Miroslav Volf probes what’s behind some of the terrible episodes of Christian history.
Now in Christian history there have been terrible episodes of violence. That’s undeniable, and we can’t even say that some Christian reasons have not been given for that violence. And generally, I think, what happens is there is a certain kind of thinning out of religion, or what happens as well is if you instrumentalise religion – religion becomes an instrument for you – you’re going to recraft it to fit a particular situation. And the situation where Christian faith (as well as other religions) have proven to be almost invariably instruments of violence is when religions aspire to be close to political power. When that happens, religion in some ways becomes thinned out of its proper content – but it also ends up being recrafted. So that you have a kind of a version … bellicose and belligerent versions of religions that emerge that are a result of the kind of betrayal of its own image, of its own central message, and the betrayal that is a result of this search for proximity with the powers that be.