The relation between violence and the Christian religion or the role of violence in Christianity is of course not a new problem. However, like other difficult, controversial, and incredibly important issues, it is often left unaddressed or given scant attention in Christian circles including Christian seminaries. Thankfully, at least some modern and
postmodern theologians, philosophers, and other Christian thinkers—Frederick Douglass, Jung Mo Sung, James Cone, J. Kameron Carter, William T. Cavanaugh have engaged the subject of violence and its relation to and manifestations within the Christian tradition. Because I personally find this issue difficult, important, and extremely relevant to our current (post)modern context, I have decided to host a series of guest posts on the topic. My interest in this series, however, is somewhat narrowly focused in a biblical hermeneutical direction. That is, in dialogue with other Christians via this guest post format, I want to have a conversation about what Scripture itself says, promotes, prohibits, permits or seems to say, promote, prohibit, permit about violence, majoring on those difficult passages dealing with genocide, slavery, and the like—all with a view to developing a Christian hermeneutical trajectory that would enable us to intelligently and compassionately engage contemporary issues.
I have listed below specific topics for engagement and hope to receive two to three submissions per topic presenting different and perhaps even opposing perspectives. I welcome Catholic, Orthodox, and Protestant contributors, liberal as well as conservative. (Recently, a number of thoughtful non-Christians and atheists have written excellent works dealing with violence. As a philosopher, I find these works incredibly valuable; however, for this series, I am looking for contributions exclusively from Christians, as I want the series to serve as a resource of sorts for Christians interested in this subject area and who also find it a challenge to their faith. If you would like to participate, please leave a comment with your name, institutional affiliation (if you have one), and a brief description of your proposal. If you are selected to write a guest post, I will contact you via email and give you the details regarding the length, due date for the post, etc. Generally speaking, the posts should be between 500–1500 words, with a strict maximum limit of 1500 words.
- How should a Christian community interpret the mass killings (genocide) commanded by God in the Old Testament (e.g. Joshua 6, 10, etc.)? Should we read these allegorically, literally, or what?
- How should a Christian community interpret passages in the Old Testament (e.g. Exodus and Leviticus) that at least appear to permit slavery?
- How does a Christian community make sense out of seemingly opposed views on slavery (e.g. Philemon, and I Cor 7:23 verses 1 Peter) in the New Testament?
- Does a Christian community’s theology of atonement make a difference as to how it interprets the violent acts recorded in Scripture? If so, how?
- Given the relevance of Girard, a Girardian reading related to any of the above topics and which interacts with some particular Scripture passage is quite welcome.
- If it is the case that Christianity breaks the cycle of sacrificial violence (at least in theory, historical praxis may be another story), how so?
- From a more Catholic perspective, how ought we think of the Eucharistic “sacrifice” in dialogue with Girard’s insights?
- What would Girard say to those holding a view of eternal (physical or psychological) punishment and torture of the “damned”? If you are a creative type, a fictive dialogue between Dante and Girard would be ideal!