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首頁 社會倫理 法律倫理 Karen LEE Ka-yan: Christians: Violence or Nonviolence?
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週三, 10 四月 2013 20:22

Christians: Violence or Nonviolence?

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Referee: Dr. Benedict Kwok

Anthor: Karen LEE Ka-yan

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Introduction

Christians are involved in complicated interaction with the world including social political and economic institutes.  The Scripture says ‘For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross’ (Col 1:19-20).  We are therefore supposed to live in harmony and peace with all things through Jesus Christ.  In reality this harmony does not come up easily.  While the world is not a Christian community at large, it does not run in accordance with God’s teaching and the institutes do not work in alignment with God’s will.  Hence, Christians as a community redeemed and separated by God in the world now and then find themselves in an opposition to the world.  Sometimes, we are caught in situations which we feel unjust, we would start to feel the tension and puzzle as to whether protest or resistance could be adopted to remove the injustice and restore justice, in the light of the core Christian teaching – to act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God (Mic 6:8).  How shall Christians react to the world in times of conflict, more precisely how / by what means should Christians react is an issue worth deliberation.  I try to probe into the issue as to whether Christians should employ violence in pursuing justice by taking just war as an example for illustration.

 

Justice

To begin, we have to examine the root of the problem – justice and injustice.  We make moral judgment based on our ethical values which was shaped by culture and traditions.  We expect justice should be a universal value, but in reality we find that there are often more justices than we can handle.  Why is this the case?

 

In search of justice, Volf illustrated the phenomenon of ‘culture against culture’ and ‘justice against justice’ with an example of ‘moral paradoxes’ found in the Western colonial rule.  British General Charles Napier forbade the traditional custom ‘sati’ in Sind (West India), a ritual to bring blessings to the couple by cremating the widow in her late-husband’s funeral pyre presumably without pain in local’s belief.  Failing to accept ‘sati’ which was beyond doubt a kind of murder in his home country, Napier implemented his own British custom that any person who killed another had to be hanged[1].  It is clear that both customs were considered more than just in their own homeland and culture, but there is hardly any common ground for the two ‘just’ customs to share with each other.  The conflict had started out from ‘culture against culture’ and ended up in a moral paradox of ‘justice against justice’.  This kind of moral paradoxes practically exposes the underlying presumption that both sides consider their own justice more superior than the other’s.  So where is the highest justice that is the most superior of all?  The problem is that we believe justice of God should be an absolute and universal justice, it is absolute in the sense that no other justice could be found superior to it and the benchmark for justice should be constant under all circumstances, so that any circumstance could be assessed by the same benchmark as to how ‘just’ it is.  Volf rightly pointed out the efforts of any Christian to judge different cultures simply by God’s divine infallibility in the hope of upholding God’s universal and absolute justice would only become futile since no person is omniscient like God.  Every man has only limited knowledge of the reality, every judgment man makes is therefore essentially limited in terms of justice.  This explains the phenomenon that different Christian sects hold on to different justice under the same God, there will probably be no resolution of the ultimate justice among them until the judgment day of God[2], hence so many afflictions (religious or not) in history were caused in the name of justice.

 

We are brought up with a misconception of justice that it should be impartial, it should ‘render to each person his or her due’, Volf pointed out that if this is justice, our God is remarkably unjust[3].  Just read how God engaged in the relationship with Israel and how he delivered the Israelites when they were suffering from their sins in the Old Testament, and how God sent Jesus Christ to save all the sinners on the cross, God was definitely not doing any justice for his own interest.  This injustice about God is grace.  Removing our desire for securing self-interest and perceiving justice in the light of God’s grace, I must confess the old conception of justice is an example of what Volf has pointed out, that our knowledge of justice is simply impure.

No, it is impossible for us to find out the ultimate justice since as Volf further explained, Christians’ value is partly established on God’s pure words in the Bible and partly our impure cultural background and upbringing.  Our impure values would not be sufficient to make a correct judgment in terms of justice.  But I am not ruling out any possibility that correct human judgment is made, for the just God is overlooking every judgment and has the ultimate power to allow any judgment to be made. Given our limited competency to ascertain justice, no matter how hard a Christian endeavors, the most he/she can find is the most ‘just injustice’.

