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Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians

By author: John Paul Lederach
Product Code: 9903
ISBN: 9780836199031
Pages: 192
Binding Information: Paperback / softback
Size: 8.50 x 5.50 inches

Publication Date: 8/11/2014

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“Emotionally powerful and full of practical advice and resources.”

Reconcile: Conflict Transformation for Ordinary Christians,by international mediator John Paul Lederach serves as a guidebook for Christians seeking a scriptural view of reconciliation and practical steps for transforming conflict.

Originally published as The Journey Toward Reconciliation and based on Lederach’s work in war zones on five continents, this revised and updated book tells dramatic stories of what works—and what doesn’t—in entrenched conflicts between individuals and groups. Lederach leads readers through stories of conflict and reconciliation in Scripture, using these stories as anchors for peacemaking strategies that Christians can put into practice in families and churches.

Lederach, who has written twenty-two books and whose work has been translated into more than twelve languages, also offers new lenses through which to view conflict, whether congregational conflicts or global terrorism. A new section of resources, created by mediation professionals, professors, and pastors, offers tools for understanding interpersonal, church, and global conflict, worship resources, books and websites for further study, and invitations to action in everyday life.

Free downloadable study guide available here.

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  • Foreword by Bill and Lynne Hybels
  • Preface
  • Chapter 1: The Threat to My Only Child
  • Chapter 2: Turning toward the Face of God: Jacob and Esau
  • Chapter 3: The Reconciliation Arts: Jesus
  • Chapter 4: In the Beginning Was Conflict: Creation
  • Chapter 5: When Conflict Burns and We Cry for Help: The Psalms
  • Chapter 6: Truth, Mercy, Justice, and Peace: Psalm 85
  • Chapter 7: Where Two or Three Meet: Matthew 18
  • Chapter 8: Keep Silent and Listen: Acts 15
  • Chapter 9: Reconciliation Is the Gospel: Paul’s Letters
  • Resources
  • Tools for Understanding Conflict
  • Interpersonal Conflict
  • Church Conflict
  • Global Conflict
  • Worship Resources
  • Prayers
  • Skit Based on Psalm 85
  • Resources for Further Study on Conflict and Reconciliation
  • Invitations to Action
  • The Author

When faced with conflict, many of us in the church operate by a series of understood but unexpressed rules and guidelines. I call them the “Unspoken Ten Commandments of Conflict in the Church.” The Unspoken Commandments are not exclusive to church circles; social scientists would suggest that they are rooted in a series of common dynamics that accompany conflict as it escalates.

This list looks with humor at our behavior, but I believe these Unspoken Commandments describe many people’s experiences. Such patterns may even come too close for comfort. In part, that is because these commandments connect with some typical responses that form the underpinnings, not of what we say we believe, but of what we actually do with conflict. What we actually do is our practice, or praxis.

Conflict is painful and messy. We may deal with the uncertainty of messiness on a theological level by suggesting that conflict is primarily a question of sin, “their” sin. At a personal level, we deal with the pain and anxiety by finding a variety of clever ways to avoid facing the conflict. We find justifications for moving away from rather than toward conflict. Too often we adjust our theology to match what we actually do. To support avoidance, we cite biblical clauses, using them detached from their context: “Have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions” (Titus 3:10).

Unspoken Ten Commandments of Conflict in the Church:

1. Thou shalt be nice. Always be nice. Yea, I say unto thee, “niceness” is the essence of Christianity.

2. Thou shalt not confront each other in public. Confrontation is nasty and unmanageable. If ever in doubt about confrontation, refer to commandment number one.

3. Should thou ever have the distasteful experience of confrontation, thou shalt not listen to thine enemy, but shalt prepare thy defense while the enemy is still speaking. Yea, I say unto thee, listening raises questions that weaken thy defense and may lead to compromise, impurity, and, heaven forbid, self-reflection. It is dangerous to change thy mind or admit that thou wert wrong. Truth is unchangeable.

