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?
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