VJN Book Review: Peace Catalysts by Rick Love

Rick Love’s Peace Catalysts distills the wisdom of a lifetime of experience as a peacemaker and a bridge-builder among religiously and ideologically diverse communities. Combining clear, biblical, conceptual analysis with a wealth of personal stories about struggle and victory, he argues compellingly that “reconciliation is a journey, not an achievement.” I believe this book is a timely and essential tool not only for churches deliberately oriented towards justice-making, but all of our churches at large. Indeed, whether it be our pursuit of ending poverty, freeing slaves, or tending creation, we would deeply benefit from practicing the tools of peacemaking.

As Rick rightly describes, God’s peace, or shalom, “encompasses social justice.” The activity of peacemaking that leads to justice-making results in a net gain for the individual as well as the community. In this spirit, Peace Catalysts offers a fresh take on bridge building and fruitful collaborations between those “believers and non-believers” for the sake of the common good— Rick rightly puts his finger on the wealth of opportunities that are made possible when both parties are groaning for peaceable cities.

I also appreciate Rick’s non-sentimental approach when he poignantly highlights through his personal successes and failures in corporate, diplomatic, and familial contexts that not all peacemaking leads to “peace achieving,” and therefore not all bridge-building will necessarily lead to restorative justice. However, Rick refuses to let the fear of failure and cynicism have the upper hand in his understanding that a primary vocation of all followers of Jesus is to bear witness to the future reality of a peaceable kingdom breaking into our families, churches, communities, cities, and nations today. We are commanded by Jesus to act and live in such a way that our lives point to “the way things ought to be.”

I heartily recommend this book to seminarians, church planters, as well as those who have been traveling the road of struggling towards justice for a lifetime. Peace Catalysts will encourage and challenge you to redefine faithful stewardship through the lens of peacemaking. Not through obligation and guilt, but through the pursuit of beauty and joy. As peace catalysts, we have an opportunity to center ourselves within the peace of Jesus that “is not absence of anxiety or trouble. [But] rather it enables us to remain calm and confident in the midst of conflict.”
Ultimately, Rick reminds the Church that we serve a God of Peace who created both the beginning and the end of our destinies, and violence and conflict will not have the last word.

Kathy Maskell, VJN Steering Committee

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