Christian Obedience in a Nuclear Age

Since the adoption of Peacemaking the Believers' Calling in 1980-1981 , peacemaking has become increasingly important in the life of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Research Unit estimates that by 1987, 47 percent of the church’s 11,600 congregations had made a commitment of some kind to the cause of peacemaking through their sessions. Peacemaking committees and committed individuals have been exploring and implementing ways to put those commitments into action. Out of all this interest and activity, questions have inevitably emerged as to the most appropriate peacemaking strategies for individual Christians and for corporate bodies: congregations, presbyteries, synods, and the General Assembly.

From 1983 through 1987 the General Assembly has been requested, through overtures from presbyteries, to develop policy on the applicability of the criteria of the just war doctrine to nuclear war, a theological position on peace, nonviolence as a means of social justice, the present law on “frivolous tax returns,” tax resistance, and the morality of  nuclear deterrence. These matters have all been referred to the Advisory Council on Church and Society for study and report. The council reported to the General Assembly that it viewed these separate referrals as aspects of a larger policy question: What is the proper shape of Christian obedience in a nuclear age? The council then sought to engage members of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and churches of the World Alliance of Reformed Churches in the search for answers to that larger question.

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