Evangelicals for Peace: A Leftist, Pacifist Plot or Jesus-Centered Conversation?

by Rick Love

I laughed and then cringed when I read the title of Mark D. Tooley’s blog, “Evangelical Left Plots D.C. Pacifist Summit.” He was referring to the upcoming “Evangelicals for Peace” summit that I am organizing. "Wow," I thought! A “plot"? A plot is a “plan decided on in secret, especially to bring about an illegal or subversive act.” But this summit has been public from the beginning, and our goals have been explicit.

Thank you Mark for raising concerns and giving me an opportunity to clarify what we hope to do. I can see why you “might” consider this a gathering of pacifists from the Evangelical Left. Some of the speakers and sponsoring organizations fit that category. But others do not. I refer to myself as part of the Evangelical Center (neither left nor right), and I am not a pacifist. I hold to the Just War theory with a strong pacifist leaning.

That’s why I like Just Peacemaking - a new third ethic about peace and war. Just War and Pacifism answer the question of whether or not it is OK to go to war. By contrast, the Just Peacemaking theory shifts the question. Just Peacemaking asks, "How can we proactively obey the teachings of Jesus to make peace?" and, "What steps can we take to prevent violence?"

In this summit we are seeking to break new ground, not just rehash old theories. We are concerned about finding ways to APPLY the best of the three ethics. For example, both advocates of Pacifism and the Just War theory agree on the priority of reducing violence. Both wish to hold war accountable to moral values before, during, and after the conflict. So there is significant and practical common ground to work for peace. Another example: we can have the best Just War theory in the world, but unless our government actually applies it, or unless evangelicals know how to influence their government to implement it, it remains just that… a theory.

As the organizer of Evangelicals for Peace (EFP), I have already read some of the papers. I assure you, this will not be a gathering of left wing pacifists seeking to “neutralize pro-national evangelicals” or make “naïve appeals for peace,” as Mark Tooley assumes. This will be a serious, robust conversation among evangelicals from the left, right and center. We earnestly seek both national security and faithfulness to Jesus. We pursue a biblical peace that will reduce violence and lead to human flourishing.

As I said in one of my previous blogs about EFP, “Let me be clear here - I realize that evangelicals hold differing views on these issues. I know the issues are complex, and I don’t pretend to have this all figured out. But I do know that Jesus deserves our ultimate allegiance. I want to be a faithful follower of Jesus, and I know there are many like me who are looking for ways to follow him in the public sphere.” 

If you are seeking greater clarity about the challenges of war and peace and seeking to follow Jesus in the public sphere, then please join us. If you can’t join us, then please let me know the issues you think we need to understand and wrestle with.