Religion and Violence: A Dialectical Engagement through the Insights of Bernard Lonergan

By Dominic Arcamone

A study of religious violence that seeks to identify the more authentic traditions within religion that provide a solution to conflict rather than its cause.

ISBN: 9780227175712


The aim of Religion and Violence is to engage dialectically key symbols of religiously motivated violence through the insights of Bernard Lonergan. Sociologists and psychologists argue the link between religion and violence. Religion is viewed more as part of the problem and not part of the solution to violence. Bernard Lonergan’s insights have helped the author arrive at a number of conclusions regarding the link between religion and violence. He argues that there is a difference between distorted religion and genuine religion, between authenticity and inauthenticity of the subject. Distorted religion has the capacity to shape traditions in ways that justify violence, while genuine religion heals persons, helps them make different moral decisions when confronted with situations of conflict, and aims to explore new ways of understanding themselves as shaping history toward progress.

Further, Religion and Violence, while arguing from within the Catholic Christian tradition, nevertheless seeks to provide a number of categories that will speak to people from other cultural traditions. Since many of the examples of religious violence cited by commentators come out of the Islamic tradition, the author has evidenced and explored more authentic aspects of the Islamic tradition that would help provide a solution to violence.

Additional information

Dimensions229 × 153 mm


Trade InformationJPOD

About the Author

Dominic Arcamone works as a mission manager in healthcare. He has been a sessional lecturer for the Australian Catholic University since 2007 writing and teaching graduate and postgraduate courses in theological subjects. He has a BTh, MTh, MA (pastoral care), DMin, and PhD. His theological reflection has been enhanced through integrating the insights of the Canadian philosopher and theologian Bernard Lonergan. Since the events of 9/11, he has focused on the problem of religion and violence.



1. Why Draw on the Insights of Bernard Lonergan?
2. A Selective Literature Review
3. Lonergan, Religion, and Violence
4. A Dialectical Engagement with Cosmic War: Cosmos
5. A Dialectical Engagement with Cosmic War: Warfare
6. A Constructive Engagement with Warfare
7. A Dialectical Engagement with Martyrdom
8. A Dialectical Engagement with Demonization
9. A Dialectical Engagement with Warrior Empowerment
10. Conclusions



Endorsements and Reviews

Drawing on Lonergan’s normative framework, Arcamone explodes the myth that religion and violence are inextricably linked. He challenges studies of religion to move beyond merely empirical accounts to find the beating heart of religion in experiences of transcendent love and meaning. But this is also a challenge to all religions to engage in self-purification to address the distortions that promote violence. Only then can religion be a force for healing in a troubled world.
Neil Ormerod, Professor of Theology, Australian Catholic University

Dominic Arcamone takes titans of religious thought – René Girard, Charles Taylor, and most significantly, Bernard Lonergan – and brings their insights to bear as he explores the relationship between religion and violence. It is at once an engaging, dialectical, and constructive piece of scholarship in which he examines symbols of cosmic war, martyrdom, demonization, and warrior empowerment. Arcamone’s timely work offers a much-needed and highly nuanced framework that enables one to discern between authentic and inauthentic religious claims about violence.
Rohan Curnow, Academic Registrar, Professor Extraordinarius of Dogmatic Theology, Catholic Institute of Sydney

Dominic Arcamone tackles the oft-avoided relationship between violence and religion with care, intelligence, and a genuine concern to effectively communicate complex ideas. Addressing the dangerous ideas of the attraction of violence and war and its influence on religious imagination, Religion and Violence critically examines notions of legitimate authority, justice, right intentions, and their cumulative impact on action … Religion and Violence is the fruit of creativity born from sustained hard work. Truly a book for our times.
Francis Collins, Acting Director, Catholic Enquiry Centre, Australian Catholic Bishops Conference