Radical Preaching

Can preaching again have something to say?
This blog marks the attempt to bring the theological vision of Radical Orthodoxy into the worship and preaching of the local church.

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Dan Bell's Response to Our Reflections

Since you have graciously invited other comments, I will offer my two cents worth.

I think you have read Foucault and my work well, regarding the ubiquity of power, but have drawn perhaps the wrong conclusions from that reading.

It is a common criticism of Foucault that his account of the ubiquity of power forecloses the possibility of resistance and escape. This, however, is a critique that misses the mark for at least two reasons.

First, to argue that power is not always already present across the social field is tantamount to allowing all power to be contained and controlled by dominant social formations such as the nation state or corporation or market. The result is that those who do not share in that space and that power are truly powerless, and therefore hopeless.

To deny Foucault on the ubiquity of power is far more pessimistic, fatalistic than to affirm him.

Second, Foucault understood -- rightly I believe -- that the pervasive character of power was a source of hope and a marker for the constant potential of resistance. The ubiquity of power is good news. It means that no matter how hard Sam Walton or Bill Gates or [name your own icon of capital] try, they cannot triumph. Their dominion is always unstable, uncertain, partial. Power can [and does] always escape them.

[The very possibility of this conversation is a tiny proof of that.]

That power is ubiquitous means that no mere social formation can acquire and maintain definitively a monopoly on power. Power is more like a herd of cats or sand, or to pick up on Deleuze, a fog, than it is like a brick or a weapon that can be captured and safely contained.

Which means that at any moment and in any place resistance, alternatives, can irrupt.

It means that the front on which the battle can be waged is much larger than we thought and therefore capital has a lot more to defend, which is where Foucault's notion of governmentality is so helpful-- his account of how we can be formed economically even in the midst of what appear to be non-economic practices.

The reverse of this is that capitalism can be undermined in a multitude of ways, even ways that do not appear to be directly economic. For example, teaching the youth the virtues of truthfulness and charity in vacation Bible school can be devistating for capital.... as can be caring for the elderly or the dying at home.... or practicing the spiritual disciplines such as prayer and fasting.

Granted such formation cannot stand alone -- in the sense that if the youth are only taught truthfulness and charity for a week or so during VBS, there is little chance of their standing against capitalist deformation.


Now, of course, Foucault lacked the theological resources to account for this irruption and so finally his vision is deficient. But, in friendly disagreement with one response, I do not begin with a secular accout of power. The basis of the account of power I offer is finally an ontology of desire drawn from the Christian tradition. On page 2, I believe, I state that the account of desire and hence power that I propose is but a gloss on the long theological tradition that is so memorably captured in Augustine's famous statement in his Confessions -- our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.

How does this make a difference? Whereas Foucault finally cannot give a cogent account of the possibility of resistance and liberation, we Christians have this pesky thing called the Holy Spirit, who "blows where it will." Hence, that power is ubiquitous does not comfort and console capitalism, but rather terrifies it.

(I am reminded of the fear that contemporary terrorism arouses -- in part because its threat is ubiquitous, not finally containable to a clearly defined battlefront or some country over there that is far from here.)


At any moment and in any place -- a board room, the oval office, wall street, a homeless shelter, an assembly line, even a seminary classroom -- desire can escape the bonds of capital.

Romero was mentioned in a reflection. Who can forget the powerful scene in the movie when shortly after his elevation to archbishop two of the bad guys comment that he is a "safe choice" who will not rock the boat. Of course, they had no reason to think otherwise. There was little in Romero's life that foreshadowed his transformation. Well, little besides the Holy Spirit and the Gospel read and proclaimed, and the Eucharist and holy friends like R Grande.

All of which leads me to argue that Foucault can help us remember that finally the struggle is not between power and powerlessness, between powerful capital and powerless opponents.

Rather, the struggle is over the shaping of the constitute human power that is our desire for God. Capitalism deforms that God-given and sustained power (after all, all power is from God, capitalism is but a distortion or corruption of that original good, creative power) whereas resistance and liberation (salvation in more classical theological terms) is about power shaped in a different manner --say, the power of love, charity, faith, hope, joy, etc.

