Ethicist Glen Stassen wins BWA award

An author and seminary professor will be honored for three decades of peacemaking work at this summer’s Baptist World Alliance annual gathering in Jamaica.

By Bob Allen

Ethicist Glen Stassen has been named the 2013 recipient of the Baptist World Alliance Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award. The award, approved March 5 during a meeting of the BWA executive committee in Falls Church, Va., will be presented during the BWA annual gathering scheduled July 1-6 in Ocho Rios, Jamaica.

stassen-glenStassen, who is Lewis B. Smedes Professor of Christian Ethics at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, Calif., has for three decades been a leading Baptist voice for peacemaking around the world.

His groundbreaking book Just Peacemaking outlined an alternative to pacifism and just-war theory in the form of positive and practical steps that human beings can take to abolish war.

Stassen, 77, taught Christian ethics for 20 years at Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., before joining Fuller Seminary’s faculty in 1997. He is currently a member of the BWA Commission on Peace and a former board member of Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America. He sits on editorial advisory boards of both Sojourners and Creation Care magazines.

Kingdom Ethics, a book he co-wrote with David Gushee, won book-of-the-year honors from Christianity Today in 2004.

Stassen’s newest book, A Thicker Jesus: Incarnational Discipleship in a Secular Age, argues for the kind of robust theology that enabled Christian leaders like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Martin Luther King Jr. to speak truth to power at great personal cost while others around them capitulated to injustice.

A graduate of the University of Virginia, Stassen received his M.Div. from Union Theological Seminary in New York City and his Ph.D. from Duke University. He has been a visiting scholar at Harvard University, Duke University, Columbia University and the University of Heidelberg in Germany. He is a visiting professor at the International Baptist Theological Seminary in Prague, Czech Republic.

Stassen was heavily influenced by his father, Harold Stassen, president of the American Baptist Convention (now American Baptist Churches USA) in the 1960s, governor of the state of Minnesota from 1939 to 1943, and nine-time candidate for president of the United States.

The elder Stassen, who died in 2001 at 93, helped draft the charter establishing the United Nations in 1945 and joined the March on Washington led by Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963.

The award, named after Denton Lotz, BWA general secretary 1988-2006, and his wife, Janice, honors Baptist individuals for outstanding work in defending and promoting human rights as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in 1948.