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Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing

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2009 Christianity Today Book Award winnerOur world is broken and cries out for reconciliation. But mere conflict resolution and peacemaking are not enough. What makes real reconciliation possible? How is it that some people are able to forgive the most horrendous of evils? And what role does God play in these stories? Does reconciliation make any sense apart from the bibli 2009 Christianity Today Book Award winnerOur world is broken and cries out for reconciliation. But mere conflict resolution and peacemaking are not enough. What makes real reconciliation possible? How is it that some people are able to forgive the most horrendous of evils? And what role does God play in these stories? Does reconciliation make any sense apart from the biblical story of redemption? Secular models of peacemaking are insufficient. And the church has not always fulfilled its call to be agents of reconciliation in the world. In Reconciling All Things Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice, codirectors of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School, cast a comprehensive vision for reconciliation that is biblical, transformative, holistic and global. They draw on the resources of the Christian story, including their own individual experiences in Uganda and Mississippi, to bring solid, theological reflection to bear on the work of reconciling individuals, groups and societies. They recover distinctively Christian practices that will help the church be both a sign and an agent of God's reconciling love in the fragmented world of the twenty-first century. This powerful, concise book lays the philosophical foundations for reconciliation and explores what it means to pursue hope in areas of brokenness in theory and practice.


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2009 Christianity Today Book Award winnerOur world is broken and cries out for reconciliation. But mere conflict resolution and peacemaking are not enough. What makes real reconciliation possible? How is it that some people are able to forgive the most horrendous of evils? And what role does God play in these stories? Does reconciliation make any sense apart from the bibli 2009 Christianity Today Book Award winnerOur world is broken and cries out for reconciliation. But mere conflict resolution and peacemaking are not enough. What makes real reconciliation possible? How is it that some people are able to forgive the most horrendous of evils? And what role does God play in these stories? Does reconciliation make any sense apart from the biblical story of redemption? Secular models of peacemaking are insufficient. And the church has not always fulfilled its call to be agents of reconciliation in the world. In Reconciling All Things Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice, codirectors of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School, cast a comprehensive vision for reconciliation that is biblical, transformative, holistic and global. They draw on the resources of the Christian story, including their own individual experiences in Uganda and Mississippi, to bring solid, theological reflection to bear on the work of reconciling individuals, groups and societies. They recover distinctively Christian practices that will help the church be both a sign and an agent of God's reconciling love in the fragmented world of the twenty-first century. This powerful, concise book lays the philosophical foundations for reconciliation and explores what it means to pursue hope in areas of brokenness in theory and practice.

30 review for Reconciling All Things: A Christian Vision for Justice, Peace and Healing

  1. 4 out of 5

    D.L. Mayfield

    This is such a deeply theological and yet utterly practical book for people in the midst of reconciliation work. It called me back to the deepest longings of my heart, and was like a balm in the age of twitter activists. I will come back to this book again and again.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dave Courtney