There is a lot of violence depicted in the Old Testament.  In past Christian endeavours to pursue justice, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas and John Calvin all agreed that acts of violence are permitted and needed as acts of love under certain circumstances, divine violence is ‘a way in which God strives toward an eschatological situation of pure hospitality[4]’.  Under such profound tradition, we have already had a lot of easy proclamations made under the blessings of our predecessors such as just war – a remarkable example in our history.  As Paul Marshall put it, the set of rules for just war were derived from the rules in the Old Testament, mainly relied on Deuteronomy and slightly on Numbers[5].  The right to go to war, jus ad bellum, is subject to the following criteria: just cause, comparative justice, competent authority, right intention, probability of success, last resort and proportionality.  In another word, just war is waged for self-defense or in defense of another with a view to lessening of violence (such as to minimize the casualties in war).  The problem with it is who can fairly tell if the war is just by following the set of rules, and who can fairly tell if the set of rules are the right criteria to determine if the war is just or unjust?  People try to hold on to violence and power as they fear without which they think justice and truth will lose their reign.  But the question is whether truth and justice reign together with Caesar's sword?[6] Using the Caesar’s sword, the violence intended to root out violence in return ends up fostering it.

 

Divine Violence

The crux of the problem as to whether we are entitled to use violence, and whether violence is a legitimate means in Christian faith depends on how we perceive the Christian God and his acts.  Violence can be systematic instead of a direct act committed by one individual to another, Boersma gave it the following definition : ‘any use of force or coercion that involves some kind of hurt or injury – whether the coercion is physical or nonphysical – is a form of violence, but it is not therefore morally reprehensible’[7]. Boersma made a bold attempt to enter the arena of Divine Violence as to ‘how human hospitality can be underwritten by God’s hospitality in Jesus Christ?[8]’  He pointed out the brutal character of Jesus’ crucifixion that Jesus suffered as a perfectly innocent and faithful human being, which was in big contrast with the other offenders who were crucified for their own sinful causes.  The brutal violence was somehow paradoxically inflicted on Jesus Christ by the loving God for the salvation of all humankind.  We encounter a difficulty here as to whether God offers his divine hospitality to humankind through Jesus’ crucifixion which in essence entails divine violence.

 

Boersma challenged the postmodern view on violence that automatically tags some negative allusions to the term.  To Boersma, such tag should be discarded as it is a dichotomous understanding of God, that God is either good or evil, and the argument of God engaged in acts of violence does not mean God is evil.  He presented it in Derrida’s terminology as ‘conditional hospitality is necessary in this life to safeguard the eschatological reality of pure, unconditional hospitality[9], and all limitations in the expressions of God’s hospitality here on earth will be overcome once we share in God’s eternal hospitable love[10]’.  When Boersma said God’s hospitality required violence just as his love necessitated wrath, he did not mean equating God with violence and wrath.  There is absolute and pure hospitality in God, though might not be experienced in the present.  The absolute nonviolence of God is always calling us to implement a hospitality that reduces violence as much as possible and promotes the kingdom of eternal justice and peace.  To Boersma, practice of hospitality with God’s pure hospitality in mind cannot do away the involvement of violence, it is indeed necessary to involve violence.  But the use of violence does not make the acts of hospitality into acts of violence, and the violence is necessarily redemptive in nature. On the cross, violence is inflicted on Jesus who suffered for the believers of salvation, and it bespeaks the unconditional (absolute) hospitality of God to all men and also the violence to exclude those who refuse his hospitality.  Through Jesus Christ the Church has been established and serving as a special community according to Jesus’ teaching and demand.  Boersma explained that God’s divine hospitality is absolute hospitality, in essence hospitality without any boundaries or limits whatsoever, which is ‘impossible in the created order as we know it, both because of creational limitations and because of the influence of sin[11]’.  The limitations are human limitations in contrast to God’s no-limitation.  ‘Therefore, when people arbitrarily limit the boundaries of the Church, which is supposed to have no limit because the salvation is for all with no exclusion (though some people choose to be excluded), God’s hospitality shows that it has a violent edge[12], in the sense that these people are excluded from the Church (Gal 4:21-31 and 5:11 – Gentile believers were persecuted by the Judaizing Law party in Galatia).

