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Episode Info:

"For me, it was always a challenge, on the one hand, to honor what I was feeling—the rage that was inside against injustice—but on the other hand, to honor the beauty of the Christian faith that has a particular way of dealing with these kinds of situations which is a reconciliation through embrace of the enemy." 

For theologian Miroslav Volf, it's important that a theologian stand in the fissures—the cracks of human life—helping to mend and tie and heal the fractures that characterize that life, directing humanity back to its telos—its animating purpose and ultimate goal. Volf is the Henry B. Wright Professor of Systematic Theology at Yale Divinity School and founding director of the Yale Center for Faith and Culture. He was educated in his native Croatia, the United States, and Germany, earning doctoral and post‑doctoral degrees with highest honors from the University of Tubingen in Germany. He has written or edited more than 20 books and over 90 scholarly articles, including Exclusion and Embrace: A Theological Exploration of Identity, Otherness, and Reconciliation, The End of Memory: Remembering Rightly in a Violent World, and his latest, co-authored with Matthew Croasmun, For the Life of the World: Theology That Makes a Difference.In this interview, Volf reflects on the challenge of living a theology in the fissures of life; the often irreducible complexity of human experience; how Volf's own biography and personal experience with oppression during the Cold War impacted his theology; the centrality of memory to forgiveness; and the importance of living as a porous, open self—open to encountering and embracing the other.

Show Notes

  • 3:23—On having an eros for theology.
  • 5:13—A Kingdom of God theology: on the public and the private. “I want to make sure though that on the public theology, we understand something that spans the space between the most intimate desires of our hearts to the largest structures that shape the character of our world, that all is in the purview of theology.”
  • 7:17—On theology as more than intellectual puzzles. “I think theology has puzzles, as I said, but it is about the mystery of God, the mystery of human existence together with God.”
  • 9:25—On the job of the theologian. “It's living with this fissure. It's bridging this gap. It's leading the world to that for which it has been created, that it is a job of a theologian.”
  • 12:32—A short biography of Miroslav Volf: “In some ways, I can say that in this regard my theology is trying to articulate their lives in theological terms and make the lives of these people who have shaped me and my vision, make these lives speak to others.”
  • 14:30—On God’s grace even through the suffering.
  • 16:22—A lie that saved the Volf family. “God of truth delivering him through a lie, that too was successfully told, that was also his experience.”
  • 18:31—Ad Break: “Charting a Course Through Grief” A free 8-week ecourse with a variety helpful resources on grief.—On unjust interrogations, rage, and enemy love.
  • 24:00—“Love of enemy is the fundamental Christian command. You take love of enemy out of Christian faith, you un-Christian Christian. There cannot be Christian faith without love of enemy. That's, I think, at the foundation, not as a moralizing stance but as a character of God and therefore as a demand and as an opportunity for us as human beings.”
  • 25:06—On forgiveness and reconciliation.
  • 27:04—Created in the image of exclusion: on being formed by and treating others with exclusion.
  • 30:22—On the self and the other. “Open to the other means open to interactive exchanges with the other, which change you in the process of engaging the other.”
  • 32:13—“This is a story of our lives at varieties of levels. I think this kind of openness to the other, this kind of sense of sturdy self that can change and yet remain itself is what we need to nurture, which is just a different way of saying of being lovingly open to another and finding one's identity in love toward the other.”
  • 33:59—On reconciliation, memory, and suffering.
  • 33:59—“Memory is central to forgiveness because forgiveness concerns the past”
  • 36:11—“There is a tendency to being completely absorbed by suffering, to think that the entirety of the identity of the perpetrator consists in having inflicted suffering on you, that the entirety of your own identity consists in having suffered that injury.”
  • 37:52—On the cross as communion for both perpetrators and victims.
  • 39:34—On suffering, abandonment, and hope.
  • 41:26—“There is no intellectually compelling answer to the experience of living either on Friday or on Saturday. We have to live it through, and it's only at the end of our lives and of the history that the story can be told in such a way that the suffering has not been fully senseless. I believe that that's part of Christian faith and Christian hope, Christian living with non‑understanding in the midst of suffering in which one finds oneself, in the hope that despite my non‑understanding, God is present and will lead me through the suffering to Resurrection.”


  • Hosted and produced by Evan Rosa
  • A resource of the Biola University Center for Christian Thought, which is sponsored by generous grants from the John Templeton Foundation, Templeton Religion Trust, and The Blankemeyer Foundation
  • Theme music by The Brilliance
  • Production and Engineering by the Narrativo Group. More info at
  • Edited and mixed by TJ Hester
  • Production Assistance by Kaleb Cohen
  • Follow: @EvanSubRosa / @BiolaCCT /

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