    "We are claiming that there is a deeper, richer hope God offers to the world. Yet we have forgotten the very source that makes reconciliation a distinct gift and vision of hope. When we step back, two things come clear: first, God's life-giving vision grows out of a story, and second, that story is about a quieter revolution... when Christian's remember well, we are able to explore the story of God's involvement with the world and to draw on that story to locate and understand what is going on a "We are claiming that there is a deeper, richer hope God offers to the world. Yet we have forgotten the very source that makes reconciliation a distinct gift and vision of hope. When we step back, two things come clear: first, God's life-giving vision grows out of a story, and second, that story is about a quieter revolution... when Christian's remember well, we are able to explore the story of God's involvement with the world and to draw on that story to locate and understand what is going on at any particular time within that story. This is what makes Scripture indispensable to the Christian journey of reconciliation. Scripture both forms Christian memory and shapes concrete possibilities for life in the world... One of the greatest dangers facing work for justice and peace birthed within a Christian vision is the gradual detachment of that work from its unique Christian roots and vision. In the world of gaps- of injustices and divisions between people- the journey can gradually become about external needs alone; building more houses, serving more people, economic flourishing and self sufficiency, attending to more demands. Slowly the work drifts away from their roots in a journey with Jesus... this is why theological reflection is so critical, constantly asking the question "Why are we bothering with this work? What are we leading toward... theological reflection requires a certain critical distance." The two central voices in this book, Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice, present a working dialogue surrounding reconciliation by way of their own relationship across the lines of class and race. It provides an interesting way into the conversation, providing plenty in the way of practical application. One of my complaints about the book is that it does lean too heavily into those practical elements. There are a lot of stories, and I am more theoretically driven in terms of my comprehension and interest. With that said, the theoretical sections of the book I found to be quite good. I will admit, the audience I think is going to be quite particular to that end. As the quote above suggests, Katongole and Rice desire to establish the uniqueness of the Christian story in its ability to address reconciliation, not on an academic level, but rather on a personal level. This is not the kind of book that I think will convince those outside of the faith, which positions this for people of faith. To that end, it tends to stay fairly conservative, where I would have liked it to dig even further and push a little hard on the Gospel "as' reconciliation. It does however function as a good starting point into the larger conversation, beginning with the idea that reconciliation begins with understanding the narrative, and setting our experience, our challenges, our struggles and our hope within that story. The Christian story, the authors argue, is always responding to an already not yet reality. As it writes, "The story of the ministry of reconciliation always begins in the humility of every day life, with someone responding to a gap... Responding to a gap is not about starting everywhere but about starting somewhere." Here the book connects this idea that it is in faith that we have a future vision of the way things not only should be, but will be. This informs the work that we do in the world. Equally important is allowing the already-not yet reality of the way things are to humble both us and the work we are participating in. One of the reasons so many people are resistant to the idea of entering into the work for justice, peace, and healing is that it is difficult to know where to start and where we can make a difference. The book is helpful in calling to recognize that what the Christian story recognizes is a gap between what is and what will be. And so reconciliation begins to starting in that gap, where ever that is, however small it is. A part of the necessary humility then becomes about how it is that we recognize the Church as providing an answer to the gap. As they write, "We do not want to glamorize incarnational presence. Nor do we want to suggest that the Church's presence is a panacea for the world's brokenness. To be sure, in many places and at different periods of history, the church's presence has been less of a gift and more of a challenge. Instead of being a peaceable and interruptive presence on a landscape of brokenness, the church has often taken on the same patterns and characters of its place, sometimes even serving to make things worse. (But) Incarnation grounds the ministry of reconciliation in such a way that we learn to read the history, geography and needs of a place. As we do this in the context of God's story, our imaginations are shaped to see what the embodiment of God's promises could look like in our own neighborhoods." This humility is what conditions and conforms us to the problems that we see (the gaps) so as to enter into it and participate with it, not using the Church to conform the problems to the Church. It is in this that we can then embody the hopeful vision of the Christian story, which simply recognizes a day when things will be made right. It begins, in a sense, with simply sharing in the suffering of others, and being bothered by the injustices that we see. "To be deeply bothered about the way things are is itself a sign of hope. To the extent we are not shattered, we do not hope." And as we are bothered, this shapes the desire of our heart for those places where there is injustice and a lack of peace and brokenness in need of healing, directing us ourselves towards prayers for that more hopeful vision. The book speaks to this idea of being broken ourselves over the brokenness that we see saying, "Lament is not despair. It is not whining. It is not a cry into a void. Lament is a cry directed to God. It is the cry of those who see the truth of the world's deep wounds and the cost of seeking peace. It is the prayer of those who are deeply disturbed by the way things are. Over and over again, lament teaches us about both what must be learned and what must be unlearned in order to live well in a broken world. The journey of reconciliation is grounded in lament... Lament slows reconciliation down because it sees the challenge of transformation not from the top but from the margins- indeed from the bottom... (and) the more global reconciliation becomes, the more self assured (fast) it is. The more local, the more slow and fragile. Speed meets a wall when reconciliation is measured by what is nearest to us... But maybe slowing down is what we need." And when we slow down, we can begin to be shaped by the Christian story ourselves: "Quite often the brute realities of this world intimidate and overwhelm us. According to the world's logic, it takes power, strength, money, and influence to effect change. And so, given the widespread realities of war, conflict and violence in the world, we feel terribly overpowered and helpless, as if we lack the necessary resources to make any difference... this is precisely why Scripture gives us such a story- to show that there are alternatives and that this task of reconciliation is about imagining new ways to draw from the story of promises not yet fulfilled. However weak it may seem to us, we are called to work on skills of forgiveness, self giving service and costly love of the enemy." In its most helpful portions, Kagongole and Rice helped me to see that it is not about having a fix all to the worlds problems. Nor is it about my ability as a Christian to be an answer. Shaped by humility, reconciliation is shaped by our ability to share in the suffering of the world- to see the brokenness, to be broken by the brokenness, and then to find in the Christian story a hopeful message that can empower us, in our understanding that things are being made right and that there is a better future, to enter into the work now, beginning with whatever is right in front of us, whatever gaps intersect in our lives. And we do so not in the understanding that our abilities can solve the problem. We do so to be formed by the Christian story, to be broken by the brokenness, and to walk together in those suffering places in a way that reminds us of the Christian story (and in that way, allowing our lives to be an expression of that hope in the way we align ourselves. All of this then is a work that flows back into our mutual participation in the Christian story as a work of reconciliation in all things, in the whole world, including ourselves.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    This book offers a really valuable, robust portrait of the concept of reconciliation as defined by the narrative of God's redemption. There's much needed emphasis on the way "reconciliation" has become a shallow or empty term in our society when removed from a broader story. The first half or so of the book seeks to provide a more accurate definition of reconciliation, and the latter half focuses on practices such as lament, hope, and leadership that guide us toward true reconciliation. There's This book offers a really valuable, robust portrait of the concept of reconciliation as defined by the narrative of God's redemption. There's much needed emphasis on the way "reconciliation" has become a shallow or empty term in our society when removed from a broader story. The first half or so of the book seeks to provide a more accurate definition of reconciliation, and the latter half focuses on practices such as lament, hope, and leadership that guide us toward true reconciliation. There's a lot of beauty and wisdom to be found on these pages, though sometimes it can read a bit academic and might alienate a casual reader. Also, even though the book attempts to provide many examples of people living out reconciliation in their contexts, there are times where I felt the ideas to be a bit intangible or maybe repetitive in ways that made this reconciliation focus feel possibly more unrealized than I had before. I guess it can come across as esoteric in a way that left me asking, "Okay, but where do we begin and what does this really look like?" Despite that, I there the fuller picture of reconciliation and the continual emphasis on story and relationship made this a very important resource!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Austin Mathews

