Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The Revenge Lie

I spent this last weekend rock climbing in Oregon and took this picture during the drive. Every so often I am reminded of the anger, hatred, and revenge that is so ever-present in this world. This sign on the back of a semi-truck was one of those examples. Now don't get me wrong...I'm as angry about terrorism like September 11 as the next guy and wish America would never have had to suffer through that horrific event. But I continue to be surprised by the incredibly ungracious and unforgiving quest for revenge and retaliation that has permeated American culture since that fateful day.

The true sadness is that this desire for revenge is built upon a lie. Scholars call this lie the 'myth of redemptive violence,' that the next act of revenge and violence will settle the score once and for all. We all know that this is not true. Violence only begets more violence. That next, and assumed last, action only perpetuates another action..and another action...and another action.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is clear that the appropriate response to violence is grace and peace. The only way that we ought to respond to terrorism is through forgiveness and love, not hatred and retaliation. I understand that some might argue that this way of living would never work, that it would never stop violence and terrorism from happening. Maybe they are right. But maybe they aren't...we don't know because no society has ever tried it. It is obvious that war and further violence has not succeeded in ending violence, so I wonder what the world might look like if took the words of Jesus seriously when he calls us to turn the other cheek and walk 2 miles rather than 1. At least that seems closer to redemption than redemptive violence.


  1. The problem I have with this is blind allegiance to a nationalistic agenda. I am a patriotic american, but a good american patriot always questions blind devotion to a political agenda draped in a flag.

  2. I agree with you Clint. I'm not interested in anarchy by any means. I desperately want to be proud of my country, but I want to do it in a way where I am not blindly chaining myself to certain ideas and ways of life that seem contrary to the way of Christ. Not an easy task to know how much to render to Caesar.