Michael A. Sells
This chapter, which looks at the actual or alleged cases of apocalypticism within contemporary Iranian Shi'ite, Saudi Sunni, and American Christian circles, evaluates the issue of contemporary militant apocalypticism, emphasizing the competition between its American Christian and Islamic versions. The hadith collections present contradictory reports regarding the end-time struggle between the Messiah Jesus and Dajjal. Militant near-term apocalypticism summons the power of religion, imagination, and personal conviction against any serious peace endeavor; demonizes those who work toward such endeavors; and sanctifies those who, once the tribulation or endtimes conflict is underway, kill the peacemakers. The apocalyptic messianism of American dispensationalists, and of the Salafi Sunni figures Safar al-Hawali and Ali al-Timimi, feature scenarios of Middle Eastern and global carnage ending with messianic triumph and theologically grounded rejection of Middle East peacemaking.
Karen L. King
This chapter considers the religious justifications for and against torture. It also describes the torturous narratives at Christianity's foundations, the notion of redemptive martyrdom, and the various ways in which Christian ideology has challenged as well as supported the torturous suffering of fellows and foes. Torture functions in the absence of the facts or against the facts. Despite legal censure, torture and claims of torture are omnipresent. The violence of torture depends on sex/gender differentiation for much of its public communication. Opposition to torture on religious grounds will not be efficient without addressing the fact that enculturated ways of thinking and structures of feeling cultivated in Christian stories, images, and theological discourses are entailed in a wide variety of attitudes and behaviors, both for and against torture.
This chapter offers an older notion of just war, particularly as it developed in relation to the changing place of Christianity in Europe and North America. The just war idea presents a way of thinking in which war itself is a kind of restraint. The norms of positive international law are determined with the hope that an appropriate set of institutions might transcend and thus govern the behavior of sovereign states, imposing the rule of law in cases where sovereign states (and their rulers) violate those norms intended “to save succeeding generations from the scourge of war.” The universality of norms is a project to be obtained by means of negotiation among sovereign states. The outline of just war presented reveals that the idea is a moving target, in which changes reflect the dynamic nature of social and political institutions.
This chapter investigates the theological justifications for violence within the sources of the Christian traditions, and also reports the symbolic representations of violence in the history of the tradition. It then presents a consideration of some specific issues that have provoked Christian people, to condone or even resort to violence while believing themselves faithful to Christian teachings and values. The chapter introduces the theological justifications of St. Paul, Jesus of Nazareth, just war, Crusades, inquisition and heresy trials, and missionary movements. Christian people have acted in ways opposed to violence, and have also warranted violence over the centuries by referring to scripture and by developing theological interpretations. Additionally, they preserve connection to its history of involvement of violence in a variety of symbols, rites, and rituals. In general, Christian people are moral agents who have to make decisions about how to act and how to act religiously.
This chapter, which concentrates on the North American Christian case in investigating the role of violence in the religious controversy about abortion, assesses the religiously legitimated use of violence in the extreme wing of the American pro-life movement. The legitimation of the use of violence to stop abortion finds its most public expression in an organization known as The Army of God. Mike Bray, the architect of the argument that violence can be legitimately utilized to stop abortion, has argued that there is a difference between killing a retired abortion doctor and one who continues to practice. Bray and Randall Terry are critical of contemporary Christianity, which sees God a “jolly old perennial gift giver.” In general, Christians, in the larger “pro-life” movement, believe abortion to be murder.