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  • Direction: From the Editors: Justice and Sexuality
    of God in particular The Church however remains conspicuously silent with some exceptions on such areas of life and thought Elmer Martens points to the contemporary character of the message of Jeremiah a message pertinent to both of the major themes of this issue Attorneys Joby Dupuis and Duane Heffelbower highlight the contributions and limitations of the legal structures of our society and point to the better way of reconciliation and when necessary civil disobedience John Konrad measures the state s concept of justice as expressed within the penal system by biblical norms And George Shillington explores for us the meaning of the Pauline injunction If one of you has a dispute with a fellow Christian how dare he go before heathen judges instead of letting God s people settle the matter 1 Cor 6 1 Dean Kliewer and Irene Loewen both professional counselors speak to the subject of the Christian and sexuality Jean Janzen s poetry develops this topic as well as the theme of justice with clarity and beauty To those for whom these articles and poems are too explicit we say please reread the Song of Songs and the legislation of Deuteronomy 22 25 Sociologist Robert Siemens

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/15/1/editorial.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Jeremiah: Relevant for the Eighties
    God s wrath In 42 different verses or passages in Jeremiah speaks about God s anger God s anger is pictured as breaking out and burning like a fire 21 12 It is described as something almost tangible which leaves God s presence and is not diverted or recalled until it has reached its target 30 24 a modern image indeed In still another image God s anger is in a cup to be poured out or taken as a drink 25 15 God s anger is not an irrational outburst or injudicious vengeance but it is aroused by the sin of his people 4 4 32 31 God s anger defends what he loves and protects namely his holiness and integrity His anger must not be thought of as opposite to his love for love s opposite is indifference apathy and non caring Is there not a strange silence in the church about God s anger Do people outside the church or even within it have an inkling of the fact that the God with whom they need to deal is a deity capable of anger Has the welcome message of God s love so captured clergy that it has thrown the larger teaching of God s work off balance Have modern preachers become so psychologically sophisticated that mention of God s anger as motivation for taking his commands seriously is considered educationally embarrassing 8 God Is Sovereign over Nations In insisting that God was sovereign over the nations Jeremiah was in the company of other prophets such as Amos 1 3 2 3 Isaiah 13 23 and Ezekiel 25 32 The Babylonians were understood as the undisguised agents of God Nebuchadnezzar was dignified with the title my servant 27 6 Furthermore God said Jeremiah had the right to judge the nations for their pride especially 48 30 but also for their trust in riches 49 4 and illicit territorial takeovers 49 14 But nations were also the objects of God s compassion More than once God said of some of them as he also did of Israel I will restore your fortunes 48 47 49 39 This phrase translated in KJV as I will bring again your captivity is better rendered in the light of the Aramaic Sefire inscriptions and other evidence as I will restore your fortunes At the core of this phrase is the notion of recovering what has been lost 11 The nations were not only to regain what was lost in a high moment of the book there is pictured a marvelous turn about by the peoples of the world to you the nations will come from the ends of the earth and say Our fathers possessed nothing but false gods Then they will know that my name is the Lord Jer 16 19 21 The subject of the world s nations dominates modern news media Yet sermons do not deal with God s work on so large a scale especially in churches where the favorite subject is personal piety The book of Jeremiah could help Christians move beyond their intuitive knowledge that God is sovereign Their belief could be reinforced and something of God s way with nations explained To be sure today s preacher cannot pinpoint which nation is at any given moment God s special servant but there is ample instruction in Jeremiah about what it is in nations that pleases or displeases God To become explicit about such matters in the context of both church and state would not only strengthen the moral purpose of the electorate but could over time influence national life significantly Obedience Is Indispensable Jeremiah did not present his generation with a treatise on God though he disclosed much about him Jeremiah was concerned to instruct urge nudge and were it possible to 9 coerce people into the way of obedience The ideas of listening physically and obeying morally are expressed by one and the same Hebrew word sama Of the 1159 times the word occurs in the Old Testament 184 15 are found in Jeremiah Thirty times there is a summons to listen Thirty more times Jeremiah files the complaint You they have not listened see esp chapters 7 11 26 35 42 The high importance given to obedience is shown also by God s sending the prophets again and again to urge obedience 25 3 The import of the Hebrew idiom translated blandly as again and again NIV is one of rising early God got up early to send his prophets He gave top priority to it One might render But I have spoken to you urgently and persistently yet you have not obeyed me I sent all my prophets to you with urgency and persistence yet you have not paid attention or listened to me 35 14b 15 A symbolic action about obedience involved the Rechabite clan which was committed to abstinence because of the command of their ancestor Jonadab Jeremiah invited them to drink wine but they refused Jer 35 The Rechabites refused to drink wine a trivial action by comparison in obedience to an ancestor but the people of Judah refused to obey their God The coming disaster was linked directly to a refusal to obey I am going to bring on Judah every disaster I pronounced against them I spoke to them but they did not listen I called to them but they did not answer 35 17 Is not the call to obedience to God the Holy One desperately needed today in both the church and society Is the church s negligence apathy its alignment with culture rather than God and its lack of vision to go unrebuked Must not government and industry be called to sensitivity to justice and to moral accountability Can the military nuclear build up be left to drift And if it is argued that Jeremiah s situation was vastly different from ours since he was addressing a people who were both state and church

