Violence Against Those Nearest

Contemporary evangelicalism has a strong divisive and contentious streak and some evangelicals feel no compunction over employing violent rhetoric against fellow evangelicals.  In an effort to get something of a handle on these dynamics I picked up Russell Jacoby’s very interesting book Bloodlust.  It’s a highly readable essay on the fratricidal roots of violence.  He notes that throughout history church authorities were most vicious and unspeakably barbaric toward those nearest to them (fellow Christians) rather than those of other religions (Jews and Muslims).

In the midst of a discussion of Michael Servetus, he writes:

It is easy to forget that the religious violence of the sixteenth century, and that of the Inquisition that preceded and succeeded it, pitted Christian against Christian.  “From the beginning,” writes a historian of religion, “Christianity was distinctive among religions in its tendency to demonize its enemies, especially one type: the enemy within the fold.”  . . .  Small distinctions are what engender the hatred (p. 20).


2 thoughts on “Violence Against Those Nearest

  1. bobmacdonald

    The whole requires prayer. Your post stimulated me to look at the use of the word blood in the psalms including the bloodthirsty of the Do Not Destroy psalms – but this struck me
    וְאַנְשֵׁי דָמִים סוּרוּ מֶנִּי psalm 139 – mortals of blood, depart from me.

    One can almost hear the ‘I never knew you’. The tenderness of God is an unknown among those whose trust is in their own logic. If this tenderness were known, then the condemnation of others among the Xtians would cease (as the growth occurs). We are time-dependent – we have a best-before-date that is in reverse time. Through conforming our judgments to the cross, we are supposed to mature and then be taken up in the chariots of fire.

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