The Destructive Power of Religion: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam
Wellman, James K., Jr., Journal of Church and State
The Destructive Power of Religion: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam (Condensed and Updated Edition). Edited by J. Harold Ellens. Westport, Conn.: Praeger Publishers. 2007. np.
J. Harold Ellens's recent book The Destructive Power of Religion: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam is a condensed and updated version of the 2004 four-volume edition by the same title. Ellens wrote eight of the fifteen chapters, in which he outlines his theory of the destructive power of the Western monotheistic traditions and how they create violent forms of genocide, crusade, and jihad in the religions of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Seven other authors contribute to the book, and of these, Jack Miles's and Walter Wink's work is the most illuminating. The theorists most mentioned throughout the volume are Rene Girard, Jack Miles, and Walter Wink. Girard's ideas on scapegoating reveal the tendency of religions to blame and execute victims to cauterize internal social strife; Miles underscores the power of metaphors as tools used by human groups to take revenge or to seek nonviolent means to resolve human conflicts; Wink's ideas on the "myth of redemptive violence," draws on the Babylonian story in which social order is created from an act of violence. This mythological system, rather than resolving conflict, leads to endless wars. Wink's "third way" between fight and flight is expressed best by Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount; it calls for an active nonviolent resistance to social injustice, whereby the victim reminds the oppressor that the injustice must end.
The book gives an important overview of the literature and how psychology can diagnose the troubles and tribulations of "unhealthy religion" and also offers a way out. We must recognize a God who, in Ellens's words, is not "in charge" of the world. God has, according to Miles, "disarmed" himself in Jesus Christ, taking on the suffering and evil of the world while offering grace, peace, and healing. Human violence is not overcome by justice, says Ellens, but by a grace that confronts the sufferings of the world. As Miles says, God is no longer a "head basher," no longer interested in destroying enemies. Indeed, God has no enemies, in Jesus Christ the "enemy" becomes an object of love. The wrathful God of the monotheisms has "changed." The masochistic …
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Article title: The Destructive Power of Religion: Violence in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Contributors: Wellman, James K., Jr. - Author. Journal title: Journal of Church and State. Volume: 49. Issue: 4 Publication date: Autumn 2007. Page number: 770+. © 1999 J.M. Dawson Studies in Church and State. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.