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/15/1/jeremiah-relevant-for-eighties.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Before
    organdied daughters came out of the old mansions turned into apartments out of the Girls Finishing School a family in each room bullet holes at eye level their men waiting on stained mattresses and we sang Three years and I walked away with my hymnbook and my education I heard later that the church was gutted its space filled with public housing and walls sprayed with X s and graffiti

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/15/1/before.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Understanding the Adversary System: Available Alternatives for Dispute Resolution
    is not an attorney s responsibility to seek truth justice or reconciliation The goal is to win and the entire premise upon which the adversary system rests is that if the attorney represents the client in this manner the trier of fact will find the truth Whether or not this indeed occurs is debatable and has been 18 debated for centuries without resolution It is important to recognize the premise upon which the system operates so that we can all understand that the adversarial court system and reconciliation are contradictory In fact the two forces move in opposite directions The attorney s duty of zealous representation emphasizes the self and increases the chances that others will be harmed or forced to sacrifice self especially in order to preserve our relationships with others In light of this understanding we must ask whether we are seeking to advance our own interests or the interests of the Kingdom Jesus also had some strong words of direction for conflict resolution between Christians and about the use of the established legal system for such disputes The scriptures tell us that we dare not sue one another and that our initial question before filing any action must be why not rather be defrauded 1 Cor 6 1 7 Matthew 18 15 20 sets forth a three step process by which reconciliation is to be sought among Christian brothers and sisters Not one step involves taking the adversarial role described above and mandated by the modern judicial system A second characteristic of modern law practice which again illustrates the clear distinction between the principles operating in biblical justice and those in modern justice seeking restricts the considerations which may be included in the final decision of litigation be it that of jury or judge Every lawsuit involves a jury or a judge who acts as the ultimate finder of fact Although the jury or judge is allowed to draw on personal experience in reaching a conclusion that experience may only be used to determine what conclusion logically flows from the facts presented The evidence the facts and the inference which can be drawn from those facts is not defined by the judge or by society at large but by the parties themselves Remember that the parties through their respective counsel are located as far from each other as possible There are three basic methods of dispute resolution More accurately the majority of the alternatives discussed below are methods for facilitating peacemaking and may not in a particular instance resolve dispute because reconciliation comes from within and not from without ALTERNATIVES TO THE ADVERSARY SYSTEM Mediation The first and most informal method utilized in non litigious 19 dispute resolution is mediation Meditation is regularly used in domestic disputes and in labor negotiation is often made mandatory by an applicable statute and many other areas of the law The role of mediator is that of facilitator The mediator helps the parties break beyond their own self interests listens with

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/15/1/understanding-adversary-system-available.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: Need
    at the country club by the windows the wind tearing at the palm trees small lights coming on across the river Our host is pouring coffee and stories thousands of refugees his hands so recently on their swollen bellies their paper cheeks and then the pictures on the screen faces against the chain link fence All of us together in this velvet room waiting for the ship to come and

