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Confessing Christ in a World of Violence

Our world is wracked with violence and war. But Jesus said: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God" (Matt. 5:9). Innocent people, at home and abroad, are increasingly threatened by terrorist attacks. But Jesus said: "Love your enemies, pray for those who persecute you" (Matt. 5:44). These words, which have never been easy, seem all the more difficult today.

Nevertheless, a time comes when silence is betrayal. How many churches have heard sermons on these texts since the terrorist atrocities of September 11? Where is the serious debate about what it means to confess Christ in a world of violence? Does Christian "realism" mean resigning ourselves to an endless future of "pre-emptive wars"? Does it mean turning a blind eye to torture and massive civilian casualties? Does it mean acting out of fear and resentment rather than intelligence and restraint?

Faithfully confessing Christ is the church's task, and never more so than when its confession is co-opted by militarism and nationalism.

- A "theology of war," emanating from the highest circles of American government, is seeping into our churches as well.

- The language of "righteous empire" is employed with growing frequency.

- The roles of God, church, and nation are confused by talk of an American "mission" and "divine appointment" to "rid the world of evil."

The security issues before our nation allow no easy solutions. No one has a monopoly on the truth. But a policy that rejects the wisdom of international consultation should not be baptized by religiosity. The danger today is political idolatry exacerbated by the politics of fear.

In this time of crisis, we need a new confession of Christ.

1. Jesus Christ, as attested in Holy Scripture, knows no national boundaries. Those who confess his name are found throughout the earth. Our allegiance to Christ takes priority over national identity. Whenever Christianity compromises with empire, the gospel of Christ is discredited.

We reject the false teaching that any nation-state can ever be described with the words, "the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it." These words, used in scripture, apply only to Christ. No political or religious leader has the right to twist them in the service of war.

2. Christ commits Christians to a strong presumption against war. The wanton destructiveness of modern warfare strengthens this obligation. Standing in the shadow of the Cross, Christians have a responsibility to count the cost, speak out for the victims, and explore every alternative before a nation goes to war. We are committed to international cooperation rather than unilateral policies.

We reject the false teaching that a war on terrorism takes precedence over ethical and legal norms. Some things ought never be done - torture, the deliberate bombing of civilians, the use of indiscriminate weapons of mass destruction - regardless of the consequences.

3. Christ commands us to see not only the splinter in our adversary's eye, but also the beam in our own. The distinction between good and evil does not run between one nation and another, or one group and another. It runs straight through every human heart.

We reject the false teaching that America is a "Christian nation," representing only virtue, while its adversaries are nothing but vicious. We reject the belief that America has nothing to repent of, even as we reject that it represents most of the world's evil. All have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23).

4. Christ shows us that enemy-love is the heart of the gospel. While we were yet enemies, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8, 10). We are to show love to our enemies even as we believe God in Christ has shown love to us and the whole world. Enemy-love does not mean capitulating to hostile agendas or domination. It does mean refusing to demonize any human being created in God's image.

We reject the false teaching that any human being can be defined as outside the law's protection. We reject the demonization of perceived enemies, which only paves the way to abuse; and we reject the mistreatment of prisoners, regardless of supposed benefits to their captors.

5. Christ teaches us that humility is the virtue befitting forgiven sinners. It tempers all political disagreements, and it allows that our own political perceptions, in a complex world, may be wrong.

We reject the false teaching that those who are not for the United States politically are against it or that those who fundamentally question American policies must be with the "evil-doers." Such crude distinctions, especially when used by Christians, are expressions of the Manichaean heresy, in which the world is divided into forces of absolute good and absolute evil.

The Lord Jesus Christ is either authoritative for Christians, or he is not. His Lordship cannot be set aside by any earthly power. His words may not be distorted for propagandistic purposes. No nation-state may usurp the place of God.

We believe that acknowledging these truths is indispensable for followers of Christ. We urge them to remember these principles in making their decisions as citizens. Peacemaking is central to our vocation in a troubled world where Christ is Lord.


Signers as of October 22, 2004. Institutions for identification only.

Name

Organization

Title

Amerson, Philip

Claremont School of Theology

President

Arichea, Jr, Daniel C.

Duke Divinity School and UMC

Bishop in Residence

Augsburger, David

Fuller Theological Seminary

Professor of Pastoral Care and Counseling

Augsburger, Dr. Myron S.

