While political violence and personal violence fill our newspapers, violence also permeates many religious beliefs with images of sacrifice and histories of divine propitiation. Children in many traditions learn sacred stories of divine action and human response that include acts of violence. Both inside our houses of worship and outside of them, we hear of bloodshed.
Violence is a thread that runs through many sacred texts and traditions around the world, from animal sacrifice to the mass slaughter of unbelievers to Jesus' suffering and death on the cross. How should modern believers interpret texts that seem to condone or defend violence? Is violence ever justified on religious grounds? Can violent acts be redemptive?
Richard Beck, Professor and blogger, "Experimental Theology"
You know the basic idea: Because of your sin you stand under God's judgment and wrath. You stand under a death sentence.
Deborah W. Dykes, Progressive Christian, The Dykes Foundation
Make no mistake; we are a violent people with violent taste and appetites. We feed on violence through news and entertainment as if it were manna from heaven.
Peter Enns, Evangelical blogger, "Rethinking Biblical Christianity"
The question that is as old as the Christian faith is this: "How does all this Old Testament violence square with how Jesus speaks of God?"
David R. Dykes, Progressive Christian, The Dykes Foundation
Can the creator of the universe be a homicidal maniac one instant and a self-sacrificing, "emptying" deity the next?
Christian Piatt, Progressive Christian blogger, "Father, Son, and Holy Heretic"
Violence never redeems. It's love that redeems, and love requires no blood to be spilled in order to exist, or else it's not really love.
Nimue Brown, Pagan blogger, "Pagan Leadership"
Compassionate questions, and an open mind about the answers, might help reduce the motivation for violence in people whose self-hatred has become tangled up in their religion.
Shane Claiborne, Progressive Christian author and activist
Perhaps it's time for a united, nonviolent assault on the myth of redemptive violence. Perhaps it's time for us to declare that there is always a third way.
Adam Lee, Atheist blogger, "Daylight Atheism"
It's good that decent people now recognize the evil of genocide, Jewish and gentile alike. But you'd never have gotten that idea if you were going solely by the Bible.
Suzanne Ross, Progressive Christian blogger, "The Raven Foundation"
The Cross represents what humans have always done: habitually scapegoated innocent victims in order to keep and maintain the peace in our communities.
Rebecca Hamilton, Catholic blogger, "Public Catholic"
In this interview, the pope insists that dialogue, reconciliation, and peace are the meaning of religion.
Hesham Hassaballa, Muslim columnist, "An American Islam"
The whole concept of increased Islamic religious devotion leading to violent extremism simply does not make any sense.
Roger Wolsey, United Methodist pastor and blogger, "The Holy Kiss"
We've allowed the ways of the world to infuse our beliefs and we end up fighting fire with fire.
Robert Hunt, Progressive Christian professor and blogger, "Interfaith Encounters"
Only human life is sacred, and the whole of religion and every individual religion in all its parts forfeits its claim to sanctity when it justifies violence against even a single individual child of the Divine.
Adam Ericksen, Progressive Christian blogger, "The Raven Foundation"
The Judeo-Christian tradition is in a process of transforming our hermeneutic of sacrificial violence into a hermeneutic of mercy, forgiveness, and love.
Sam Alexander, Presbyterian pastor
I'm done with the magical notion that human beings need to sacrifice in order to appease an angry God.
T. E. Hanna
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Violence certainly holds redemption, but that violence can just as easily become nothing more than revenge.
What is God like? What are humans like? When it comes to the Atonement, those two questions guide all of our other questions. They are the two implicit questions behind N.T. Wright’s comments about the Atonement in the video below. For example, Wright says: “Tragically, some Christians have said that on the cross God embraced [Read More...]