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Verbum et Ecclesia

versão On-line ISSN 2074-7705
versão impressa ISSN 1609-9982

Verbum Eccles. (Online) vol.32 no.2 Pretoria  2011 



Overcoming violence - a basic task of Christian churches



Wolfgang HuberI, II, III, IV

ICouncil of the Evangelical Church, Germany
IIFellow of the Stellenbosch Institute for Advanced Study (STIAS), South Africa
IIIFaculty of Theology, University of Berlin, Berlin
IVFaculty of Theology, University of Heidelberg, Germany





In this article - based on the second of two keynote lectures at a conference on violence - the view is developed that the task of the church with respect to violence consists mainly in overcoming violence. In the first part of the article dealing with the basic tasks of the church it is argued that the task to overcome violence is close to the essence of the church. The point of departure is taken in Article 7 of the Augsburg Confession, which understands the church as the 'communion of saints' and names the pure proclamation of the gospel and the right administration of the sacraments as the two characteristics of the church. The Christian message that the church has to proclaim the gospel entails a preferential option for non-violence that includes the responsibility to put an end to existing violence. In the second part of the article attention is given to the implications the basic task of the church in overcoming violence holds for the practice of the church. It is argued that the starting point is that the church has to proclaim the gospel of peace and as a community of faith become a community of peace herself. Some of the most important practical consequences the proclamation of the gospel of peace has for the church as a community of action, for her work in education, for her promotion of justice and for her solidarity with those in need, are discussed.



Full text available only in PDF format.




The research for this text was made possible by the hospitality and inspiring atmosphere of STIAS in the first months of 2010. The text was prepared as Dawid de Villiers Memorial Lecture in Stellenbosch, 06 August 2010, and as keynote address for the conference 'Violence in a Democratic South Africa' in Pretoria, 11 August 2010. I am grateful for the intensive debates on this text at the University of Stellenbosch, 06 August 2010, under the presidency of Prof. Dirk J. Smit and at the University of Pretoria, 11 August 2010, under the presidency of Prof. Etienne de Villiers. I gratefully acknowledge all help in preparation of this publication, coming especially from Prof. Etienne de Villiers, Pretoria, Prof. Hendrik Geyer, Stellenbosch and the outside reviewers and editors of this journal.

Author competing interests

The author declares that he has no financial or personal relationship(s) which may have inappropriately influenced him in writing this paper.



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Wolfgang Huber
Stiftung Garnisonkirche Potsdam
Gutenbergstr. 71/72, D-14467

Received: 02 Aug. 2011
Accepted: 27 Sept. 2011
Published: 12 Dec. 2011

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