Hence, the struggle is not between power and powerlessness, but between vicious and virtuous power. Between capitalist deformations and corruptions of power and the cruciform power of God. "My power is made perfect in weakness..." The power of weakness. The power of the cross --here I find Yoder helpful. See especially the difficult chapter in Politics of Jesus on Revolutionary Subordination. It took me several years of reading and teaching that before I began to get it (yes, I am slow). The subordination of the cross, and the Christian life, is NOT powerlessness, but the divine power of weakness.(I discuss this cruciform power near the end of the book.) Another book that helped me get a bit of a handle on this -- in terms of my own deformation such that I can only think of power in "ramboesque" ways was Sharon Welch's A FEMINIST ETHIC OF RISK. For the many difficulties I have with that book, she does a wonderful job in my opinion of helping me see how my social location has corrupted how I understand the power to effect change.

Never forget that power, the ability to resist, etc, does not depend finally on what capital etc controls or lets escape, but on God's faithful giving to God's people. This is but another way of stating the hopefulness attendent upon the ubiquity of power. Because capital, sin in any of its forms, cannot possibly capture all power, because it finally cannot capture God even as it tries to by marketing God and faith and spirituality, there is always already present the [divinely given] power of resistance that may appear anywhere anytime -- what Yoder refers to as the brushfire reading of history.

Our power to live the Christian life does not depend on what the state or corporation will permit. It depends solely on God's fidelity and our willingness to trust God. As Yoder wrote, all the state, etc. can do is make discipleship more costly. Capital finally does not provide or deny the conditions of possibility for faithfulness.

Which leads to my last point. There is some question about "where is this church?" and comments on radical orthodoxy's inability to be concrete. I have no interest in defending or attacking "radical orthodoxy" (As Bill Cavanaugh likes to remind folks -- its only a book series after all), and I think that some of the question in this regard is born of observing many of the authors' in the series penchant for delving into ontology.

I will speak mostly for myself in this regard. Cavanaugh's book does engage a concrete ecclesial community and practice -- the Catholic Church in Chile and the eucharist. Likewise, I learn from a concrete community and practice -- the Latin American church of the poor and the practice of forgiveness (which, by the way, I think has some interesting correlations with the discussion of lament insofar as confession is part and parcel of the practice of forgiveness).

But even more importantly, I would argue that this church about which we speak and pray and confess is all around us. Although I think in general the North American church is in pretty lousy shape, I have yet to be in a church where the divine gifts that God graciously sets in our midst are not active santifying lives.

Where is this church, concretely, empirically? Where the Word is proclaimed and the sacraments duly administered. This church is right in our midst, right in front of us, all around us. The liberating gifts of God are all around us.

To put it even more bluntly. Where is this church? Look in the mirror. Look at your own life. How did you get to where you are in your Christian walk? There is the church. Think about all the saints you know -- local and otherwise.... a campus minister I know, a Sunday school teacher, a business exec, Dorothy Day, Gustavo Gutierrez, etc. How did God get ahold of them? You want to know where this church is, then follow the saints.

Note that this is no argument for purity. The practice I lift up in the book is confession/forgiveness. The church is not necessarily where we have it all figured out, where we have already completely escaped capital, etc, but it is where we are on the way of salvation. (Barth has a wonderful quote to this effect.)

The question is not finally where is this church, but why don't we see it? Why don't we avail ourselves of it? Why do we forego our birthright for the pap that so often passes for preaching and teaching, what MLKJr called "pious irrelevancies and sanctimonious trivialities"? How have we managed to make God so boring, uninteresting? (I am reminded of Annie Dillard's comment about church goers should wear crash helmets and protective gear when they go to worship the living God...) Spiritual blindness and deafness is a persistent theme in much of the NT, especially the gospels.

In this regard, the question "where is the church?" is more theological than sociological (Not that the two can finally be divorced).

The question, "where is this church?" seems to me to come down to a question of eschatology or even providence. Do we believe that God is acting in history now to overcome the forces of sin, death and the devil or not? If so, then the question cannot be "where is this church?" but can only be "why don't we see it?"

If we do not believe that God is actively overcoming even capital now, then the interesting question is not "where is this church?" but rather "Is such a non-involved god worth following?"

I for one do not believe that such a non-involved god bears even a family resemblance to the God whose story is told in Scripture. In this regard, I am always reminded of Jesus' response to the followers of JOhn when they confront him with the question of whether he is the one. His response is, "What do you see?" The messiah is one who makes a holy difference in this world.

Granted, in this time between the times the fullness of that difference is not yet present, but it has already begun to be present.

