Contextual Theologian Reflection: Miroslav Volf

In theological circles, the theme of reconciliation has moved from the periphery towards the center over the past several decades.  With the recent past filled with new forms of violence and warfare, the aftermath of such conflicts have left a residual sense of uncertainty in communities throughout the world.  Not only so, but many philosophers have also pointed to the reality that the modern utopian dream for progress has been deconstructed and exposed as simply a myth by the destructive nature of human conquest.  Because of these and several other factors, people who have been victims and victors have had to learn how to navigate their communities towards a better future.  How are we to go on living together after the Holocaust?  Is there a better way to live together than the segregating way of apartheid?  Can we in Rwanda find peace after so much bloodshed? These are some examples of the kinds of questions that have emerged.  With this recent history as a backdrop, the need for a theology and praxis of reconciliation has become more than evident.  The church has found a particular theologian who has given her the gift of a fresh and practical theological exploration of reconciliation: Miroslav Volf.

MIROSLAV VOLF: CONTEXT

Miroslav Volf was born in Osijek, Croatia.[1] He is a theologian from the former Yugoslavia, which is a country that has seen much conflict over the years. [2] He was reared in the holiness Pentecostal tradition as an ethnic Croat.  Other traditions are quite familiar to his home context, as he grew up surrounded by Serbs, Croats, and Bosnians.  With these come religious traditions that span from Orthodox and Roman Catholic to Muslim.  Much of his reflection has grown out of the observation of the war that took place in his homeland.[3] During the war, he was teaching in the former Yugoslavia and much of his theological work seems to stem from his reflections based on that time in his life.[4]

Currently, Miroslav Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School. [5] At Yale, he serves as the director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture.[6] Prior to this appointment, he taught at Fuller Theological Seminary.[7] His education began at Evangelical-Theological Faculty, Zagreb.[8] Then, prior to being a professor at Fuller, he was a student who took a special interest in liberation theology after having taken a course from Orlando Costas.  Afterward, he continued his educational journey and studied at the University of Tubingen under the mentorship of Jurgen Moltmann.  Volf credits Moltmann (whom he calls the “granddaddy of liberation theologians”[9]) with helping to develop his understanding of liberation theology during his doctoral work.  Finally, in regards to his church involvement, Volf is both a member or the Episcopal Church (USA) and the Evangelical Church in Croatia.[10]

After examining the context of Volf, it becomes clear that he has a uniquely blended perspective and identity.  One could imagine that being reared in Eastern Europe, but having settled in the United States, he is positioned to examine theology from a non-Western perspective while simultaneously speaking as an insider to the West.  To borrow some similar language from Volf; he has one foot firmly planted in Eastern Europe and another foot in the United States of America.[11]

MIROSLAV VOLF: THEOLOGY

Of Miroslav Volf’s contributions to the theological community, his work that has made the greatest impact is undoubtedly, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation.  In this prolific book we get an in depth look at a theology of reconciliation.  In this section, the goal will be to give an overview of the major themes that are presented specifically in this book, but also to supplement the material with some other writings he has produced.  After doing so, the goal will be to analyze, critique, and reflect on his overall theological method and to discern its usefulness in the church.

Volf’s Thesis

In Exclusion and Embrace, Miroslav Volf begins by laying a foundation for his case for reconciliation.  He believes that the identity of persons and how they are to relate to the other ought to be determined by the model God has given humanity in the cross of Jesus Christ.  Applying the work of John Howard Yoder and Jurgen Moltmann, Volf argues that the work of reconciliation ought to be centered on the theme of “self-donation.”  This means that in the same way that God donates himself in Jesus on the cross for the sake of others, so also humanity should self-donate themselves for those that seem undeserving.[12] Self-donation when understood as self-giving love is such that Christ “died for the ungodly” (Romans 5.6) so that those who were by nature evil and enemies of God, can find in the cross a reconciling embrace.[13] Volf states later on in the book: “At the heart of the cross is Christ’s stance of not letting the other remain an enemy and of creating space in himself for the offender to come in.”[14]

