t believe in systematic theology. A native born Georgian (with a soft drawl that was pleasantly out of place amidst the twangier sounds of Kentucky when I knew David as a fellow Ph.D. student of Glen Stassen at SBTS in the early ’90s) with a Southerner’s Faulknerian sense of narrative, and tragedy, and the giveness of place and people, David knows that theology, like life, is too messy to come in neat systems–and so is God. To me, that makes him a perfect candidate for this series of brief profiles of “not-yet-famous” voices in baptist/Believers’ Church life.
First, the bare facts. Born and raised in the absolutely beautiful seaside city of Savannah, GA, the son of a family physician, Fillingim grew up in the same kind of conservative-but-non-fundamentalist Baptist life that produced former U.S. President Jimmy Carter. He was cross-pollinated by the more radical stream represented by Clarence Jordan and Koinonia Partners (Americus, GA) and Black Baptist life–during a childhood that saw segregation end, and teen years and adult life that never quite saw racism healed. (Glimpses of healing occur across the South, and across the nation, daily, but there are always setbacks.) He was educated at Mercer University (Macon, GA), Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary (Wake Forest, NC), finishing his Master of Divinity there just as the fundamentalists took over that institution. He pursued his Ph.D. in Christian Ethics (under my own Doktorvater, Glen H. Stassen) at SBTS in Louisville, KY–even as the fundamentalists closed in on it. (David said he felt like Jonah, bringing darkness whereever he went!) His major influence include Clarence Jordan, Will D. Campbell, Morris Ashcraft, Elizabeth Barnes, Glen H. Stassen, Paul D. Simmons, Henlee H. Barnette, H. Richard Niebuhr, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Of Bonhoeffer, Fillingim has said that he finds it impossible just to relate to him on an intellectual level, always responding to Bonhoeffer as a novice contemplative responds to a spiritual guide. (There is another set of influences to which we’ll attend in a moment.)
After finishing his academic work, Fillingim taught for several years at Chowan College in North Carolina before coming to Shorter College. He has returned to his home state of GA, but lives now at the opposite end (NW instead of SE) from his childhood home.
Fillingim has written or edited 3 books. Extreme Virtues: Living at the Prophetic Edge with a foreword by Glen H. Stassen (Herald Press, 2003) is a contribution to “virtue ethics” or the “ethics of character” rooted in a study of the biblical prophets. Too much of the literature of virtue ethics, even when written by Christians, is more indebted to the writings of Aristotle (and modern Aristotelians like Alisdair McIntyre) than to the biblical literature, but Fillingim’s contribution is a welcome exception. According to Fillingim, the virtues extolled by the biblical prophets are: self-sacrifice, personal responsibility, justice, steadfast love, hope, courage, and peace. I expect more in this line to come, perhapps from the Gospels, which, following Jesus himself, were deeply informed by the prophets.
Fillingim’s other two books show a second side to his scholarship: the relation of Southern religion to aspects of Southern popular culture, especially musical culture. A guitarist himself, Fillingim wrote Redneck Liberation: Country Music as Theology, Music and the American South series (Mercer University Press, 2003). Here Fillingim stands in company with Methodist theologian Tex Sample in studying blue-collar culture for clues to its religious life. (See Tex Sample, White Soul: Country Music, the Church, and Working Americans [Abingdon Press, 1996], and Tex Sample, Blue Collar Resistance and the Politics of Jesus: Doing Ministry with Working Class Whites [Abingdon Press, 2006].) But Fillingim’s initial inspiration, other than the music itself, and the love of Country music by his icon, the maverick Baptist minister, Will D. Campbell, was Black Liberation theologian James H. Cone’s The Spirituals and the Blues (Orbis Books, 1972, rev. ed., 1992). Fillingim centers on the “hillbilly humanism” of Hank Williams (Sr.), the eschatological hope portrayed in strands of Country music, and the tension between subordinationist and feminist strands among female Country artists. I would like to have seen a chapter on the tension between strands of Country which glorify nationalism, militarism and violence (e.g., Toby Keith or Lee Greenwood) and those which resist these features of Southern culture (e.g, John Denver, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson).
Finally, to this point in the witness of this “new voice,” is More Than Precious Memories: The Rhetoric of Southern Gospel Music, ed. Michael P. Graves and David Fillingim (Mercer University Press, 2004). This edited work is similar in genre to Redneck Liberation but concentrates on Southern Gospel– church approved Southern white music which stands in the same kind of tension with Country music as the Spirituals do with the Blues. Graves and Fillingim co-wrote the introduction “More Than Precious Memories” and Fillingim’s chapters include “Oft Made to Wonder: Southern Gospel as Theodicy,” and Appendix: “Flight from Liminality: “Home” in Country and Gospel Music.” In all these cases we see the recurring Fillingim theme that the distinctive music of Southern culture reflects and illuminates the best and worst of real lives of faith and doubt and brokeness and hope among working class white Southerners.
Fillingim clearly has a strong sense of place: These are my people, no matter what. It is not uncritical and seeks change–away from the historic racism, sexism, heterosexism, militaristic nationalism, and violence of Southern culture. But Fillingim’s loyalties to the South also lead him to see its best features and to feel that they are threatened by globalized mass market “culture” and the acids of both modernity and post-modernity. His is a theology of resistance and hope–that speaks and sings with a soft patrician Georgian drawl. Like Hank Williams, sometimes Fillingim doubtless is “so lonesome [he] could cry,” but is sustained because he “saw the Light.”
Here is a baptist theological voice from the South to watch closely for more to come.
Starting this weekend, I’ll begin this series. Looking at the “not yet famous” important voices in the “baptist” or Believers’ Church tradition. I may start another series looking at other important new voices, but I think it always important to know one’s own tradition, first.
