Theological Reflection: Conflict Transformation
Christian partnership did not then mean that the partners, although united in their missionary goals, were always in accord on how they were to carry out this mission – witness the disagreement between Peter and Paul in Galatians 2. Rather they were asked to face each other, and the roots of their disagreement and agreement, so openly that both could go forward in mutual love and respect into further creative activity.
Conflict is a sign of health and vitality in a functioning community. The Anglicans gathered in Trinidad in 1976, for the 3rd Anglican Consultative Council, knew that conflicts would arise in the Communion and that only by transforming those conflicts can we move on in God’s mission in mutual love.
When faced with conflict we have many alternatives. We can seek to minimize the differences and deny there is any significant conflict in the name of a false harmony as Frankie Lee and others examine in a reflection on Harmony from Hong Kong. We can run away like Hagar, as Emily Onyango explores in Flight. We can stand our ground and turn and fight, banging the drum of war as John Mark Odour describes in A New Drumbeat. However, none of these approaches transforms conflict and all of them are damaging to mission as the authors describe.
The establishment of relationship is the key to transforming conflict. Our faith is built on a relationship with Christ who transforms the conflict between us and God through forgiveness and not through violence.
The roots of our conflict are not just about who is right and who is wrong; they are about our relationship with God and with one another.
Conflict transformation allows for mutual decision-making that prioritises the real needs of people. It is what the Ghanaian Hub group called ‘consulting the Old Lady.’ Conflict transformation does not lead to anarchy. Decisions are made that include the valuing of diversity in the body of Christ. This is expressed in the Chinese proverb:
Good people retain their distinctive identity, but dwell in harmony.
Narrow minded and selfish people act as if they agree, but, in fact, they do not value harmony.
Njung’wa Theology: A Kikuyu System for Conversation and Healing of Community – Ven. Dr. Ndung’u Ikenye; Kenya
Nana Abrewa Theology: An Akan Concept of Consultation and Decision Making – Vincent Assanful; Ghana
Conflict Resolution: The Hand and Concrete Models – Very Rev. S.K. Ablorh; Ghana
Conflict and African Spirituality: Agīkūyū Perspective – Rev. Dr. Sammy Githuku; Kenya
Conflict Resolution Approach, Ghana – Rt. Rev. Matthias K. Medadues-Bodahu; Ghana
The “Old Lady” Model of Dispute Resolution – Ven. Paul Shaibu Katampu; Ghana
Continuing Indaba: Seeking Reconciliation in the Anglican Communion – Rev. Canon Jonathan Draper; UK
Harmony, “He” [和] Theology – Frankie Lee; Hong Kong
Struggle for Power and Conflict Resolution in the Bible – Charles Mwihambi; Tanzania
Humility in the Context of Conflict: A Study of Philippians 2:1-11 – Rev. Canon Ernest Ndahani; Tanzania
Flight—Beginning of the Listening Process: A Study of the Encounter Between Hagar and Sarah – Rev. Dr. Emily Awino Onyango; Kenya
Conflict Resolution: The Luo Drumbeat for the Baraza Model – Rev. John Mark Odour; Kenya
Peace, Not as the World Gives: Biblical Models for Conflict Resolution – C.B. Peter; Kenya
Under the Banyan Tree: Indian Analogues to Indaba – Ms. Sushma Ramswami; India
The Hand Model for Conflict Resolution – Mrs. Nana Serwah Ayibotele; Ghana.
Indaba Tools from Community Life – Sr. Anita Cook, CSC; UK.