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CHRISTIANITY AND VIOLENCE: A RESPONSE TO ROBERT DALY Paul Nuechterlein Emmaus Lutheran Church, Racine, Wisconsin While listening to the presentations up to now, I've found myself to be continually scrapping what I was going to say and going on to something else. The only thing I've saved so far is to begin with a sincere thanks to you, Bob Daly, for this paper. It is such an excellent start on the themes ofthis conference, to cover such a broad range ofthe history and the data of Christianity on the theme of violence and institution. And yet, through that broad range ofanalysis, you also help us to focus on what I see as some very important issues, especially the one that you lifted up and emphasized againjust now, the issue ofuniversal salvation. At the risk of sounding a bit like a schoolboy with a new vocabulary word, that issue is for me an insight, to usethatLonerganian term, thatbrings togethermany things under a single view. Iknow thatthere's been abroadrange ofinterestinviolence in general, and especially as it is manifested in Christian institutions of which Tm a part. Then there has also been an interest in the issue ofuniversal salvation. I've actually already been a believer, a hoper in that for quite some time. But the way that you brought them together in this paper, that is the insight for me. It is something that I honestly will take away from this conference as being very important. You've made us see that connection and from that to raise the question: if, as Christians, we continue to imagine ourselves as possibly destined to an ultimate violence of hell as a place of eternal damnation and torture, how much has that played a part in our earthly willingness to participate in violence? Does it make it easier for us to say yes to violence here in this life, when we can imagine ourselves as possibly destined to an ultimate violence? You make that connection, you mention Paul Nuechterlein35 it as a massively central problem, and you've convinced me of it. I think its something we needto work on. We now need to find ways of lifting up that minority viewpoint of hoping for universal salvation to become once again the majority viewpoint. The question thus focuses on the strategy of how to do that. Because there's always the danger that, as we become zealous about something, we can start presenting it in a forceful and violent way. For instance, people could come away from what we're trying to convince them of, and ask themselves: "Gee, did he just say something like: 'You're going to Hell if you don't stop believing in Hell.'?" We can perhaps come across that way if we're too forceful about it. Before your remarks, I hadn't made the connection with the Vietnam War. I hadn't noticed how much that could help us toward the strategy we seek. What turned the American people against the war was seeing its violence on their TV screens, violence that didn't fit in with their imaginative view of themselves. Is there a way in which we can work that sort of strategy by replacing our imagination of ultimate violence with at least the hope of universal salvation? One of my favorite stories—itjust came to me as you were talking—is from the Lynn Brothers, Matthew and Dennis, two Catholic priests or former Catholic priests. They have a little book about the goats, from the image of Matthew 25 on the separation of the sheep from the goats. They tell a story about working with a woman who came to one of them in counseling, frightened for her son. Her son had been in all kinds of addiction problems, all kinds of trouble with the law throughout his life, and was coming to apoint where he was really bottoming out. And through all ofthat, the thing that she still worried about the most was: when he dies, is he going to go to hell? The problem, of course, was that she was still holding on to that majority vision, and I think it...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1930-1200
Print ISSN
1075-7201
Pages
pp. 34-38
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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