First Things Interview

Religious Violence and Biblical Answers: Discussing ‘Not in God’s Name’

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In October 2015, Rabbi Sacks discussed his new book, Not In God’s Name: Confronting Religious Violence, with Mark Bauerlein, Senior Editor for First Things – America’s leading journal on religion and public life.

The standard conception of episodes of religious violence, namely, that extremist faith leads to fanatical aggression, is mistaken, he argues. The horrors we have witnessed have other sources, mainly sibling rivalry (broadly conceived), which, though often expressed through religious differences, can be reconciled through religious instruction.

For Rabbi Sacks, our clearest way out of conflict is through the lessons of the Book of Genesis, particularly in the stories of sibling tension. Religious fervour is not going to disappear – that’s a secularist fantasy, he says. On the contrary, the 21st century shall witness a ‘de-secularisation of society,’ and instead of regarding the decline of religious faith as the answer to violence, we should return to the sources of faith for solutions. Please watch the video to join us for this powerful discussion.

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