The Just Peacemaking Initiative (JPi) at Fuller Theological Seminary promotes research on peacemaking by providing funding for PhD students who intend to include in their program research on peacemaking, its theological, biblical, and ethical basis, and the growing attention to the new paradigm we have developed, “Just Peacemaking.” On a parallel track, we regularly support co-curricular forums and events, conferences, and travel study opportunities related to peacemaking (upcoming events and our history of events can be found at these links).
Informally, the work of the Initiative was under way for several years prior to its founding in 2010. Fuller Theological Seminary faculty with expertise in biblical studies, theology, Christian ethics, philosophy, psychology, marriage and family therapy, conflict transformation, Islam, and just peacemaking often teach courses in peacemaking skills and their underlying theological and philosophical grounding (see a current list of related course offerings here). Recent PhD graduates have included a peacemaking dimension in their PhD studies and are doing outstanding work in Indonesia, Kenya, Nigeria, Czech Republic, the United States, and elsewhere.
So the Just Peacemaking Initiative seeks to make more visible what we already see as our part of Fuller Theological Seminary’s “Mission Beyond the Mission.” In this groundbreaking statement, commitment to peacemaking is a core mandate and a central issue of passionate conviction. It begins: “Go and make disciples; call the church of Christ to renewal.” Church renewal through discipleship is a concern of all faculty, but it is a special emphasis of faculty in the departments of Christian ethics and ministry. Discipleship to the Lamb requires faithfulness to the way of Jesus, and churches that witness to Jesus’ call to peacemaking embody the practices of discipleship and faithful renewal. The fourth mandate of Fuller’s “Mission Beyond the Mission” explicitly calls us to “seek peace and justice in the world,” which is the JPi’s central objective.
The fifth mandate of Fuller’s “Mission Beyond the Mission” is to “uphold the truth of God’s revelation,” and our firm purpose and present practice is to ground our vision and practice of peacemaking in biblical and theological constructs and commitments, not only sociological, political science, and psychological understandings.
Most peacemaking programs lack deep theological grounding; we are developing significant biblical and theological innovation for guiding Christian engagement in peacemaking.
Fuller faculty and graduate students have made significant contributions to deeper understandings of theological and biblical grounds for peacemaking, and these contributions are on offer and visible to the wider Christian world and its surrounding societies in the Just Peacemaking Initiative.
We think of our logo as a sort of duck-rabbit: how do you see the dove interacting with the roots? Is peace growing from the roots like the mustard seeds of God’s reign? Is the dove struggling against thorny weeds? Is it overcoming them?
By funding scholarships for students, by encouraging research in peacemaking practices, by providing forums for intra- and inter-group dialogues, by creating visibility for peacemaking as mandated biblically, and by creating a presence on the web, the Just Peacemaking Initiative helps prepare students for service worldwide. In addition to our classes, seminars, and workshops that offer training for students on leadership, conflict reduction, and peacemaking within congregations, we are laboring to offer a more concerted program that addresses the need of churches for leaders skilled in transforming conflicts in ways that unite rather than divide, that strengthen rather than fragment, polarize, and split churches.