 

Volf gave a more detailed account of divine violence by studying the heavenly warrior in the Revelation – the rider on the white horse called Faithful and True – leading the armies of heaven, striking down the nations with a sharp sword coming out from his mouth, ruling them with an iron scepter and treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God, defeating the beast, judging and waging war with justice[13].  The violence of the rider was not mere imagery.  As John the Seer saw it, the imperial power of Rome was political tyranny and economic exploitation, a system composed of people who were drunk with the blood of the innocent people and fought against the Lamb, these were the people who would suffer from the violence of the rider.  The violence is the righteous judgment of the ‘Faithful and True’.  Only with such righteous judgment can there be peace, truth and justice in the world.  The judgment carried out in the form of divine violence is an indispensable means to separate the evil from the good.  The road of nonviolence in the world of violence often leads to suffering: one can sometimes break the cycle of violence only at the price of one’s life, like the example of Jesus. Volf’s account of divine violence draws the same conclusion as Boersma that it is a kind of redemptive violence.

 

Why should a loving God use violence?  Boersma sumed up that the insistence on ‘pure hospitality’ in an impure world would mean to give it over to the forces of inhospitality and violence[14].  In the real world, self-cancellation of evil does not exist. Volf called the world where violence could drive away violence or violence could be driven away by violence ‘the world of wishful thinking’.  Therefore, God’s justice in ending the evil is his eschatological anger and judgment.  If there is a ‘nice’ God, it is only a projection on the sky of those who are able to give up their cherished illusions about goodness, freedom, and the rationality of social actors[15].  Volf also tackled a dilemma that the cross is setting this deceitful world aright, those who refuse the cross cannot escape from the wrath of God, and the violence of the rider on the white horse is a depiction of the exclusion of those chosen not to accept the salvation grace of God, the exclusion is an ontological violence.  Volf also asserted ‘for the sake of the peace of God’s good creation, we can and must affirm this divine anger and divine violence, while at the same time holding on to the hope that in the end, even the flag bearer will desert the army that desires to make war against the Lamb[16]’.  Coming to such affirmative view of divine violence in God’s hospitality, does it help to justify the use of violence in our world?

 

Violence

While Boersma’s focus is to deal with the atonement theories in terms of divine violence and divine hospitality, Boersma’s efforts to overcome the hesitation about accepting divine violence in God’s divine hospitality helps us to re-examine the meaning and nature of divine violence, to understand violence from a positive or at least a neutral angle and to endure the fear of violence.  He came to a ‘confession of human inadequacy in probing the mystery of divine election’ which is ‘a reminder that election is less a matter of praise and adoration first – and only then one of theological reflection…..A rational explanation attempting to justify divine violence will always have its limitations…In the end it is less a matter of rationally justifying than having the courage to live with the violence that accompanies hospitality.  The courage to denote particular actions – God’s choice of Israel and his involvement in the cross – as hospitable awaits future eschatological justification.  Only to the degree that we share in God’s absolute hospitality can we truly appreciate also the need for conditional hospitality[17].’  I agree with the necessity to take the eschatological perspective of the whole issue, from that perspective we are able to identify the question somehow lies less in the conventional perception of violence as to whether it should or should not be morally reprehensible.  It is true that only in and until we are in God’s eschaton we can find the pure and absolute hospitality, but does this statement of faith provides with us any justifiable leeway for the use of violence?  God is the one offers pure hospitality, if we admit to the saying that God employs divine violence as a ‘divine’ means in pursuing his divine hospitality, we also admit the divinity of God’s violence differentiates it from human violence.  We clearly see that human violence and hospitality is not comparable to divine violence and hospitality, and we can never be able to find a rational explanation for the use of human violence a divine means for God to achieve his plan.  Boersma’s confession of our limitation in justifying divine violence is both right and sad.  Right in the sense that we do have very limited wisdom to understand God’s divine plan [‘these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.’ (1 Cor 2:10) and ‘The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.’ ( Dt 29:29)]; and sad in the sense that any attempt to justify the use of violence is simply to make judgment like God and to manipulate violence like God.