Eastern Mennonite University

President Emeritus

Bader-Saye, Scott

University of Scranton

Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics

Baker, Mark D.

Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary

Assistant professor of Mission and Theology

Balmer, Randall

Barnard College, Columbia University

Ann Whitney Olin Professor of American Religion

Balswick, Jack

Fuller Theological Seminary

Professor of Sociology and Family Development

Barrett, Lois

Assoc. Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Director, Great Plains Extension

Bartlett, Dr. Anthony W.

Wood Hath Hope Bible Community

Founder

Batastini, Robert J.

GIA Publications

Senior Editor

Batstone, David

University of San Francisco

Professor of Ethics

Battle, Rev. Michael, PhD

Duke University

Professor and Episcopal Priest

Beach-Verhey, Timothy

Davidson College

Director of Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation

Black, Clifton

Princeton Theological Seminary

Professor of Biblical Theology

Bonk, Dr. Jonathan J.

Overseas Ministry Study Center

Executive Director

Borgman, Paul

Gordon College

Professor

Bouma-Prediger, Dr. Steven

Hope College

Jacobson Professor of Religion

Branson, Mark Lau

Fuller Theological Seminary

Associate Professor

Brawley, Robert L.

McCormick Theological Seminary

Albert C. McGaw Professor of New Testament

Brock, Brian

University of Aberdeen

Lecturer in Practical Theology

Brown, Colin

Fuller Theological Seminary

Professor of Systematic Theology

Bruner, Frederick

Fuller Theological Seminary

Adjunct Faculty

Brunk, III, George R.

Eastern Mennonite Seminary

Professor of New Testament

Buckley, Jim

Loyola College

Professor of Theology

Burnette, Carole C., PhD

Ecumenical Institute of Theology

Professor of Ancient and Medieval Christianity

Butler, Dr. Anthea

Loyola Marymount University

President, Society for Pentecostal Studies and Assistant Professor of Theology

Butler, James

Fuller Theological Seminary

Associate Professor of Old Testament

Campbell, Douglas A.

Duke Divinity School

Assistant Professor in New Testament

Campolo, Tony

Eastern University

Professor of Sociology

Candler, The Very Rev. Samuel G.

Dean of the Cathedral

The Cathedral of St. Philip

Carmer, Gregory W.

Gordon College

Dean of the Chapel

Casey, Shaun

Wesley Theological Seminary

Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics

Chancey, Mark A.

Southern Methodist University

Assistant Professor of Religious Studies

Chapman, Stephen

Duke Divinity School

Ass. Prof. Old Testament

Chittister, Joan, OSB

Benetvision

Writer

Clark, Chapman

Fuller Theological Seminary

Associate Professor of Youth, Family, and Culture

Crane, Richard

Messiah College

Professor

Crenshaw, James L.

Duke Divinity School

Professor of Old Testament

Davis, Derek H.

Baylor University

Director, J.M. Dawson Institute of Church-State Studies

Davis, Ellen F.

Duke Divinity School

Professor of Bible and Practical Theology

Davis, Dr. Lant B.

Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary

Assistant to the President

De La Torre, Dr. Miguel A.

Hope College

Professor of Religion

DeCrane, Susanne M., PhD

College of Notre Dame of Maryland

Associate Faculty

Dewey, Brett R.

Baylor University

Teaching Fellow

Donahue, Prof. John R., SJ

St. Mary’s Seminary and University

Raymond E. Brown Professor Emeritus of New Testament Studies

Dueck, Dr. Alvin

Fuller Theological Seminary

Evelyn and Frank Freed Professor of the Integration of Psychology and Theology

Dunn, Rev. Dr. James M.

Wake Forest Univ. Divinity School

Professor of Christianity and Public Policy

Eastman, Rev. Dr. Susan Grove

Duke Divinity School

Assistant Professor of the Practice of Bible and Christian Formation

Elwood, Christopher

Louisville Pres. Theo. Seminary

Professor of Historical Theology

Epp, Robert C.

UCLA

Professor Emeritus

Erdman, Chris

The Biblical Seminary

Professor of Preaching and Missional Leadership

Evans, C. Stephen

Baylor University

Prof. Philosophy and Humanities

Fackre, Gabriel

Andover Newton Theological School

Abbot Professor of Christian Theology Emeritus

Faramelli, Norman

Boston University School of Theology

Lecturer in Social Ethics

Ferree-Clark, Rev. Nancy

Duke University Chapel

Pastor

Fisher, Mary Elizabeth

Asbury Theological Seminary

Formerly Ass’t. Professor of Biblical Theology

Fisk, Bruce N.

