Friday, April 27, 2007

My Latest Reading Endeavor

I just received in the mail today Miroslav Volf's classic, Exclusion and Embrace and I can't wait to dig into it.

This is from the beginning of the preface:

"After I finished my lecture Professor Jurgen Moltmann stood up and asked one of his typical questions, both concrete and penetrating: 'But can you embrace a cetnik?' It was the winter of 1993. For months now the notorious Serbian fighters called "cetnik" had been sowing desolation in my native country, herding people into concentration camps, raping women, burning down churches, and destroying cities. I had just argued that we ought to embrace our enemies as God has embraced us in Christ. Can I embrace a cetnik -- the ultimate other, so to speak, the evil other? What would justify the embrace? Where would I draw the strength for it? ...
"It was a difficult book to write. My thought was pulled in two different directions by the blood of the innocent crying out to God and by the blood of God's Lamb offered for the guilty. How does one remain loyal both to the demand of the oppressed for justice and to the gift of forgiveness that Christ offered to the perpetrators? I felt caught between two betrayals - the betrayal of the suffering, exploited, and excluded, and the betrayal of the very core of my faith. In a sense even more disturbingly, I felt that my very faith was at odds with itself, divided between the God who delivers the needy and the God who abandons the Crucified, between the demand to bring about justice for the victims and the call to embrace the perpetrator. I knew, of course, of easy ways to resolve this powerful tension. But I also knew they were easy precisely because they were false. Goaded by the suffering of those caught in the vicious cycles of conflict, not only in my native Croatia but around the globe, I went on a journey whose report I present in this book...
"... I write [this book] for myself -- and for all those who in a world of injustice, deception, and violence have made the gospel story their own and therefore wish neither to assign the demands of the Crucified to the murky regions of unreason nor abandon the struggle for justice, truth, and peace."
Given what I read here, I anticipate that I will sometimes agree with Volf and sometimes disagree, but I will come away challenged in my theology and practice of peacemaking to not take the sacrifice of the cross lightly. I think I will be "goaded by the suffering of those caught in the vicious cycles of conflict" to not seek easy, safe or comfortable answers. Ultimately, I think there is a way to see, in God's economy, a harmony between "the blood of the innocent crying out to God" and "the blood of God's Lamb offered for the guilty."
I'll let you know what I find.

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