Exclusion and Embrace

A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation

By Miroslav Volf

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Joshua Neds-Fox Exclusion and Embrace

...Abel is regularly called Cain's brother, whereas Cain is never called Abel's brother. Cain has a brother but is not a brother...

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Joshua Neds-Fox Exclusion and Embrace

To commit sin is not simply to make a wrong choice, but to succumb to an evil power. Before the crime, Cain was both a potential prey and a potential master of a predator called "sin"; Cain murdered, because he fell prey to what he refused to master.

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Joshua Neds-Fox read 17 pages in Exclusion and Embrace

86

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Joshua Neds-Fox Exclusion and Embrace

Just as there is no absolute standpoint from which relative human beings can make absolute judgments, so also there is no "pure" space from which corrupt human beings can make pure judgments about purity and corruption.

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Joshua Neds-Fox Exclusion and Embrace

...one of the most insidious aspects of the practice of evil. In addition to inflicting harm, the practice of evil keeps re-creating a world without innocence. Evil generates new evil as evildoers fashion victims in their own ugly image.

Emphasis mine.

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Joshua Neds-Fox Exclusion and Embrace

...at the heart of sin lies "the persistent refusal to tolerate a sense of sin" (Plantinga 1995, 99)

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Joshua Neds-Fox Exclusion and Embrace

Identity is the result of the distinction from the other and the internalization of the relationship to the other; it arises out of the complex history of "differentiation" in which both the self and the other take part by negotiating their identities in interaction with one another. Hence, as Paul Ricoeur has argued in Oneself as Another, "the selfhood of oneself implies otherness to such an intimate degree that one cannot be thought of without the other" (Ricoeur 1992, 3).

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Joshua Neds-Fox Exclusion and Embrace

"Unlike the soul represented by Christian theology," writes Foucault, the modern individual "is not born in sin and subject to punishment, but is born rather out of methods of... constraint" (29)... society exercise[s] "a power of normalization" (308)... As a power of normalization, exclusion reigns through all those institutions that we may associate with inclusionary civilization... they all shape "normal" citizens with "normal" knowledge, values, and practices, and thereby either assimilate or eject the "ab-normal" other. The modern self, claims Foucault..., is indirectly constituted through the exclusion of the other (Foucault 1988b, 146).

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Joshua Neds-Fox read 25 pages in Exclusion and Embrace

69

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Joshua Neds-Fox Exclusion and Embrace

One way out of the dilemma [in order to enjoy the blessings of God a person had to be a member of a particular tribe, Israel]... was to regard the different religions as only manifestations of the one deity, as was current among learned men and women in the Hellenistic period (Hengel 1974, 261)... As an example of Hick shows, however, if the solution is to work it must operate with an unknowable God, always behind each... concrete cultural and religious manifestation (246-49). The trouble is that an unknowable god is an idle god, exalted so high... (or hidden so deep in the foundations of being) that she must have the tribal deities do all the work that every self-respecting god must do. Believing in a god behind all concrete manifestations amounts therefore to not believing in one: each culture ends up worshiping its own tribal deities... 'enslaved to beings that are by nature not gods.' (Gal. 4:8)

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