European Mennonite theologians tackle violence and God

By staff writers
June 22, 2006

European Mennonite theologians tackle violence and God

-22/06/06

With religiously-sanctioned violence an increasing topic of debate in global politics, academics and church workers from one of the main ëhistoric peace churchesí are about to meet in North London, UK, to discuss the issue.

The second London Mennonite Theology Forum, the third in a series of English-language consultations of European Mennonite theologians, will be held over the next two days (22-23 June 2006) ñ with the issue of God and violence at the centre of the agenda. There will also be participants from other Christian traditions, including Anglican and Baptist.

The first two consultations dealt with the themes of the atonement and the ecumenical creeds, say the organisers. These both touched on the question of whether God is nonviolent. The latest gathering will focus explicitly on that question.

Explains organizer Vic Thiessen: ìMennonites are no longer debating the questions of whether our theology should be pacifist (it should) or whether our pacifism should be active (it should). However, there is [an awareness of] the need for a comprehensive theology of nonviolence to undergird our commitment. Such a theology of nonviolence includes the foundational question: Is God Nonviolent?'"

He adds: ìOn this question, there is still much debate among Mennonites. How do we, as Christian pacifists, view God? And, related to this question, how do we read and interpret a Bible that seems to depict a violent God?î

These are the matters which will be addressed by, among others, special guest Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, author of ëJesus Against Christianity: Reclaiming the Missing Jesusí, ëIs Religion Killing Us: Violence in the Bible and the Quríaní and ëSaving Christianity From Empireí.

Nelson-Pallmeyer is Assistant Professor of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota, USA, and a longtime Christian peace and justice activist. He is also speaking at a seminar on 24 June 2006 organised by the London Mennonite Centre and supported by Ekklesia.

The Mennonites are strongly associated with the active non-violent intervention work of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), who shot to global attention when four of their workers (three subsequently released and one killed) were taken hostage in Baghdad last year.

CPT, an ecumenical organization founded by the peace churches, commits to working on-the-ground in conflict zones and to ìgetting in the wayî of war, injustice and violence.

It is involved in promoting alternatives, working with local groups and churches, civil society building, human rights monitoring and accompaniment of threatened civilians.

Christian Peacemaker Teams works in Iraq, Palestine-Israel, Colombia, the USA, Canada and elsewhere. It is currently exploring partnerships in Africa.

CPT has supporters in the UK, who recently met in Bradford and heard from ex-hostage Norman Kember. British Mennonite writer Veronica Zundel presented the work of the group to the recent conference of Pax Christi, the Catholic peace movement.

Those involved in the European Mennonite Theology Forum say that tackling religious ideology and looking at the spiritual health and intellectual development of Christian discipleship is a vital complement to practical work.

Also on Ekklesia: Christian peacemakers stay committed to Iraq 19/06/06; Peace church seeks positive alternatives to military recruitment 13/06/06; Christian peace worker says al-Zarqawi death will not halt violence 09/06/06; Iraq hostage Tom Fox remembered by UK peacemakers 08/06/06; Norman Kember talks about life beyond his Iraq kidnap ordeal 07/06/06; UK Christian Peacemaker Teams meet to plan future 06/06/06; Christian Peacemaker Teams remain in Iraq with new plan; Briefing on Christian Peacemaker Teams; Christian peacemaker Norman Kember to give first major interview to the BBC ; Christian peacemakers can make a difference, Vatican Radio told; Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams; Archive of comment and features on Christian Peacemaking; Christian peacemaker Tom Fox killed in Iraq; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages; Getting in the Way: Stories From Christian Peacemaker Teams; Christian peacemakers report killings of women and children by US; Joy as Christian Peacemakers are freed in Iraq; Baghdad demo planned for Christian peacemaker hostages; Christians defend Iraq non-violence tactics against critics; Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think-tank; ëPeacenikí initiative will fund peacemakers to enter hotspots; Colonel Collins' attack on Kember misplaced, say Christian peacemakers;Churches urged to consider more radical peacemaking following Iraq; Kember still evaluating Christian peacemakers' role in Iraq; Peacemaker vigils in Washington and Toronto focus on Iraq policy; Clarification sought from army chief on false Kember snub allegation; Religious leaders call for end to detention without trial in Iraq; Military expert says peacemakers didnít imperil soldiers; What Norman said - from Iraq captive Kember's BBC interview; Al-Jazeera releases film of Iraq peace hostages; Think-tank questions 'ungrateful peacemakers' media allegations; The Simon Barrow column; Press briefing on released Christian Peacemakers; Christian peacemakers demand entry to Guantanamo Bay]

European Mennonite theologians tackle violence and God

-22/06/06

With religiously-sanctioned violence an increasing topic of debate in global politics, academics and church workers from one of the main ëhistoric peace churchesí are about to meet in North London, UK, to discuss the issue.

