Freedom Through The Death of Jesus Christ In Galatians: A Nonviolence Reading

Conclusion

The death of Jesus Christ reveals that Judaism is a system of sacred violence, and the law is distorted and used as an instrument of sacred violence against the Gentiles and those perceived to be a threat to the existing system. God’s revelation of God’s son discloses that Jesus Christ, the victim of sacred violence, is innocent and so exposes the founding lie of Judaism as the system of sacred violence. Paul’s Damascus road experience has called into question his zealotic understanding of the law and the way of life patterned according to such an understanding. When he experienced God’s revelation of God’s son, the victim of the curse of the law, he realized the problem of Judaism, to which he belonged, to be its zealotic interpretation of the law. He understood that it is the way of life in Judaism based on exclusionistic understanding of the law that has led to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, whom God has vindicated. In other words, the law that has excluded the Gentiles was the same law that caused the crucifixion of God’s son. God is rejecting that system of sacred violence and the way of life pertaining to it. Thus, the death of Jesus Christ has exposed what has been concealed in Judaism that it is a sacrificial structure of sacred violence. By disclosing this system of sacred violence, Jesus’ death has provided for believers in Jesus Christ a basis for withdrawal of credibility and allegiance to sacrificial structures, and paved way for freedom from the system of sacred violence into the new creation, where the law is understood in terms of agape love and the unity of human beings is realized. Paul calls this law of love as the law of Christ (Gal. 6.2). Freedom from the system of sacred violence to the new creation happens when a person acknowledges his/her enslavement to the system of sacred violence and its violence against the innocent victim, and breaks free from it by mimetically identifying with the crucified victim of the system of sacred violence, Jesus Christ. The believer in Christ mimes the nonacquisitive desire of Jesus Christ, the agape love. This agape love is expressed in building, supporting and serving the community.

Thus, the death of Jesus Christ deconstructs, not destroys, the system of sacred violence. The latter remains a threat and its evidence is seen everywhere, particularly in the present socio- political and economic situation in the world.

There is a tendency to spread violence beyond ourselves onto the weak and vulnerable in order to contain violence from consuming one’s society or country, or to relieve one’s own suffering by inflicting suffering on others. We try to enhance ourselves by diminishing others through military and economic violence. We live by victimizing others, oppressing, marginalizing, accusing, attacking and exploiting. As suffering and insecurity grows and consequently threatens the order of a society or a country, the more it is likely to find a weak and vulnerable internal or external “enemy” and blame the latter as the cause of suffering and insecurity. This will eventually lead to unleashing violence against this “enemy”, leaving a trace of sacred violence. Thus, there is a renewal of unanimity of “lynching mob” against the victim and reenactment of institutionalized ritual of scapegoating.

Obscurity surrounds the present day state sponsored violence. Often this violence is concealed in the garb of national security, or promoting “values of civilized countries” and “freedom” and “democracy”. Thus, the state sponsored violence is mythified as “holy, legal and legitimate”. The persuasive power of this myth may be seen in the overwhelming public gesture of unanimity by means of support to this “holy, legal and legitimate” slaughter of innocent people and destruction of sovereign countries’ political and economic structures. How else can one explain the public frenzy to unleash violence against sovereign countries and their citizens, and public euphoria at the sight of death and destruction in those countries? It is nothing but celebration of their bloodthirsty God in a holocaust of innocent human flesh and blood. As the Gospel of John says: “(A)n hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God” (John 16.2). Those who belong to this religion are prisoners of the system of sacred violence. This is the religion that the death of Jesus Christ has exposed as a lie and a system of sacred violence. Jesus Christ is the victim slain since the foundation of the world, whom God has vindicated. Thus, the myth of the religion as a system of sacred violence is unveiled, and its deception is disclosed. The system of sacred violence, by destroying the voice and language of its victim, has perpetuated its own story about the victim, thus justifying its genocidal violence against the victim. God through the revelation of Christ has not only demythified the victimizer’s story about the victim, but also redeemed the voice and language of the victim, thus reconstructing the shattered voice. 

How does the community of the new creation respond to various manifestations of sacred violence? 1. It lives out its freedom from the system of sacred violence into the new creation through building human lives and serving them. This way of life subverts the oppressive, exploitative, divisive and violent system of sacred violence. 

2. By its very nature and composition as the community of Jesus Christ, the victim of the system of sacred violence, the community of the new creation identifies with fellow victims of the system(s) of sacred violence. It actively opposes all forms of state sponsored violence, and also the victimizer’s story about victims. It not only identifies with fellow victims of various forms of violence, but also listens to and reports their story shared by them. As the poem of Antjie Krog, who reported the painful experiences of victims during the South African Truth Commission, expresses, “Beloved, do not die. Do not dare die! I, the survivor, wrap you in words so that the future inherits you. I snatch you from the death of forgetfulness. I tell your story, complete your ending – you who once whispered beside me in the dark.”[1] 

 

 


[1] Phelps, Shattered Voices, p. 128.

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