Sen. Edward M. “Ted” Kennedy died last night of brain cancer just before midnight EDT. He was 77. He was flawed: At least at one point in his life, he drank too much and, allegedly, he was a womanizer for some time. It is certain that he left the scene of the car accident in Chappequidick where a female aide drowned. Pride led him to challenge a sitting president of his own party (Jimmy Carter) for president in 1980–taking the fight into the Convention and leaving the Democratic Party divided–at least CONTRIBUTING to Ronald Reagan’s victory. He walked away from a healthcare bill in ’72 that Nixon would have signed that was arguably stronger than anything now on the table because he didn’t think it was good enough.
But Ted Kennedy, whose family saw such grief and tragedy, was also a strong champion of the weak. He who was raised in wealth, constantly fought for the poor. He championed civil rights. Though he, like his brothers, had served in the military, he struggled constantly for peace, to end nuclear and biological and chemical weapons, to cut military budgets in order to pay for things for the common good. He championed the rights of women and of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgendered folk. He stood up for civil liberties. He constantly fought for universal healthcare–and the absence of his voice in the senate this year has been greatly obvious. He fought for teachers and unions and the elderly.
Ted Kennedy was the “liberal lion” who accomplished great things even when his party was out of power because he worked VERY hard.
He also took care of all his many nieces and nephews of slain brothers Jack and Bobby and showed up at nearly every family function.
He was a devout, if very imperfect, Catholic Christian–who understood the “preferential option for the poor,” long before that phrase was coined.
Rest in peace, Ted Kennedy, you will be missed. Who now will take up the torch of the Liberal Lion of the Senate?
As a service, I thought I would list all the U.S. colleges and universities that have programs with names like “peace studies,” “peace and global studies,” “peacebuilding and conflict resolution studies,” etc. I found there were enough that I decided just to list the church-related ones and do the others in a separate post. Typically, such programs are multi-disciplinary involving faculty from several departments including international studies, history, philosophy, religious studies, international law, economic development, and/or political science or sociology. The earliest such programs in the U.S. were in institutions related to the “historic peace churches” (Mennonites, Church of the Brethren, and Friends/Quakers), but it has spread beyond them. Almost all of them include considerable emphasis on language studies and on study-abroad, especially in conflict areas.
American University in Washington, D.C. Private research university related to the United Methodist Church and not to be confused with “American Universities” around the world which are usually sponsored by the U.S. State Department. 4400 Massachussetts Avenue NW, Washington, D.C. 20016. Highly selective and quite expensive. Offers an M.A. in Peace Studies and Conflict Resolution that is highly regarded.
Arcadia University was until 2001 known by the somewhat ridiculous name of Beaver College, which is even sillier when you understand that this co-ed institution began life in 1853 as Beaver Female Seminary. (You can’t make stuff like that up.) 450 South Easton Road, Glenside, PA 19038. Originally founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church, Arcadia today is related to the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), but has an independent board and an ecumenical spirit. Arcadia’s mission is to prepare students specifically for a shrinking, global society. It has a College of Global Studies and students are encouraged to do part of their studies abroad. Offers an M.A. in International Peace and Conflict Resolution. One can also earn a joint M.A./M.P.H. (Master of Public Health) or a Certificate in International Studies presented with another undergraduate or graduate degree.
Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary, 3003 Bentham Avenue, Elkhart, IN 46517. AMBS offers an M.A. in Peace Studies. They also offer this M.A. as a joint degree with a Master of Social Work degree. AMBS’ Master of Divinity degree has a peace and conflict studies concentration available.
Bethany Theological Seminary 615 National Road West, Richmond, IN 47374. This is the official seminary of the Church of the Brethren, one of the Historic Peace Churches. Peace and Justice emphases are found throughout the curriculum, but one can also get a Peace and Justice concentration for either the Master of Divinity or Master of Theology degrees.
Bethel College in North Newton, KS is affiliated with the Mennonite Church, USA. It is a private, 4-year co-ed liberal arts college of about 500 students. Tuition is currently just under $16,000 per year which is below that of most private colleges and about 89% of students receive some form of financial aid. Bethel houses the Kansas Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution which both acts internally to administer the school’s Peace and Conflict Resolution program and externally sponsors projects in international peacebuilding. Offers a minor in Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies or a Certificate in Conflict Management to be added to any other degree program.
Bryn Mawr College. 101 North Merion Avenue, Bryn Mawr, PA 19010. Founded by Quakers and originally a women’s college, Bryn Mawr is still informed by Quaker values. It offers a B.A. in Peace and Conflict studies in a joint curriculum with Haverford College and Swarthmore College. Bryn Mawr’s strong International Studies program is related to this.
Chapman University, One University Drive, Orange, CA 92866. Founded (as Hesperian College) by and affiliated with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Chapman deliberately timed things to begin within one hour of Pres. Abraham Lincoln’s inauguration in order to honor his vision of equal education for all people. It is today a large, comprehensive university with seven consituent colleges or schools. Offers a B.A. in Peace Studies at Wilkerson College of Arts and Humanities that includes a Model United Nations option. Courses in Peace, Conflict and Human Rights are also integrated into the M.A. in International Studies. Other features include the Albert Schweitzer Institute and the Rodgers Center for Holocaust Studies.
College of St. Benedict-St. John’s University 37 S. College Avenue, St. Joseph, MN 56374 is, as its name suggests, affiliated with the Catholic Church. The College of St. Benedict (for women) and St. John’s University (for men) are partnered liberal arts colleges located respectively in St. Joseph and Collegeville, MN–about 3 miles apart. Students attend classes together at both institutions. They jointly offer a B.A. in Peace Studies.
Creighton University 2500 California Plaza, Omaha, NE. It is a comprehensive Catholic university founded in 1878 by the Society of Jesus and still a Jesuit-run institution. It’s College of Arts and Sciences has a multi-disciplinary program in Justice and Peace Studies (the order is very Jesuitical!) which offers a Justice and Society major leading to a B.A. or a minor in Justice and Peace Studies. There is also a $1,000 Justice and Peace Studies Scholarship offered in honor of former Congressman Walter H. Capps.
