Book Focuses on Radical ‘Love’ Teaching of Jesus

Post a Comment » Written on December 8th, 2008     
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WALLA WALLA, WA (December 8, 2008) – Despite their own painful experiences and those of relatives, Randy and Joyce Klassen continue to advocate nonviolence in their new book, Loving Enemies: A Manual for Ordinary People.

Klassen, a pastor who served in the Evangelical Covenant Church for 40 years, prefaces the volume by describing the time he was bloodied by a mugger, the verbal abuse his wife suffered from her mother, and the injuries suffered by her father when a Japanese kamikaze pilot struck the U.S. Navy ship on which he served during World War II.

Cover“So this book is first of all written for us, two struggling Christians, ordinary people and not saints, seeking to understand the meaning and application of this radical teaching of Jesus.”

In a recent interview, Joyce said she understands why people raise objections to practicing nonviolence, but adds, “It was not just a little nudge on the part of our Lord: it was a command.”

Randy began the book as a solo project five years ago, but Joyce increasingly became involved, first as an editor and then contributing two chapters of her own. Randy did the academic theology, and Joyce “is the one who makes it understandable,” she says.

Joyce contributed two chapters, including one on forgiveness. Randy asked her to write the forgiveness chapter after a friend suggested the book needed to address the subject. She says she was surprised that she readily agreed to write it because the pain of her childhood abuse was so great.

“It was probably one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do,” Joyce said. “I felt like I had to become very, very vulnerable.” In addition, she had to address issues she did not want to face.

The couple seeks to address common objections to nonviolence. In the back of the book, they also include open letters to people of different denominations and faiths to say that they would like to engage them in conversation about the nonviolent approach to evil.

Joyce says she prefers the term nonviolence rather than pacifism because the latter too often conveys – rightly or wrongly – not engaging evil. She emphasizes that evil and conflict must be addressed.

Still, she acknowledges, “It’s simply not an easy route to take.”

Rob Johnston, former dean and provost of North Park Theological Seminary and current professor of theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, wrote the foreword to the book.

Jim Hawkinson, executive secretary emeritus of Covenant Publications, has written of the book, “Two earnest Christians, with artistic sensitivity born of suffering in their own journeys of faith, challenge every religious tradition to ponder what communal love and forgiveness in Christ and each other have done for them and for us.”

To purchase a copy of the book online, visit Covenant Bookstore.

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