EARLIER THIS year, the Interfaith Partnership of metropolitan St. Louis held a public panel presentation addressing three Abrahamic religions—Judaism, Christianity, and Islam—on war and peace. Members of Interfaith Partnership and interested people from the community filled the chapel at Eden Theological Seminary to hear a Jewish scholar, a Muslim academic, and a Christian theologian (me) offer brief presentations on how our respective faith traditions value peace, as well as why, when, and how each religion views the use of violent force as sometimes morally justified.
During the question-and-answer period, I highlighted how in recent years both nonviolent and just war Christians have worked together on an approach, known as just peacemaking, for dealing with the underlying causes of war and thereby preventing its outbreak. As is often the case when I talk on this topic, most persons in the audience seemed unfamiliar with just peacemaking. After I attempted to clarify it further, someone asked the panel if other religious traditions had anything comparable to just peacemaking. The answer is yes, at least for Judaism and Islam, as shown in Interfaith Just Peacemaking, edited by Susan Brooks Thistlethwaite, a theologian and ordained minister in the United Church of Christ.
The 10 proactive practices that have been empirically proven as realistic and effective ways for preventing many wars form the framework for Interfaith Just Peacemaking. They were first identified in Just Peacemaking: The New Paradigm for the Ethics of Peace and War, edited by theological ethicist Glen H. Stassen. That book’s 23 contributors (scholars and practitioners from multiple disciplines—theology, political science, psychology, and history—and from pacifist and just-war perspectives) shared concerns about how just war has devoted insufficient attention to dealing with catalysts that lead to conflict (and not making war truly a last resort) and about how pacifism has failed to offer clear guidance about practical alternatives to war.