Tuesday, March 6, 2007

A WITNESS FOR PEACE

Dr. Timothy L. Smith (Ph.D., 1957, Johns Hopkins University) is most noted for his groundbreaking book (and doctoral dissertation) Revivalism and Social Reform. Few know of Smith's reflections addressed to his brethren during a 1970's dialogue on holiness and war. I've excerpted (ever so briefly) some of his comments from a compilation of addresses shared at that conference. The book is titled Perfect Love and War. If you can find it, let me know; I'd treasure a personal copy. Smith's reflections are, to me, important enduring touchstones.

DECLARING SHALOM. “What we set about when we began following Jesus was to become radically Christian persons linked in Christian compassion to a world of great evil… We really can’t find anything better to declare than ‘the peace of God that passeth all understanding.’ His shalom can fill those who trust in Him with the spiritual resources which will enable them to wage war on war, and provide them with weapons which by their peaceableness partakes of the nature of the kingdom for whose coming they both pray and work.”

MOVING THE WORLD. “Jesus’ words become for us who live in a war-cursed world a moral gauge of political action and conviction… We are trying by our professions of love to share with all mankind those hopes which our personal experience with Christ makes valid… The model of faithfulness, of peaceableness, of shalom, which exists within the Christian community is the ideal toward which we must try mightily to move the world.”

INFORMED BY THE ETHICS OF PEACE. “Though [the disciples] might not expect to see a completely peaceable society in their time – nor we in ours, so intractable are the political structures and social conventions by which men order their lives – yet, so as we are friends of Jesus, living in and caring for the world, the ethics of peace must inform our every political act and conviction.”

WAR AS EVIL. “My own existence as a person of peace, and the witness which I must bear to all mankind about spiritual as well as political shalom, depend on my rejection of war as basically evil. Being evil, it impoverishes all of a nation’s moral resources, weakens all of a people’s tendencies to gentleness, truthfulness and thoughtfulness, and frustrates the hopes which all political ideologies nurture.”

AGAINST STRIFE. “Jesus is trying to say to us that strife, considered both as the fruit of an egotistical will to power and as a customary way of securing it, is fundamentally destructive of the best which is in human beings.”

- Learn more about Timothy L. Smith
- Read a paper by Smith titled "A Wesleyan Theology of Salvation and Social Liberation"
- Thanks to Stan Ingersol and whoever else within Nazarenedom posted the info on Smith
- Explore links between holiness and peacemaking -- past, present & future -- with my ongoing online project - peaceandholiness

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