Been recently reading through Leviticus and Numbers thinking that I am glad that these are not the only books of the bible. I am glad that Jesus came to show us what God is really like. Apart from Christ one might get the impression that God advocates violence. Consider these excerpts from Derek Flood's oped in the Huffington Post:
Does religion promote violence? In our post 9/11 world this is a question that people are increasingly asking. Does religion make you a better person, or does it in fact do the opposite, and instead foster hate, fear, and violence? One does not have to look far to find examples of violence done at the hands of religious power, but is religion itself really to blame?I think that it is so easy to point my self-righteous finger at other religions and deflect attention away from my desire for revenge on those who hurt me. I think that is easy to forgive when the offense has not taken much from you. But it is seemingly almost impossible to forgive, and want violent revenge, when someone has taken something dear from you. It is at this times that our desire for peace is tested the most. In times like these our faith is on the line.
This is a touchy theme that tends to evoke both debate and strong emotions, regardless of which side of the debate one falls onto. For people of faith like myself, the tendency is to see this as an attack, and become defensive. So for a long time my response would have been to deny this claim, and in response to defend my faith's validity and value.
Perhaps the more important question we ought to be asking however is whether our beliefs and convictions actively promote peace? Instead of pointing the finger or claiming innocence, maybe we need to take a look at what we are doing to actively promote dialog and understanding with those with whom we disagree. What are we doing to build bridges in our increasingly polarized culture? What are we doing to actively foster compassion and respect? What are we doing to break the cycle of retaliation in the name of "justice" and instead promote reconciliation and restoration?