Overcoming violence - a basic task of Christian churches
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 nonviolence 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. © 2011.