Violent Christians, the Nigerian Public Square, and the Utility of Jesus’ Forgiveness Sayings for Tackling Religious Violence

In: International Journal of Public Theology
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  • 1 Professor of Theology and World Christianity, Bethel University, St. Paul, Minnesota, United States

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Abstract

This article explores the questions: Is Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness compatible with Nigerian Christians’ strategies of preemptive violence or counter-violent responses in light of harms done to them by people of other faiths? Are there some Christological reasons that might motivate Nigerian Christians to refrain from using violence as the only effective means available to them to protect Christian communities against attacks from people of other faiths? To answer these questions, I will focus on three main issues. Firstly, I will discuss the theological rhetoric of some pastors that are shaping Christian discourse on Christian-Muslim and Christian-traditional religion relations. Secondly, I will discuss the idea of ‘disciple’ and ‘non-disciple’ dialectics in Jesus’ thought vis-à-vis how his followers are to live in relation to his non-followers. Finally, I will also discuss Jesus’ teaching on forgiveness, highlighting some of its theological implications for tackling religious violence that are rooted in some Nigerian Christians’ anxieties about other religious faiths.

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