DePauw University 313 South Locust Street, Greencastle, IN 46135. Despite its name, Depauw is primarily an undergraduate liberal arts college, but it has a School of Music that offers graduate degrees. Founded in 1837 by the Methodist Church as Indiana Asbury College, DePauw remains affiliated with the United Methodist Church today. Offers a B.A. in Conflict Studies.
Earlham College 801 National Rd. West, Richmond, IN 47374, is a 4 year liberal arts college related closely to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). It’s educational philosophy is shaped by both the liberal arts tradition (rather than a technical or research university) and by the perspectives of Friends’ beliefs–viz., that there is “that of God in everyone,” that all are equal and must be treated with equal dignity, the commitment to search for Truth, to live simply, and to work for peace with all. Earlham offers an interdisciplinary B.A. in Peace and Global Studies (PAGS), modified from its original Peace and Conflict Studies program. All in the program must take courses in economics, history, philosophy, politics, and sociology/anthropology. Within the major, students choose one of the following focuses: Conflict Transformation, Religion and Pacifism, Social Theory and Social Movements, International War and Peace, African-American Civil Rights, Women and Social Change, Environmental Studies, or a Student-Designed focus. Earlham’s PAGS program is affiliated with both the Indianapolis Peace Institute and the Plowshares Project, which is a collaborative effort between the peace studies programs of Indiana’s 3 Historic Peace Church-related colleges: Earlham (Friends), Goshen (Mennonite), and Manchester (Church of the Brethren).
Earlham School of Religion 226 College Avenue, Richmond, IN 47374. Since Unprogrammed Friends do not have pastors, this is one of the few Quaker seminaries and the oldest one. It offers both an M.Div. and an M.Min. with a Peace and Justice concentration.
Eastern Mennonite University 1200 Park Rd., Harrisonburg, VA 22602 is a Mennonite Church, USA related university containing an undergraduate liberal arts college and a theological seminary and graduate school. The undergraduate program offers a B.A. in Peacebuilding and Development and a minor concentration in Peacebuilding. Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding runs a Graduate Program in Conflict Transformation leading either to a 15 hr. Certificate in Conflict Transformation or an M.A. in Conflict Transformation.
Eastern Mennonite Theological Seminary, 1200 Park Rd., Harrisonburg, VA 22602. The seminary offers a Certificate in Theology for Peacebuilding which can be added to either the Master of Divinity or Master of Arts in Religion degrees. One can also earn and dual M.Div./M.A. in Conflict Transformation. (You have to wonder why more Christian seminaries, of whatever denomination, do not offer concentrations and degrees in peacebuilding and conflict transformation–for healthier congregations if nothing else!)
Fresno Pacific University 1717 South Chestnut Avenue, Fresno, CA 93702. Founded in 1944 by Mennonite Brethren (a Pietist offshoot of the Mennonite Church), Fresno Pacific is the only accredited church-related university in California’s Central Valley. The undergraduate college offers a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. The graduate school offers an M.A. in Peacebuilding and Conflict Studies as well as Certificates in Church Conflict and Peacemaking, Mediation, Restorative Justice, School Conflict Resolution and Peacemaking, Workplace Conflict Management and Peacemaking, and a Personalized Certificate in Peacemaking and Conflict Studies.
Goshen College 1700 S. Main Street, Goshen, IN 46526. Is a liberal arts college closely affiliated with the Mennonite Church, USA. It offers a B.A. in Peace, Justice, and Conflict Studies and a minor in Peace and Justice studies. International education and service learning is emphasized throughout the curriculum for both faculty and students. (Most faculty spend their sabbaticals in service rather than just in writing.) Goshen is a participating member of the Plowshares Collaborative.
Guilford College,5800 W. Friendly Avenue, Greensboro, NC. 27410. Founded and closely related to the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) first as a boarding school, then, beginning in the 1880s, as a 4 year liberal arts college. Quaker values still inform the school, including its educational philosophy. Offers both a B.A. and a minor in Peace and Conflict Studies. Related programs include a B.A. in International Studies and one in Justice and Policy Studies.
Gustavus Adolphus College 800 W. College Avenue, St. Peter, MN 56082. Founded in 1862 as a Lutheran boarding school, it is now a four year liberal arts college closely affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), the largest Lutheran denomination in the U.S. Offers a Peace Studies minor.
Hamline University 1536 Hewittt Avenue, St. Paul, MN. Closely associated with the United Methodist Church. The undergraduate college offers a B.A. in Social Justice. The Law School has a Center for Dispure Resolution which offers several conflict resolution certificates.
Haverford College. 370 Lancaster Avenue, Haverford, PA 19041. Founded in 1833 by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers), Haverford is a most selective liberal arts college. Though not formally related to any Friends Meeting today, Haverford’s educational philosophy and atmosphere is still deeply shaped by Quaker values and numerous Friends are still found among its faculty and students. Haverford hosts a Center for Peace and Global Citizenship whose programs include a B.A. In the next year or so, Haverford will be reorienting to offer a B.A. in Peace, Justice, and Human Rights. It cooperates with the Peace and Conflict Studies programs at Bryn Mawr and Swarthmore, but the Haverford program concentrates more strongly on the human rights tradition.
Juanita College 1700 Moore Street, Huntingdon, PA 16652. Founded in 1872 by the Church of the Brethren on the Juanita River. Instead of Majors and Minors, Juanita College emphasizes a core curriculum of liberal arts with additional “programs of emphasis.” It’s Department of Peace and Conflict Studies offers 3 such “POEs”: B.A. in Communication and Conflict Resolution, one in Peace and Conflict Studies and one in Peace and Conflict Studies with a secondary emphasis.