FYI, I have an essay that argues this eschatological point more thoroughly with regard to capitalism, and it can be found on the web at THE OTHER JOURNAL.

Well, I have rambled for way too long and no doubt taken gross advantage of your conversational hospitality. So I will close.

Grace and peace,

Dan Bell

5 Comments:

Blogger Scott said...

Dan,

Thank you for taking the time to respond to our reflections on Liberation Theology after the End of History.

I appreciate the help with Foucault. I am also deeply appreciative of your comments on the hope that is the local church.

Finally, I also greatly appreciate your willingness to devote such a length of time to craft a response to our ramblings.

Grace and Peace,
Scott

December 02, 2005 10:31 PM  
Blogger isaac said...

Prof. Bell, your comments were so helpful. At one point it sounded like you thought I was trying to argue against you ("in friendly disagreement with one response, I do not begin with a secular accout of power"). I wasn't trying to pick a fight, they were just questions. I am not about to say that I understand your project better than you do! Forgive me if my questions came across as attacks. I just always have a lot of questions, and am grateful for all that you wrote it response--it really cleared alot up for me. And, at the time, you provoked my curiosity about some other things.

I agree whole-heartedly with your description of Foucault on the ubiquity of power and the possibility of resistance. You write, "at any moment and in any place resistance, alternatives, can irrupt." I get that. That sounds like Foucault through and through. And it seems like your research into the "crucified people" in Latin America echoes how Foucault talks about his project: "it is always necessary to watch out for something, a little beneath history, that breaks with it, that agitates it; it is necessary to look, a little behind politics, for that which ought to limit it, unconditionally" ("Is It Useless to Revolt?", p.9). I think you give us readers a wonderful gift by looking where Foucault guides us to look: "the underside of history," as Gutierrez talks about all the time. I guess the thing I think about is how Foucault talks about how all those singular irruptions don't necessarily free themselves forever from the plane of repressive power. For Foucault, I think, every insurrection isn't safe--the emancipatory discourse of the subjugated gets inverted and incorporated by power. So, the liverative weapons of the weak don't belong to the weak for very long--tools of resistance tend to switch hands. So, Foucault gives us the irruptions of power that you talk about, but he also warns against a triumphalism that says we escape all the time. And I guess that's what I have questions about. Is Foucault helpful here because he keeps the church modest? At this point I wonder what you think about Nicholas Healy's concern about the ecclesial anxiety that "surfaces not only in Hauerwas and those he has influenced, but in Radical Orthodoxy, communion ecclesiology, and in some forms of postliberalism, too" (SJT 57.3).

But, here is where I think your comments here on this blog are so helpful for me. There doesn't seem to be an anxiety when you say that the church is everywhere, we just need to learn to see it. I like that. But then I wonder if you want to draw any distinctions between the kingdom and the church. (It sounds like you say that the church is where the sacraments are, and also "the liberating gifts of God are all around us." Like I said, that makes me wonder about how you see the church and kingdom fitting together.

Those are just some questions I had as I read your helpful clarifications.

Thanks again,
isaac villegas

December 09, 2005 2:29 PM  
Blogger Eric Lee said...

Dr. Bell,

Thank you for your time and comments as well. That was most helpful!

I just loaned your book to a sociology professor friend of mine at PLNU so I will have to get to it another day.

I noticed you recommended a Carol J. Adams book on your faculty page. I've read her Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory and found it to be a very helpful description of power in patriarchy and even the meat industry.

Peace,

Eric

December 13, 2005 12:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am humbled by the generosity of your comments as well as the insightfulness and charity of your questions. Such charitable readers unfortunately tend to be the exception rather than the norm, it seems, in the academy.

As for your questions. One comment raised the question of triumphalism and whether we can finally escape. (I know I am altering the comment.) This is a really tricky question. On one hand, we must not lose sight / faith that God has given us all that we need. So, the answer is, “yes, we can escape, completely.” Once we have Jesus, we have everything we need. (Luther has an awesome quote to this effect – Once you have Jesus, the rest of your life is a surplus to be spent for the sake of your neighbor...) The victory has been won. Death has been defeated. It has lost its sting. We are completely victorious now in Christ. We do not have to sin.