Westmont College

Ass. Prof. Religious Studies

Fletcher, Andy

International Communities Foundation

Executive Director

Fowl, Stephen

Loyola College in Maryland

Professor of Theology

Fredrickson, Kurt

Fuller Theological Seminary

Assistant Professor

Freeman, Curtis W.

Duke Divinity School

Professor of Theology and Baptist Studies

Fretheim, Terence

Luther Seminary

Elva B. Lovell Professor of Old Testament

Friesen, Dr. John J.

Canadian Mennonite University

Professor of History and Theology

Fulkerson, Rev. Dr. Mary McClintock

Duke University (Divinity School)

Associate Professor of Theology

Garrettson, Dr. Charles

The Hill School

Educator

Geddert, Dr. Timothy J.

Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary

Associate Professor of New Testament

George, Ivy

Gordon College

Professor

Gill, David W.

Ethixbiz.com

Writer

Goering, Lisa M.

North Carolina State University

Post-Doctoral Fellow

Gorman, Michael J.

St. Mary’s Seminary and University

Dean and Professor of New Testament

Grieb, Rev. Dr. A. Katherine

Virginia Theological Seminary

Associate Professor of New Testament

Guenther, Dr. Titus

Canadian Mennonite University

Associate Professor of Theology and Missions

Gutenson, Charles E.

Asbury Theological Seminary

Associate Professor of Philosophical Theology and Associate Dean for Distributed Learning

Hagner, Donald

Fuller Theological Seminary

George Eldon Ladd Professor of New Testament

Hall, Rev. Dr. Amy Laura

Duke Divinity School/SW Texas UMC

Assistant Professor of Theological Ethics

Harrison, Nina

St. Vincent de Paul Society

Executive Director

Harvard, Susan

The Hill School

Educator

Harvey, Barry

Baylor University

Associate Professor of Theology

Hauerwas, Stanley

Duke Divinity School

Prof. Theological Ethics

Hawkins, Peter S.

Boston University

Prof. Religion

Hays, Richard

Duke Divinity School

Prof. New Testament

Henderson, Susan Watts, PhD

Salem College

Assistant Professor of Religion

Henrich, Sarah S.

Luther Seminary

Assoc. Prof. New Testament

Hess, Mary E.

Luther Seminary

Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership

Heun, Dr. Matthew

Calvin College

Professor

Hinkle, Mary E.

Luther Seminary

Assoc. Prof. New Testament

Hollar, Barry Penn

Shenandoah University

Professor of Religion

Holleman, Toby

UCC Penn Northeast Conference

Associate Conference Minister

Holloway, Jeph

East Texas Baptist University

Assoc. Prof. Theology and Ethics

Hough, Jr., Joseph C.

Union Theological Seminary

President of the Faculty and William E. Dodge Professor of Social Ethics

Hughes, Richard T.

Pepperdine University

Distinguished Professor of Religion

Hunsinger, Deborah van Deusen

Princeton Theological Seminary

Associate Professor of Pastoral Theology

Hunsinger, George

Princeton Theological Seminary

Professor of Systematic Theology

Hunter, George

Asbury Theological Seminary

Distinguished Professor of Evangelization

Hurley, Elizabeth

Lancaster Literary Guild

Director

Hurst, Brenda Martin

Eastern Mennonite Seminary

Assistant Professor of Practical Theology

Hutson, Christopher R.

Hood Theological Seminary

Associate Professor of New Testament

Isaak, Jon Mark

Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary

Associate Professor of New Testament

Japinga, Dr. Lynn

Hope College

Associate Professor of Religion

Johnson, Dr. William Stacy

Princeton Theological Seminary

Assoc. Prof. Systematic Theology

Johnson, Rev. Janeen Bertsche

Assoc. Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Campus Pastor

Johnson, Robert E.

Central Baptist Theological Seminary

Assoc. Prof. Church Hist. & Miss.

Johnston, Dr. Robert

Fuller Theological Seminary

Professor of Theology and Culture

Jordan, Rev. Laurel Macaulay

Middlebury College

Chaplain of the College

Keller, Dr. Catherine

Drew University, The Theological School

Professor of Constructive Theology

Kenneson, Philip D.

