Compassion Or Apocalypse?

Compassion Or Apocalypse?

A comprehensible guide to the thoughts of René Girard

How René Girard changes the way we think about God and the Bible, and its relevance for our apocalypse-threatened world.


René Girard’s thesis that culture and religion arose from an original act of scapegoating murder gained international scholarly attention in the early seventies with his publication in France of “Violence and the Sacred.” A few years later, with “Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World,” Girard made it clear that his basic insights derived – of all places – from the Bible. Those insights are finally escaping the confines of academia, and coming to the awareness of a broader, theologically minded public. Many people are beginning to find in Girard answers to troublesome questions such as: Is God violent? Is there a necessary relationship between violence and religion? Why are there so many violent stories in the Bible? Why did Jesus have to die? Are we living in the “end times?” In clear, understandable prose, Compassion or Apocalypse shows how the Girardian perspective answers such questions, making Girard’s “mimetic theory” and its application to biblical interpretation available to those who have little or no familiarity with Girard’s work. To read the Bible from a Girardian point of view is to discover the radical message of God’s nonviolent love in its historical wrestling with human violence, and its immanent confrontation with the gathering human apocalypse.


I'm convinced that the seminal work of Rene Girard is the single most promising and productive contemporary resource capable of stimulating fresh readings of the Bible, constructive critical thought about Christian theology and practice, and incisive inducement to productive activism. Several scholars are engaging productively with Girard's thought, but James Warren has written the best popular introduction and overview - substantial and thorough yet accessible and delightfully written. ~ Brian McLaren

This book takes the powerful hermeneutic of violence developed by Girard and asks in straightforward terms what this means for our actual world. Will we blow ourselves up, or will we transform the nature of what it is to be human beings on this planet? Both are possible outcomes, but no other Girardian writer has laid out the trajectory of Girard's thought so well and then shown it to issue consistently in either of these very divergent alternatives. Jim Warren adds significantly to the Girardian conversation by highlighting this crucial issue of possible outcomes and doing so in terms a layperson will grasp. ~ Anthony Bartlett

Very well written, and exceptionally clearly explained. A really solid, well-constructed and readable introduction to Girard's thought and how it might impact particularly Evangelical and broader Protestant readers in North America and the UK. ~ James Alison

James Warren
James Warren James Warren holds an M.Div. degree, and works as a professional speaker. He presents "Magic With A Message" programs to schools across the ...
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