A Contemporary Theology for Ecumenical Peace by James E. Will (auth.)

By James E. Will (auth.)

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The Epistle to Diognetus (v:2–5) provides a telling description of such early Christian communities-without-borders, because they ultimately were grounded in the universal Spirit of God: The distinction between Christians and other men is neither in country nor language nor customs. For they do not dwell in cities in some place of their own . . Yet while living in Greek and barbarian cities according as each obtained his lot, and following the local customs, both in clothing and food and in the rest of life, they show forth the wonderfully and confessedly strange character of the constitution of their own citizenship.

It was characteristic of his wise leadership, however, that he refused any such suggestion. He was much influenced, as I had come to know, by the wisdom of the Roman Catholic Pope John XXIII, on whom he had written his doctoral dissertation in a Russian Orthodox Seminary. ” He, of course, was right. But a better time did surely come a decade later through the glasnost and perestroika enacted by their President Gorbachev. These relatively small acts of personal witness are meant only to provide an illustration of authentic peace praxis.

Berlin was then an enclave in the Russian zone in Germany, with the city itself divided into East and West by the recently built Berlin Wall. A letter was sent to the local Naperville newspaper claiming the hidden reason I had gone was to get further instructions from the Communists then ruling in East Berlin, so as better to subvert Naperville youth. The real reason I had gone was to begin what became an important part of a developing praxis that sought relationships with church colleagues in the Communist zone—on the other side of the Berlin Wall and the so-called Iron Curtain—and to study academically the ChristianMarxist dialogue that had then begun in Berlin and Prague.

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