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The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict Paperback – January 1, 2004
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"Of the enormous body of literature dealing with conflict resolution and its allied problems, this treatment is the most concrete and helpful I have yet to find."
From the Back Cover
Conflict and disagreement are unavoidable.
Peace can at times feel unattainable.
But in every relationship, unity and harmony are possible.
For more than twenty-five years, The Peacemaker has helped individuals from
all walks of life resolve personal conflicts by applying timeless biblical truths.
Ken Sande's practical and proven methods are designed to bring about more
than simply a cease-fire. They will lead you toward true, life-changing
reconciliation with family members, coworkers, and fellow believers.
"'Blessed are the peacemakers,' said Jesus. With crystal clarity this manual lays before us the wisdom that leads humble souls into that blessing."--J. I. Packer
"Of people alive and writing today, I know of no more reliable guide for peacemaking in church and family than Ken Sande."--John Piper
"A practical and faithful primer for how obedience to God's Word can change deadlock into restoration."--Charles W. Colson
"Ken Sande challenges us to act redemptively in a culture of enmity and shows us how to do this in our relationships with one another. A modern classic!"--Timothy George
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There is an accurate review of this book at the A Cry For Justice website by Jeff Crippen. Type Peacemaker in the search.
He also follows the Biblical steps for resolution of conflict such as overlook minor conflict, go to the other person directly, get one or two others to go along and finally tell it to the church. His points on overlooking conflict are very good and this is not something that is taught frequently, if at all, in many churches today. The methodology for mediation and arbitration can be helpful and Sande especially touches on ethical responsibilities to avoid exposure to liability.
Born-again Christians will probably have some difficulty with the theology in the book. Sande is a lawyer, not a theologian. His definition of Christianity seems very broad. He quotes Justice Anthony Scalia, a member of the Roman Catholic church, as an authoritative figure on the role of Christianity and conflict/litigation. At times, it seems Sande views anyone associated with a church as a Christian. Perhaps he is intentionally broad in order to make the book accessible to as many people as possible. He does not seem to believe that conversion brings about a change in a person in that "If any man be in Christ he is a new creature. Old things are passed away, behold all things are become new." There is no discussion of the influence and power of the Holy Spirit to make Christian fruit including peaceableness which is not something we try to do in our own strength.
In addition, Sande does not seem to see a change from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Thus, when dealing with many issues such as litigation, he relies heavily on O.T. scriptures. He ends up with the view that Christians can and should sue one another in certain circumstances and thus sees some scriptural commands as more of a suggestion than a command. He does state that the church should be involved in a conflict between Christians before litigation occurs and that appropriate discipline may be necessary but does not specifically address excommunication from the church. He also does not address the scriptural requirement that if someone acts in an evil way, we are not to resist him or her but are required to go further and bless him or her.
All in all, the practical advice is very good. I think you just have to sort through the religious discussions carefully and, of course, test everything against scripture.
Days later, the senior adult leader and elder statesmen who was the interim pastor at the church and moderator of the meeting pulled me aside as a young college age intern, and explained the complexities of the history of squabbling behind the key players. He was an incredible mentor and friend, and helped this young man see that as long as the depravity of man remains, humans will need guidance and direction in the business of reconciliation of interpersonal conflict.
The Peacemaker by Ken Sande is a most helpful guide to assist Christians in resolving conflict. It takes an clear Biblical approach, leading one through a process of steps designed to foster reconciliation, to God's glory. Sande refers to the differences between healthy peacemaking responses to conflict and unhealthy responses widely varying from escape responses all the way to attack responses as an all-too-real slippery slope. “In the center we find peacemaking responses. Imagine that the rest of this hill is covered in ice. If you go to far to the right or to the left you can lose your footing and slide down the slope. Similarly, when you experience conflict, it is easy to become defensive or antagonistic. If you want to stay on top of this slippery slope, you will need to ask God to help you develop the ability to live out the Gospel in a peacemaking response.”
Sande follows the Biblical steps for resolution of conflict such as overlooking minor conflict, going to the other person directly, getting one or two others to go along or finally sharing the conflict to the church. His points on overlooking conflict are very good and this is not something that is taught frequently, if at all, in many churches today. “In many situations, the best way to resolve a conflict is simply to overlook the personal offenses of others... ...Since God does not deal harshly with us when we sin, we should be willing to treat others in a similar fashion.” The author goes on to clarify the difference between a passive process of overlooking conflict, and an active process of doing the same that is inspired by God’s mercy.
At the beginning of each chapter, Sande gives a situational case study to set the scene for the point he is trying to make. I find this to be a particularly helpful literary device for the reader because it makes the book feel useful and practical in potential real-life scenarios. Perhaps some of the limitations of that however is that people don’t always respond as positively to well-meaning gentle pressure towards peace. Sometimes they don’t respond in a healthy manner at all. By pre-scripting people’s responses, the author does tend to build a false sense of security for the reader that everything in this guidebook works every time. That mis-expectation might be hard to swallow when it doesn't work out.
Finally, I appreciate that Sande is able to summarize a fairly long book into memorable chunks. For me, this is how I can remember what is important about being a Gospel-Centered Peacemaker. The “Four G's:” (1) Glorify God, (2) Get the log out of your eye, (3) Gently restore, and (4) Go and be reconciled. The need is universal. Peacemaking does not come naturally in any culture, but if I can personalize these “Four G’s” I can exalt the Lord Jesus Christ when conflict happens. Isn’t that an encouraging proposition?