Foreword to Robert Beck, Nonviolent Story: Narrative Conflict Resolution in the Gospel of Mark

Orbis, 1996.  2 pp.

The historical problem of violence continues to be the most pressing issue of our time. This is evident by any index: the spread of the international arms trade war of urban gang-banging; our fascination with vicarious brutality, from cinema vérité to celebrity murder cases; or the epidemic levels of domestic battering and homelessness. As we near the end of the millennium, the most sophisticated technologies are still guided by the most ancient belief systems: blood feuding, retributive “justice,” and the politics of domination.

Christian theology, if it is not to become irrelevant, the struggle to understand and overturn the practices and justifying ideologies of violence. They must provide a “radical” critique that exposes the deep historical and cultural roots of our assumptions that enemies should be killed and at lethal force may be used toward righteous ends. Fortunately, a small body of recent literature has begun to engage this very task.

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