Posts Tagged ‘violence’

Irredeemably violent?

Thursday, July 1st, 2010

I have been struggling since Easter with the Bible – or at least with the Morning Prayer Hebrew Scripture readings. We have been served a diet of non-stop violence. There was violence against the nations who dared to live, farm or pass in the way of the Israelites as they journeyed to the Promised Land. There was violence against Israelites who did the wrong thing. Not just against them but against their wives, children, slaves and livestock. None of whom could be considered moral agents in the original transgression. There is a post Exodus cycle where Israel gets it wrong and the Lord wreaks a terrible punishment; plague or invasion is normal. Not to mention the plagues upon the Egyptians because the Lord had hardened their leader’s heart.
To cap it all we had the story of Samson. The thousands he killed; not to mention the foxes.
But when we celebrated the feast of Peter and Paul, in Acts we had the Lord delivering Peter from the gaol; leading him, with an angel, through locked doors and past sleeping guards.
I know that some feminist theologians now consider themselves post Christian because they find Christianity irredeemably patriarchal. An overriding element of the patriarchy is violence. With the violent act of the crucifixion at its heart, is Christianity irredeemably violent? Does it inspire and condone violence?
While there is a strong pacifist tradition in Christianity – swords into ploughshares – it is absent from large sections of the Hebrew Scriptures and the church’s tradition. Remember that the word crusade is rooted in the word crucifixion. Imperialism and Christendom have often gone hand-in-hand and they still do.
Is it possible to be a Christian wedded to peace, and to a God that does not violently intervene either for or against his people? If the Exodus story, and its outworking, is the model of an interventionist God it is no longer credible – was it ever? What now needs pondering is whether it is God or God’s intervention that has lost credibility. Is it necessary to be post Christian or just exploring the boundaries Christian?