Augsburg Fortress

Bodies of Peace: Ecclesiology, Nonviolence, and Witness

Bodies of Peace: Ecclesiology, Nonviolence, and Witness

This book argues that Christian nonviolence is both formed by and forms ecclesial life, creating an inextricable relationship between church commitment and resistance to war. Examining the work of John Howard Yoder, Dorothy Day, William Stringfellow, and Robert McAfee Brown, this book explores how each thinker’s advocacy for nonviolent resistance depends deeply upon the ecclesiology out of which it comes. These forms comprise four strands of a comprehensive Christian approach to a nonviolent witness rooted in ecclesial life.

Because each of these figures' ecclesiology implicates a different mode of resistance to war and a different relation between ecclesiology and resistance to war, the volume argues that any account of an ecclesially-informed resistance to war must be open to a multitude of approaches, not as pragmatic concessions, but as a foretaste of ecumenical unity. Insofar as the pursuit of peace in the world can be seen as a church bearing out the work of the Spirit, the approach of other ecclesial traditions can be seen not as competitors but as common works of the Spirit, which other traditions may learn from and be challenged by.
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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781451480429
  • Dimensions 6 x 9
  • Pages 272
  • Publication Date December 1, 2014


Introduction: Ecclesiology, Nonviolence, and the Claims of War
1. War, Church, and the Plurality of Witness
2. The Church as Witness: John Howard Yoder, Dialogical Nonviolence, and the Church’s Performance
3. The Church Forming Nonviolence: Dorothy Day, The Mystical Body, and the Logic of Tradition
4. The Church as Naming Nonviolence Witness: William Stringfellow, The Powers, and the Word’s Renewing Work
5. The Church Supporting Nonviolence: Robert McAfee Brown, CALCAV, and Worldly Ecumenicity


"This exciting new book by Myles Werntz continues to build the increasingly compelling case for religious nonviolence and shows how peacebuilding is not a tangential ‘political’ element in the work of the church, but its central reason for being. Building on a solid foundation in the theology of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and focusing on the Vietnam era, Werntz’s work is an ecumenical tour de force—where ‘force’ is not the last word, but peace is. Werntz writes and thinks clearly, and Bodies of Peace is a most welcome contribution on a vital topic of national and international concern."
—Jon Pahl
The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia 
"Bodies of Peace offers a sophisticated yet accessible account of how ecclesiology and ethics are entwined. Christians across the denominational spectrum should carefully consider the insightful lessons Werntz gleans from four significant persons who in different ways nonviolently resisted the Vietnam War. This book makes a valuable contribution for ongoing ecumenical peacemaking efforts into the twenty-first century."
—Tobias Winright
Saint Louis University

"With wars and rumors of war abounding in the world, Christian churches can no longer remain confined to their particular traditions when taking up the question of the relationship between the unity of the church and its stance on war and peacemaking. In his comparative study of Dorothy Day, William Stringfellow, Robert McAfee Brown, and John Howard Yoder, Myles Werntz challenges congregations and parishes to move beyond their denominational boundaries to consider whether the practice of nonviolence as a witness against war is one of the ways the Spirit is healing a divided church. Bodies of Peace would be an ideal textbook for college and university classes on the topic of war and peacemaking."
—Barry Harvey
Baylor University
"Werntz shows that the way Christians think and practice war and resistance to war has everything to do with how Christians think and practice the church. Nonviolent resistance is not just a matter of individual spirituality or theological principles but a corporate practice. Werntz thus fills a large gap in the literature on Christian nonviolence, and he does so brilliantly. His readings of Augustine, Yoder, Dorothy Day, and others show a keen theological mind at work. This is the best book on Christian nonviolence I have read in quite some time."
—William T. Cavanaugh
DePaul University


Interview on Symposium Ethics