Milligan College

Associate Professor of Theology and Philosophy

Kernaghan, Ron

Fuller Theological Seminary

Director of Office of Presbyterian Ministries

Klassen, Joane

Recovery of Hope Counseling

Director

Kolden, Marc

Luther Seminary

Professor of Systematic Theology

Koontz, Gayle Gerber

Assoc. Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Professor of Theology and Ethics

Koontz, Ted

Assoc. Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Professor of Ethics and Peace Studies

Kraus, C. Norman

Goshen College

Prof. Emeritus

Kraybill, J. Nelson

Assoc. Mennonite Biblical Seminary

President

Kreider, Alan

Assoc. Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Associate Professor of Church History and Mission

Kuperus, Tracy, PhD

Calvin College

Adjunct Professor of Political Science

Langan, John SJ

Georgetown University

Joseph Cardinal Bernardin Professor of Catholic Social Thought

Laytham, D. Brent

North Park Theological Seminary

Associate Professor of Theology and Ethics

Leith, Mary Joan Winn

Stonehill College

Associate Professor of Religious Studies

Leonard, Dr. Bill

Wake Forest University

Dean of the Divinity School and Professor of Church History

Lowe, Walter

Emory University (Candler School)

Professor of Systematic Theology

Malcolm, Lois

Luther Seminary

Associate Professor of Systematic Theology

Martens, Elmer

Mennonite Brethren Biblical Seminary

Professor Emeritus of Old Testament

Martinez, Juan

Fuller Seminary

Director of Hispanic Church Studies Program

McFague, Dr. Sallie

Vancouver School of Theology, Vancouver, BC

Distinguished Theologian in Residence

McFarland, Ian A.

University of Aberdeen

Senior Lecturer in Systematic Theology

McGoldrick, Doug

Columbia College, Chicago

Part Time Faculty

McKelway, Alexander J.

Davidson College

Paul B. Freeland Professor of Religion Emeritus

McLaren, Brian

Mars Hill Graduate School

Adjunct Professor

Middleton, J. Richard

Roberts Wesleyan College

Associate Professor of Biblical Studies

Murphy, Nancey

Fuller Theological Seminary

Professor of Christian Philosophy

Mustol, John S.

Bethel Seminary San Diego

Teaching Assistant

Nash, James A.

 

Professor of Christian Ethics, Retired

O’Brien, J. Randall

Baylor University

Professor and Chair, Dept. of Religion

Ollenburger, Bob,PhD

Assoc. Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Professor of Biblical

Olson, Roger E.

Baylor University

Prof. Theology

Padgett, Alan G.

Luther Seminary

Prof. Systematic Theology

Padilla, Catherine F.

Kairos Foundation

Professor of Bible

Padilla, Rene

Kairos Foundation

President Emeritus

Padilla DeBorst, Ruth

Latin American Theological Fraternity

President

Pallmeyer, Paul H.

Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

Retired Director for Evangelism for the ALC

Pasquarello, Dr. Michael

Asbury Theological Seminary

Ass. Prof. Practical Theology

Paul, Rev. Dr. Arthur

Assoc. Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Ass. Prof. Pastor Theology

Payne, John B.

Lancaster Theological Seminary

Professor Emeritus of Church History

Peace, Richard

Fuller Theological Seminary

Professor of Evangelism and Spiritual Formation

Peterson, Dr. Rodney L.

Boston Theological Institute

Executive Director

Phelan, John E., Jr.

North Park Theological Seminary

President and Dean

Pierard, Dr. Richard V.

Gordon College

Stephen Phillips Professor of History

Placher, William C.

Wabash College

LaFollette Distinguished Professor in the Humanities

Powell, Jeff

Duke Law and Divinity Schools

Professor of Divinity

Prescott, Dr. Bruce

Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists

Executive Director

Racine-Jones, Kathryn

Notre Dame de Namur University

Campus Minister

Ramsey, Janet

Luther Seminary

Assoc. Prof. Congregational Care Leadership

Redekopp, Alf

Mennonite Heritage Center

Director

Reid, David W.

Vital Theology

Publisher

Rempel, John D.

Assoc. Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Ass. Prof. Historical Theology

Rensberger, David

Interdenominational Theological Center

Prof. New Testament

Riswold, Caryn

Illinois Colege

Assistant Professor of Religion

Rodriguez, Rev. Dr. Daniel R.

