One of my worries about J. Denny Weaver’s The Nonviolent Atonement was that I didn’t think a determined critic would be persuaded by his case for seeing God as essentially nonviolent. He offers some suggestive interpretations of various New Testament passages, but there’s no developed theology of the divine nature or an overarching argument for how his nonviolent understanding of God fits with the Bible as a whole.
In light of that, I’m excited to see that Weaver’s next book, The Nonviolent God, looks like it will tackle just this issue:
This bold new statement on the nonviolence of God challenges long-standing assumptions of divine violence in theology, the violent God pictured in the Old Testament, and the supposed violence of God in Revelation. In The Nonviolent God J. Denny Weaver argues that since God is revealed in Jesus, the nonviolence of Jesus most truly reflects the character of God.
According to Weaver, the way Christians live — Christian ethics — is an ongoing expression of theology. Consequently, he suggests positive images of the reign of God made visible in the narrative of Jesus — nonviolent practice, forgiveness and restorative justice, issues of racism and sexism, and more — in order that Christians might live more peacefully.
I’m not a fully convinced pacifist, but I am convinced that the relationship between God, violence, and Christian ethics is hugely important–and that those of us in the mainline traditions have a lot to learn from “peace church” perspectives. So I’m looking forward to reading this book (which, alas, isn’t scheduled to be published till November).