Manchester College 604 College Avenue, North Manchester, IN 46962. Affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, Manchester is a small, selective, Christian liberal arts college. Established in 1948, the Peace Studies Institute and Program in Conflict Resolution at Manchester actually began the field of peace studies which has now spread even beyond Christian circles. Manchester offers a B.A. in Peace Studies with concentrations in either interpersonal/intergroup conflict studies, international and global studies, or an individualized concentration. There is also a Peace Studies minor. Manchester’s Peace Studies Institute and Program in Conflict Resolution is part of the Plowshares Collaborative that coordinates the peace studies programs of all three Historic Peace Church-related colleges in Indiana: Earlham, Goshen, and Manchester. The Institute publishes Nonviolent Social Change previously called the Bulletin of the Peace Studies Institute.
Manhattan College Manhattan College Pkwy., Bronx, NY 10471. Manhattan College is a Roman Catholic liberal arts college in the Lasallian tradition founded in 1853 in Riverdale, the Bronx, New York (despite its name, the school is no longer on the island of Manhattan). Offers a B.A. in Peace Studies that is multidisciplinary and deals with arms races and war, economic, political and social justice, conflict creation, management, and resolution, nonviolent philosophies and strategies of resistance, and world community and world government. The first course in peace studies was offered at Manhattan College in 1958 and it has had a complete B.A. program since 1971. The program offers several prestigious fellowships, internships, and scholarships, semesters in Washington, D.C. or the New York legislature in Albany. There is a Model United Nations option and plenty of placement counseling beyond graduation.
Messiah College One College Avenue, Grantham, PA. 17027. This is a small liberal arts college founded by and closely related to the Brethren in Christ Church, a Pietist offshoot of the Mennonites. Through its Sider Institute for Anabaptist, Wesleyan, and Pietist Studies, Messiah offers a Minor in Peace Studies. (I would have guessed that Messiah offered more than a Peace Studies minor. Surely, they should be upgrading this program.)
Swarthmore College 500 College Avenue, Swarthmore, PA 19081. Swarthmore is a most selective, private, liberal arts college founded by the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers). Today the school is non-sectarian, but Quaker values still inform its educational philosophy. The Peace and Conflict Studies Program at Swarthmore offers a B.A. in Peace and Conflict Studies. As well, students in any major can add a minor in Peace Studies. The program at Swarthmore is multidisciplinary and participates jointly with the Peace and Conflict Studies programs at Bryn Mawr College and Haverford College, the Tri-College Consortium. Swarthmore’s library boasts one of the largest collections of primary documents related to peace and justice movements in the world. It is part of the Greater Philadelphia Higher Education Peace and Social Justice Consortium. Swarthmore also hosts the Lang Center for Civic and Social Responsibility.
University of Notre Dame 54801 Juniper Road, Notre Dame, IN 46556. The University of Notre Dame du Lac (or just Notre Dame) is a private, Roman Catholic national research university in Notre Dame, IN, near the town of South Bend and 90 mi. East of Chicago, IL. Admission is highly competitive. Over 70% of incoming students graduated in the top 5% of their high school class. Once an all male school, women, first admitted in 1972, now comprise 47% of the undergraduate student population. Once nearly all white, minority enrollment has more than tripled in the last 20 years. Notre Dame houses the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Through the Kroc Institute, students may earned a B.A., M.A., or even Ph.D. in Peace Studies–in a multidisciplinary setting working with several departments in Notre Dame. This is one of the very few places offering a Ph.D. in Peace Studies.
University of San Diego 5998 Alcala Park, San Diego, CA 92110. The University of San Diego (USD) is a private, comprehensive Roman Catholic university in the City of San Diego. It offers over 60 degrees (Baccalaureates, Masters’, and Doctorates) in six separate schools. One of those schools is the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies.The Kroc School at USD contains an Institute for Peace and Justice, a Conference Venue, and a Trans-Border Institute. The Kroc School offers a minor in Peace Studies for undergraduates and an M.A. in Peace and Justice Studies for graduate students. Each year one or two distinguished peace scholars (who are usually also activists) are brought to USD as Joan B. Kroc Peace Scholars.
University of St. Louis, One Grand Blvd., St. Louis, MO. SLU is a medium sized Catholic university in the Jesuit tradition. Now offers a Certificate in Peace and Justice Studies.
University of St. Thomas 2115 Summit Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55105. The University of St. Thomas is a comprehensive university founded in 1885 by Archbishop John Ireland. It’s an archdiocesan university. They have a B.A. and a minor in Justice and Peace Studies. One of my peacemaker heroes, Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer teaches there.
Villanova University 800 E. Lancaster Avenue, Villanova, PA 19085. Villanova is a medium sized Catholic university in the Augustinian tradition. Has a Center for Peace & Justice Education. Offers either a minor or concentration in Peace and Justice Education. The Center publishes the Journal for Peace and Justice Education.
Walsh University 2020 E. Maple St., North Canton, OH 44720. A Catholic university founded by the Brothers of Christian Instruction. The Department of Social Sciences offers a Peace Studies minor.
That’s all the specifically Christian colleges or universities in the U.S. with Peace Studies programs that I have found. If I have missed some, please alert me and I’ll add to this list.
Believe it or not these programs are quite controversial. During the Bush years, many conservative magazines and websites ran articles and advertisements against these programs, saying that they had declared war on America! Let’s face it: Peacemaking is subversive of the status quo–regardless of which party controls the government or who lives in the White House (or any other nation’s seat of government). When peacemakers come on the scene: Jesus or Buddha or Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr. or Aung San Suu Kyi or Thich Nhat Hanh or Badshah Khan or Dorothy Day–they are always seen as troublemakers and disturbers of the peace, rather than as peacemakers.
This is a long overdue contribution to my series on Dialogue-Partners in Theology. I first wrote a post on My Favorite Liberal Theologians outlining those theologians in the liberal/modernist tradition that I find to be indispensible conversation partners in my theological reflection. I then did the same for Conservative Evangelicals and for Jewish theologians and philosophers. But I had promised to list my conversation partners in the wider use of the term “evangelical,” (gospel centered) where the term “conservative” might not apply. I have neglected this now for too long. Part of the neglect was because it is impossible to define the term “evangelical” in a way that invites consensus–and the term has different connotations in the U.S. than outside it.
