Monday, July 14, 2008

Is Christianity violent by nature?

OK, let's go back to the first chapter and pick up the quotes from there that I missed...

“As applied to Christianity, the victory of the transcendental over the here and now is violent only if the notion of the transcendental is stripped of its particular content and infused with the values of the here and now around which the conflicts rage. This often happens when the Christian faith is employed to legitimize violence. We declare God to be on our side and we see ourselves as soldiers of God, so that the earthly goals acquire a “transcendent” aura and the struggle for them becomes a religious duty. One may describe this as inverse projection—not the projection of what humans deem supremely valuable onto a heavenly screen, a practice that 19th-century critics of religion deplored, but the projection of heavenly values onto earthly goods. The second projection is more dangerous because the first generates religiously sanctioned passivity in the context of oppression and suffering, whereas the second generates religiously sanctioned violence in the context of struggle for scarce goods. This sort of projection of transcendent values onto earthly goods can only succeed, however, if Christian faith is illegitimately stripped of its “thick” content in order to support an engagement in a struggle that was already under way and carried out for other-than-religious reasons and by means not sanctioned by the religion.”—Volf, War in the Bible and Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century, page 7

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