Re-humanising the religious victims of the Revolution: Admitting the truth is step one

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Recently a group of Islamic State sympathisers entered a Catholic Church in Normandy, France, during Mass, took hostages and murdered a priest.

Naturally, the French authorities condemned this violent act. This line in particular caught my eye:

François Hollande, the French president, promised to win the war against terrorism. In a televised address to the nation he said: “To attack a church, kill a priest, is to profane the republic.”

The republic? The irony here was a little rich. The republic, established by the French Revolution? The revolution in which clergy were literally being killed by those advocating atheism and reason, because the clergy represented allegiance to a foreign power? The republic whose violent birth is still celebrated on Bastille Day, commemorating a day of shocking violence, killings and beheading? Surely there is a fundamental disconnect here. I mean sure, of course I get that Mr Hollande condemns the attack. I don’t doubt his sincerity. But there doesn’t seem to be much careful, consistent thought to this statement in a French context, that an attack on the Church is an attack on the Republic.

I took to Twitter thus: “A Muslim kills a priest and he’s bad. Atheists murder the religious and people celebrate Bastille Day because of it. You silly Frenchies.” Yes its short and snarky, but such is Twitter. Continue reading “Re-humanising the religious victims of the Revolution: Admitting the truth is step one”

Vengeance is Mine: A Biblical smackdown on vigilante justice

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

When confronted with repugnant crimes against other people – especially those we care about – is it right to take matters into our own hands and violently repay those who have wronged us or those we care about? Is there a particular answer to this question that we can call biblical? Continue reading “Vengeance is Mine: A Biblical smackdown on vigilante justice”

Manhood is not a sin of which you need to repent

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

David Cunliffe is sorry. In fact he is sorry for something that I am guilty of: Being a man. And therefore if it is appropriate for him to be sorry, then I should be sorry too. I should be apologising for being a man.

While announcing a Labour Party policy to spend more money supporting the victims of domestic abuse, Mr Cunliffe made the apology to a Women’s Refuge forum in Auckland.

“I dont often say it. Im sorry for being a man right now, because family and sexual violence is perpetrated overwhelmingly by men against women and children.” Continue reading “Manhood is not a sin of which you need to repent”

Pacifism, Matthew 5 and “Turning the other cheek”

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Long story short: “Turning the other cheek” does not mean becoming a pacifist. But some of you may require more persuasion than that, so keep reading.

On the 27th of October 2012 I enjoyed taking part in a panel discussion for Elephant TV on Christian views on war. Dr Chris Marshall (a former lecturer of mine) and Adrian Leason spoke on behalf of the Christian pacifist view, and Rev. Captain Paul Stanaway and I represented a just war perspective. Elephant TV is a fairly unique forum in New Zealand, bringing together Christians from different perspectives on contentious issues in front of an audience and cameras, getting a summary of their side of the story and putting questions to them to discuss. I think the event – and the series as a whole – is a fantastic idea to give exposure within the Christian community to the “elephant in the room” (where the show gets its title), those issues that we know are there and are important, but aren’t necessarily being discussed in churches in a way where all sides get a fair hearing.

The hope of all of this of course is not just that people will hear somebody say something they like and make up their mind on the spot, but that they will gain a new perspective to help them think more about these things for themselves. We were only able to scratch the surface of some of the issues mentioned, and as I said to people after the recording – there’s so much that we’d all no doubt like to have added, responded to, explained further, but that’s what blogs are for! Being stimulated to focus again on the issues of pacifism, the use of force and the role of Scripture in the discussion has meant that my thoughts have been occupied by some of the biblical material that frequently becomes part of the arsenal (pun intended) of Christian pacifists. Over the next little while I’ll be discussing some of that biblical material.

Continue reading “Pacifism, Matthew 5 and “Turning the other cheek””

Empirical Insights on Terrorism and Ideology

FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailFacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

What should we make of the often heard reference to “religious terrorism,” coupled with the innuendo that religion is a uniquely dangerous influence when it comes to just how far people will go in the name of their God, even to the point of outright terrorism? Continue reading “Empirical Insights on Terrorism and Ideology”