Along with the open-arms of Jesus on the cross for his enemies, two other biblical images support Volf’s case for self-donation.  He sites the trinity as having an intricate self-giving love.  Modeling the Trinity gives us reasons to give of ourselves to the other.  Also, a relevant image for reconciliation is that which is found in the story of the prodigal son.  The father has an open posture of the will to embrace his estranged son.  These three images form three doctrinal foundations for reconciliation: 1) the doctrine of God, 2) the doctrine of Christ, and 3) the doctrine of salvation.  It is these three doctrines expressed by the above three images that give credence to the whole of his perspective on making room for those with whom we may have a conflict.[15] In an interview[16] he points to the following quotation from his book as the fundamental thesis of his theology of human reconciliation:

The will to give ourselves to others and “welcome” them, to readjust our identities to make space for them, is prior to any judgment about others, except that of identifying them in their humanity.  The will to embrace precedes any “truth” about others and any construction of their “justice.”  This will is absolutely indiscriminate and strictly immutable; it transcends the moral mapping of the social world into “good” and “evil.”[17]

Exclusion and Embrace of the Other

The beginning of any conflict is the act of exclusion.  One metaphor that Volf evokes as a way to grasp what ultimate exclusion looks like is that of ethnic cleansing.  A group of people that have a joined identity see in the other an evil that must be excluded.  What is interesting is that one group’s perception of evil can be another’s perception of justice.  This kind of thinking causes the identity of one group to become exclusively the opposite of the now opposing group.[18] Volf rightly states: “…exclusion is often the evil perpetrated by ‘the good’ and barbarity produced by civilization.”[19] The act of exclusion takes place because of an unwillingness to “depart from one’s own culture.”[20] This means that as agents of reconciliation, people in general and Christians in particular must choose to make space for the other to enter in.  The Gospel of Jesus Christ calls people to have one foot within their own culture while also having one foot outside of it.  In this fashion, a way to embrace the identity of self while also understanding that identity to be connected to the other for the sake of belonging can be made.[21]

While making space for the other is the ideal for harmonious relationship, humanity is prone towards exclusion.  Miroslav Volf gives three areas that are cause for exclusion.  The first of these is when one chooses to leave the web of interdependence and to seek a supreme independence.  When this takes place, the other becomes “an enemy that must be pushed away.”[22] The second area is when the other no longer seems as critical to one’s dependence, but has become for all ‘practical’ purposes useless to the self.  The third area is that of being judgmental.  This is what led to justifying such acts as slaughtering native peoples after having perceived them as savages.  All such exclusions must be rejected, according to Volf because the writers of the Scriptures in both Testaments teach that “…this is a wrong way to treat human beings, any human being, anywhere, and I am persuaded to have good reasons to believe them.”[23]

If exclusion is our present reality, the Christian hope is that of an ultimate embrace.  Volf draws much of his passion for reconciliation from an eschatological vision of the restoration of all things.  The cosmos will be transformed by God at the return of his Messiah, and Christian identity begins by being made a new creation in Jesus.  When this takes place, the Christian is set on a path that is guided by God’s future invading their personhood in the present.  Because the Spirit enters into the life of a believer, a space is created to allow others to come in.  “The Spirit unlatches the doors of my heart saying: ‘You are not only you; others belong to you too.’”[24] In the same way, the Spirit also enables such a person to anticipate the final judgment of Christ against evil by themselves choosing to judge against all evil that would seek to exclude.[25]

In embrace, there are several steps that Volf outlines for full reconciliation to be possible.  He speaks of the “drama of embrace” as having four “acts.”  The first of these, act one, is to open the arms.  This is the most vulnerable gesture that one could choose to make.  The second act is that of waiting.  This is giving the other time to choose to embrace without any kind of pressure or manipulation.  Third is the act of closing the arms.  “It takes two pairs of arms for one embrace; with one pair, we will either have merely an invitation to embrace (if the self respects the other) or a taking in one’s clutches (if there is no such respect).”[26] Finally, comes the fourth act: to open the arms again.  As the arms are released, identity of the self has been enriched by the presence of the other.  There may be more embraces that become necessary in the future, so the open arms are also a reminder of how the process of reconciliation began.[27]

MIROSLAV VOLF: REFLECTION AND FURTHER INVESTIGATION

Having looked at an overview of the theological scheme of Miroslav Volf, this next section seeks to reflect on the implications of his work, as well as to critique where necessary.