 

While God manipulates divine violence to achieve divine hospitality, human trying to manipulate real violence ends up in pseudo-hospitality or pseudo-justice (the most just ‘injustice’), just like many Christians trying to imitate Jesus’ living, but the way in which Christ's life is exemplary has to be carefully specified. Above all, we should acknowledge the important difference between Christ and man to counter both the temptation to replace Christ and the presumption that we can simply ‘repeat’ Christ's work[18].  We should admit out limitations that God’s thoughts and ways are simply not ours (Is 55:9), and appreciate divine violence is a resource beyond human manipulation since we do not have God’s omniscience and perfect love, violence in the name of justice is a smokescreen of self-righteousness.  This does not preclude any chance that God use human violence as a divine means, the fact is we never know, and will never know until the eschaton.

 

Interim Reflection

We can conclude here if divine violence is not an attribute of God, like hospitality and love, to which we should pursue the best we should do is to leave it as it is a divine means.  And human can never implement violence like God.  This is the problem of the acts of violence (such as just war) considered necessary under certain circumstances as acts of love by St. Augustine.  It is our obligation to pursue justice and restore peace, but the means is not human violence as we have seen human violence is not a replica of divine violence, the latter is redemptive in nature and is not given to human hand.  St. August was nonetheless correct in exposing the real evils in war: love of violence, revengeful cruelty, fierce and implacable enmity, wild resistance, and the lust of power etc. which should be opposed.  But these are all we can find in human violence, including the so-called ‘just’ war, in contrast to the divine violence which is under God’s custody and is used to safeguard the eschatological hospitality.

 

What did Jesus do?

A lot of people contend or believe that Jesus used violence in cleansing the temple and so violence was part of Jesus’ life. Boersma also opined that Jesus’ life was not a life of nonviolence if we do not confine violence to the use of physical harm and take violence in a broader sense of his own definition, citing the cleansing of the temple in Mark 11:15 and many other incidents in which Jesus did encroach on other’s personal space and well-being[19].  He considered the sharpened change in Jesus’ demand for hospitability (Sermon on the Mount) as compared with the Old Testament was the result of an increase in the urgency to strive for hospitality and to avoid violence[20]. Interestingly, accentuating the socio-political dimensions of Jesus’ life, Yoder claimed that the cleansing of temple often quoted as a classic example of Jesus’ use of violence was indeed a nonviolent act, ‘in fact, had the cleansing of the temple been in any way disorderly or illegal, this would have provided a clear legal pretext for action against him [Jesus], which, however, we are told the adversaries could not find[21]’.  On the contrary, Jesus continued his teaching, which was his daily routine, after cleansing the temple.  Yoder explained that the text supports the translation of ‘drove all the animals out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle’ instead of ‘he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen...’ as if Jesus had used a whip to cast the merchants out of the temple, and the word ‘cast out’ (exebalen) does not presume a sense of violence, it simply means ‘send away’ in other New Testament text[22].  Hence, the incident does not provide any sound precedence for Christians to draw reference for use of violence.

Nonviolence

Having gone over divine violence and violence, we can tell it is an awkward statement to rationalize the use of violence in the name of pursuit of justice.  Despite there are quotations of waging war or the Divine War in the Old Testament, there are also scriptures about the prophet Jeremiah telling his people in Judah to surrender to the Chaldeans (Jer 21:8).  The theory of just war which is said to be a positive restriction on waging war under stern constraints instead of a negative advocacy of war [23], is a feeble argument that hardly finds a solid ground justifying its legitimacy.  This is similar to the Sermon on the Mount (Mt 5) in which Jesus talked to his followers about ‘an eye for an eye’ which was the rule laid down by God in Moses’ time (Ex 21:24; Lev 24:20; Dt 19:21).  On the face of it, the set of rules was to allow people to punish the offenders, but the spirit was to prohibit punishment that did not commensurate with the offence like the vengeances of Lamech boasted in Gen 4:23.  However, that was not what Jesus wanted his followers to observe, he required them to ‘not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.’ (Mt 5:39).  He was demanding the giving up of ‘legitimate’ right of deserving the ‘legitimate’ punishment against offenders, the giving up of rights is further elaborated in the ensuing verses, which all directed to the commandment of love that surpasses the love for neighbour with the love for enemies and prayers for persecutors, the ultimate goal of his followers was to be perfect as the heavenly Father, and only by fulfilling this two commandments, they could be called the children of God.

