Proclaiming the Peacemaker : The Malaysian church as an agent of reconciliation in a multicultural society

Rowan, Peter Alexander (2011). Proclaiming the Peacemaker : The Malaysian church as an agent of reconciliation in a multicultural society. PhD thesis The Open University.



With a history of racial violence and in recent years, low-level ethnic tensions, the themes of peaceful coexistence and social harmony are recurring ones in the discourse of Malaysian society. In such a context, we consider the role of the church as a reconciling agent. We begin by setting out a prima facie case for the doctrine of reconciliation. Interacting with the works of various scholars the main contours of reconciliation are traced, underlining it as a central New Testament theme. Recent years have seen the emergence of missiological readings of reconciliation, and a paradigm of mission in which the social implications of reconciliation highlight the importance of the local church as an agent of peace. Insight into the socio-political context of Malaysia is gained from a survey questionnaire which draws our attention to the relative absence of peacemaking initiatives at the local church level. Seven key themes emerge from the survey results, and the seventh - that of identity, is the key theme to be reckoned with if Malaysian churches are to be agents of reconciliation. This thesis argues that a reconciling presence within a divided society like Malaysia necessitates an ethos of peacemaking. This is created and sustained when Christians understand that their identity has been transformed in Jesus Christ. Our aim will be to demonstrate that being an agent of reconciliation is directly linked to our effectiveness in bearing witness to an identity given by Christ. The concluding section draws from the work of Dietrich Bonhoeffer to support the idea that peace is created as a result of the integration of the self and sustained not in isolation but in fellowship with our neighbour.

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