So, I here refer to those theologians (and theological ethicists) and biblical scholars who are rooted deeply in the Protestant Reformation (both Magisterial and Radical Reformations), Puritanism, Pietism/Wesleyanism, and/or 19th C. Revivalism (and/or the way any and all of these movements have made encounters in Asia, Africa, indigenous cultures in the Americas, etc). They are “gospel centered” in their approach to theology, rather than deliberately beginning with human experience as with liberals. (This is not to say that experience plays no role: the experiences of conversion and/or later “baptisms” or “fillings” with the Holy Spirit play major roles.) The centrality of Scripture for the life of the church is assumed–whether or not a term like “inerrancy” (by whatever definition) is used. There may be correspondences between such theologians and persons in Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox traditions, but there are also differences in both style and substance.
Now, since I have already described my major dialogue partners among “Conservative Evangelicals,” who are within shouting distance of Protestant fundamentalism–at least at times, I am here not including them. Rather these individuals either moved away from conservative evangelicalism or (as in the case of many “post-liberals”) began with another tradition and moved in a more evangelical direction–or simply always had a more mainstream, or ecumenical, or “catholic” perspective on “the evangel,” the Good News of Jesus Christ for the beautiful but sad world. What follows is not an exhaustive list of such persons, but merely the ones who are the dominant conversation partners in my own theological reflection: MY favorite non-conservative evangelicals, if you will. Lack of inclusion should not be seen as a judgment on merit–but no one can seriously engage ALL the important thinkers in any adequate fashion.
For the sake of limiting the size of this post, I will omit all thinkers before the late 19th C. when liberal and evangelical theologians began to diverge sharply in methodology, at the least. (This means I’ll need another post on Voices from the Reformation to the late 19th C. Sigh.) I will include some (not all) of those otherwise classified as “Neo-Orthodox” or “Post-Liberal.” I no longer find either term especially useful.
I. “Non-Conservative” Evangelical Dialogue Partners No Longer Living.
- Karl Barth (1886-1968). Arguably the most important theologian since the Reformation and EASILY the most important theologian of the 20th C. Raised in the household of a conservative Swiss Reformed pastor, Barth studied with the great 19th C. German liberals and initially was one of them–but rejected their entire program when he saw almost every professor he knew sign a statement in support of the Kaiser’s war aims at the beginning of WWI. This crisis in faith led him to rediscover the Reformers (especially Calvin), the Church Fathers, and the “strange new world within the Bible.” Barth was almost the first theologian I read when I started trying to read serious theology. (I think I first encountered him through the essays in The Word of God and the Word of Man and then in Evangelical Theology.) Eventually, in seminary, I would study with David L. Mueller, a brilliant Barth scholar who published much less than I wish he had. I took his Barth seminar and we read most of The Church Dogmatics–Barth’s unfinished masterpiece which is sprawling and not without its faults, but attempts to think through everything from the standpoint of God’s freedom to love the world and humanity through Christ. I have not remained everywhere a Barthian–I especially find his reworked divine command ethics to be greatly wanting–but my view of Scripture remains thoroughly Barthian and my Christology at least largely so. I thought Barth should have taken the plunge to embrace pacifism (he hovered at the edge), but appreciate his caution on universal salvation. Like Barth, I WANT to be a universalist, but I have a real sense of God’s judgment on an unjust world. See further The Karl Barth Society of North America and the Center for Barth Studies.
- Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) unites life, faith, and theology in a way that convinces me over and over again of the reality of God in Jesus Christ. A German pastor from a secular university family, who himself encountered Barth in his studies, Bonhoeffer was a major figure in the church struggle against Naziism as well as one of the plots against Hitler–despite having described himself as a pacifist. Nachfolge -badly translated as The Cost of Discipleship–(See Discipleship in the new Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Works, English Edition, for a much better translation.) laid the basis for my first sermon at 19, “Are You Prepared to Live or Die for the One Who Died for You.” (Bonhoeffer is great. I can’t vouch for my teenaged sermon all these years later!) He began my lifelong wrestling with the Sermon on the Mount in a world of war, street violence, injustice, domestic violence, economic violence, and terrorism. Bonhoeffer’s Creation and Fall allowed me to read Genesis theologically–without needing stupidities such as “creation science” or “intelligent design.” His Christ the Center continues to orient my Christology and his Life Together ended the individualism of my ecclesiology. I wrestle with many great concepts in the unfinished Ethics, but find the result (perhaps because it was never finished) to be unsatisfying in several places, but Letters and Papers from Prison continues to serve me as a better devotional guide than most books on “spirituality.” As a pacifist, I disagree with Bonhoeffer’s participation in an attempt to assassinate Hitler, though Bonhoeffer himself didn’t know one end of a gun from another–but even more do I dislike the way many war-loving Christians (and violence prone Christians) have used Bonhoeffer as an excuse–never wrestling with his assertions that there were no exceptions to the ban on killing and that those involved in the plot would have to deal with both God’s judgment and mercy. Here, Bonhoeffer was more honest than Barth–not seeking some general Grenzfall or emergency escape clause from the call to nonviolence–honestly seeing the desperate plot against Hitler not as a “lesser evil,” much less a real good, but as a failure to find another way that was more faithful to Christ. See further, the International Bonhoeffer Society.
- Walter Rauschenbusch (1861-1918), the greatest theologian of the Social Gospel, certainly had one foot in liberalism–especially having been influenced by Albrecht Ritschl. But he remained an evangelical and is still a prophet of Christian work for social justice.
