Laura Wibberding: Christianity’s changing relationship with violence and war
6 October 2021 |
Do Christians believe in violence? The answer depends on which Christians you ask. For many US evangelicals, valor is a Christian virtue. The metaphors of soldiers and warfare in the Bible must sometimes be applied literally, and defending the innocent is the truest form of Christian manhood. This January 6, when protestors stormed the US capitol with overtly Christian rhetoric and symbols, was an outflow of that idea. (The motivation of the January 6 event was, of course, much more complicated than this description. But evangelicals pushing certain elections outcomes usually cite, among other justifiable motivations for violence, protecting the unborn through abortion laws.)
This kind of valor is a long way from the pacifism and martyrdom of early Christendom. But the story of how we got here isn’t as simple as slow apostasy, nor growing understanding. Our relationship with violence is as complicated as our relationship with government. Do we see the Empire as our persecutor or our protector? Does the Pax Romana serve the cause of God?
This Sabbath Seminar is one element from a Pacific Union College class on Christian Violence and Nonviolence. It covers three major Christian ideals about war—pacifism, just war, and crusade. We’ll talk about how empire changes our theology, and how it shaped diverging Christian traditions, including Adventism.
Laura Wibberding is Assistant Professor of Theology, History, and Psych/Social Work at Pacific Union College.
Gina Jett is an attorney from Sacramento.
How to join:
ATSS starting time depends on where you are. If you’re on the west coast of the United States, it’ll be 10:30 AM. On the east coast, 1:30 PM.
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The class is intended to last about 2 hours, though the conversation often continues to 4 PM.
About our class:
- The AT Sabbath Seminar is intended to be a courteous forum. We discuss and ask questions politely. We don’t accuse, get angry, or put people down.
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We look forward to getting acquainted with you!
- October 16 – Rebecca Liu
- November: Laurence Turner
- December: Denis Fortin on Ecumenism
- Stanley Patterson