Guidance for Study Groups
We have no prescribed curriculum or discussion process for study groups, but we offer several suggestions.
Some local churches and United Methodist annual conferences, encouraged by their bishop, have already studied "In Search of Security". Others may want to do so before embarking on the underlying theology of war and peace. The bishops study guide contains four sections with questions to guide the discussion. A small group can meet weekly for four weeks and consider a different section each week. Or, a large group can have one longer meeting, divide into four subgroups, each assigned a different section to discuss, and come back together for feedback from each group.
In considering the theology of war and peace, study groups can determine their own pace and process of study. A brief overview could be presented in a four-week Sunday school class or evening discussion group, devoting one session to each element of the Quadrilateral: scripture (biblical perspective), tradition (Christian history), reason (theological perspectives), and experience (alternatives to war). Greater depth with fuller discussion would take longer, such as thirteen weeks over a three-month period. There can be a single leader for all the sessions, or several discussion leaders can take turn for different sections. Experts on particular topics can be invited to share their knowledge.
In our web pages on the Wesleyan Quadrilateral we have several topics under each element, as follows:
Scripture: Biblical Perspectives
Old Testament Approaches to War and Peace -- New Testament: Dealing with Adversaries; Reign of God -- Eschatological Writings of the Bible (concerning final events)
Tradition: Christian History
Emergence of Pacifism and Just War Theory -- Crusades -- Eastern Orthodox -- Reformation and Peace Churches -- Methodist and Evangelical United Brethren Traditions
Reason: Theological Perspectives
Pacifism -- Just War Theory -- Armageddon -- Liberation Theology -- Just Peacemaking
Experience: Alternatives to War
Nonviolent Action -- Diplomacy and International Law -- 20th Century Prophets and Theologians
Study groups are free to combine or divide topics, or even to skip some as they choose
Our resource material is a work in progress. For most of these topics, we have or will have a printable article, six to eight pages in length. We grant permission to copy these articles for distribution to study participants. In addition, we provide linkage to other articles available on the worldwide web. Discussion leaders and other participants can read these for further background information.