Evidence of Influences

Throughout this paper, there have been several influences that have already been acknowledged.  A key theological resource for Volf is found in the work of his doctoral mentor, Jurgen Moltmann.  Moltmann gives Volf a theology of Trinitarian self-giving that is central to his thesis of self-donation.  Not only so, but it is clear that the concept of the solidarity of the suffering Christ with the poor are also major themes in his work.  Beyond those doctrinal foundations (discussed earlier), in Volf’s chapter on Embrace, the voice of Moltmann becomes an important building block for understanding the atonement as it relates to forgiveness.  He quotes his former professor who states:

With this prayer of Christ the universal religion of revenge is overcome and the universal law of retaliation is annulled.  In the name of the Crucified, from now on only forgiveness holds sway.  Christianity that has the right to appeal to him is a religion of reconciliation.[28]

It is clear that Moltmann is a crucial theological resource for Volf’s work.  Volf holds that the work of Jesus provided an end to retaliation.  In the following quotation, Moltmann’s influence comes through:

Hanging on the cross, Jesus provided the ultimate example of his command to replace the principle of retaliation (“an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth”) with the principle of nonresistance (“if anyone strikes you on the right cheek, turn the other also”) (Matthew 5:38-42).  By suffering violence as an innocent victim, he took upon himself the aggression of the persecutors.  He broke the vicious cycle of violence by absorbing it, taking it upon himself.  He refused to be sucked into the automatism of revenge…[29]

A second major influence that is quite evident in Miroslav Volf is that of various philosophers.  There are few theologians that cite both modern and postmodern philosophers as often as he does to build an argument.  His deep engagement with philosophical cultural analysis coupled with a thorough understanding of the Scriptures, makes for a beautiful model of integrative reflection.  Voices ranging from Nietzsche, Caputo, Levinas, Marx, Derrida, Bauman, Lyotard, and beyond; add cultural relevance to his overall schema for reconciliation.  With that said, there were moments that it seemed that he gave priority to cultural/philosophical engagement over the Scriptures.  This was not true throughout the whole of his work, for there were certainly occasions when he gave much attention to biblical passages.  Nevertheless, for those with little background in philosophical dialogue, these voices may be a bit cluttering at times, but the interactional method for crafting an approach to reconciliation gives the reader an opportunity to engage our culture with a message that can change the world.

What is interesting about Volf is that (as stated earlier), he has his feet in two different contexts.  In one sense he is an Eastern European who did not grow up in a Western culture.  At the same time, he has been a resident in the United States for some time now and so he speaks to issues of Western philosophy.  Another frustration about his work is that he did not engage his native perspective as much as one would have thought.  Perhaps this is because his educational background has mostly been in schools in the West.  Maybe he took an interest in Western philosophy because it was quite different than what was normal to his own experience.  Whatever the reasons, the reality is that he engages more so from a Western perspective than anything else.  It is true that there are several glimpses into his Croatian heritage in the former Yugoslavia, but even in that regard there seemed to be a lack.  Personally, as I was reading his work, I expected that much more of his reflection would have been tied to his personal experiences.  Even he notes that “I have very few stories in the book.”[30] In this way, I do have to admit that his work did not seem contextual enough.  Now in his defense, it could be said that he is now writing as a resident in the United States, and if that is true, then his work is quite contextual.  Whatever the case may be, it is certain that all of us are shaped by our experiences and that his writing of Exclusion and Embrace “…grew out of a predicament, out of an attempt at making sense of the war that was raging in the former Yugoslavia.”[31]

Finally, it should be noted that Volf interacts with several liberation theologians.  The clearest example of this has already been mentioned: Orlando Costas.  Volf gives Costas credit for inspiring him in areas of liberation theology early on as a student at Fuller Theological Seminary.  In Exclusion and Embrace, there are at least two other liberation names that he interacts with: Jon Sobrino and Gustavo Gutierrez.  Early on in the book, he quotes Sobrino from a work titled Jesus the Liberator.[32] Later, in a discussion on freedom, Gutierrez is cited as making the point that “…love, not freedom is ultimate.”[33] These are some simple examples of how liberation theologians are clearly seen in his work and in a later section this theological perspective will be analyzed along side of Volf’s reconciliation approach.

