Is nonviolence irresponsible? Is peacemaking naïve?
From one of the most respected and prophetic voices in Christianity today comes Speak Your Peace. Ronald J. Sider, author of the influential Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, plumbs Scripture, building a persuasive case that Jesus meant what he said when he commanded us to love our enemies.
With candor and logic, Sider takes on enduring questions about violence and nonviolence, showing how the contemporary church in a warring world has largely set aside Jesus' call to love our enemies and traded its birthright in Christ for a stew of nationalism and militarism. But ignoring what Jesus said about killing is a huge theological mistake. Returning us to the inescapable call of the Son of God, Sider reminds the church of its true vocation in a world of hatred and war.
Table of Contents
1 The Central Questions 2 The Setting for Jesus’ Radical Teaching 3 Living in Jesus’ Dawning Kingdom 4 Why Many Christians Set Aside Jesus 5 Does the Rest of the New Testament Reflect What Jesus Taught? 6 But What about . . . ? 7 Jesus and Killing in the Old Testament 8 Foundational Theological Issues 9 Problems with Pacifism 10 Problems with Just-War Thinking 11 What If Most (or All) Christians Became Pacifists? 12 Nonviolence and the Atonement 13 Christians and Killing in Church History 14 If Jesus Is Lord
Notes The Author
Ronald J. Sider is the author or editor of forty books, including Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger, and is internationally renowned for his leadership among Christians who recognize the social, political, and spiritual implications of the gospel. Having earned a PhD from Yale University, Sider is distinguished senior professor emeritus of theology, holistic ministry, and public policy at Palmer Seminary at Eastern University and is founder and president emeritus of Evangelicals for Social Action. An ordained minister in both Mennonite and Brethren in Christ denominations, Sider lives with his wife, Arbutus, in eastern Pennsylvania. He blogs at Ronsiderblog.substack.com.
“For half a century Ron Sider has championed the call for gospel nonviolence. I’m deeply grateful for this reading of the Bible and the challenge to live it as a witness against the militarism of our culture’s war economy.”
~JONATHAN WILSON-HARTGROVE, author of Revolution of Values
“Ron Sider has long been an authoritative, faithful, and prophetic voice on issues of Christian faithfulness. Speak Your Peace creates a timely and compelling challenge to all Christians. Sider’s explication of Christian nonviolence, for both individuals and society, is one of the strongest I have seen and draws a clear picture of what it means to truly follow Jesus’ beatitude of ‘Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.’ To live this, one of the most fundamental teachings of Jesus, is central to what it means to believe and follow Christ in our time.”
~—JIM WALLIS, president of Sojourners, editor-in-chief of Sojourners magazine, and author of America’s Original Sin
“In times when most Christian institutions are focused on how to preserve, protect, and gain more earthly positions, a prophetic voice emerges to remind us of our core calling and duty in life as followers of Christ. As does any prophet in history, Ron Sider reminds us and challenges us to become the true peacemakers that Christ calls us to be.”
~SAMI AWAD, founder and programs developer of Holy Land Trust
“Speak Your Peace is a timely word in a world where violence is a daily global occurrence. Ron Sider’s love for Jesus, Scripture, and others comes through in his humble and thorough exploration of nonviolence as radical action. Sider dares us to consider Jesus’ call to love our enemies not as an idealistic goal, but as a realistic policy to be implemented in word and deed by individuals and communities.”
~KATHY KHANG, author of Raise Your Voice
“Ron Sider has done it again. In Speak Your Peace, he refuses to give up on the pro-human, enemy-loving, others-embracing God that we discover in Jesus. With poetic provocation, Sider challenges us to exchange the nationalist idols of flags and swords for the cross of Christ and invites us to imagine the restoration that’s possible if and when we do. I dare you to read this book . . . for if you do, you will discover a more authentic Jesus and a faith that’s worth your life.”
~JER SWIGART, cofounding director of The Global Immersion Project and coauthor of Mending the Divides
“Speak Your Peace is a tour de force on the peace teachings of Jesus. From a rich history of the political and religious context in which Jesus lived and down to the practical nitty-gritty of what Christian peacemaking actually looks like, Speak Your Peace cogently outlines what Jesus meant when he said, ‘Love your enemies.’ I could not recommend this book more! Thank you, Ron Sider, for this practical, illuminating tool for the church and those who are investigating life within it.”
~BRUXY CAVEY, senior pastor at The Meeting House and author of The End of Religion and Reunion
“Violence, war, and hating our enemies have moved into the normal range of the average person’s subconscious, regardless of their faith. Is it possible to change the course of war, violence, and hate? Speak Your Peace is giving answers, giving us imagination on God’s intention as well as courage to live it out. This is a revolutionary book for these days.”
~JO ANNE LYON, ambassador and general superintendent emerita of the Wesleyan Church
“Ron Sider has lived, thought, and prayed long enough to know what was in the heart of Jesus and what is the heart of the gospel. In sober, careful reasoning, he voices in a compelling way the claim that Jesus resists and refuses violence and performs a very different kind of transformation. As our society grows ever more fearful, and therefore prone to violence, this truth-telling word from Sider is an urgent one among us. Sider is not in any way naive; rather, he knows what it means to confess that ‘Jesus is Lord.’”
~WALTER BRUEGGEMANN, professor emeritus of Old Testament at Columbia Theological Seminary
“Ron Sider’s life and work have belied the generalization that evangelicals lack a sense of social and political responsibility. He has not let us forget, moreover, that Christians believe that justice is a demanding virtue which tests the soul. This is a book that could only be written by one who has experienced the demanding life and work of loving one’s enemies. By providing close readings of Jesus’ work and teachings, Sider helps us see that nonviolence is not a side issue in Jesus’ ministry, but rather is at the very heart of the kingdom Jesus proclaimed. The justice that is Jesus is the justice that is nonviolent.”
~STANLEY HAUERWAS, professor emeritus of divinity and law at Duke University