The second London Mennonite Theology Forum, the third in a series of English-language consultations of European Mennonite theologians, will be held over the next two days (22-23 June 2006) ñ with the issue of God and violence at the centre of the agenda. There will also be participants from other Christian traditions, including Anglican and Baptist.

The first two consultations dealt with the themes of the atonement and the ecumenical creeds, say the organisers. These both touched on the question of whether God is nonviolent. The latest gathering will focus explicitly on that question.

Explains organizer Vic Thiessen: ìMennonites are no longer debating the questions of whether our theology should be pacifist (it should) or whether our pacifism should be active (it should). However, there is [an awareness of] the need for a comprehensive theology of nonviolence to undergird our commitment. Such a theology of nonviolence includes the foundational question: Is God Nonviolent?'"

He adds: ìOn this question, there is still much debate among Mennonites. How do we, as Christian pacifists, view God? And, related to this question, how do we read and interpret a Bible that seems to depict a violent God?î

These are the matters which will be addressed by, among others, special guest Jack Nelson-Pallmeyer, author of ëJesus Against Christianity: Reclaiming the Missing Jesusí, ëIs Religion Killing Us: Violence in the Bible and the Quríaní and ëSaving Christianity From Empireí.

Nelson-Pallmeyer is Assistant Professor of Justice and Peace Studies at the University of St Thomas in St Paul, Minnesota, USA, and a longtime Christian peace and justice activist. He is also speaking at a seminar on 24 June 2006 organised by the London Mennonite Centre and supported by Ekklesia.

The Mennonites are strongly associated with the active non-violent intervention work of Christian Peacemaker Teams (CPT), who shot to global attention when four of their workers (three subsequently released and one killed) were taken hostage in Baghdad last year.

CPT, an ecumenical organization founded by the peace churches, commits to working on-the-ground in conflict zones and to ìgetting in the wayî of war, injustice and violence.

It is involved in promoting alternatives, working with local groups and churches, civil society building, human rights monitoring and accompaniment of threatened civilians.

Christian Peacemaker Teams works in Iraq, Palestine-Israel, Colombia, the USA, Canada and elsewhere. It is currently exploring partnerships in Africa.

CPT has supporters in the UK, who recently met in Bradford and heard from ex-hostage Norman Kember. British Mennonite writer Veronica Zundel presented the work of the group to the recent conference of Pax Christi, the Catholic peace movement.

Those involved in the European Mennonite Theology Forum say that tackling religious ideology and looking at the spiritual health and intellectual development of Christian discipleship is a vital complement to practical work.

Also on Ekklesia: Christian peacemakers stay committed to Iraq 19/06/06; Peace church seeks positive alternatives to military recruitment 13/06/06; Christian peace worker says al-Zarqawi death will not halt violence 09/06/06; Iraq hostage Tom Fox remembered by UK peacemakers 08/06/06; Norman Kember talks about life beyond his Iraq kidnap ordeal 07/06/06; UK Christian Peacemaker Teams meet to plan future 06/06/06; Christian Peacemaker Teams remain in Iraq with new plan; Briefing on Christian Peacemaker Teams; Christian peacemaker Norman Kember to give first major interview to the BBC ; Christian peacemakers can make a difference, Vatican Radio told; Briefing on media accusations against Christian Peacemaker Teams; Archive of comment and features on Christian Peacemaking; Christian peacemaker Tom Fox killed in Iraq; Iraqi, Muslim and Palestinian support for peace hostages; Getting in the Way: Stories From Christian Peacemaker Teams; Christian peacemakers report killings of women and children by US; Joy as Christian Peacemakers are freed in Iraq; Baghdad demo planned for Christian peacemaker hostages; Christians defend Iraq non-violence tactics against critics; Peace workers hold a key to Iraq solution, says think-tank; ëPeacenikí initiative will fund peacemakers to enter hotspots; Colonel Collins' attack on Kember misplaced, say Christian peacemakers;Churches urged to consider more radical peacemaking following Iraq; Kember still evaluating Christian peacemakers' role in Iraq; Peacemaker vigils in Washington and Toronto focus on Iraq policy; Clarification sought from army chief on false Kember snub allegation; Religious leaders call for end to detention without trial in Iraq; Military expert says peacemakers didnít imperil soldiers; What Norman said - from Iraq captive Kember's BBC interview; Al-Jazeera releases film of Iraq peace hostages; Think-tank questions 'ungrateful peacemakers' media allegations; The Simon Barrow column; Press briefing on released Christian Peacemakers; Christian peacemakers demand entry to Guantanamo Bay]

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