(Granted, there is a debate within the tradition as to whether we will always in this temporal life experience conflicted passions. Wesley, in his understanding of the possibility of perfection as the absence of conflicted passions, is definitely in the minority. Indeed, it might even be fair to call him heterodox in this regard. Yet, even as the majority of the tradition thought that conflicted passions would remain in this life, until roughly the birth of modernity virtually no one believed that we had to sin, that we could not withstand those conflicted passions.)

(It seems silly to say this. It is simply the gospel, the good news. But it is too rarely heard and even more rarely lived these days. Is not the hyperventilating concern for security but a confession that we do not believe or have not heard from our unfaithful preachers – I include myself here, no throwing stones at others– the good news that death need not be feared? Thank God for the witness of the CPTers in Iraq. There are some folks who apparently believe the gospel, that dying is not the thing most to be feared, nor is living to be cherished above all else.)

Of course, such a claim will set off all sorts of alarm bells in the minds of many. Does not such a claim smack of some sort of blindness to the persistence of evil, even the evil resident in my own heart and on grand display in my own life? Does it not run afoul of the traditional recognition of the eschatological tension between the now and the not yet?

The answer is “no” on all counts. How can this be? Well, one way to get a handle on this is to ask, what does this escape, this victory look like now? And, does this victory now look the same as Christ’s coming in final victory?

What does this victory in this time between the times look like? The cross. It looks like Golgotha and not a suite in the Trump Towers or a secure bunker in the Pentagon, or a resort home on some secure tropical island.

Another way to get a handle on this is to ponder that the cross was not a defeat that was somehow reversed by the resurrection. The cross was part and parcel of Christ’s victory – just like most of us recognize in Christ’s refusal of the devil’s temptations also a victory and not a defeat. Of course, the cross is not a victory independent of the rest of Christ’s life – pre and post resurrection. (Here I am just trying to continue to think through the profound logic of Christ’s passion that Yoder began to uncover for me in that chapter in the Politics of Jesus.)

What will our triumph look like when Christ comes in final victory? Every tear will be wiped away, mourning and pain will cease... etc. (Revelation 21:1ff.) Our victory now takes the form of the cross; finally victory will look more like a global hymn sing or maybe a good ole Methodist camp meeting. :)

Does this make any sense? It is commonplace in contemporary theology to argue that because of sin, all righteousness cannot be fulfilled now, that that will have to wait until some time in the future, or post mortem. But, as Barth said, this is to take sin too seriously. (What he says is, we should take sin seriously, but grace even more seriously.) But to claim that righteousness is not possible now is finally to say that God has left us wanting (contra the 23rd Psalm, “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want...”)

Now for the “on the other hand.” What makes the question of victory so tricky is that even as we should confess that the blessed Trinity has provided all that we need, and that the victory can be ours now in Christ, we continue to disbelieve, to succumb to temptation, to sin.

We can be victorious here and now; but here and now the victory is not uncontested. (Foucault can be invoked here, as per the comments.). This is no easy victory. It is victory like Christ’s victory in the Garden – a victory that is attended with sweating blood.

Put differently, and more bluntly. We do not triumph now not because God fails to provide but because we fail to accept the gifts God gives. We do not triumph now, not because the powers are too strong. Granted they are stronger than we are. In baptism we renounce all sorts of powers and principalities that far exceed our will power to overcome or even our ability to understand. But what makes baptism anything other than a comic farce?

The power of the Holy Spirit.

We do not triumph now because we refuse the power we are given by the Holy Spirit in Christ’s body, the church, to suffer and die along with our loved ones. (Ouch. This good news does not feel so good. Sort of like Simeon’s words at Jesus’ presentation in the Temple (Lk 2). I have always thought that if Christmas was rightly preached, along the lines of Simeon’s words, it would scare the candy canes out of us. Who wants that kind of baby around?!?!)

So, to summarize what I have said. Yes, we can triumph completely here and now. God gives us the gifts that make that possible. (“What is impossible for humanity is possible for God...” someone once said.) But this victory is not uncontested. Hence, it will look like the cross – as we fight temptation and as the world treats us like it treated Jesus.

The reason we do not triumph is because we do not believe. We prefer the darkness to the light. Because the Gift is in our midst and we do not recognize it.

Too much of modern theology and contemporary Christian life seems to take not the good news of God’s gift, but sin as the starting point for talking about the Christian life. We talk with sin having already set limits on what God and we can do in this world. And then the Christian life becomes just a matter of managing sin, of a utilitarian calculus of making sure sin works out for the greatest good that always includes me.

