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Roger E. Olson
Welcoming the War Criminal
What is the distinctively Christian form of existence in the social world of oppression, injustice, and violence? According to Fuller Seminary theologian Miroslav Volf, it is willingness to embrace the other. Like the father of the Prodigal Son, the Christian ought always to seek reconciliation with the repentant and returning transgressor no matter who he or she is and no matter what wrongs he or she has committed. Volf is not interested in setting forth a new program for social life—Christian or otherwise. In this important new work, Volf seeks rather to explore the inner logic and deep grammar of the biblical narrative and Christian tradition to find the single nonnegotiable and unalterable Christian stance toward fellow humans.
A native of Croatia, Volf grew up in what was then Yugoslavia and undertook his advanced theological training in Germany. Although now living and working in the United States as assistant professor of theology at Fuller Theological Seminary, he reflects on crucial questions of human social existence out of his experience of conflict in the Balkan countries. Throughout the essay, Volf returns to his own existential dilemma both as a reflective human being and as a Christian: What stance to take toward persons who have perpetrated unspeakably evil acts of terror and violence against his own people?
Exclusion and Embrace:
A Theological Exploration
of Identity, Otherness,
By Miroslav Volf
336 pp.; $19.95, paper
In the background of his reflections lie many sources: Volf's cultural identity and experience; the theologies of his mentor, Jürgen Moltmann; a broad and deep acquaintance with modern and postmodern philosophies; and, of course, the broad Christian theological tradition that forms his tradition-community and shapes his identity as a believer and scholar. One source, however, stands out above all others: the biblical narrative and especially the gospel of the crucified God at its heart. That is the "norming ...