Saturday, December 26, 2015

Christianity a source for violence? Think again.

Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem next to the Wailing Wall
Much has been said and written in recent years about the connection between religion and violence. Some of this antipathy is fueled by ancient and modern atrocities. From the bloody Crusades of 1095 to the more recent graphic beheadings Isis, suicide bombings and mass shootings in France and San Bernardino, religion is the scapegoat.

You have no doubt heard this canard: “Religion is the major source of violence. Therefore, if we seek a more peaceful world we should abolish religion.” This of course is music to the ears of those who inherently loathe religion and Christianity in particular.

This of course is not true. In fact, it is rather uninformed. Charles Phillips and Alan Axelrod, authors of Encyclopedia of Wars, surveyed 1800 conflicts and found that less than 10 percent involved religion at all.

Also, a “God and War” survey commissioned by the BBC found that religion played some part in 40 per cent of conflicts but usually a minor one.

Those who follow Jesus are called to be peacemakers. Granted, not everyone claims to be Christian lives in complete submission to the teachings of Jesus.

For example, on the night that Jesus was arrested, Simon Peter pulled out his sword and cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant. Jesus’ response shows that he never asked his followers to kill in his name: Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place; for all who take the sword will perish by the sword (Matthew 26:52).

What Jesus taught

How does Jesus command his followers to live? In essence, Jesus came to bring peace and abundant life. Even a cursory examination of his teachings reveal this fact:
-Love one another
-Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
-Do not return evil for evil, but overcome evil with good.
-Forgive, even as God has forgiven you.
-If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him to drink.

So for those who think all religions do is promote death and destruction, look again at the life, death and resurrection of Jesus and what he taught his followers. This is in stark contrast to the nightmarish ambitions of Isis.