Focus of Theological Work

As Miroslav Volf is analyzed, it is clear that he has reconciliation as his main area of expertise.  I do not feel that his focus on that topic led to other relevant issues being ignored.  His thorough approach cannot be denied.  He examined issues at every angle that one could hope for, and then some.  The ability he has to analyze culture and Scripture helps him answer questions and anticipate reactions to his argument.  Therefore, throughout his work it is evident that he leaves no major issue untouched as it pertains to reconciliation.  As was mentioned above, his thorough approach to philosophy can be almost too detailed at times.  Perhaps his philosophical arguments overshadowed the strength of his theological arguments in some sections (of Exclusion and Embrace), but this by no means made his work invalid.  Let’s transition in the direction of analyzing Volf’s use of Scripture.

Scriptural Priorities that Shape Theology

In any theologian that there is, it is almost inevitable that they will have some kind of biases for particular passages in the Scriptures.  For Martin Luther, perhaps it could be said that this was his reading of Romans.  For Anabaptists, this easily becomes the Sermon on the Mount.  And for Miroslav Volf, it could perhaps be argued that the Gospels and Revelation stand as a canon within a canon of sorts.  Much of his reflection (as was explored above) focuses on the self-donating of the Son of God on the cross.  Therefore, he will often look at various crucifixion passages as a model for understanding what it means to be one who self-gives for the sake of the other, even the enemy.  Even if this is the case, it would be difficult to accuse Volf of not engaging other passages outside of those that deal with cross.  In a section of an article titled, Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Justice; he is discussing how reconciliation and forgiveness are central themes of Christianity.  In this section he specifically draws attention to the “narrative of the cross of Christ” and then references the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew’s Gospel.  But in the very same paragraph he directs the reader to the letter to the Romans.[34] In regards to the Apocalypse, this is his text that he uses to indicate the reality of God’s future reconciliation of the whole cosmos and the coming judgment of Christ against evil.  But even in this discussion he is interacting with other passages of Scripture.[35] Therefore, it is my best judgment to defend Volf of not depending on a canon within the canon, while acknowledging that he does have some key theological images and passages that support his thesis for reconciliation.

Engaging Volf with Liberation Theology

As it has already been noted, Miroslav Volf has been influenced by liberation theology.  With that said, he is quick to criticize an element of the liberation paradigm which is the polarity of oppression and freedom.  In this scheme of thought, the goal is to bring the oppressed into freedom.  When this goal has been accomplished, so too has justice been made a reality.  This is not however, the view of some liberation theologians.  Gustavo Gutierrez, as we said earlier, has pointed out that love is the ultimate goal beyond freedom.  Gutierrez’s view is not the perspective of many who come from the liberation tradition, but it is the only appropriate means to implement liberation.  God has a heart for the oppressed and truly does set them free, but this is always under the banner of love.[36] Volf states the following regarding liberation:

To make love tower over freedom does not mean abandoning the project of liberation, however…  But to insist on the primacy of love over freedom means to transform the project of liberation, to liberate it from the tendency to idealize relations of social actors and perpetuate their antagonisms.  We need to insert the project of liberation into a larger framework of what I have called elsewhere “a theology of embrace.”[37]

Another relevant difference that emerges when reading the work of Volf in regards to liberation theology is the final goal it seems to sometimes have in mind.  Related to the idea of freedom, liberationists’ views[38] sometimes tend to focus on economic injustices.  For these thinkers, the proper ethic would balance the scales of society so to speak.  Now here is where liberationists and Volf seem to part ways.  Volf is concerned about social issues, but he believes that those who focus merely on those areas will not find holistic reconciliation.  He states:

Such groups have effectively left the message of reconciliation to otherworldly ‘pietist’ and taken up the pursuit of liberation as the most appropriate response to social problems.  The process of reconciliation between persons and peoples, they believe, can commence only after liberation is accomplished; peace will be established only after justice is done.[39]

The above quotation reflects the main difference between Volf and some forms of liberation theology.  Liberationists believe that justice is a prerequisite to reconciliation, but Volf assures the reader that true justice is impossible.  Justice leads to new injustices and this cycle is never ending until one party chooses to end its revolution.  From Volf’s perspective, the grace of the embrace must have the ultimate priority over justice and reconciliation with the other must be the scope of the vision.  Social justices may come in the process, but justice as the goal misses the point.  He makes clear that where justice is possible that it ought to be pursued (assuming it is the vehicle of reconciliation), but embrace must be the ultimate goal of the struggle for justice.  In his journey that led to his writing of Exclusion and Embrace (and the work surrounding that study), he realized that “…liberation could not be conceived of as the ultimate goal of the struggle against oppression and exclusion; that goal must be something that binds conflicting parties together rather than pulling them apart from each other.”[40]

