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.