Despite predictions of continuing secularisation, the twenty-first century has witnessed a surge of religious extremism and violence in the name of God.
In this powerful and timely book, Jonathan Sacks explores the roots of violence and its relationship to religion, focusing on the historic tensions between the three Abrahamic faiths: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.
Drawing on arguments from evolutionary psychology, game theory, history, philosophy, ethics and theology, Sacks shows how a tendency to violence can subvert even the most compassionate of religions. Through a close reading of key biblical texts at the heart of the Abrahamic faiths, Sacks then challenges those who claim that religion is intrinsically a cause of violence, and argues that theology must become part of the solution if it is not to remain at the heart of the problem.
This book is a rebuke to all those who kill in the name of the God of life, wage war in the name of the God of peace, hate in the name of the God of love, and practise cruelty in the name of the God of compassion.
For the sake of humanity and the free world, the time has come for people of all faiths and none to stand together and declare: Not In God's Name.
Chief rabbi emeritus of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth, Jonathan Sacks (Covenant & Conversation) turns his prodigious intellect to deconstructing the mechanisms of religious violence. This well-researched tome spans human life, from the birth of human communities and discussions of the mechanics of social cohesion, to contemporary issues of terrorism and the healing work of recent popes. Weaving in the anthropological contributions of monotheism against the fractious lethality of dualism, Sacks dissects our civilization in crisis through the prism of anti-Semitism. If tyrants can convince others that their faith, their values, their God is under attack, Sacks argues, then they have a potent paranoiac cocktail for sustaining repression, and unleashing the dangerous "altruistic evil" that arose in Nazi Germany and that we see in terrorist attacks today. But if Judaism, Christianity, and Islam can overcome their "sibling rivalry" which Sacks dismantles in a fresh interpretation of Genesis these monotheistic religions can again offer a generative, life-affirming model of moral cohesion in our postmodern world. Sacks displays his wide learning and empathy in service of an ambitious, ingenious worldview. We'd all be wise to listen.