Third Way is a reference to the path of nonviolence taught and lived out by Jesus of Nazareth (and later by figures like Leo Tolstoy, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, and Martin Luther King Jr.). Made famous by the theologian and peace activist Walter Wink, the point of this concept is to emphasize the active nature of nonviolence properly understood.

Christian nonviolence is often tragically misunderstood as being inactive. To be nonviolent, to “turn the other cheek,” is equated with being passive. The pacifist is one who does nothing, one who withdraws from all conflict, refuses to confront evil, and maintains the status quo.

This form of inactive nonviolence is directly opposed to the nonviolent way of Jesus. Far from promoting passive submission to injustice, he alternatively practiced nonviolence as a way of actively confronting and resisting it. A colonized subject in an occupied land, Jesus of Nazareth was a radical social prophet who confronted power and fought for the liberation of the oppressed.

Jesus did this, however, neither through militant violence or passive nonviolence, but through the “third way” of active nonviolence –  the way of revolutionary love. For Jesus, this, and only this, was the way to break the cycle of escalatory violence and bring about true peace. Jesus was an advocate of pacifism not passivism. Peacemaking not peacekeeping.

It is this type of active nonviolence that we think is at the heart of the Christian faith and what we are committed to building our community and activism around.

The Little Way – a commitment to making big change through small acts of love.

Third Way Peace Fellowship takes a decentralized, bottom up, and grassroots approach to peacemaking and radical social change. We aim to transform the world, to bring about real material, economic, and political change, through a revolution of ordinary life and the building of small scale cooperative communities.

Because of this, we believe that the third way of active nonviolence is best learned and practiced at the local level. While it can and must be expressed in mass movements – in protests, marches, direct action, and acts of civil disobedience, we believe that active non-violence is first and foremost a matter of social and cultural transformation to be lived out in our daily lives and interpersonal relationships. Active nonviolence is a way of life, a spiritual practice, that must be intentionally cultivated through simple acts of hospitality, mercy, service, and compassion. The Third Way, is thereby also what Dorothy Day called the Little Way, a commitment to making big change through small acts of love.