The Peacemaker, A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflicts, by Ken Sande (Grande Rapids: Baker Books, 2002), 281 pp., paper $14.99.
The Peacemaker Ministries, and its flagship book under review here, is too well known to need much by way of comment by me. Sande has provided the body of Christ a great service by thoroughly presenting the teaching of Scripture on the subject of unity and peacemaking. This is a marvelous source for personal use as well as a tool for counselors who will inevitably deal with conflict. The only drawback I see is that the length of the book may prove overwhelming to some readers. There is a children’s edition that might be used in such a situation.
The book is organized along the guiding principles of Peacemakers, also known as the Peacemakers Pledge (pp. 235-237). These principles are:
• Glorify God (chapters 1-3)
• Get the log out of your eye (chapters 4-6)
• Go and show your brother his fault (chapters 7-9)
• Go and be reconciled (chapters 10-12)
When following these principles still does not produce reconciliation, Sande reminds us that we cannot always be successful in our peacemaking efforts but we can be faithful to obey the Lord (pp. 165, 230-231). At such times Sande nevertheless calls for forgiveness, but he makes an excellent distinction between positional forgiveness, which is a commitment to God to maintain a loving and peaceful attitude toward an offender even as you continue to work toward complete reconciliation, and transactional forgiveness in which true reconciliation has taken place and the issue is no longer on the table (pp. 189-191).
One warning is in order. I am aware of people who claim to love The Peacemaker materials, and who have taught The Peacemaker course, who nevertheless are the source of much personal and ecclesiastical disunity. This is because, as Sande states, “The more distorted your perspective becomes, the more likely you are to imagine the worst about your opponent, which may lead you to misjudge completely his or her values, motives and actions” (p. 177). Such perspective does not lead to peace but rather to bitterness.
I highly recommend the careful study and use of The Peacemaker.