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The concept of working towards a nonviolent society through peace building is the main outfit that captures the thoughts of any reader. As a Mennonite theologian, Yoder John Howard tends to stress on the view that peace can only be guaranteed if people desist from any war like thoughts or actions. In other words, Yoder tries to bring out his pacifist views to the readers as the most powerful tool to avoid conflicts and instead establish robust peace pillars. This is accomplished in this work presented as 11 lectures in Warsaw, Poland when Christians were gearing up to criticize their communist government in 1983. He uses extraordinarily powerful examples such as Mahatma Gandhi who is known to have embraced nonviolence as the major solution to avoiding conflicts. Such examples seem to work well for this book especially when highlighting the much feasibility when using such techniques to establish a nonviolent society. In this regard, this massage is driven home expeditiously by using outstanding human figures that made it through such approaches. The practicality in the arguments is displayed, thus, strengthening the credibility of this work. This is because such approaches are easily convincing too many people regardless of their religious backgrounds.
As a renowned scholar and supporter of the Mennonite theology of nonviolence, Yoder John Howard was of the view that God is supreme and, thus, has power over nature. The suffering that Jesus Christ went through in order to show God’s love for the world supports this idea. This view is being utilized in showing that the world should remain nonviolent and peaceful just as its creator’s intentions. Yoder assumes that to imitate Christ is pursuing this course and, thus, moving towards a peaceful society for everybody and not for the church only. This brings in the idea that the struggle should include every one and not secluded for Christians only since we all inhabit the world at the same time in a mixture. This is highly relevant especially in today’s world where religious wars are particularly common, pitting Christians and other non-Christian religions. This makes Yoder’s lectures relevant hitherto.
Yoder John Howard is more categorical on the need for people to amalgamate their thinking capacities. This is in order to make better decisions especially when dealing with peace related issues. In his earlier book, Attitudes toward War, Peace, and Revolution, Yoder explains the need to understand war and establish the relationship it has with peace and change. The idea is brought out further in this book, in another perspective. Yoder understood that the people he was going to lecture were on a crossroad on whether to participate in the secular nonviolent actions against government of Poland that was majorly communist. Therefore, he includes a pacifist ingredient in his message that sought to ensure a sound relationship between the Roman Catholics and non-Catholic Christians. This is because the Catholics were of the view that war is justifiable especially when defending oneself. Overall, the book brings out the strength of the fact that the teachings of Jesus Christ were not based on violence irrespective of the value the violence would add.
In the second chapter of this book, Yoder exposes the effectiveness of nonviolent thoughts and actions using the civil rights movements. Martin Luther King Jr. is the most conspicuous example in the sense that he ran a successful nonviolent campaign. This campaign sought to address numerous discrepancies facing certain minority groups in the United States of America. This makes the book extremely relevant in the current world especially for political leaders who can learn a lot on addressing various problems in their subjects. Again, the fact of nonviolent thoughts and actions is stressed in this chapter, thus, offering a rich ground for learning about nonviolent experiences and their effects.
In his attempts to show the practicality on his pacifist ideas, Yoder draws the reader to three fundamental factors that can illustrate this best. He uses sociology, history and theology to do this. First, he shows that the world has an order that depicts nonviolence and, thus, being violent is against the law of the cosmos. Similarly, nonviolence is also portrayed as a virtue that is directly linked to the just character of God. This argument depicts the need to remain nonviolent in order to build a strong social pillar characterized by justice. Everyone will feel safe to live without oppression or discrimination in such a society. This is the reason why the use of the wars of Joshua and the pacifist status of the Jews are used to show the contrast in violent and nonviolent approaches to attaining peace and satisfaction. Traditionally, wars were recurrent but this was not the case after Jewish pacifism came into being. This shows that pacifism is practical and can be applied even in today’s violent situations.
As the books moves to the end, Yoder brings about the contemporary relevancy of his thoughts as a pacifist. Early Christian cosmology in relation to nonviolence is investigated and the eventual results exposed especially where nonviolence was adapted. In this regard, the book brings out the nonviolence issue in the contemporary Christian sense, especially by use of the theology of peace among the catholic Faithfull. This serves well to address the current violence, and the reader will understand why they happen. This is helpful in getting the most appropriate attempts that can be used today in trying to solve them.
The theme of Yoder’s work is nonviolence but in a spiritual point of view. He uses the spiritual nature of a man and the relationship with the creator, God. In other terms, Yoder’s postulates that God is orderly and nonviolent, implying that it is his wish upon the inhabitants of the earth. The materials are truly educative and relevant especially in the current world characterized by precipitating wars that are political, religious or even ethnic.