McCormick Theological Seminary

Professor Emeritus of Church History

Rogers, Eugene F., Jr.

University of Virginia

Associate Professor

Russell, Rev. Dr. Horace O.

Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary

Professor of Historical Theology (Ret.)

Sanders, Cheryl J.

Howard University

Professor of Christian Ethics

Schmitz, Gladys

School Sisters of Notre Dame, Mankato

SSND

Scholer, David

 

Professor of New Testament

Scorgie,Dr.  Glen G.

Bethel Seminary San Diego

Professor of Theology

Scott, Dr. Lindy

Wheaton College

Associate Professor of Spanish

Shuman, Joel James

King’s College

Department of Theology

Shurden, Walter B.

Mercer University

Professor of Christianity and Executive Director of the Ctr. For Baptist Studies

Shuster, Marguerite

Fuller Theological Seminary

Professor of Preaching

Simmons, Morgan

Garrett/Evangelical Seminary

Retired Professor

Slessarev-Jamir, Helene

Wheaton College

Associate Professor of Politics and International Relations/Dir. Of Urban Studies

Sniegocki, John

Xavier University

Professor of Theology

Snodgras, Prof. Klyne

North Park Theological Seminary

Paul W. Brandel Professor of New Testament

Soards, Marion L.

Louisville Presbyterian Theol. Sem.

Professor of New Testament Studies

Stam, Doris

Latin America Mission

 

Stam, Juan

Latin American Mission & Nat’l. Univ. of Costa Rica

 

Stassen, Glen

Fuller Theological Seminary

Professor of Christian Ethics

Stauffer, Michael

Wheaton College

Associate Professor

Stubbs, David

Western Theological Seminary Assistant Professor of Ethics and Theology

Swartley, Willard M.

Assoc. Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Prof. New Testament (Emeritus)

Swartzenruber, Dr. Elaine K.

Wake Forest University

Ass. Prof. Religion – Theology and Culture

Tankerlsey, Bruce

East Texas Baptist University

 

Taylor, Mark

Princeton Theological Seminary

Prof. Theology and Culture

Teig, Dr. Mons A.

Luther Seminary

Professor of Worship

Thiemann, Ronald F.

Harvard Divinity School

Professor of Theology and Religion and Society

Tull, Rev. Dr. Patricia K.

Louisville Presbyterian Seminary

Professor of Old Testament

Utz, John

Duke Divinity School

Visiting Assistant Prof. of Lit. and Theology

Van Leeuwen, Raymond C.

Eastern University

Professor of Biblical Studies

Van Dyk, Dr. Leanne

Western Theological Seminary

Dean & Prof. Reformed Theology

Verhey, Allen

Duke Divinity School

Professor of Christian Ethics

Volf, Dr. Miroslav

Yale University

Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology and Director of Yale Center for Faith and Culture

Voth, Dr. Esteban

United Bible Societies

Translation Consultant

Wagener, Linda

Fuller Theological Seminary

SOP Assistant Dean

Wagner, Don

North Park University, Chicago

Professor

Wagner, J. Ross

Princeton Theological Seminary

Associate Professor of New Testament

Wallis, Jim

Sojourners

Editor

Weaver, Dorothy Jean

Eastern Mennonite Seminary

Professor of New Testament

West, Dr. Cornel

Princeton University

Professor of Religion and African American Studies

Westermeyer, Paul

Luther Seminary

Professor of Church Music

Wheeler, Sondra

Wesley Theological Seminary

Martha Ashby Carr Professor of Christian Ethics

Willimon, Will

Duke University

Former Dean of the Chapel and Professor of Christian Ministry at Duke University

Wink, Johnny

Ouachita Baptist University

Professor

Wirzba, Norman

Georgetown College

Chair of Philosophy

Witherington, Dr. Ben

Asbury Theological Seminary

Professor of New Testament

Wood, Ralph C.

Baylor University

University Professor of Theology and Literature

Wylie-Kellerman, Bill

S.C.U.P.E.

Director of Graduate Theological Urban Studies

Yoder, Dr. Nathan E.

Eastern Mennonite Seminary

Associate Professor of Church History

Yoder, Perry

Assoc. Mennonite Biblical Seminary

Prof. Old Testament

 





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