Salvation in the Bible—Violent or Nonviolent?

One of the big debates in Christian theology these days concerns how we understand salvation, atonement, reconciliation with God–and how this understanding relates to God’s and humans’ approaches to wrongdoing and justice that may or may not accept or even advocate violence.

I am developing an argument for an understanding of salvation that draws directly on the Bible and advocates for consistent nonviolence.  On September 12, 2009, I presented a set of five lectures at the London Mennonite Centre on theme, “Mercy Not Sacrifice: The Bible’s Salvation Story and Our Hope for Wholeness.”  I have posted those lectures here.

I start by looking at some ways salvation theology tends to underwrite human violence, focusing most extensively on our criminal justice system.  I then discuss how the Old Testament can actually be read as presented a peace-oriented salvation theology, reiterated and deepened in Jesus’ teaching and with his death and resurrection. I conclude by suggesting that Romans and Revelation also present salvation in peaceable ways.

Responses are welcome!

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