I wanted to share a quote from Miroslav Volf, a Croatian Protestant theologian who founded the Yale Center for Faith and Culture, and then link that quote to what Paul says in Romans 12. Volf claims that nonviolence requires divine judgment. When people suffer atrocities, they will respond with violence unless they believe in a God who will vindicate them in the end. We see that Paul the apostle also roots overcoming evil with good - a kind of nonviolence - to the reality of God as judge.
How do you think this truth can help us reach a generation that rejects Christianity in part because of judgment? How can this truth help us reach others for the Lord? Can you think of any other real life examples that demonstrate this idea? Do you disagree with this claim?
The Lord guide our discussion.
My thesis that the practice of nonviolence requires a belief in divine vengeance will be unpopular with many Christians, especially theologians in the West. To the person who is inclined to dismiss it, I suggest imagining that you are delivering a lecture in a war zone (which is where a paper that underlies this chapter was originally delivered). Among your listeners are people whose cities and villages have been first plundered, then burned and leveled to the ground, whose daughters and sisters have been raped, whose fathers and brothers have had their throats slit. The topic of the lecture: a Christian attitude toward violence. The thesis: we should not retaliate since God is perfect noncoercive love. Soon you would discover that it takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis that human nonviolence corresponds to God’s refusal to judge. In a scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die. And as one watches it die, one will do well to reflect about many other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind.
Exclusion and Embrace by Miroslav Volf pgs. 303-304
Romans 12:17-21 - Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. 18 If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. 19 Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord. 20 On the contrary:
“If your enemy is hungry, feed him;
if he is thirsty, give him something to drink.
In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head.”
21 Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.