For God’s Sake, Part II
By Greg Schaber
Elizabeth Groppe, a Christian and assistant professor of theology
I would like to rephrase the question if I might, so that it’s not “Will we ever” but rather “How can we stop killing each other in the name of religion?” I think Martin Luther King was right when he said our choice today is nonviolence or nonexistence. We have to make a concerted effort to work for an end to violence in the name of religion or in any other name, and make the decision that that’s what we are going to do.
Religions—Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism—all have historically proven that they can foster compassion, empathy and ego-transcending, pro-social behaviors. It was this inspiration that was at the heart of people like Gandhi and Martin Luther King. Marc Gopin, a Jewish scholar and a senior associate in the preventive diplomacy department at the Center for Strategic International Studies in Washington, D.C., says that we need to analyze our traditions and identify what it is that makes them violent, then identify how they can be a source of nonviolence and how we can cultivate that capacity.
here are ways of doing that specific to particular traditions. For example, if you look at the historical records that have survived concerning the first 300 years of Christianity, those Christians were adamantly opposed to participation in violence in any form. Their reasons were fidelity to the teaching and example of Christ and a commitment to the Christian conviction that Jesus Christ was in fact the promised Messiah. According to Isaiah, the Messianic era was going to be a time when nations would no longer make war with one another. So if we believe in this Messianic vision, then we have to do something to make that vision happen. We have to ask, “What can Christians do to make that more credible by the way that we ourselves live?”
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