The Impossibility of Justice

One area of Volf that has not left my mind over the past several weeks has been alluded to in the previous section: the impossibility of strict justice.  In conservative circles we speak of justice meaning that the offender will be hunted and punished.  In liberal circles we speak of justice as compassion for the poor and needy.  Yet when it comes to strict justice actually happening, Volf claims that it is impossible.  One way that he does so is by pointing out that justice is always relative to one’s own perspective of what is right which will be the exact opposite of what an opposing group would hold to be “just.”  Who am I to say that I know what justice is or is not?  And even if justice were actually possible in the strict sense, how do we know that it would be wanted?[41] Consider the logic of the following:

If a person’s tooth is broken in retribution of her breaking of mine, we are not even for the simple reason that the situation of offense is manifestly not one of exchange.  In a situation of exchange both of us would have disposal over our teeth, and I would give you mine under condition that you give me yours.  But in a situation of offense, the consent to the exchange is lacking.  By breaking my tooth you have violated me and therefore you deserve greater punishment than just the equal breaking of your tooth..[42]

The above pattern would continue to lead to new and greater injustices.  This is why strict justice is impossible and why retaliation is illogical.  Prior to reading Volf, I could not have understood the impossibility of justice in this way.  And this leads to a further ramification that is a new insight for me.  It is only without strict justice that reconciliation is even possible.  That is because the above scenario will lead to a cycle of retaliation and embrace will not happen.  That is not to say that there is no justice, but rather that forgiveness leading to embrace has to lay down anything that would lead to further injustices.  As Volf states: “Every act of forgiveness enthrones justice; it draws attention to its violation precisely by offering to forgo its claims.”[43] The only way to have any kind of justice is under the framework of having the will to embrace.

MISSIONAL POSSIBILITIES

There is much more that could be said about Miroslav Volf’s theology of reconciliation and particularly of his prolific book, Exclusion and Embrace.  But rather than drawing out every tangent possible (which there are numerous ones to be explored), to close, it seems appropriate to reflect on the missional implications of his work.  The first implication that Volf’s work on reconciliation is that it challenges conventional approaches to presenting and understanding the Gospel message.  In typical Gospel presentations, if the word reconciliation is even used, it will usually be employed as a bringing back together of God and a sinner.  While there is some truth to this, the scope of reconciliation must be expanded in our theologies!  Reconciliation gives us a glimpse into God’s future and invites us to participate by the power of the Spirit in that far off reality today.  In doing so, we have a proper framework for dealing with conflict in our world and also in our personal lives.  In God’s future world there will be a multiethnic new human family that will worship God in the New Jerusalem.  There will be no divisions, yet there will still be diversity and unique identity.  Because this is in God’s future (and our future!), we must choose to make room for the other in all situations.  Those who are our enemies must be embraced as friends because this is the trajectory of God’s history.

A second missional implication is that the church is called to change its perceived identity as it has been known in the world.  Throughout history, when Christians have had power, they have used it to wield the sword.  The Church is currently not known as the key agent of peace, but rather is often known for being one of the loudest voices for retaliation and violence.  This must not be!  For if we are going to be ambassadors of a God who chose to hang on a cross so that he could embrace his enemies, we must be ready to demonstrate that same kind of self-donation in our world today.  Imagine the possibilities that would unfold if we truly lived as agents of reconciliation instead of proponents of retaliation.  Not only would suffering begin to subside, but the God of self-sacrifice would be seen as beautiful; and perhaps many would open up their arms and find the Crucified one waiting patiently to be both the giver and recipient of an embrace.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

“Conversations with Miroslav Volf on Exclusion and Embrace.” The Conrad Grebel Review, Special Issue: Miroslav Volf, 18, no. 3 (Fall 2000), 71-102, http://grebel.uwaterloo.ca/academic/cgreview/documents/CGR-Fall-2000.pdf (accessed November, 2009).

Boff, Clodovis. “Methodology of the Theology of Liberation.” In Systematic Theology: Perspectives From Liberation Theology. Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1993.

ISNA. “46th Annual ISNA Convention: Speaker Biographies.” http://www.isna.net/assets/conventions/programs/2009/conventionprogramweb/conventionspeakersbios.pdf (accessed November, 2009).

