Thursday, December 1, 2011

Miroslav Volf

Miroslav Volf (born 1956) is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Theology at Yale Divinity School and Director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. He is going to be the guest preacher at Harvard University's Memorial Church on the Third Sunday of Advent, and so I've been encouraging my eldest (who sings in the choir there) to "keep awake" that morning! 

Volf is a Croatian immigrant to this country. His early work was focused on forgiveness and reconciliation; I know him primarily through Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Otherness and Reconciliation and Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace, both of which I highly recommend. That has taken him, especially since 9/11, into interfaith conversations and theological reflection on the relationship between Christianity and Islam. Allah: A Christian Response is on my reading list for this upcoming Christmastide. He is, to my mind, one of the most (if not THE most) creative theologians in the world today. In searching for some material to send Graham before Volf's visit to Harvard, I came across this quote:
Forgiveness flounders because I exclude the enemy from the community of humans even as I exclude myself from the community of sinners. But no one can be in the presence of the God of the crucified Messiah for long without overcoming this double exclusion — without transposing the enemy from the sphere of the monstrous… into the sphere of shared humanity and herself from the sphere of proud innocence into the sphere of common sinfulness. When one knows [as the cross demonstrates] that the torturer will not eternally triumph over the victim, one is free to rediscover that person’s humanity and
imitate God’s love for him. And when one knows [as the cross demonstrates] that God’s love is greater than all sin, one is free to see oneself in the light of God’s justice and so rediscover one’s own sinfulness.

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