From the Editor: Responding to Violence
If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink (Prov. 25:21 NRSV; cited in Rom. 12:20).
If there is anything as certain in life as death and taxes it would have to be the presence of violence among human beings. As one writer in this issue rightly reports, the twentieth century was the bloodiest on record. Any hope for greater good will upon the collapse of the Soviet Union soon gave way to the harsh ethnic violence within and among the former republics and in eastern Europe. The attacks in the United States on September 11, 2001, dramatically made clear that a tension among worldviews may express itself in violence and that no place on earth is a safe haven.
Writers in this issue of Direction respond to violence in ways sociological, historical, and biblical. Dalton Reimer chronicles the development among Mennonites during the twentieth century of a more holistic understanding of peacemaking. Alicia Hughes-Jones investigates ethnic tensions within North America, particularly involving Native Americans, and points to signs of hope for revitalization through religiously-based movements for justice. Gerald Janzen explores the theme of spiritual warfare and spiritual weaponry across the testaments and finds a pro-nonresistance continuity. Jon Isaak takes a fresh look at Paul’s teaching in Romans 13 on the relationship between Christians and the state. Gordon Zerbe examines the book of Revelation and calls us to choose between the violent wealth of Babylon and the justice of the New Jerusalem. Finally, Duane Ruth-Heffelbower proposes four practical ways of working to eliminate violence and chronicles a recent example of conflict resolution in Ambon, Indonesia.
A second focus for this issue is upon the past nearly one hundred years of music at Tabor College. Clarence Hiebert provides insight into the early years. Jonah Kliewer picks up the narrative at 1935, recounting influences upon and through the Tabor College choral program. Brad Vogel evaluates the growing distance between music style preferences at the college compared to those practiced within Mennonite Brethren Southern District churches. Some may find irony in the inclusion of articles on worship music in an issue with violence as its theme. Certainly MBs are no more immune to “worship wars” than other Christian communities.
Gordon Matties annotates a list of important books on peace and violence in Recommended Books. In Ministry Compass, Jon Pritchard reports on planting an Anabaptist church, drawing upon his work in Mexico. Six book reviews and a report of scholarship among us in Current Research round out this issue.