I am not a pastor, so whenever I am recommended a book about pastoring, I tend to approach it with less enthusiasm than I might a book intended for teachers or other church leaders. The Peacemaking Pastor by Alfred Poirier, however, wound up being a lot more practical and down-to-earth than most other pastoral books, and his subject matter is that in which every believer ought to be interested (see p.14), for it is the foundation of Christian unity: forgiveness and peace.
This readable and personal textbook develops well the background and biblical issues behind dissuading conflict among believers in a Christlike manner. Perhaps one of the most striking points developed in the book, for me, is the idea that all conflict has been divinely ordained. This fact does not suggest a heretical idea that God desired sin to enter the human race, but instead that He allowed it. It also implies that the curse which He then placed on the serpent regarding humanity (“And I will place enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed,” Genesis 3:15) was the gift of conflict, that the loss of peace in man’s heart was God’s divinely appointed method of driving man back to Himself, for not only did He ordain conflict(p.75), but He also purposed peace (p.78).
Poirier writes a great deal about how the believer’s required forgiveness and peace stems from the example of Christ Himself, “the first and only true Peacemaker” (p.26). He also writes much of the practical steps believes must take in both understanding and applying forgiveness between himself and others and in pursuing peacemaking among other believers. One not of caution he addresses, however, is the fact that Scripture never guarantees that a believer will ever experience true peace with an unbeliever. In our day and age or tolerance and acceptance, this fact an all-too-often overlooked reality of Scripture. But whereas a believer and an unbeliever may never experience the true, family-type peace that two believers can share, still all believers are commanded to “live peaceably with all men” (Romans 12:18).
This book proved quite useful in helping me gain a better understanding on conflict, forgiveness, and peace, and also helped establish a biblical perspective regarding my relationships with unbelievers and those with my brothers and sisters in Christ. I would recommend this book to pastors or Christian counselors who must deal with interpersonal conflict often, though I would recommend the core lessons taught to all believers everywhere.