Violent Messiahs

Dan McKanan

in Identifying the Image of God

Published in print November 2002 | ISBN: 9780195145328
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199834471 | DOI:

Series: Religion in America

 Violent Messiahs

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This concluding chapter traces the decline of nonviolent theology as social reformers invested messianic hopes in a series of individuals – Frederick Douglass, John Brown, and Abraham Lincoln – who were willing to use violence to bring about social change. Douglass was certainly a radical Christian liberal, though he advocated a limited use of violence to achieve radical liberal ends. Brown blended some radical liberal themes with a strong emphasis on apocalyptic violence and an orthodox understanding of God's overarching providence. But it was Lincoln who helped the entire nation to see God's presence in the violence of the Civil War rather than the nonviolent actions of individual reformers. The popular Christological interpretation of Lincoln's death pushed radical Christian liberalism to the sideline of the American consciousness.

Keywords: John Brown; Christian; Christology; Civil War; Douglass; Lincoln; liberalism; violence

Chapter.  24731 words. 

Subjects: Christianity

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