Christ and conflict : towards a theology of reconciliation with reference to Northern Ireland
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Societies burdened by the deep social and political divisions created by conflict struggle to move on from patterns of division, tension and mutual suspicion. Attitudes and negative beliefs about political opponents are made permanent parts of the social landscape by violence. Political settlements address the mechanics of governance and the organization of society, however, they fail to deal with the way deeply divided societies have evolved during the period of conflict. The cessation of violence and development of political solutions leaves in its wake many questions about how to tackle the injustices of the past and the reality of a divided society. The exploration of these questions and the attempt to address the challenge of deep divisions is central to any move towards reconciliation. The aim of this thesis is to offer a theological analysis of the political implications of the Christian doctrine of reconciliation. The discussion of reconciliation takes place within the context of Northern Ireland, a society burdened by deep divisions caused by decades of violent political conflict. By exploring a variety of models of reconciliation and attending to the particularities of the theology of reconciliation the analysis will attempt to develop a distinctively Christian interpretation of reconciliation and explain its meaning in the Northern Irish context. A discussion of the questions raised by justice and forgiveness will be given significant attention since these two themes are central to any attempt to address the past and move beyond deep societal divisions to a shared future.
Thesis, MPhil Master of Philosophy
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