What bridges the gap between these two realities? Between the possibility of victory in Christ and the (im)possibility of sin persisting in our life? Confession. Lamentation. The spiritual disciplines. The Means of Grace that make us better than we otherwise would be, that help us grow on the way of salvation, the way of holiness.

Some may recognize that by calling sin an impossibility I am following Augustine and reversing R. Niebuhr who mistakenly thought that holiness was the impossible possibility. Niebuhr got it backwards. As Augustine recognized, sin, as a surd, is not a possibility. But it happens. That is what makes it a surd. Sin is the impossible possibility whereas holiness is the possibility for which we were created, are sustained and redeemed. And this holiness is rightly termed friendship with God.

Does any of this make sense? Please push me on this or correct me.

The question about the church and the kingdom, I think, can be answered more succinctly. The kingdom is greater than the church – temporally and perhaps eternally, depending on which of following lines you find helpful.

There are at least two ways to think about this. 1. God works outside the church. (Thank God God does or this world would be in real trouble!). We know this from Scripture. There is Israel. Cyrus, the Assyrians, the Gentiles! (Acts), etc. There are the statements to the effect that God causes the rain to fall and the sun to shine on the good and bad alike, etc etc. And many of us will confess that we can glimpse God working through the pagans outside the church – just as we hope and pray that God works through many of us pagans inside the church, in spite of ourselves.

I can get more personal here. I have been involved in prison work and volunteering at homeless shelters for many years now. And I meet all sorts of folks and organizations, many of whom are not affiliated with Christianity – and some perhaps dismissive of Christianity – and yet it is clear that they are means of grace. Through them God is making me better, better fitting me for heaven. And not just me.

Note what I have NOT said. I have not said “one God with many names” and gone on in my ignorance to embrace other religions. There is one God, one Lord, one Savior. The blessed Trinity. Yahweh the triune. I have argued that Jesus etc works outside the Church. That is the witness of Scripture, plain and simple.

I am agnostic about other “religions.” But my agnosticism is bounded. By this I mean that Jesus is clearly revealed in the Christian tradition and however Jesus may be at work outside the church extending the Kingdom, that work is not going to contradict how Jesus is clearly revealed in the Christian tradition.

In other words, everyone needs Jesus, and when Jesus gets you, where ever you are, it is not going to contradict how Jesus is clearly revealed in the Christian tradition. Put simply, if Jesus clearly tells us to forgive our enemies, if you think he told you to blow up the trade center, it is not Jesus you are talking with and listening to.

In other words, Jesus revealed in Christianity is the criteria for helping us discern how Jesus is working toward the kingdom outside the church. FYI, this is quite consistent with the way the Christian tradition has always said we are to discern God’s working in the world. Vestigia trinitatis.

This position rejects both the narrow exclusivity that fails to recognize the Trinity working outside the church and so may be prone to equate the church with the kingdom prematurely as well as the vacuous pluralism that restricts Jesus to the church while recognizing some abstract universal god.

It seems to me that the one position fails to recognize the Scriptural witness of the Trinity working for the kingdom outside the church and the other position both relativizes Christ and makes judgments about other religions that very few are really in a position to make (very few people actually know other traditions well enough to speak authoritatively about them in the ways the pluralists want to. Usually the pluralists just assert that all the religions are similarly oriented, and usually they do this by manipulating all the other religions to fit their own categories. One of my favorite examples of this is the way some pluralists will say “Buddhism and Christianity are two ways of worshiping the same god.” When the truth of the matter is that some forms of Buddhism do not recognize any god.....

Ok. I will stop here because I fear I have opened a huge can of worms in an effort to try and discern what exactly the question about the church and kingdom was getting at. Other religions? Ecclesiocentrism? Sectarianism? Virtuous pagans?

(There is no hard “ecclesiocentrism” here – to borrow a pejorative term from the Latin American liberationists. All the talk about the church in my work and teaching – and I think this holds for Hauerwas as well, but I will not speak for him– is not a claim that only in the church is interesting and important stuff happening. I am not interested in replacing the kingdom with the church. My Bible does not have Jesus preaching the church. He preaches the kingdom. Rather, the strong ecclesiology that we advocate is more a matter of addressing a particular problem in a particular place. The North American church in the 21st century. This is a message targeted at church folk who do not see the politics of Jesus, who have been taught to think that the nation state defines their politics and the Jesus just wants them to be good [pick your party] democrats or republicans.