- Dale Moody (1915-1992) the Texas Baptist giant. Moody was raised in a fundamentalist setting (combining elements of dispensationalism, free-will Arminianism, and semi-pentecostalism) that could not contain him. A genius I.Q. had this dirt poor farm boy memorizing the Greek New Testament as he plowed the field. Educated at Baylor University, the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Union Theological Seminary, and Regent’s Park College, Oxford, Moody became the second Protestant and first Baptist to lecture at the Gregorian University in Rome. An eclectic thinker who once spent a sabbatical living with Emil Brunner in Zurich while commuting daily to Basel to hear Barth lecture, Moody came even more under the influence of Oscar Cullmann and the “Biblical Theology Movement.” Moody’s systematic, The Word of Truth, was an attempt to do biblical theology AS systematic theology. It doesn’t entirely work–but where it breaks down, it usually gives hints at the way forward. Moody’s major influence on me was to reinforce my view that Baptist biblicism could be completely united with critical scholarship and ecumenical concerns.
- Letty Russell (1916-2007) was one of the first women ordained in the United Presbyterian Church, ancester body to today’s Presbyterian Church, USA. She served for years as one of the pastors of East Harlem Protestant Parish, and taught theology at Yale University Divinity School. She was a major voice in ecumenical studies and in connecting first world movements for social justice to those in the Third World. A product of the encounter of Barth and Moltmann with feminism and liberation movements, Russell was a pioneer in feminist biblical studies and feminist theology. I encountered Russell’s work thanks to my own feminist theology mentor, Molly Marshall (now President of Central Baptist Theological Seminary).
- John Howard Yoder (1927-1997). The most important Anabaptist theologian since Menno Simons, it is not true that Yoder’s writings convinced me of gospel nonviolence/Christian pacifism. But his The Politics of Jesus (1972, rev. 1997) was the first theological reflection I read after becoming a pacifist and leaving the U.S. army as a conscientious objector. Yoder CEMENTED my Christian pacifism (c. 1983). I have written deeply on his influence elsewhere. As I predicted at John’s funeral, many secondary studies of Yoder have begun to emerge. Most have serious flaws. I do recommend two secondary studies as showing particular insight, however: Mark Theissen Nation, John Howard Yoder: Mennonite Patience, Evangelical Witness, Catholic Convictions. Eerdmans, 2005 (which is the long awaited publication of Mark’s Ph.D. dissertation done at Fuller Theological Seminary) and Earl Zimmerman, Practicing the Politics of Jesus: The Origin and Significance of John Howard Yoder’s Social Ethics. Cascadia, 2007. I also recommend both these Festschriften or books of celebratory essays, Stanley Hauerwas, Chris K. Huebner, Harry J. Huebner, and Mark Theissen Nation, eds., The Wisdom of the Cross: Essays in Honor of John Howard Yoder. Eerdmans, 1999 and Ben Ollenburger and Gayle Gerber Koontz, eds., A Mind Patient and Untamed: Assessing John Howard Yoder’s Contributions to Theology, Ethics, and Peacemaking. Cascadia Publishing House, 2004.
II. Living Dialogue Partners in Wider Evangelicalism
- Juergan Moltmann (1926-). A German Reformed theologian who has been in major dialogue with Mennonite scholars, Latin American liberation theologians, feminist and Black Liberation theologies, Moltmann has greatly modified my Barthianism. During my first semester of seminary, I read Moltmann’s The Crucified God (1972, ET, 1974)–and would never be the same. For one thing, although I have always believed in the Trinity (because the alternatives, tri-theism or modalism, were so bad), I never gave it much thought. But in The Crucified God, Moltmann shows that only the Trinity can adequately deal with Jesus’ crucifixion–and so it has been central to my theology ever since. Second, Moltmann made me a profoundly eschatological thinker because he showed me that eschatology was not escape from social action. Third, despite his Reformed viewpoint, in The Church in the Power of the Spirit, Moltmann reinforced by Free Church (baptist) ecclesiology–and made me a “near Pentecostal.” Most importantly, Moltmann made me a liberation theologian. I had already read Gustavo Gutierrez and recognized the importance of liberation theology–but Moltmann showed me that I could be a liberation theologian in a First World context. Moltmann had been drafted into the German army in 1944, and surrendered to the first British soldier he saw 6 months later, and spent time in a prison in England, not repatriated until 1948. I have never known whether this former prisoner of war completely embraced pacifism (his statements seem ambiguous), but he reinforced my own commitment to gospel nonviolence. He also showed me how to be an ecological theologian without embracing some “New Age” nonsense like Matthew Fox.
- Stanley Hauerwas (1940-) is the greatest living theologian in the U.S. He grew up in a blue-collar evangelical United Methodist home in Texas and went to Yale Divinity School (and is still angry about Yale). At Yale, James Gustafson mal-formed Hauerwas’ view of the work of H. Richard Niebuhr. Despite Yale, Hauerwas somehow came under the influence of Karl Barth, interested in work on the virtues (which led to dialogue with Catholics for the rest of his career), and narrative theology. Teaching at Notre Dame, he encountered John Howard Yoder and, against his will, almost, became converted to Christian pacifism. He has spent most of his life teaching at Duke University Divinity School weaving these various influences together–and leading a one-person charge against Enlightenment modernism, against democratic liberalism (thinking wrongly that Yoder iss completely on his side there) and insisting that the church become, once more, a counter-cultural community (he’s right about that part). I have a love-hate relationship with Hauerwas. When he’s wrong, he’s very wrong, but when he’s right, he’s excellent. Because he writes “combat theology”–with passion and fury–he’s often sloppy and makes what I consider to be large mistakes. But he gets more right by accident than most do on purpose. Siblings often fight more than strangers.