Shenk, Gerald. “Review: Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: a Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation.” The Conrad Grebel Review, Special Issue: Miroslav Volf, 18, no. 3 (Fall 2000), 67-70, http://grebel.uwaterloo.ca/academic/cgreview/documents/CGR-Fall-2000.pdf (accessed November, 2009).

Volf, Miroslav. “The Social Meaning of Reconciliation.” Interpretation 54, no. 2 (April 2000), 158-72.

________. “Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Justice.” In Stricken By God?: Nonviolent Identification and The Victory of Christ. Edited by Brad Jersak, and Michael Hardin. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007.

________. Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996.

Yale Divinity School. Miroslav Volf Faculty Page. http://www.yale.edu/divinity/faculty/Fac.MVolf.shtml (accessed November, 2009).


[1]. ISNA, “46th Annual ISNA Convention: Speaker Biographies,” http://www.isna.net/assets/conventions/programs/2009/conventionprogramweb/conventionspeakersbios.pdf (accessed November, 2009).  89.

 

[2]. “Conversations with Miroslav Volf on Exclusion and Embrace,” The Conrad Grebel Review, Special Issue: Miroslav Volf, 18, no. 3 (Fall 2000), 71, http://grebel.uwaterloo.ca/academic/cgreview/documents/CGR-Fall-2000.pdf (accessed November, 2009).

[3]. Gerald Shenk, “Review: Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: a Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation,” The Conrad Grebel Review, Special Issue: Miroslav Volf, 18, no. 3 (Fall 2000), 68, http://grebel.uwaterloo.ca/academic/cgreview/documents/CGR-Fall-2000.pdf (accessed November, 2009).

[4]. Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1996), under “See back cover.”

[5]. Shenk, “Review: Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation,” 68.

[6]. Yale Divinity School, Miroslav Volf Faculty Page, http://www.yale.edu/divinity/faculty/Fac.MVolf.shtml (accessed November, 2009).

[7]. Shenk, “Review: Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation,” 68.

[8]. Yale Divinity School, Miroslav Volf Faculty Page, http://www.yale.edu/divinity/faculty/Fac.MVolf.shtml (accessed November, 2009).

[9]. “Conversations with Miroslav Volf on Exclusion and Embrace,” 71.

[10]. ISNA, 46th Annual ISNA Convention: Speaker Biographies,” http://www.isna.net/assets/conventions/programs/2009/conventionprogramweb/conventionspeakersbios.pdf.  89.

[11]. Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, 49.  Volf speaks here of having “…one foot outside their own culture while with the other remaining firmly planted in it.”.

[12]. Ibid., 22-23.

[13]. Ibid., 24.

[14]. Ibid., 126.

[15]. Ibid., 29.

[16]. “Conversations with Miroslav Volf on Exclusion and Embrace,” 85.

[17]. Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, 29.

[18]. Ibid., 60-61.

[19]. Ibid., 61.

[20]. Ibid., 49.

[21]. Ibid.

[22]. Ibid., 67.

[23]. Ibid., 67-68.

[24]. Ibid., 51.

[25]. Ibid., 52.

[26]. Ibid., 143.

[27]. Ibid., 140-45.

[28]. Ibid., 122.  See bibliography for first source of quotation.

[29]. Ibid., 291-92.

[30]. “Conversations with Miroslav Volf on Exclusion and Embrace,” 85.

[31]. Ibid., 71.

[32]. “Volf,” .

[33]. Ibid., 105.

[34]. Miroslav Volf, “Forgiveness, Reconciliation, and Justice,” in Stricken By God?: Nonviolent Identification and The Victory of Christ, ed. Brad Jersak, and Michael Hardin (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2007), 280.

[35]. See: Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, 294-302.

[36]. Ibid., 105.

[37]. Ibid.

[38]. Clodovis Boff, “Methodology of the Theology of Liberation,” in Systematic Theology: Perspectives from Liberation Theology (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis, 1993), 12.  See the comments made in regards to “The dialectical explanation: Poverty is oppression.”.

[39]. Miroslav Volf, “The Social Meaning of Reconciliation,” Interpretation 54, no. 2 (April 2000), 162.

[40]. “Conversations with Miroslav Volf on Exclusion and Embrace,” 72.

[41]. Volf, Stricken By God?: Nonviolent Identification and the Victory of Christ, 277-78.

[42]. Ibid., 278.

[43]. Volf, Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, 123.

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