A Brief Review of
Ambassadors of Reconciliation:
New Testament Reflections on Restorative Justice
and Peacemaking, Volume I,
Ched Myers and Elaine Enns.
Paperback: Orbis Books, 2009.
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Reviewed by R. Dean Hudgens.
Ched Myers’ new book, written with his wife Elaine Enns, is a two volume work on a Christian discipleship of restorative justice and peacemaking. Volume one, reviewed briefly here, describes the New Testament basis for this work. Volume two, due in November 2009, will present testimonies from a variety of practitioners (i.e. disciples of Jesus) and outline the broader conceptual framework. In the first volume Myers and Enns provide a robust and provocative reading of four important passages from the New Testament that get beyond the typical prooftexts on this topic, and demonstrate the central place of restorative justice and peacemaking in the biblical view of discipleship. These passages are well chosen (in order of treatment they are 1 Cor 5:16-6:13, Mark 1-3, Matthew 18, and the entire book of Ephesians!) and the exegesis is typical of Myers’ previous works in being illuminating, provocative and compelling. Myers wants to show that Jesus and the apostles were “visionary peacemakers” and “peace disturbers”. He utilizes the history of the civil rights movement as embodied in the words and work of Dr. Martin Luther King to makes this aspect of the New Testament “come alive.” This will be perhaps a controversal tack for some, and yet Myers clearly indicates that he is not saying that Jesus was merely doing the same thing as Dr. King, nor that Dr. King was a reincarnate Messiah. However, utilizing our familiarity with King can help North Americans grasp a central aspect of Jesus’s ministry that often goes unnoticed by both liberals and conservatives. Namely, Myers wants to explicate nonviolent direct action (NVDA) as a central part of the gospel message. The value in this volume is found in the biblical argumentation for this thesis (especially valuable in Myers’ work on the epistles), the clear presentation of the biblical foundations and theological rationale underlying the civil rights movement, and the persuasive argument for a discipleship that all of us should take more seriously.
C. Christopher Smith is the founding editor of The Englewood Review of Books. He is also author of a number of books, including most recently How the Body of Christ Talks: Recovering the Practice of Conversation in the Church (Brazos Press, 2019). Connect with him online at: C-Christopher-Smith.com
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