Peace Be With You: The Church’s Benediction amid Violent Empire

Factions and factionalization in churches exacerbate and prolong conflict. This paper presents some basic techniques that can be used to interrupt the way factions polarize a community and to restore trust without forcing people to change their positions or convictions.
Addressing Factions in Church
“Using Girard to Address Factions in a Christian Community”
by Jean F. Risley
in
Peace Be With You: The Church’s Benediction amid Violent Empire
by Sharon L. Baker and Michael Hardin
from Cascadia Publishing House LLC

This book contains a collection of papers presented at the conference On Being a Peace Church in a Constantinian World: Educating the World in Jesus’ Vision of Peace. The conference was held August 12-14, 2008, at Messiah College in Grantham, PA, and was sponsored by the Preaching Peace organization.

This chapter looks at the implications of the work of anthropologist Rene Girard as it applies in a local church community. Girard describes a process in which scapegoating and ritual sacrifice are used to alleviate the conflict caused by factions in a community. For Girard, the work of Jesus on the cross ended sacrifice as a way to deal with our conflicts. The question remains: what do we do instead? The answer lies in reversing the factors which make scapegoating sacrifice possible and in substituting other attitudes and behaviors based on the teaching and model of Jesus.
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