4. Speak not with contentious folks who disagree with thee or who have raised thy “righteous” anger. Thou shalt seek out and talk to others about them. Yea, more, dear brothers and sisters, speak only with nice people who agree with thee. By speaking only with those with whom thou dost agree, thou wilt experience the true support of community…

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Review by: Emmanuel Katongole, coauthor of Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing - July 1, 2014

“A truly beautiful and profound book! A must-read for all Christians and all peace practitioners.”

Review by: David Gushee, distinguished professor of Christian ethics, Mercer University - July 1, 2014

“Concise and readable, this is an essential resource by one of the church’s most experienced peacemakers.”

Review by: Dale Hanson Bourke, author of The Israeli-Palestinian Conflict - July 1, 2014

“John Paul Lederach calls each of us to peacemaking that is active, practical, and redemptive. He effectively demonstrates that reconciliation is not passive or optional in the life of believers.”

Review by: Piet Meiring, former member of the South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission - July 1, 2014

“A profoundly moving and inspiring book! John Paul Lederach’s call to dream boldly and to act with enthusiastic pragmatism merits being taken seriously by pastors, students, and practitioners in the field.”

Review by: Sami Awad, founder and executive director, Holy Land Trust - July 1, 2014

“As more Christians become aware and engaged in global conflicts, it becomes easy to choose sides. This timely book by Lederach reminds us that our call is to transcend conflict and bring transformation and reconciliation to all those involved.”

Review by: Lisa Schirch, director of human security, Alliance for Peacebuilding - July 1, 2014

“Lederach waters the dream of reconciliation in our theological garden, compelling us to transform conflict as part of the Christian mission. With decades of experiments putting hands and feet on pacifist Christian theology, Lederach gives us a pragmatic guide for loving our enemies—at home and far away.”

Review by: Randy Newcomb, president and CEO, Humanity United - July 1, 2014

“In this deeply important and beautifully written book, John Paul Lederach offers a path to peace borne out of wisdom gained from years of experience both locally and globally. For those seeking reconciliation and peace among their families, churches, communities and, yes, countries, this is a must-read!”

Review by: Chris Seiple, president, Institute for Global Engagement - July 1, 2014

“With Reconcile, John Paul Lederach reminds Christians anew of what it means to be vulnerable and therefore practically Christian in a world full of conflict. If you believe that all Christians are foremost ambassadors of reconciliation—no matter their vocation or location—then this book will practically prepare you for the transformation that comes with a journey that is also the destination.”

Review by: Robert Schreiter, author of The Ministry of Reconcilation: Spirituality and Strategies - July 1, 2014

Reconcile equips its readers to deal with conflict within a solid biblical framework and with practical tools and skills. The additional material and list of readings from other skilled leaders only makes this book even more valuable. Highly recommended for anyone interested in approaching conflict and building reconciliation from a Christian point of view.”

Review by: Tom Porter, executive director of the religion and conflict transformation program, Boston University School of Theology - July 1, 2014

“[John Paul Lederach’s writing] was central to me and to many of my friends and students in the rediscovery of reconciliation as the mission of God and the calling of Christians.”

Review: Publishers Weekly - June 9, 2014

In an update of The Journey Toward Reconciliation (1999), Lederach (The Moral Imagination: Art and Soul of Building Peace) uses biblical stories to demonstrate what reconciliation and peace building look like. Jacob, for example, made himself vulnerable in moving toward Esau, a brother he knew he had wronged. Jesus was an active listener who accepted people from all stations of life. Lederach reframes Matthew’s advice about treating an unrepentant Christian transgressor as a Gentile or tax collector to mean that we should eat with and associate with those with whom we are in conflict. Lederach uses his own experiences as a scholar and hands-on mediator who has participated in reconciliation efforts in Latin America and Africa to help readers understand how we can move toward—not away—from our enemies. When his own daughter’s life was threatened, Lederach came to realize the potential cost of reconciliation. Written in a simple style, his analysis is both emotionally powerful and full of practical advice and resources.

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