My Top Ten Books on Peacemaking & Conflict Resolution
by Rick Love
King Solomon said, “the writing of many books is endless, and excessive devotion to books is wearying to the body” (Ecclesiastes 12:12 NASB). If that was true in Solomon’s time, how much more in the Amazon.com age! There are so many books I haven’t read yet. But out of the ones I have read, I consider these to be the top ten books on peacemaking and conflict resolution (as of the end of 2012).
It was painful whittling the list down to only ten books, but hopefully this will give you some books to read as part of your New Year’s resolution.
To say these are my top ten books on peacemaking does not mean I agree with everything written. Nor are all of these books written from a Christian perspective. Sometimes the best books say things outside the box (hyperbolic and even heretical) and force us to think deeply about a subject. So as you read, follow Paul’s teaching: “examine all things and hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21).
With passion and prophetic insight, Brian shows the radical nature of forgiveness. He helps us understand the nature of the gospel and the role of forgiveness in peacemaking. “Forgiveness occupies center stage at all the most important places in the Christian faith: the Sermon on the Mount, the Lord’s Prayer, Good Friday, Easter Sunday” (p 92). Thus, “followers of Christ, who are both the recipients and practitioners of radical forgiveness, should be the leading authorities on peace” (p. 205). Amen Brian!
An excellent, practical guide to peacemaking from a biblical perspective. This still remains one of the best books available on the topic. The focus is primarily on peacemaking in the church.
This book provides a profound analysis of both the nature of conflict and resolution. It gives a broad overview of issues and describes helpful models and paradigms. Mayer describes this book as a practitioner’s guide. His use of case studies does make it a valuable resource for practitioners. But I would describe this book as a theoretician’s guide as well. Its primary strength is helping the reader think more deeply about peacemaking issues.
This is one of the best books I’ve read about the practice of mediation. Dana masterfully describes the tools, terms, strategies, and steps of conflict resolution. He describes how managers can mediate, how to do self-mediation, team mediation, and preventative mediation. He also includes an important chapter on the “Strategic Management of Organizational Conflict.” This is a book you will return to again and again as you mediate conflict. My wife Fran and I are certified mediators and trainers with Daniel Dana’s organization, Mediation Training Institute International.
Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing
Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice
A profoundly biblical description of reconciliation in all its fullness. Katongole and Rice will help you see the relationship between the gospel and peacemaking. They also help you confront the painful realism of the world in which we pursue peace. The authors are co-founders of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School.
God the Peacemaker is not a “how to” book, but a rich theological analysis of God’s peace purposes in Christ. Cole helps us understand how the gospel relates to God’s ultimate vision of peace. Thus, Cole notes, “Atonement brings shalom by defeating the enemies of peace, overcoming the barriers both to reconciliation and to the restoration of creation." This is God the Peacemaker’s mission. The biblical presentation of God’s atoning project in general and the atonement in particular is multifaceted (p. 229).
I disagree with Wink’s demonology, but I love his political theology! He brilliantly exposes the myth of redemptive violence: “the belief that violence saves, that war brings peace, that might makes right…this Myth of Redemptive Violence is the real myth of the modern world. It, and not Judaism or Christianity or Islam, is the dominant religion in our society today” (p. 42). Wink argues that “nonviolence is at the very heart of the gospel, and that the church’s task is to attempt to spread this leaven into the life of the world” (p. 135). To do so the church must follow the third way of Jesus: Instead of passivity or violence, Jesus taught a non-violent resistance. This book will rock your world.
Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (2nd edition)
Roger, Patton, and Ury
A standard work on business negotiation with profound relevance for peacemaking. It describes four keys to “principled negotiation” – separate the people from the problem, focus on interests rather than positions, generate a variety of possibilities before deciding what to do, and insist that the result be based on some objective standard.
Noll provides a profound overview of the field of peacemaking. The heart of the book, however, is his rigorous critique of diplomatic peacemaking methods and robust apologetic for the importance of emotions in peacemaking. Noll’s detailed illustrations and solid research will benefit peacemakers working at a grass-roots level as well as those who do high-level peacemaking. If you read and apply Noll’s suggestions, I believe that peace will not be so elusive after all (see my review of this book here).
Just Peacemaking: Ten Practices for Abolishing War
Glen H. Stassen, editor
Glen Stassen, along with other top evangelical scholars, describes a new kind of ethical theory as it relates to war, which they call “Just Peacemaking.” In contrast to pacifism and Just War Theory, Just Peacemaking focuses on the importance of ten proactive practices that prevent war and facilitate peace. This new peace ethic can and should be promoted by both pacifists and Just Warriors.