 

A key point in Jesus’ teaching is that he was the one who came to fulfill and uphold the laws (Mt 5:17, Jn 5:34-35, Rom 3:31), it is evident that the laws are not to be abolished or ignored, Jesus came to fulfill the law by manifesting the absolute love of God in his suffering and in his crucifixion (Rom 5:8), the cross is the ultimate manifestation of the love for enemies – the entire creation he came to save in the past, the present and the future, meaning that his salvation and atonement is neither limited to a particular point of time nor a particular group of believers.  Even after 2000 years of his crucifixion, his love still embraces all parties in any conflicts that happen in the world nowadays, faithfully and truly fulfilling the rules of loving others in the Old Testament (Lev 19:18, Pro 24:28-29, 25:21-22).

 

To establish the Christian stance of violence, Volf examined Jesus’ attitude towards violence in his life and his judgment.  He set out in four aspects how the crucified Messiah worked against violence on the cross[24] :-

 

1. the cross breaks the cycle of violence : Jesus forwent the choice of using violence and abandoned revenge, breaking the cycle of violence by his nonresistance.  He did not suffer from self-abnegation, instead his self-assertion denied the use of violence – rejecting to be reshaped into his enemies alike by adopting similar violent acts.  ‘Far from enthroning violence, the sacralization of him (Jesus) as victim subverts violence’[25] .

2. the cross lays bare the mechanism of scapegoating : instead of being chosen at random as a scapegoat, Jesus was made a scapegoat because of his innocence, hence a threat.  His honesty and righteousness was a threat that attracted the persecution from the oppressors.

3. the cross is a part of the struggle of Jesus for God’s truth and justice : Jesus did not took up the cross in the pure negativity of nonviolence, which can be starkly negative since the oppressor could simply ignore the victims and in the worst case the nonresistance would serve as the oppressor’s evidence to plead not guilty.  It was his active opposition to the evil that brought Jesus to the cross and gave meaning to his nonviolence, his opposition took the struggle against deception and oppression to transform nonviolence from futile negativity into creative possibility for founding a new kingdom.

4. the cross is a divine embrace of the deceitful and the unjust : it was to embrace the evildoers as if their sin was not there as proposed by John Milbank.  But this was not an act of forgiveness as if the sin was not there which would lead to a misbelief of redemption, such act of forgiveness was merely a suspension of truth and justice which would result in no redemption at all.

 

Denying the use of violence is not the end of our pursuit of justice though.  We have to move forward to search for justice with other means, especially in times of conflict, we have to ‘let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!’ (Am 5:24).

Volf has helped us spotted the gap between God’s pure justice and our impure human understanding of justice.  The only way out to pursue justice is the Cross where there is grace and justice of God:-

 

when he was nailed to the cross, Jesus Christ, of course, not engaged in seeing things with the eyes of those who crucified him (though, according to some manuscripts, he noted their ignorance as to what they were doing); he knew who the perpetrators were and who the victim was.  Equally, by receiving the godless, God was not engaged in reversing perspectives but in exposing their godlessness in the very act of providing for its forgiveness.  …one of the most basic tenets of the Christian faith is that we are the perpetrators who crucified Christ, we are the godless whose godlessness God exposed.  For us, sinful and limited human beings, following the footsteps of the Crucified means not only creating space in ourselves for others, but in creating space for them making also space for their perspective on us and on them.[26]

 

If we believe in God’s unconditional embrace to all the ungodly perpetrator, we should be able to open our heart to accept others including our enemies and can share the vision of others.  This is crucial in times of conflicts when the situation usually calls for an inclination to follow one’s own reasons.  Volf took a further step from Bonhoeffer’s faith which is the main resource for living in extreme situations such as the prison which Bonhoeffer wrote, and this faith enables us to take the distance from our own immediate interest and take into ourselves the tension-filled happening of life instead of pressing life to a single dimension, so that we can take in a sense God and the whole world into ourselves. Volf suggested the faith in Jesus Christ, who made our cause his cause, frees us from pursuing only our interests, and creates in us the space for the interests of others.  We are ready to perceive justice in where we previously saw only injustice – if indeed the cause of the others is just[27].  This is an important milestone to expand our perspective of justice, making room in our own justice for other’s justice, even in a seemingly unfair situation where there still lays the possible existence of justice.  Volf called it ‘double vision’.

