Nuclear Disarmament Theology of Peace and War Methodist Family

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Home > Theology of Peace and War > Study Groups

To broaden discussion of the theology of war and peace we call for the formation of study groups in local congregations, on college campuses, in seminaries, within annual conferences, and elsewhere. We are giving particular attention to United Methodists around the globe: in the United States, Africa, Asia, and Europe. But we also welcome participation from Pan-Methodist denominations in the United States and autonomous Methodist churches that are part of the World Methodist Council.

As background information for study groups, we offer resource material on the Theology of Peace and War , organized according to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. We also refer to two endeavors that relate theology to concerns about security and nuclear weapons: a study guide "In Search of Security", developed by the United Methodist Council of Bishops; and statements by United Methodist and Catholic bishops on nuclear weapons.

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.

Resource Material: Theology of Peace and War

As study groups consider the theology of peace and war, they can draw upon background information provided on this website. We organize it according to the Wesleyan Quadrilateral. The major components are:

Scripture: Biblical Perspective
Tradition: Christian History
Reason: Theological Perspectives
Experience: Alternatives to War

Each section contains short articles, bibliographical references, and linkage to material on other websites.


Study Guide: In Search of Security

In June 2004 the United Methodist Council of Bishops released a study guide entitled In Search of Security. Drafted by Bishop Walter Klaiber of Germany and endorsed by the Task Force on Safety and Security, the document seeks to deepen Christian conversation within local congregations about what security means within our faith in the post-September 11 world. Sections deal with:

The problem.
Safety and security in a biblical perspective.
Insights for our present situation.
The search for security and a responsible lifestyle.

You can download In Search of Security in a PDF format from the website of the United Methodist General Board of Church and Society (GBCS). You can order printed copies of the 32-page study from the GBCS Service Department at 1-800-967-0880. Copies also are available from each active Bishop. Read more....

The bishops suggest that participants discussing In Search of Security should have familiarity with two recent U.S. government documents: The National Security Strategy of the United States and The National Strategy for Homeland Security.

Bishops' Statements on Nuclear Weapons

Another useful source of background information comes from reports and pastoral letters issued by United Methodist and U.S. Catholic bishops on nuclear weapons. They offer analyses of biblical texts and theological perspectives that are relevant to broaden issues of war and peace.

United Methodist Bishops

In Defense of Creation: The Nuclear Crisis and a Just Peace. Foundation Document (1986)
A Pastoral Letter to All United Methodists
Study Guide




U.S. Catholic Bishops

The Challenge of Peace: God's Promise and Our Response: A Pastoral Letter on War and Peace (1983)
The Harvest of Peace is Sown in Justice (1993)
Unfinished Business: Nuclear Disarmament and Proliferation





Web-Based Forum

To extend discussion of the Theology of Peace and War and "In Search of Security", we invite study groups to participate in a web-based forum with other study groups. Individual members of Methodists United for Peace with Justice may also participate in this forum.



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