Lately there has been a surge of studies variously construed as focused on "religion and violence," "the Bible and violence" or "God and violence." Most of these studies are not very helpful, for they dismiss the shrill reality of violence in facile ways.
Brian Bantum, a theologian at Seattle Pacific, was
mentioned in the Century's recent article on the new black theology. Readers
intrigued by that topic will be interested in Bantum's comments
on a book on racial reconciliation
written by a white Minneapolis preacher, John Piper.
The medieval concept of irja could be an antidote to Islamic extremism. The word literally means “postponing” and was used by some Muslim thinkers during the first century of Islam. Known as Murjiha—the postponers—these scholars argued that the issue of who is a true Muslim should be postponed until the afterlife. Faith is a matter of the heart, something God alone can judge. This notion died out and is now considered a heresy among orthodox Sunnis. Muslims who are not willing to kill apostates are viewed by ISIS leaders as guilty of this heresy (New York Times, December 21).