In other words, Jesus may not preach the church – he preaches the kingdom – but he GATHERS the church as a witness to the kingdom. I am convinced that Hauerwas’ work has been about gathering the church so that it can hear the word and witness to the kingdom of God. And it is what my work has been focused on thus far. The premise, I suppose, is something like this. If the church is not rightly gathered, then the only kingdom Christians end up preaching and proclaiming is that of whatever nation state or market they happen to be living in.

The centrality of the church to the right reading of the Scripture is hard for us Protestants to see. We are so used to reading it as “me and Jesus” and we have been taught to not like Catholicism and to be suspicious of Catholic-sounding claims for the church. So it is hard for us to see that even though Jesus did not preach the church, the church was in fact the presupposition of every word he uttered. (It is too late for me to fill this statement out, and nuance it in all the ways it needs to be – so that it does not erase Israel or make the Word dependent on the church, but the Church dependent on the Word, etc. So I will just let this stand baldly and hope I have not wandered into a theological thicket from which I cannot extract myself.)

And this work outside the church is work that heralds the kingdom’s coming. The church has no monopoly on Kingdom witness and work. Which is no way curtails our evangelistic effort.

2. One can think about this eschatologically. The church in a sense is as temporal/temporary as the “state”. There is a sense in which in heaven, when the kingdom comes in all its fullness, there is no church, no temple (Rev. 21:22).

Of course, there is another way to read the church, as the whole people of God and in that sense the church attains its full stature in eternity and so point 1 does not hold. The tradition has drawn this distinction in terms of the church militant and the church triumphant.

Either way,(and this I suppose is my point) here in this time between the times the church and the kingdom are not coterminous. And in eternity, depending on how you read "church," either the church gives way to the kingdom or they do become coterminous as all are gathered together as the whole people of God.

Does this get at the heart of the question, or did I miss something?

Finally, thanks for the lead on Carol Adams’ book. I mention her on my website because her book on domestic violence is a great brief introduction to how to deal with it in a pastoral situation. Domestic violence is a huge problem here in South Carolina, as it is everywhere, and I have been shamed into recognizing the pathos of my own talk and teaching about Christian peaceableness as I ignore this pervasive violence. (I will say that I am a little suspicious of Adam’s theological take at times, but that in no way undercuts the practical helpfulness of her book.)

Sorry to be so long winded, but y’all ask some interesting questions that help me think through some of this.

A blessed Advent. Dan

December 14, 2005 11:14 PM  
Blogger Eric Lee said...

Dan,

Thanks again for your wonderful comment!

Isaac asked me a similar question that he asked you about the relationship between the Church and the Kingdom of God. At the time, I came up with the following:

"The Kingdom of God is the reality that Christ has given us with his life, death, and resurrection. He has given that reality to his Church by the Spirit, but the Church still has to participate in that reality and event of Christ. There are plenty of times in history where I think we can safely say, "Okay, the Church in that situation definitely was not participating in the true Kingdom of God", (i.e. German church's capitulation to Hitler, etc.). I think perhaps it comes down to whether or not we are living like the Kingdom of God has in fact broken through our reality. We know it has, but we don't always choose to participate faithfully in it because of our own sin. Perhaps not until the consummation will the Church finally be the same as the Kingdom of God."

Is that similar to what you were saying? The Church in Germany is one very stark example, but I'm sure we could find myriad other examples. Your criticisms welcome, as always.

Also, when you say with trepidation:

"So it is hard for us to see that even though Jesus did not preach the church, the church was in fact the presupposition of every word he uttered."

I think Stanley's Unleashing the Scripture is very helpful in seeing this: both the main thesis arguments at the beginning of the book concerning the "text" and the Church but also the wonderful "A Sermon on the Sermon on the Mount" found around pages 65~72 or so. "Blessed are the peacemakers" is ultimately unintelligible unless you are a community that presupposes non-violence, i.e. "blessed are those who find themselves in a community where they actively seek peace through non-violent confrontation, reconciliation, and forgiveness." Otherwise it would be some sort of Niebuhrian unatainable ideal in this lifetime, no?

Again, thanks for your carefully-thought-out and gracious comment. We are humbled that you've taken the time to respond to us.

Peace,

Eric

December 16, 2005 9:00 AM  

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