- Walter Brueggeman (no dates found) is a retired Professor of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary (Decatur, GA), and a minister in the United Church of Christ, having previously taught at Eden Theological Seminary. Educated in the “Christian realism” of Reinhold Niebuhr, Brueggemann has been brought into a counter-cultural evangelicalism by Scripture itself. He is the most fascinating and provocative OT scholar living. The Word comes alive with Brueggemann and he sees all of it as relevant for re-shaping the church in a profoundly pagan, post-Christian world. Influenced both by Karl Barth and by German critical scholarship, Brueggemann is good at making people uncomfortable with the Word. My teacher, John D. W. Watts, a brilliant Old Testament scholar in his own right, assigned me Brueggemann’s The Prophetic Imagination and I’ve never been the same–and a good deal of disposable income has gone toward purchasing many of Brueggemann’s books.
- J. Deotis Roberts( 1927-) is often overshadowed among Black Liberation theologians by James H. Cone, the other pioneer in the field, but in my humble opinion (as a white dude), Roberts is by far the better theologian. He combines traditional (evangelical) Black Church theology with classic philosophical training and a very wide ranging ecumenical and multi-cultural engagement. His contention that liberation and reconciliation must be worked on together has made many think him “less radical” than Cone, but it seems to me that it simply makes him more thoroughly gospel-centered.
- Desmond Tutu (1931-) retired Anglican Archbishop of Capetown, South Africa and former Primate of the Province of Southern Africa (now called the Anglican Church of South Africa), the Most Rev. Tutu came to prominence during the struggle against apartheid as a leader in the nonviolent church struggle against white oppression. Since the end of apartheid, Tutu has led the South African Commission on Truth and Reconciliation and continued to be a global worker for justice and peace. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984. I have found his theological works, particularly Hope and Suffering and No Future without Forgiveness to be deeply moving.
- N. T. Wright (1948-). Nicholas Thomas (“Tom”) Wright, Anglican Bishop of Durham, is one of the finest New Testament scholars living. Since I had already encountered the “new perspective on Paul” through others and not found it controversial, I have most been influenced by Wright as a Jesus scholar. I have said more about this here. I’d also like to recommend the online N. T. Wright page.
- Elizabeth Moltmann-Wendel (1926-) was the second woman (the first single woman) to receive a doctorate in theology from the University of Gottingen–a year before her fellow student and soon husband, Jurgen Moltmann. She has been a pioneer in feminist theology. I have especially enjoyed I Am My Body (a theological anthropology) and Rediscovering Friendship as well as The Women Around Jesus.
- Nancey Murphy( no dates found) is Professor of Christian Philosophy at Fuller Theological Seminary and an ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren. Raised Catholic, she has a B.A. in physics from Creighton University and a Ph.D. in Philosophy of Science from the University of California at Berkeley. She has a Th.D. in Modern Theology from the Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley where she met her late husband, James McClendon (see above). She has become a major voice in the dialogue between science and theology, and is a feminist pacifist theologian. She has been a devastating critic of the “Intelligent Design” movement and a major voice in showing how different fields require different canons of reason. She has tried to rework Yoder’s thought into an overall ontology–something Yoder himself resisted.
- Willard Swartley (no dates found) is Professor Emeritus of Associated Mennonite Biblical Seminary and also a former dean of the school. He is a brilliant NT professor whose work has encompassed hermeneutics, interaction with the anthropology of Rene Girard, editing a dialogue between Mennonites and Juergan Moltmann, and a huge amount on the theme of peace within Scripture. He also has written on homosexuality and hermeneutics, where I find him less helpful.
- J. Denny Weaver (no dates found) is Professor of Religion Emeritus at Bluffton College, a Mennonite liberal arts college in Bluffton, OH. He is probably the most important Mennonite theologian since John Howard Yoder. He advances Yoder and the Anabaptists into the post-modern context. Especially helpful to me is Weaver’s The Nonviolent Atonement which argues for a narrative reworking of Christus Victor as an atonement theology which is not at odds with the commitment to nonviolence of the NT. Weaver objects to those theologies which, while claiming that Christians must commit to nonviolence, ultimately have a violent view of God.
- Paul Fiddes (1947-) is a British Baptist theologian, formerly Principal of Regent’s Park College and a Professor of Systematic Theology, Oxford University. In conversation with Moltmann and with liberation theologies, Fiddes has written some profound works that explicate the heart of the gospel, including: Past Event and Present Salvation; The Creative Suffering of God; Participating in God: A Pastoral Theology of the Trinity; Tracks and Traces: Baptist Identity in Church and Theology; Reflections on the Water; and Under the Rule of Christ: Dimensions of Baptist Spirituality.
- Walter Wink (1935-) is a United Methodist theologian and Professor Emeritus at Auburn Theological Seminary in NY. A New Testament theologian and committed pacifist, Wink has one foot in the liberal tradition (including membership in the Jesus Seminar), but was profoundly influenced by the biblical witness of the Episcopal lay theologian William Stringfellow–and through Stringfellow, Jacques Ellul, Karl Barth, and John Howard Yoder. Wink is most famous for his work on the Powers in NT theology and their implications for contemporary church life–in which he proposes not simply capitulation or resistance, but engagement, holding out hope even for the redemption of the Powers. Wink has also been a strong voice for full GLBT inclusion in the church.
