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Just Peacemaking: Transforming Initiatives for Justice and Peace.

Stassens's wide-ranging yet thematically unified work presents a "just peacemaking theory" as supporting pacifism and filling out the criteria of just-war theory (233). S. skillfully interweaves his extensive knowledge of international affairs, and especially of "the Turning" (the nonviolent revolution in East Germany), with a study of the call for peace in the New Testament. Of particular note is his new but thoroughly convincing reading of the "triadic" structure of Matthew's Sermon on the Mount, which directs the evangelized toward concrete transforming initiatives against the bondage of sinful practices. Thus "love your enemies," e.g., becomes the practical political "affirm their valid interests" (77).

The heart of the book is S.'s seven steps of just peacemaking, which emerge from his political and scriptural analyses. He supports each step with concrete examples. In connection with step 2, "Take Independent Initiatives," he discusses the formulation and implementation of the nuclear "zero option" in Europe, which was "not proposed but opposed by Washington" (117). To support his step 4, "Seek Human Rights and Justice," S. discusses the Christian origin of human rights before the Enlightenment in his illuminating presentation of Richard Overton. He uses the specific recovery program of Al-Anon to illustrate how concretely we are to acknowledge and emerge from vicious cycles (step 5).

With such substantiation in their introduction, S.'s criteria for just peace are considerably less formal and open to manipulation than the criteria for just war. This is an informative and important work which will enlighten both the academic and broader human audiences which S. addresses.
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Author:Harak, G. Simon
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 1993
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