Peacemaking and Religious Violence

Peacemaking and Religious Violence : From Thomas Aquinas to Thomas Jefferson

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From its very beginning, Christian faith has been engaged with religious violence. The first Christians were persecuted by their co-religionists and then by imperial Rome. Jesus taught them, in such circumstances, not to retaliate, but to be peacemakers, to love their enemies, and to pray for their persecutors. Jesus's response to religious violence of the first century was often ignored, but it was never forgotten. Even during those centuries when the church herself persecuted Christian heretics, Jews, and Muslims, some Christians still struggled to bear witness to the peace mandate of their Lord. In the thirteenth century, Thomas Aquinas wrote a theology to help his Dominican brothers persuade Cathar Christians to return to their Catholic faith peacefully. Ramon Lull, a Christian student of Arabic and the Qur'an, sought to help his fellow Christians recognize the elements of belief they shared in common with the Muslims in their midst. In the fifteenth century, Nicholas of Cusa, a Church Cardinal and theologian, expanded Lull's project to include the newly discovered religions of Asia.
In the seventeenth century, Lord Herbert, an English diplomat and lay Christian, began to identify the political union of church and government as a causal factor in the religious warfare of post-Reformation Christendom. One and a half centuries later, Thomas Jefferson, a lay theologian of considerable political stature, won a political struggle in the American colonies to disestablish religion first in his home colony of Virginia and then in the new nation he helped to found. All five of these theologians reclaimed the peace mandate of Jesus in their response to the religious violence of their own eras. All of which points us to some intriguing Christian responses to religious violence in our own century as recounted in the epilogue.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 262 pages
  • 153 x 229 x 18mm | 500g
  • Lutterworth Press
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0718892402
  • 9780718892401
  • 2,479,752

Table of contents

Acknowledgments; Religious Violence and the Peace Mandate of Jesus; Christians Orthodox and Heterodox: Thomas Aquinas and the "Manichees"; Christians among Other God-Fearers: Ramon Lull's Dialogue of a Christian, Jew, and Muslim; Christians and Other Religions: Nicholas of Cusa's Vision of Global Religious Peace; Wars of Christians against Christians: Herbert of Cherbury's Theological Antidote to Religious Warfare; Disestablishing Religion and the Waning of Christian Violence: The Political Theology of Thomas Jefferson; Epilogue: Reclaiming the Peace Mandate of Jesus for the Twenty-First Century; Bibliography; Name Index; Subject Index.
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Review quote

"A pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church, Johnson (emeritus Christian studies, Wellesley College) explores the Church's ambivalence on issues of violence and peace through a series of European wars from about 1250 to 1650. Conflicts of pre-modern Europe were theologically charged, he says, as they have become again in the 21st century. Among his perspectives are religious violence and the peace mandate of Jesus, Nicholas of Cusa's vision of global religious peace, Herbert of Cherbury's theological antidote to religious warfare. In an epilogue, he discusses reclaiming the peace mandate of Jesus for the 21st century." --Book News Inc., Reference - Research Book News - October 2011
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About Roger A. Johnson

Roger A. Johnson is the Elisabeth Luce Moore Professor of Christian Studies, Emeritus, Wellesley College. He is an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.
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