- Thomas Oden (1931-) is a United Methodist theologian who, during the 1960s and 1970s, poured himself wholeheartedly into every new theologically liberal fad that came along. Burned out by that experience, he reclaimed his faith from the brink of extinction by rediscovery of the the ancient church theologians, the Fathers (and Mothers) of the Church from the post-apostolic era to Chalcedon. Thus, Oden proposed a return to orthodoxy, but not “neo-orthodoxy,” but paleo-orthodoxy–including a recapture of pre-critical exegesis and an immersion in the consensus theology of the early Church before the split into East and West. He has been also rediscovering Wesley and classic, pre-Freud resources for pastoral care. There is much in Oden’s work I like, including the dismissal of inerrancy as a modern doctrine (it is) and immersion in the work of the Church Fathers (and Mothers). But Oden is a dialogue partner and not a mentor because he seems to see theology as an ivory tower existence–in overreaction to his earlier faddish social activism. Let me put if provocatively: Stanley Hauerwas has often been accused of having a “separationist” or “withdrawal from culture” ethic or ecclesiology. While I think this is a misreading of Hauerwas (a fairer charge would be that those with a tendency toward withdrawal ethics take too much comfort from overly quick readings of Hauerwas’ work), it strikes me as right on the money concerning Oden–which seems odd in an heir of John Wesley whose passion against slavery and against oppression of the poor are a matter of record. Then, too, paleo-orthodoxy strikes me as “fossilized theology.” Like it or not, each age, each cultural context, brings new questions to the tasks of theology that cannot be ignored–although they need not be capitulated to and certainly one might want to address those questions with voices from the far past and not just the recent past. Immersion in Christian classics is never a bad thing–but I don’t see enough in Oden of turning from that immersion back to the world.
- Justo Gonzalez (no dates found) is one of the best church historians and historical theologians living. In his work, I find exactly what I am missing with Oden, the relation of all that went before, and a global awareness of the multicultural church, to today’s questions. (Interestingly, I saw a panel once on “post-modern theologies” which agreed that Gonzalez and Yoder, who were both present, were not post-modern precisely because they had never bought into Enlightenment modernity. Thus, they were not in wholehearted rejection of the Enlightenment,either. )
- Richard B. Hays (no dates found) is a United Methodist theologian and a New Testament scholar at Duke University Divinity School, previously having taught at his alma mater, Yale. Hays began as primarily a Pauline scholar, especially engaging the wok of E. P. Sanders and James D. G. Dunn. But his fame (and infamy) came with the publication of his The Moral Vision of the New Testament: Cross, Community, New Creation a contemporary work in New Testament ethics. In scope it is the most powerful work of its kind currently in print. I loved his defense of Christian pacifism and of sharing possessions, the equality of the sexes, and much else. My disagreement with Hays over same-sex matters (excellent exegesis, but hermeneutics that are inconsistent with his principles and practice throughout the rest of the book) has been well aired on this blog in the series on GLBT inclusion in the church. (It was painful. I like Hays’ work and I didn’t want to be that critical publicly.)
- Miroslav Volf(1956-) is a Croatian by birth and ordained in the Evangelical Church of Croatia, though now a member of the Episcopal Church, USA. He is a professor of theology at Yale Divinity School. A former doctoral student of Juergan Moltmann and a former professor at Fuller Theological Seminary. Volf is immensely helpful in theological reflection on the pain and tragedy of the world. His Exclusion and Embrace written in Los Angeles in the wake of the riots after the aquittal of the police who beat Rodney King, and written while the massacres in the former Yugoslavia were still happening, argues profoundly for Christians as peacemakers in this world–but disturbingly does so by projecting vengeance onto God. (Volf’s views are the kind that disturb Denny Weaver.) He has moved further in his reflections on nonviolence since 9/11 and the declaration of a “global war on terrorism.”
I could add others to this list, including Gabriel Fackre, the late Hans Frei, the late Jaroslav Pelikan, the late Orlando Costas, but these are my major dialogue partners in “wider evangelical circles” except for my personal teachers, but I have spoken elsewhere of the influence of my teachers Glen Stassen, Molly T. Marshall, Dan R. Stiver, and –in my posting on conservative evangelicals, of Craig Blomberg and George R. Beasley-Murray. I think the next installment in this series will focus on Catholic dialogue partners, both ancient and contemporary.
Kim Fabricius, Propositions on Christian Theology: A Pilgrim Walks the Plank. Carolina Academic Press, 2008.
I seldom review books that I have not yet read, but since I saw most of this in draft form as blog posts, I feel safe in doing so here. Kim Fabricius (yes, that’s his real name), is an American ex-patriate who has lived so long in the United Kingdom that I wonder why he has never become a British citizen. Perhaps it has something to do with his continued love of baseball. He is a minister in the United Reformed Church of the UK (roughly equivalent to the United Church of Canada or the United Church of Christ here in the U.S.), pastor of a congregation in Swansea (Wales) and chaplain at the University of Swansea.
Here, is an introduction to Christian theology that is provocative and humorous. Written in a series of provocative, sharply worded, statements, these are Fabricius’ careful conclusions–without the defense or elaboration of those conclusions in dense prose, such as found in most works on theology. These will stimulate debate and dialogue–and laughter, and rage–and maybe even stimulate readers to state their own convictions so sharply.
The usual theological topics are covered (Ten Propositions on the Trinity, Ten Propositions on the Holy Spirit, Ten Propositions on Theodicy) , but Kim also covers the life of Christian discipleship (Ten Stations on My Way to Christian Pacifism, Ten Propositions on Same-Sex Relationships and the Church), of spirituality (Ten Propositions on Worship, Ten Propositions on Prayer), ministry and the life of the church (Ten Propositions on Being a Minister, Ten Propositions on Preaching, 9.5 Propositions on Listening to Preaching). You also find a reflection on Fabricius’ greatest theological influence (Karl Barth) on “the new atheists,” on laughter, and on why baseball is God’s game.
This book would be great for new Christians, for church discussion groups, for introductory classes on theology (not as a main textbook), and, as Stanley Hauerwas says in a back cover plug, to give a friend who wants to know just what this Christian stuff is all about.
In their original form as blog postings (usually on Ben Meyers’ great site, Faith and Theology ), Fabricius’ series of (usually 10) propositions caused much discussion, delight, despair, and engagement throughout the world of English-language theology blogs! His installments were eagerly awaited and inspired some pale imitations. (Since Kim doesn’t have his own blog, there were also the conspiracy theories that he was merely Ben Myer’s alter ego. Will this book set those rumors to rest? ) I hope they will be at least as helpful and controversial in book form. My copy is now on order and I pray that you also, Gentle Readers, will give yourself and others this delightful slim volume as a great gift.