Christian violence

Published May 1, 2008

Rev. Giles Fraser, vicar of the Anglican parish of Putney, U.K. and a columnist with the Guardian and Church Times newspapers, thinks the Christian church has a problem – and it is not necessarily about sexuality.

“Christianity and violence” was the subject of a lecture he delivered on March 25 at Bishop Cronyn Memorial Church in London, Ont. It was the second in a series of annual public lectures called the Huron-Cronyn Lectures. (The church is located in the diocese of Huron.)

“Today, anxiety is expressed relative to Islam and violence. It’s worth it to ask about the Christian propensity for violence. Christianity is arguably more violent,” said Mr. Fraser.

Citing such passages as Psalm 137 – “happy is he who repays you … he who seizes your infants and dashes them against the rocks” – Mr. Fraser noted that “people have been converted at the point of a gun and sword for centuries.”

Christianity, he said, should be about forgiveness. “It doesn’t mean thinking nice thoughts. Forgiveness is breaking the ‘eye for an eye’ idea and not responding in kind,” he said.

Looking at current global politics, he wondered if the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq were revenge for the terrorist attacks of 9/11. “Then it fails Christian understanding. (Archbishop of Canterbury) Rowan Williams asked whether we speak back the language of terrorists. I think that is the danger of places like Iraq.”  


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