Christianity and Violence

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Boardman Lectureship in Christian Ethics
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Ethics in Religion
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Professor Volf counters the claim that religion fosters violence and that the “resurgence of religiously legitimized violence” is a direct consequence of a “contemporary resurgence of religion.” Limiting himself to a case-study of Christianity, he argues that the cure to social violence “is not less religion, but, in a carefully qualified sense, more religion.” Professor Volf identifies and criticizes a number of influential arguments found in the work of several authors, including Mark Juergensmeyer, Maurice Bloch, Regina Schwartz and Jacques Derrida, which he believes erroneously link Christianity and violence. These arguments are organized around four general themes: religion, monotheism, creation, and new creation. At the heart of his thesis lies the distinction between ‘thin’ and thick’ religion. According to Professor Volf, ‘thick’ religion entails a stronger, more conscious commitment to a faith rooted in a concrete tradition, while ‘thin’ religion entails nothing more than a vague sense of religiosity “whose content is shaped by factors other than faith (such as national or economical interests).” Throughout the lecture, Professor Volf contends that although ‘thin’ Christian faith may potentially lead to violence, ‘thick’ Christian faith actually serves to create and sustain a culture of peace. In the conclusion of his Lecture, he offers some reflections on “why misconceptions about the violent character of Christian faith abound” in contemporary society.

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Boardman Lectureship in Christian Ethics
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Boardman Lecture XXXVIII. Editor and Foreword by Adam Graves.
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