Book review: Peace making as a way of life for pastors

By Michael Ireland
Special Reporter, ASSIST News Service

Editor’s note: This review was first published on Michael Ireland’s blog, “Devotional Moments with Mike.”

MINNEAPOLIS, MN (ANS) – In the introduction to ‘The Peace Making Pastor’ by Alfred Poirier (Baker Books, 2006), the author states that to be a pastor is to be a peacemaker (p.13).

Poirier says that too often pastors view peacemaking as only a tool of ministry, rather than a habit of being. “Instead of being ministers or reconciliation (2 Cor.5:19-20), we confine peacemaking to special crisis situations within the church.”

Poirier actually goes further than to say that just pastors are peacemakers or in the ‘ministry of reconciliation.’

Poirier says: “Since God reconciled all things in heaven and on earth to himself through the death of his Son on the cross (Col.1:19-20), then we who are children of God are redeemed to be reconcilers.”

Poirier develops this theme in Chapter 5, ‘Peacemaking in the Family of God,’ specifically on p.92, under the heading ‘Theology of Sonship.’ Here he says that Jesus’ connection between “peacemakers” and being called “sons of God” is not an arbitrary one. “Peacemaking is the defining characteristic of sonship. And of all Christian virtues and actions, peacemaking reflects most the meaning of being a son or daughter of God.”

This is my favorite chapter in the book because here the author lays out the biblical basis and foundation for our role as 24/7/365 Christians to be peacemakers and reconcilers in a broken and hurting world.

Poirier goes on to say that if this claim is true (that Scripture proclaims and endorses this view of us as believers), “we must not relegate our individual identity as sons and daughters and our corporate identity as family to a minor place in our theology, as if our sonship were one image among many that Scripture uses to describe God’s relationship with the church.”

Poirier states three reasons why this ‘sonship reconciliation theology’ is true.

First, he says that the significance of sonship is proved by its dominant presence in several key ‘programmatic’ passages of Scripture (Rom.8:15-32; Gal.3:15-4:7; Eph.1:3-6; Heb.2:1-18;12:1-14;1 John 3:1-3). [By programmatic he means those texts that give the sweep and order of God’s redemptive purposes].

Second, Poirier says sonship is the distinctive mark of the new covenant. He says that in Galatians 3:26-4:7, Paul likens the radical shift in the status of God’s people in redemptive history to the transition from being slaves to being sons.

The third line of evidence showing the significance of sonship in God’s redemptive purposes is that sonship is a key characteristic of our sanctification, most overtly seen in Hebrews 12.

Poirier says (p.95) that to be “Like father, like son,” is not only a common proverb, but is inherently biblical in nature. “In Scripture, sonship is about likeness.”

Elsewhere in Scripture, Paul says that we are ‘heirs and joint heirs (co-heirs) with Christ’ and that one day we shall be like Him. But there is a very real sense in that we are called to be like Him NOW. Jesus said ‘the Kingdom is within you, and NOW is’ – the Kingdom of God has come near, is with us, and within us NOW by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

Therefore, if we are heirs, and joint heirs with Christ NOW, we are to be like Him NOW, and to exercise the role of peacemakers and reconcilers NOW.

From reading Poirier, I conclude that not only pastors, but all Bible-believing Christians, are to be “reconciling peacemakers,” as Paul says, “as if God were making His appeal to you though us.”

This being the case, I believe it is incumbent upon us as Christ followers, in the words of Paul, to “as much as it is within your power, live at peace with all men,” and “to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

For me, this means to live a Spirit-filled, Spirit-directed life, seeking to bring the message of ‘the peace with God’ and ‘the peace of God’ to all men, everywhere.

Leave a Reply