Edited By Zachary Guiliano and Cameron Partridge
12. Preaching Peace in Violent Times: Faithful Approaches for Pacifist Pastors to Speak the Truth in Love. .
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12. Preaching Peace in Violent Times: Faithful Approaches for Pacifist Pastors to Speak the Truth in Love
WHAT IS the pacifist pastor to preach to a congregation of soldiers? In sum, that is the overarching question with which I will grapple in this essay. Much focused Christian ethical thought has been devoted to questions of just war and pacifism, the military and nonviolent resistance, cultural reform and counter witness—and much fruit has been borne from these labors. But not as much constructive theological attention has been paid to certain mundane features of life on the ground, chief of which is the simple fact that nearly all Christian congregations in the United States include or are welcoming of American soldiers as soldiers. Furthermore, the great majority of these communities are implicitly or (just as often) explicitly supportive of American military commitment and conduct. Apart from the historic peace churches, there are few, if any, actual pacifist congregations. What, then, is a pacifist pastor to preach—as one called, among other things, to proclaim the gospel—vis-à-vis subjects as troubling and divisive as violence, the military, and war? What is the line between truth and love, care and challenge, pastor and prophet? Where does the peripheral end and the essential begin?
It will be the focus and goal of this essay, not to answer these difficult questions, but to explore them with attentiveness and depth. My approach follows upon...
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