Integrating nonviolence into theological education

Are you curious about what nonviolence can mean in Christian community? Do you wonder about constructive ways to engage public conflict? Have you found yourself drawn to nonviolent civil protests?

INVITE is a group that was begun as a student / staff / faculty / friends movement in the spring of 2002 in the aftermath of the September 11th tumult, at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul, Minnesota. In the last few years it has lain somewhat dormant, but we are reviving it in the 2019-2020 academic year. Join us on Wednesdays after chapel — either in person or through zoom ( — to explore how nonviolence can be understood as a core Christian practice. We will try to keep to an 11:45 am to 12:30 pm schedule, but of course people are “invited” to stay in conversation as long as they want to each week.

Spring 2020 schedule:

During the spring of 2020 we are moving into two practices — reading books together, and attending the ICOM vigils on the second Tuesday of each month. Our first book is Judith Butler’s The Force of Nonviolence: The Ethical in the Political.

Fall 2019 schedule:

  • September 11 — leadership planning meeting
  • September 18 — Leon Rodriguez, Christianity, nonviolence, and South Africa, OCC 213
  • September 25 — Rachel Ringlaben, Sanctuary church, OCC Aux Dining Room
  • October 2 — Amanda Vetsch on restorative justice (GH306)
  • October 9 — general discussion
  • October 16 — practices of nonviolent civil resistance TBA (GH306)
  • October 23 — no meeting (RFS class, break for all others)
  • November 6 — cancelled, due to Diversified Search events on campus
  • November 13 — general discussion (GH306)
  • November 20 — David May on nonviolence, anti-racism, and the civil rights movement (GH306)
  • December 4 — Cherish Our Children: Working on sexual trafficking issues (GH306)

What can it mean to be nonviolent? Coming from the Hindu/Sanskrit word ahimsa, nonviolence was defined long ago as “causing no harm, no injury, no violence to any living creature.” But Mohandas Gandhi insisted that it means much more than that. He said nonviolence was the active, unconditional love toward others, the persistent pursuit of truth, the radical forgiveness toward those who hurt us, the steadfast resistance to every form of evil, and even the loving willingness to accept suffering in the struggle for justice without the desire for retaliation…

Another way to understand nonviolence is to set it within the context of our identity. Practicing nonviolence means claiming our fundamental identity as the beloved [children] of the God of peace. . . . This is what Jesus taught: “Blessed are the peacemakers; they shall be called the sons and daughters of God [Matthew 5:9]. . . . Love your enemies and pray for your persecutors, then you shall be sons and daughters of the God who makes [the] sun rise on the good and the bad, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust” [Matthew 5:44-45]. In the context of his visionary nonviolence—radical peacemaking and love for enemies—Jesus speaks of being who we already are. He talks about our true identities as if they propel us to be people of loving nonviolence…”

Richard Rohr