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Vengeance belongs to the LORD

2008 August 27
by Tim V-B

I heard this quote from Miroslav Volf (a theologian who is also a pacifist) from a Tim Keller sermon a while ago, but thanks to Michael Jensen I now have a reference for it.

Some liberal theologians hate the idea of God’s vengeance.  Volf argues that the only way we can avoid resorting to violence is if we believe that vengeance is the LORD’s:

My thesis that the practice of nonviolence requires a belief in divine vengeance will be unpopular with many Christians, especially theologians in the West. To the person who is inclined to dismiss it, I suggest imagining that you are delivering a lecture in a war zone…Among your listeners are people whose cities and villages have been first plundered, then burned and leveled to the ground, whose daughters and sisters have been raped, whose fathers and brothers have had their throats slit. The topic of the lecture: a Christian attitude toward violence. The thesis: we should not retaliate since God is perfect noncoercive love. Soon you would discover that it takes the quiet of a suburban home for the birth of the thesis that human nonviolence corresponds to God’s refusal to judge. In a scorched land, soaked in the blood of the innocent, it will invariably die. And as one watches it die, one will do well to reflect about many other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind…

Exclusion and Embrace, p. 204

“When they hurled their insults at Jesus, he did not retaliate; when he suffered he made no threats. Instead he entrusted himself to him who judges justly.” (1 Peter 2:23)

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