Saturday, July 16, 2011

The violent overthrow of liberal Western theology

 Today I finished reading Miroslav Volf's Exclusion and Embrace and we have our last discussion group on it. The last chapter "Violence and Peace" took the discussion in directions I did not anticipate. First, he looked at the implications of the book of Revelation's portrayal of God's justice and judgement being implemented violently. I find the following paragraph  fascinating and challenging (and hard to argue against).
My thesis that the practice of nonviolence requires a belief in divine vengeance will be unpopular with many Christians, especially theologians in the West. To the person who is inclined to dismiss it, I suggest imagining that you are delivering a lecture in a war zone (which is where a paper that underlies this chapter was originally delivered). Among your listeners are people whose cities and villages have been first plundered, then burned and leveled to the ground, whose daughters and sisters have been raped, whose fathers and brothers have had their throats slit. The topic of the lecture: a Christian attitude toward violence. The thesis: we should not retaliate since God is perfect noncoercive love. Soon you would discover that it takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis that human nonviolence corresponds to God’s refusal to judge. In a scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die. And as one watches it die, one will do well to reflect about many other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind.
M. Wolf, Exclusion and Embrace, p. 304

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