    True reconciliation requires not just a good story, but the gospel. It des not simply pattern itself off Jesus’ ministry, but lives it, remembers his sacrifices and God’s love, and looks forward in hope, knowing that the way things are is not the way things have to be. The leader of reconciliation requires faithfulness, incarnation, and time. Time amongst other broken people, and time away from them each week to be with God. This book clarifies the purpose of the church, the mission of God, and True reconciliation requires not just a good story, but the gospel. It des not simply pattern itself off Jesus’ ministry, but lives it, remembers his sacrifices and God’s love, and looks forward in hope, knowing that the way things are is not the way things have to be. The leader of reconciliation requires faithfulness, incarnation, and time. Time amongst other broken people, and time away from them each week to be with God. This book clarifies the purpose of the church, the mission of God, and does so in an honest, simple way. It slows down the radical revolutionary and reminds us of the qualities of joy and gentleness. But it never shies away from the harsh realities of lament, suffering, and living daily among those who we are called to help see the beyond, the kingdom at the end of the pain. “The primary task of the church in reconciliation is not to mediate but to point beyond the conflict.” Amen. Returning to this book is a must in this line of work. Rice and Katongole have faithfully incorporated theirs and others’ stories into the vision of reconciling all things, and it is my hope that in my own life I will be able to accumulate stories like these of my own.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Hannah Whitney

