Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way

Article excerpt

Jesus and Nonviolence: A Third Way. By Walter Wink. Facets. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2003. 119 pages. Paper. $6.00.

In this succinct, accessible volume, Walter Wink blends his many years of New Testament study and his commitment to nonviolence. The outcome is an argument for a transformation of nonviolence by the teachings and cross of Christ--what Wink calls "A Third Way." In a time when armed conflict, terrorism, and general fear are fueling our local, national, and global interactions and confrontations, this reasonable Christian proposal for nonviolence is both refreshing and challenging.

Wink argues that Jesus' teaching provides a third way of confrontation that has at its heart the love of the enemy. In this version of nonviolence winning is not the final goal. Rather, the goal is a way of life rooted in the transformation of the enemy and the world. Wink goes so far as to say that the primary religious question of the day is no longer the Reformation's "How can I find a gracious God?" but "How can I find God in my enemy?" (p. 59) While I am not completely comfortable placing Wink's question at the pinnacle and think that this may be a passionate overstatement, in an age of terrorism when fear of the other seems to be on the rise, he may ultimately be right. Overstatements aside, Wink's most salient and prophetic point is his assertion that "commitment to justice, liberation, or the overthrow of oppression [are] not enough" without the recognition that the enemy is a child of God and within the redemptive reach of God (p. …