 

Although God’s justice is done in ‘the last days’ (Mic 4:1) and until the eschaton comes to us, every one still does justice according to one’s own god [‘All the nations may walk in the name of their gods, but we will walk in the name of the Lord our God for ever and ever.’ (Mic 4:5)], to justify violence with self-defending excuse simply is never good enough.  The distorted knowledge of human puts our judgment at risk, a breach for Satan to manipulate lies behind any Christian who try to deploy violence with plausible godly justification when we do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns (cross reference : Peter spoke out for good cause but rebuked by Jesus (Mk 8:33)).  The eschaton is the ultimate judgment which honours God’s promise to the full: ‘It is mine to avenge; I will repay’, this is the reason that we do not take revenge and leave room for God’s wrath (Rom 12:19).

 

Having gone through the above, given Jesus’ embrace on the cross with grace favouring sinners and the ultimate justice/hospitality that awaits us in the eschaton and sets the world aright, and if we believe Jesus Christ poses a normative model to his followers, no matter how impossible it sounds, we are still obliged to follow.  Why?  Christians are not only followers but disciples of Jesus Christ, we are required to love the Lord our God with all our heart, our soul and mind (Mt 22:37, Lk 10:27, Mk 12:30, Dt 6:5). As Bonhoeffer wrote about discipleship[28], to follow Jesus is ‘void of content’[29] , he gave us the best test: ‘how can you hope to enter into communion with him (Jesus) when at some point in your life you are running away from him?’[30].  So the relevant question to ask in times of conflict is how one can hope to follow Jesus Christ when he/she is giving up his teaching of loving your enemies, and is engaging in violent acts against the enemies.  Jesus defines discipleship as to deny oneself, take up one’s cross and follow him (Mk 8:34-38). Denying oneself precedes taking up the cross and following Jesus may connote that it lays the foundation for the latter two because only through self-denial, one can see the things God see, and become capable to take up the cross, embrace our enemies and follow Jesus in the right track.  Gaining the godly vision is the key to lay down your arms.

 

In an injustice world, Volf insisted the need to ‘embrace’ so that we make room to re-examine and adjust our perception of justice through the other’s vision, as Volf put it we have to reverse our perspective, even if the other is an unjust party[31].  This is made possible only when we admit we can be fallible in the course of the pursuit of justice, which is the only and crucial way to save us from falling into the trap of pursuing our own ‘limited’ justice and creating further injustice.

 

One may not agree with Yoder in treating Jesus as a socio-political icon, Yoder nonetheless rectified the common misconception of ‘imitation of Jesus Christ’ that it only holds ‘in the meaning of the cross in its relation to enmity and power, servanthood replaces dominion, forgiveness absorbs hostility’. Only in this realm of the cross we are bound to be like Jesus Christ[32].  The revolutionary subordination proposed by Yoder is a kind of Christian freedom manifested in one’s ability to accept the subordination freely.   This freedom is made possible by the gospel which proclaims a new world.  Putting aside the socio-political dimension of Yoder’s idea, the freedom is essentially based on an eschatological hope and is a nonviolence resource for Christian to counter violence in practice.

 

Conclusion

It is sad to see religion often is a major force in legitimizing the use of violence in politics[33]. As Volf has rightly pointed out, Hans Kung’s proposition that the reconciliation of religion will bring about reconciliation of humankind is not a right proposition as the history has spoken for itself, believers of the same god often fought against each other.[34] The fighting between different gods is usually a result of the fighting between their followers rather than vice versa.  I also agree with Volf’s observation that while religion advocates nonviolence, it tries to legitimatize the use of nonviolence under certain special circumstances – which builds the ground for using violence as the last resort for a just cause.  Whether or not there is dialogue between different religion, we should forbid using religion as a moral sanction of violent acts.

 

Jesus’ crucifixion shows us that violence is an unavoidable price for justice.  In order to pursue justice, we have to first humble ourselves and admit our lack of the full knowledge and love required to make a right judgment.  With this human limitation in mind, we know that the divine violence suffered by the Lamb and used by the rider on the white horse to achieve justice is not the legitimate resource to keep us on the right track to justice, nor can one trying to manipulate violence like God be able to tiptoe along without falling into the trap of self-righteousness and invoking unjust acts of violence.  Despite a remark Volf has rightly made that nonviolence usually fails to dislodge violence as the history has proven[35], with our eyes on God’s eschaton we know that violence will be completely overcome at last.


