Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Giving Thanks for a True Disciple

Magazine article Sojourners Magazine

Giving Thanks for a True Disciple

Article excerpt

My DeAr FrieND Glen Stassen passed away on April 26. Glen was a key ally, a kindred spirit, and a deeply respected member of the Sojourners board. In my view, Glen was the most important Christian ethicist of his time because he taught us what it means to follow Jesus.

Many years ago a tall, thin, and very bright young man came to visit Sojourners community in Washington, D.C. He told us he was an ethics professor at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and that he wanted to live with us and volunteer serving the poor. Glen stayed in one of our households and served on our food line, distribut- ing bags of groceries to low-income families just 20 blocks from the White House. From my first con- versation with him to the last, Glen Stassen never stopped talking about Jesus-and how Christians must not just believe in Christ in word but also follow him in deed. His most influential book, Kingdom Ethics, co- authored with David P. Gushee, was also the passion of his life and work.

Before Glen became a professor, he had a promising career in nuclear physics. He loved his work, but he was not willing to work in weap- ons development so he left to attend seminary and become a biblical scholar. Eventually, Glen formulated a powerful vision of "just peacemak- ing." Using the creative and critical practices of conflict resolution, Glen's framework guides us toward effective and faithful actions to both prevent and end wars.

In everything he did, Glen sought to bring Christian ethics to public life. Working with Glen on the Nuclear Weapons Freeze Campaign, I quickly discovered that he was not just an ethics theorist but a gifted practi- tioner who knew how to mobilize movements and change public pol- icy. As a true disciple of Jesus, Glen wanted to change the world.

I HAD THE great blessing of offer- ing the opening prayer at his funeral. Here is what I prayed:

"Oh Lord, thank you for Glen Stassen. Those of us gathered give thanks for a husband, father, grand- father, uncle, teacher, mentor, friend, ally, and co-conspirator for the eth- ics of the kingdom of God in this world. Thank you, Jesus, for how Glen Stassen understood that you want to change the world, and not just our own lives, but beginning with our lives.

"Thank you for how Glen taught us not just to believe in you, but to follow you-without our many equivocations, our theological restrictions and dualisms, and our political compromises. …

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