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Introduction VIOLENCE AND INSTITUTION IN CHRISTIANITY Robert J. Daly, SJ. Boston College We need both to define our terms and to indicate whether we are using them in a normative or descriptive sense. Thus the question: "Is Christianity"—or, if you will—"Are the institutions of Christianity violent or nonviolent?" can be answered with either a Yes, or a No, or with anything in between, depending on the meaning we attach to theterms "violence," "institution," and "Christianity" (Daly 1997, 321-43). When we speak normatively, or take Christianity and its institutions accordingto its best ideals, Christianity isessentially nonviolent. But when we speak descriptively, i.e., take Christianity according to what the institutions ofChristianity have actually done, and according to how those who call themselves Christian have actually acted, we can make the argument that Christianity is violent, ffanalogous distinctions can be made from within the other four traditions, this might offer a good starting point for discussion. Adapting to my purpose standard dictionary definitions, I understand violence to include in a broad way the justified or unjustified human exertion of internal or external power or force in order to achieve an injurious or abusive end, i.e., an end that is against the will, the good, or the interests of those who suffer it. (This includes all war and avoids, at least at the outset, arguments about whether a war is or can be a "just war.") I understand institution in its ordinary meaning of: any significant or established practice, relationship, structure, system, or organization in a society or culture. I understand Christianity also in its ordinary sense: the Roberti. Daly, SJ.5 religion which, derived from Jesus Christ, and based on the Bible, is professed by Eastern, Roman Catholic, and Protestant bodies. Now, to help set the background for our discussion, I will try to list and briefly describe, relative to this theme, some of the major aspects or "moments" of Christianity (or Christian History), and do this in an approximately diachronic or chronological order. Much of this will be descriptive, but I will not go out of my way to dissociate the descriptions from the effects of all normative claims. I.Violence and Institution in the History of Christianity [1] The biblical foundation of Christianity in the Hebrew Scriptures. [2]The pervasiveness of violence in the Bible. [3]The Christian Scriptures present themselves as a gospel of peace. [4]Jesus and nonviolence. [5]Early Christians and nonviolence. [6]The early Christians and the military. [7]The "Constantinian turn." [8]Caesaro-papism. [9]The relegation ofChristian pacifism to religious and monastic life. [10]The just war theory. [11]The medieval Christian taken-for-grantedness of violence. [12]The Crusades. [13]Medieval Christian peace movements [14]Christians and heretics. The Inquisition. See [11] above. [1 5]Christianity and the witches. See [U] above. [16]The Reformation. [17]The Radical Reformation and the Peace Churches. [18]St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre (August 1572). [19]The religious wars. [20]Absolutism. [21]Modernity. [22]The Quakers—Religious Society of Friends. [23]The Enlightenment and Modernity. [24]Christianity and world mission; Christianity and colonialism. [25]Slavery. [26]Christianity and the "war" against native cultures. [27]Christianity and the First World War. [28]The Second World War. [29]The Holocaust. 6 Violence and Institution in Christianity [30]Christianity and the modern peace movement. [31]Christians and the "seamless ethic of life." [32]Christianity and International Communism. [33]Liberation theology. [34]The liberation of women. [35]Christianity and the resurgence of tribal and nationalist violence. [36]Christianity and human rights. [1] The biblical foundation of Christianity in the Hebrew Scriptures. Christians and Jews have the same family origins. Since believing Christians no less than believing Jews accept and revere the Hebrew Scriptures as the inspired word of God, Christians and Jews are indeed, to paraphrase Pope John XXIII, siblings. There is, beyond this, fromJudaism to Christianity, a significant parent-child relationship. In recent years (but not early enough to have prevented the Holocaust), the main line churches ofChristianity have rejected the supersessionism (the doctrine that the Old Testament has been abrogated by the New Testament) that used to characterize Christian attitudes towards the Jews and that...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1930-1200
Print ISSN
1075-7201
Pages
pp. 4-33
Launched on MUSE
2011-01-26
Open Access
No
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