Little moves against destructiveness p165 volf book
Morally deadening
This is precisely the problem one faces in Latin america :because they are so pervasive, structural injustice and violence can begin to lose their shock value, thus becoming "naturalised.". When this happens, injustice no longer seems sinful or changeable ; it jus "is." this is one of the main pitfalls that a discerning theology must avoid. 

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Eberle, Christopher J. “Religion, pacifism, and the doctrine of restraint”, Journal of Religious Ethics 34 no 2 Je (2006), 203-224.

 

Green, Clifford J.  “Pacifism and Tyannicide : Bonhoeffers’ Christian Peace Ethic”,  Studies in Christian Ethics Vol. 18 Issue 3(2005), 31-47.

 

Reimer, A James, “An Anabaptist-Mennonite Political Theology: Theological Presuppostitions”, Direction 38 (2009)1, 29-44.

 

Smith, Anthony Paul, “The Judgment of God and the Immeasurable: Political Theology and the Organizations of Power”, Political Theology 12 (2011) no 1 F, 68-86.

 

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Stott, John. Issues Facing Christians Today. UK : Marshalls, 1984.

 

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Volf. Miroslav and Bass. Dorothy C. ed. Practicing theology : beliefs and practices in Christian Life. MI : Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2002.

 

Yoder, John H. The Politics of Jesus Vicit Agnus Noster. MI : William B. Eerdmans, 1972.

 

江大惠編。《基督徒與政治》。香港 : 崇基學院神學組,1985

 

馬素爾著。蔡鄭寶璇譯。《神旨,人治 : 從聖經看政,經,社會》。 香港 : 福音證主協會,1990

 

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[1] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 193-195.

[2] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 199.

[3] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 220 .

[4] Hans Boersma, Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross : Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition (MI : Baker Academic, 2004), 49.

[5]馬素爾著,蔡鄭寶璇譯《神旨,人治 : 從聖經看政,經,社會》(香港 : 福音證主協會,1990),157-158

[6] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 277.

[7] Hans Boersma, Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross : Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition (MI : Baker Academic, 2004),47 .

[8] Hans Boersma, Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross : Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition (MI : Baker Academic, 2004), 27.

[9] Hans Boersma, Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross : Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition (MI : Baker Academic, 2004), 49.

[10] Hans Boersma, Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross : Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition (MI : Baker Academic, 2004), 49.

[11] Hans Boersma, Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross : Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition (MI : Baker Academic, 2004), 93.

[12] Hans Boersma, Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross : Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition (MI : Baker Academic, 2004), 93.

[13] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 296 .

[14] Hans Boersma, Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross : Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition (MI : Baker Academic, 2004), 93.

[15] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 298.

[16] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 299.

[17] Hans Boersma, Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross : Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition (MI : Baker Academic, 2004), 94.

[18] Miroslav Volf and Dorothy C. Bass, ed. Practicing theology : beliefs and practices in Christian Life (MI : Wm. B. Eerdmans, 2002),250.

[19] Hans Boersma, Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross : Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition (MI : Baker Academic, 2004), 92.

[20] Hans Boersma, Violence, Hospitality, and the Cross : Reappropriating the Atonement Tradition (MI : Baker Academic, 2004), 93.

[21] John H.Yoder, The Politics of Jesus Vicit Agnus Noster, (MI : William B. Eerdmans, 1972),49-50.

[22] John H.Yoder, The Politics of Jesus Vicit Agnus Noster, (MI : William B. Eerdmans, 1972), 51.

[23]馬素爾著,蔡鄭寶璇譯《神旨,人治 : 從聖經看政,經,社會》(香港 : 福音證主協會,1990),160

[24] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 291-294.

[25] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 292.

[26] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 214-215.

[27] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 215.

[28] The controversial praxis of Bonhoeffer is not the scope for discussion in this paper.

[29] Dietrich. Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (revised edition) (New York : Macmillian, 1963), 62.

[30] Dietrich. Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship (revised edition) (New York : Macmillian, 1963), 73.

[31] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 218.

[32] John H.Yoder, The Politics of Jesus Vicit Agnus Noster, (MI : William B. Eerdmans, 1972), 134.

[33] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 282.

[34] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 284-285.

[35] Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace : A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation (TN : Abingdon, 1996), 297.

 
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