violence

Second Sunday of Advent

December 8, 2013
See Also: 
Reading 1: 
Isaiah 11:1-10
Reading 2: 
Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Reading 3: 
Romans 15:4-13
Reading 4: 
Matthew 3:1-12
By Bruce G. Epperly

Advent season invites us to take adventures of the spirit. An adventure of the spirit, as Whitehead notes, is not for the faint-hearted or those who seek a safe path. Spiritual adventures are for those who are willing to leave their personal, relational, and congregational comfort zones to explore God’s pathways of possibility in our time. It is for those who seek new horizons of faith and spiritual transformation.

The Fall to Violence

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God & Violence

Question: 
Preface: I am totally new today to process theology--at least as systematic theology. Intuitively, perhaps I have been thinking this way for a long time. Here is my inquiry. I'm reading Walter Wink's book the Powers that Be. In the book, Dr. Wink dismisses the possibility that Jesus' action in the Temple (i.e., the making of the "whip," driving the people and animals out, and turning over the tables) was violent. In another part of the book, he characterizes God as being non-violent in character even though he characterizes the Hebrew Bible as showing the violent nature of God. I, on the other hand, have no problem seeing Jesus action in the temple as an act of violence (how reckless, for example, to stampede animals--innocent people could have been injured; to have the crowd experience a crush at the doors and people be killed or injured; the possibility of bones being broken by over turning the tables. I see Jesus in the process of change... of becoming rather than being always and forever non-violent. Does this show, as I think it does, that God (and Christ as God incarnate), was/is not immutable, but rather God/Christ was violent at times, but changed in nature in reaction and relation to humankind?
Publication Month: 
January 2000
Author - First Name: 
John B.
Author - Last Name: 
Cobb, Jr.

Dr. Cobb's Response

From the point of view of process theology God is never violent in the usual sense.  Central to our understanding is that God relates to us persuasively rather than coercively. God lures us to act in that way that is best in the circumstances. By introducing possibilities of such action that go beyond what the situation would otherwise allow, God expands our freedom. Violence as we ordinarily understand it restricts the freedom of its object. We think that God's loving nature was revealed to us in Jesus, both in his behavior and in his teaching.

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