    This book paints a beautiful picture of what it means to live in the mundane rhythms of daily reconciliation. It's exactly what I needed to read in the midst of such a polarized time when I find it easier to retreat than engage. There is so much to chew on in this small book, and I know I will come back to it time and time again. This book paints a beautiful picture of what it means to live in the mundane rhythms of daily reconciliation. It's exactly what I needed to read in the midst of such a polarized time when I find it easier to retreat than engage. There is so much to chew on in this small book, and I know I will come back to it time and time again.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Amy Morgan

    This book is a necessary encouragement and challenge to anyone who wants to see the wrong in the world righted. A reminder that reconciliation is done in light of the destination that we will only reach when Christ returns, but the real goal is to journey faithfully. Practical points and spiritually refreshing, this book points continually to Christ as the end and the goal of reconciliation.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Ben

    Wordy and high on anecdotes and rhetoric; low on substance and brevity

  8. 5 out of 5

    Smooth Via

    I was excited to read this after having read Katongole's Mirror To The Church, but this book was only okay. I agree wholeheartedly with their vision, but the book is unfortunately a boring read. I was excited to read this after having read Katongole's Mirror To The Church, but this book was only okay. I agree wholeheartedly with their vision, but the book is unfortunately a boring read.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Seongkyul

    Bit more theoretical than I'd hoped, but helpful to consider biblical grounds of/perspectives on reconciliation -- to be reminded that restorative work is as much spiritual and counter-cultural as it is "project based" programming, that character matters, and that communal healing is a long road worth walking alongside many others both in and beyond the bible who have done the same, in faith. Appreciate the case studies and language it introduced with which to discuss this topic. Curious about D Bit more theoretical than I'd hoped, but helpful to consider biblical grounds of/perspectives on reconciliation -- to be reminded that restorative work is as much spiritual and counter-cultural as it is "project based" programming, that character matters, and that communal healing is a long road worth walking alongside many others both in and beyond the bible who have done the same, in faith. Appreciate the case studies and language it introduced with which to discuss this topic. Curious about Duke's Center for Reconciliation. Combined backgrounds the two authors super interesting.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Corrie Haffly

    I did not “get” Reconciling All Things by Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice the first time I read it. I’m glad I tried again. There’s still something about the book that feels a little too theoretical and ephemeral for my pragmatically-oriented brain, but I wonder if part of it is that the vision of this book is just so big that it’s hard for me to grasp it, like trying to comprehend and take in an incredible vista. The second time through, I found it helpful to read not just thinking about raci I did not “get” Reconciling All Things by Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice the first time I read it. I’m glad I tried again. There’s still something about the book that feels a little too theoretical and ephemeral for my pragmatically-oriented brain, but I wonder if part of it is that the vision of this book is just so big that it’s hard for me to grasp it, like trying to comprehend and take in an incredible vista. The second time through, I found it helpful to read not just thinking about racial justice, but to also think about reconciliation in terms of a broken marriage, inter-church conflict, or an unfriended friendship, and consider the hope that can be born from reflecting on what God is already doing in these seemingly permanently difficult and broken situations. Because as this book reminds us again and again, reconciliation of any kind is rooted in the real story of a God who is actively working to bring wholeness to the broken relationships between humans and God, each other, the world, and even themselves.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    Must read for today!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Derek Emerson

    Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice’s book balances itself between being a self-help book and theological abstract. The result is a book which reflects on the issue of reconciliation with some depth, but also shows how those reflections are played out in the world. While individual reconciliation is essential, this books focuses more on communities which have experienced some severe trauma. Once we accept God’s gift of reconciliation we are called on to heal the brokenness of those around us. Our Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice’s book balances itself between being a self-help book and theological abstract. The result is a book which reflects on the issue of reconciliation with some depth, but also shows how those reflections are played out in the world. While individual reconciliation is essential, this books focuses more on communities which have experienced some severe trauma. Once we accept God’s gift of reconciliation we are called on to heal the brokenness of those around us. Our community. And our community extends throughout the world. It is a work grounded in the Christian faith and serves as a call to Christians. Those not professing such a faith may find hope for what Christianity can offer in a world where the errors of professed Christians are all too apparent. What you will not find is a call to hug and forgive one another, join hands and raise our unified voices in an a capella version of “Amazing Grace,” or simply accept the losses of life as God’s Will. Their most powerful and unusual call is to one of lament. Lament is a great word and one we so rarely hear or employ today. They quote the gospel of Matthew, in turn quoting from the prophet Jeremiah, “A voice is heard in Ramah/ Lamentation and bitter weeping/ Rachel is weeping for her children;/ She refuses to be comforted for her children,/ Because they are no more.” Rachel refuses to be comforted and her honest response builds the ground for reconciliation. As the author’s say, “Lament calls us into a fundamental journey of transformation.” They continue by saying this journey requires us “to unlearn three things: speed, distance and innocence.” The unlearning of speed is what distinguishes much of this book from others. We like quick answers, ten steps to a solution, five things to do tomorrow. But they offer no easy answers, but they do offer answers. We must engage the pain of the past and be converted into a new way of thinking, one which reflects the radicalness of the Christian message. We must engage in this work with communities since only with others can we reflect God’s Kingdom. Katongole and Rice are cofounders of the Center for Reconciliation at Duke Divinity School. If you want to read more about their work you can visit their website. http://www.divinity.duke.edu/initiati...

  13. 4 out of 5

    Becca

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I'm recopying the ten theses from this book here: "1. Reconciliation is God's gift to the world. Healing of the world's deep brokenness does not begin with us and our actions, but with God and God's gift of new creation. 2. Reconciliation is not a theory, achievement, technique, or event. It is a journey. 3. The end toward which the journey of reconciliation leads is the shalom of God's new creation - a future not yet fully realized, but holistic in its transformation of the personal, social, and s I'm recopying the ten theses from this book here: "1. Reconciliation is God's gift to the world. Healing of the world's deep brokenness does not begin with us and our actions, but with God and God's gift of new creation. 2. Reconciliation is not a theory, achievement, technique, or event. It is a journey. 3. The end toward which the journey of reconciliation leads is the shalom of God's new creation - a future not yet fully realized, but holistic in its transformation of the personal, social, and structural dimensions of life. 4. The journey of reconciliation REQUIRES the discipline of lament (emphasis mine). 5. In a broken world, God is always planting seeds of hope, though often not in places we expect or even desire. 6. There is no reconciliation without memory, because there is no hope for a peaceful tomorrow that does not seriously engage both with the pain of the past and the call to forgive. 7. Reconciliation needs the church, but not as just another social agency or NGO. 8. The ministry of reconciliation requires and calls forth a specific type of leadership that is able to unite a deep vision with the concrete skills, virtues and habits necessary for the long and often lonesome journey of reconciliation. 9. There is no reconciliation without conversion, the constant journey with God into a future of new people and new loyalties. 10. Imagination and conversion are the very heart and soul of reconciliation." This book changed my life. Highly, highly recommended.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Gwen Daniels

