by Rev. John Dear, S.J.
Pax Christi USA Ambassador of Peace
“Whoever obeys and teaches these commandments will be called the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”(Mt. 5:19) That’s what Jesus announced in the Sermon on the Mount, right after the beatitudes and just before the six antitheses, which instruct us to resist evil nonviolently and to love our enemies. In light of that verse, Walter Wink must be considered one of the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. I can think of no higher praise.
Walter died peacefully May 10 in his home in Sandisfield, Mass., at age 76, with his beloved wife, June, by his side. I first met Walter 20 years ago, but I’d been studying his books for years before that. He helped me at the Fellowship of Reconciliation, and in recent years, we had lunch together each year in Santa Fe with our friends Sheila and Dennis Linn when they attended the annual conference of scientists and philosophers.
Walter Wink, to my mind, was one of the greatest teachers of the Sermon on the Mount and Gospel nonviolence in Christian history. Raised in Dallas, Walter received his master’s degree and doctorate in theology from New York’s Union Theological Seminary, where he later taught. From 1967 to 1976, he served on the national steering committee of Clergy and Laity Concerned about Vietnam. Later, he taught at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York. Over the years, he and June gave countless workshops on Jesus and nonviolence around the country and the world…