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/15/1/need.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Christian and Civil Disobedience
    be subject to the governing authorities How is it that one is subject to government yet refuses to obey it That would appear to be a contradiction John Howard Yoder offers an explanation It is not by accident that the imperative of Romans 13 1 is not literally one of obedience The Greek language has good words to denote obedience in the sense of completely bending one s will and one s actions to the desires of another What Paul calls for however is sub ord ination This verb is based on the same root as the ordering of the powers by God Subordination is significantly different from obedience The conscientious objector who refuses to do what his government asks him to do but still remains under the sovereignty of that government and accepts the penalties which it imposes is being subordinate even though he is not obeying 4 It is clear from the New Testament that Jesus followers did not blindly obey the governments under which they found themselves Faithfulness to God was first It is also clear that the sixteenth century Anabaptists were faithful to God first and the state second Jesus knew that his followers would be in tension with the authorities He instructed them You will be handed over to the local councils and flogged in the synagogues On account of me you will stand before governors and kings as witnesses to them And the gospel must first be preached to all nations Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial do not worry beforehand about what to say Just say whatever is given you at the time for it is not you speaking but the Holy Spirit Mark 13 9b 11 NIV These are hardly the instructions of a leader expecting his followers to obey every authority instituted among men For the sake of the gospel followers of Jesus will refuse to obey men But for the Lord s sake the followers of Jesus will submit to every authority instituted among men and by so doing will bear witness to those authorities As John Howard Yoder puts it We subject ourselves to government because it was in so doing that Jesus revealed and achieved God s victory 5 Granting our desire to submit to government and granting our desire to be faithful what do we do when we believe the 27 state is asking us to behave contrary to God s will for us D Edmond Hiebert offers some initial guidance Peter s condensed instructions 1 Peter 2 13 did not deal with the believer s response whenever government demands that which is contrary to the Christian faith In Acts 4 19 and 5 29 we have the example of Peter himself concerning the Christian response under such conditions For the Christian the state is not the highest authority and whenever government demands that which is in conflict with the dictates of the conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit and the Word then the Christian must obey the Word of God and suffer the results The Church soon learned by bitter experience that there are some things which the state has no right to do and that therefore the counsel of submission has its limitations footnote But under ordinary circumstances believers should actively support civil government in its promotion of law and order 6 The key here would seem to be a conscience enlightened by the Holy Spirit and the Word Since Anabaptist Mennonites believe that the Holy Spirit also speaks through the body of believers this would indicate another test The Word and the Spirit speaking in concert with the body of believers will tell us when the state has overstepped its bounds and when a Christian must say no to the state But what shape does that holy no take Looking back at our definition of Christian civil disobedience we need a way of testing what we do One commentator has suggested five qualifications on civil disobedience not necessarily Christian in its motivation 1 The law opposed is immoral in conflict with a higher claim 2 every possible nondisobedient recourse has been exhausted with the definition of possible and exhausted being tempered by the situation 3 the protest is not clandestine 4 there is a likelihood of success drawing a distinction between purely personal action taken for conscience sake and the sort of social disobedience which seeks to change society and thus must have its potential bad effects balanced against the good likely to emerge 5 there is willingness to accept the penalty 7 Looking more specifically at the church s witness to the state another commentator finds three additional tests which also apply to individual Christian witness to the state 1 The witness must be representative of the church s clear conviction 2 the witness of the church must be consistent with her own behavior 3 the church should speak 28 only when she has something to say rather than feeling obligated to cover the field 8 If we follow these suggestions there is much more likelihood of civil disobedience being truly holy obedience HOLY OBEDIENCE IN A NORTH AMERICAN DEMOCRACY We should also recognize that the current North American governmental systems are set in place with civil disobedience as a valid method of speaking to government A quotation from the Declaration of Independence of the United States is instructive on this point We hold these truths to be self evident That all men are created equal that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life liberty and the pursuit of happiness that to secure these rights governments are instituted among men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it and to institute a new government While not so blatantly stated the Canadian Constitution has a similar underlying presumption

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/15/1/christian-and-civil-disobedience.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Direction: The Temperature of Cruelty
    bed soldiers pulling out fingernails the prisoner dangling for days But also the years of bitterness in a family the cold turning of the shoulder the look that erases you What is the temperature of cruelty Fire Boiling oil Or the great weight of ice gravel shearing rock in a slow grind Or that April frost so lacy and beautiful whispering and biting the orchard to death in one slow

    Original URL path: http://www.directionjournal.org/15/1/temperature-of-cruelty.html (2016-02-16)
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