Apocalypse Now?: Reflections on Faith in a Time of Terror

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Ashgate, 2005 - Religion - 142 pages
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How may people of faith respond wisely, constructively, and courageously to the challenges of a time of terror? How might religious reasons in public debate be a force for reconciliation rather than violence and hatred? In a world in which religious arguments and religious motivations play such a huge public role, there is an urgent responsibility for interpreting what is happening, and engaging with religious views which are commonly regarded as alien, threatening or dangerous. In Apocalypse Now?, Duncan Forrester argues that disorders and atrocities which include the Gulag, the Holocaust, 9/11, the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, and the Tsunami disaster have shown us that we stand not at the end of history but in the midst of an apocalyptic age of terror which has striking similarities to the time in which Christianity was born. Moving between two times of terror - the early Centuries of Christianity, and today - Forrester asks how religious motivations can play a positive role in the midst of conflicts and disasters. Reading the 'signs of the times' to try to understand what is happening in today's age of terror, Forrester argues that there are huge resources in the Christian tradition that can be productively deployed for a more constructive and faithful response. We are at a turning point - this is a book which should be read.

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An earnest liberal Christian critique of armed conflict. Offers some interesting insights into warrior ethics, with the Bush Administration's response to 9/11/01 violence held up as an example of an evolutionary two-steps-backward.
Forrester skirts the issue of defining terrorism, attempting instead to draw parallels between the calamities of war and natural disaster. The cathartic theme of forgiveness (emanating from Jesus' conversation with God at the time of his crucifixion) appears to be the defining theological argument for peace-making in this book. The post-apartheid South African reconciliation process is presented as a model for the practical application of forgiveness in the wake of terror.
This book makes little progress toward clarification of "just war" principles, acknowledging instead the ease with which governments (both secular and religious) continue to mask aggression. Forrester appears to ignore secular rule-of-law as an antidote to violence, arguing instead that the church has a larger (somewhat unfulfilled) role to play in contemporary conflict resolution.
 

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About the author (2005)

As a Church of Scotland missionary Duncan Forrester taught Politics at Madras Christian College for eight years. After a period as Chaplain and Lecturer in Politics and Religious Studies at the University of Sussex, he was appointed in 1978 to the Chair of Christian Ethics and Practical Theology in New College, University of Edinburgh. He was Principal of New College from 1986-1996, and Dean of the Faculty of Divinity from 1996-2000. He established and was first Director of the Centre for Theology and Public Issues. In session 2000-2001 he held a Personal Chair in Theology and Public Issues in Edinburgh University. He is now Emeritus Professor. His recent publications include The True Church and Morality: Reflections on Ecclesiology and Ethics (WCC, 1997), Christian Justice and Public Policy (Cambridge University Press, 1997), Truthful Action: Explorations in Practical Theology (T. & T. Clark, 2000) and On Human Worth: A Christian Vindication of Equality (SCM Press, 2001).

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