    In today’s broken world, we often equate reconciliation with peacemaking, extinguishing fires or calling for a truce between communities or individuals at odds. Even well-meaning Christians are satisfied by short-term efforts or volunteerism that creates a temporary calm. In their book Reconciling All Things, Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice share a Biblical vision of reconciliation that brings the world closer to God. Katongole and Rice ground reconciliation in the Creation story. In the beginni In today’s broken world, we often equate reconciliation with peacemaking, extinguishing fires or calling for a truce between communities or individuals at odds. Even well-meaning Christians are satisfied by short-term efforts or volunteerism that creates a temporary calm. In their book Reconciling All Things, Emmanuel Katongole and Chris Rice share a Biblical vision of reconciliation that brings the world closer to God. Katongole and Rice ground reconciliation in the Creation story. In the beginning, God created a heavenly kingdom on earth—a gift eroded by Adam and Eve’s desire for more power of their own. (See Genesis 3, where Adam and Eve eat the forbidden fruit to become like God.) When we, like Adam and Eve, “live by a posture of seizing and grabbing in an attempt to be in control of our destinies, we lose the gifts of harmony and peace” (46). For reconciliation across divided lines, we must recognize that lasting peace comes from the Lord. Like many reviewers, I especially appreciated the chapter on lament. When we see the world’s brokenness, we should stop in our tracks with a desperate cry to the Lord, acknowledging wrong cannot be righted without His divine intervention. (Katongole and Rice also share three practical steps to engage in lament, all of which will take me beyond my comfort zone!) At the same time, we should find hope in even the smallest examples of relationships transformed by the power of God.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Noelle VanVleet

    This book does not ignore the role played by the church in failing to bring reconciliation and often contributing to racial and cultural divides. But it continues to point to the cross, while encouraging Christians not to ignore historical problems or sins but to acknowledge the hurt and the pain of the past and truly mourn with those who continue to be affected by it. This is a short and simple read, but it addresses an important topic across denominational lines with a relevant message for us This book does not ignore the role played by the church in failing to bring reconciliation and often contributing to racial and cultural divides. But it continues to point to the cross, while encouraging Christians not to ignore historical problems or sins but to acknowledge the hurt and the pain of the past and truly mourn with those who continue to be affected by it. This is a short and simple read, but it addresses an important topic across denominational lines with a relevant message for us all.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    Just finished reading this book. And it was so good. Everyone is called to the journey of restoring relationships and we enter into the journey because God has restored in Jesus our relationship with Him. The journey will not be easy and will take all of our lifetimes and beyond, but we are still called to follow. The authors provided examples of regular people in their corner of the world building relationships with the stranger, the neighbor, the enemy.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ramón

    A down-to-earth exploration from two practicioners of what I find to be a central theological theme in the Scriptures: the reconciliation of all of creation to the creator God. I would recommend this to anyone who is trying to make sense of the seemingly vast distance between the big picture of new creation and the daily struggle to live as an ambassador of reconciliation. The chapter on the practice of Lament was my favorite.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jen

    This book redefines reconcilliation as the story of God in the Bible and in us as we inhabit that story. The authors tell their stories and other stories of the quiet revolution of accepting the gift of God's healing work and becoming participants. The writing is not exceptional. Sometimes there is a "jargon" feel. But all in all...I highly recommend. This book redefines reconcilliation as the story of God in the Bible and in us as we inhabit that story. The authors tell their stories and other stories of the quiet revolution of accepting the gift of God's healing work and becoming participants. The writing is not exceptional. Sometimes there is a "jargon" feel. But all in all...I highly recommend.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joyce

    Chris Rice and Emmanual Katongole at Duke's Center for Reconciliation articulate how reconciliation is rooted in the orthodox Christian faith. They talk about the discipline of lament (which leads to hope), something new that I learned. I recommend it for those who are serious about the business of reconciliation. Chris Rice and Emmanual Katongole at Duke's Center for Reconciliation articulate how reconciliation is rooted in the orthodox Christian faith. They talk about the discipline of lament (which leads to hope), something new that I learned. I recommend it for those who are serious about the business of reconciliation.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    This book talks about developing a Christian idea of reconciliation and justice. It is fairly well-written, but also very short, and hence does not develop ideas in any great depth. However, the authors do provide a number of interesting anecdotes to support their positions.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    good primer on Christian vision of reconciliation (social, racial) but really bland writing style.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    Absolutely amazing....a must read..

  23. 4 out of 5

    James Hansee

  24. 4 out of 5

    David

  25. 5 out of 5

    Joe Reed

  26. 4 out of 5

    John Foy

  27. 4 out of 5

    Adamzc

  28. 5 out of 5

    M

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jacob Davis

  30. 5 out of 5

    Iyabo Onipede

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