Miroslav Volf – on Divine Vengeance

This comes from Volf’s Exclusion and Embrace. Many of you will probably recognize it from any number of Keller’s talks.

My thesis is that the practice of non-violence requires a belief in divine vengeance…My thesis will be unpopular with man in the West…But imagine speaking to people (as I have) whose cities and villages have been first plundered, then burned, and leveled to the ground, whose daughters and sisters have been raped, whose fathers and brothers have had their throats slit…Your point to them–we should not retaliate? Why not? I say–the only means of prohibiting violence by us is to insist that violence is only legitimate when it comes from God…Violence thrives today, secretly nourished by the belief that God refuses to take the sword…It takes the quiet of a suburb for the birth of the thesis that human nonviolence is a result of a God who refuses to judge. In a scorched land–soaked in the blood of the innocent, the idea will invariably die, like other pleasant captivities of the liberal mind…if God were NOT angry at injustice and deception and did NOT make a final end of violence, that God would not be worthy of our worship.



  1. In “The End of Memory” Volf refers to Dante’s vision of the future, post judgement, and envisions a time when the memory of all wrong will be done away with because that final just judgment will finally be rendered. Those who have trusted Christ will have their crimes paid for on the cross, those who have not will pay in eternal hell. On the other side, we will be satisfied with the justice of God even if that means strolling the streets of heaven with our persecutors.

    Come Lord Jesus

  2. Thanks. I heard it in a Keller sermon this AM and I like to track down good quotes he uses and record them on my blog so I can use them later. I find he’s quite “editorial” with his quote reading. He usually condenses and shapes them for his use and context (which is fine) but if I’m going to re-use them I’d like to see the original material. I own Exclusion and Embrace but I didn’t have the quote marked in my book and with a sermon deadline bearing down on me I can’t reread it, so I Googled it and up came your blog. Thanks for posting it. If you come across it just add it in the comment and I’ll get it. If I find it first I’ll let you know. pvk

    1. okay, I found the quote in Keller’s Reason for God on p. 74 which gives pp. 303-4 in E & E as the source. let me know if this is wrong. thanks for making me do my homework, though. 🙂

  3. Don’t think of it as promotion, think of it as being helpful. I post stuff on my blog for my own reasons, often just so I can find things easily. Seeing some of what you’re posting I think you do the same thing. You posted that great Volf quote from Keller and I wouldn’t have found it easily if you hadn’t. I think of it as groups of pastors collaborating through time and space in a way we couldn’t before. You and another guy had the same quote up, but that was it. You’re already posting regularly, that’s most of the battle for most people, twitter just helps those who find what you do helpful find it more easily. 🙂 pvk

  4. I’m searching for a sermon Dr Keller preached on this issue. I think it was pre 9/11. I believe he quoted Volf and guess it was E & E Keller quoted. I searched the Redeemer Store but am having trouble locating the sermon. Are you up on your Keller library? Any ideas which sermon it was? thanks so much! Susan

  5. Pete: Thanks so much for the links. I thought I had heard the sermon before Sept 11, but my memory may be failing me. You write that E&E has been quoted in “any number of Keller’s talks.” I’ve emailed a friend who works at Redeemer, maybe they can pinpoint which of the talks I’m remembering. Or maybe God wants me to listen to them all 🙂

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