Christianity and the Problem of Human ViolenceChristianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 131: Peacemaking: Violence and the Churches
from Guide to Kingdom Living

True Christian living requires us to live according to Kingdom standards which bring Heaven to earth.

Christianity and the Problem of Human Violence: Part 131: Peacemaking: Violence and the Churches

By Stephen R. Kaufman, M.D.

The Hebrew Scriptures describe peaceful, harmonious coexistence throughout God's Creation as an ideal. There was no violence in the Garden of Eden, and Isaiah 11:6-9 prophesied a return to this harmonious state.

Isaiah foresaw a time in which "they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more" (Isaiah 2:4).

As Christianity evolved from a movement to reform Judaism into a distinct religion, it developed a hierarchical establishment that has sometimes lost sight of Jesus' ministry. Those with power have been tempted to defend their own privileged positions and other interests rather than to dedicate themselves to participate with Christ in healing a broken world.

Churches serve important religious and social functions, but there is always the danger that churches, like all institutions, can participate in scapegoating violence.

I think that Christians must remain mindful that church authorities who seem to be promoting violence and destructiveness may not be preaching Christ's gospel. Quite commonly, churches claim to have the "one true faith." This is evidence of the mimetic rivalries that arise even between churches, rivalries that divide the body of Christ. Diversity of theology and liturgy within Christendom can promote intellectual and spiritual growth. However, bitter disputes between denominations and within denominations undermine community-building.

Christendom should seek to become a unified body, bound together by a common goal to express God's love, which encourage Christians to tolerate differences in theology or liturgy.

Ironically, many Christian communities have yielded to the temptation to use scapegoating as the glue that holds them together. With the rise of humanism, it has become increasingly difficult to scapegoat people, but churches continue to scapegoat animals. Many churches have emphasized humankind's importance, not by pointing out that we are part of a grand Creation that God loves, but by contrasting humans with animals. I think this is one reason that, in general, the churches have not been animal-friendly.

Christian Vegetarian Association members have found that churches generally resist Christian education programs that aim to expose the massive suffering of billions of animals annually on factory farms; many churches celebrate killing animals with social events like "pig-roasts"; and some churches even sponsor "Christian hunting clubs."

As Christians, we are called to witness for Christ, and this includes speaking up on behalf of voiceless victims, human and animal. A fundamental component of being a witness is recognizing when individuals are being victimized. The next task is to challenge the powers and principalities, and this can be dangerous.

Go on to: Part 132. Peacemaking and Christian Community
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