Violence and Nonviolence in Scripture: Helping Children Understand Challenging Stories

July 2019

by Catherine Maresca

Every once in a while a project I’ve been working on for a number of years comes to fruition. This project is now published! It began when I was at an interdenominational conference for Christian Children and Youth Ministers in 2012 . The question was posed to a panel on Children and Violence, “How do you present violent scriptures to young children?” The entire group of participants leaned forward as if to say, “Yes, that is my question too.” And the panelists had no answer. Some were experts in scripture, others in nonviolence, and others in children. None were able to speak to all three together.

Sitting in the middle of the participants I felt a tremendous stirring inside. I know about this! As a Christian committed to the nonviolent path of Jesus, using the Catechesis of the Good Shepherd for over thirty years, I had been teasing out an approach to the violence of key stories of Sacred History. My partners had been groups of children who loved the healing, peace and unity of God’s Kingdom and who were dismayed by the apparent violence of God. Their collective wisdom and faith is the source material of this book.

The book is based on several premises:

  •  God is not violent and does not call us to violence.
  •  The method as well as the content of our work with children must be nonviolent.
  •  As Christian educators we begin with Jesus, and through the lens of his revelation of God we read the Bible with children.
  •  We must wrestle with the key texts of Sacred History, always seeking evidence of God’s nonviolence within the violence of the human community.
  •  Children’s insights into these texts are inspired and deepen the understanding of the church.

Now that the book is “born” I realize my work is not at all over. I’d like to bring its message to Christian educators of children both within and beyond the CGS community. I’m seeking places to send promotional copies (for resource lists or published reviews) and opportunities to write and speak on this topic. I welcome your contacts and suggestions to extend the reach of Violence and Nonviolence in Scriptures.

My working title for the book was Abraham Disarmed. Since so many of us see ourselves as faith descendants of Abraham and Sarah, we need to allow the angel of God to remove the knife from our own hands as she did with Abraham. To see Abraham embracing Isaac rather than ready to kill him is to take away the implicit precedent for any of us to kill for the sake of God. While the publishers changed the title the cover art has grasped the heart of the book. Let us all be disarmed, and help the children we serve become peacemakers.

You can order two or more books this month for $10 each (one is $13). If you would like a review copy to promote the book in a publication, or suggest it for a conference, please email me at catherine@cctheo.org.

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