Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name


Organizational Unit

Joint Ph.D. Program in Study of Religion

First Advisor

Katherine Turpin, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Antony Alumkal

Third Advisor

Alan Gilbert


Nonviolence, Oppression, Privilege, Social change, Solidarity, Violence


This dissertation uses a practical theological approach to evaluate Christian (non)violence in light of interviews with twelve scholars and activists in the United States about the means of social change and the relationship of those means to social location. Social location conditions an understanding of what violence is and how different groups justify and respond to various uses of violence and (non)violence within society and for social change. The project sets Christian (non)violent practice within the context of direct, structural and cultural violence, and implicates Christian tradition, theology and practice in each level of violence. The qualitative data exposes the rationalizing mechanisms of the dominant culture's violence: the denial of violence; the reversal of the perpetrators of violence, and; the entitlements of privileged social location. When Christian (non)violence emerges from a dominant social location and does not address these levels and mechanisms of violence, it functions ideologically to obscure the operation of political and economic power, maintains the violence and privilege of those in power, thereby undermining fundamental social transformation. Interviewee data also portrays a comprehensive constellation of effective practices of social change, be they violent or (non)violent, that destabilize the dominant trajectory of rationalizing violence. Emergent qualitative perspectives on questions and practices of organized violence and (non)violence point towards renewed Christian praxis for social transformation. The practical theological model offers an approach to social change which values: practices determined in the context of social struggle over theological abstractions; collective modes of action that undermine individualism; disruption over pacification; and self-critical, Christian solidarity that welcomes differences in belief regarding the justifiability of various means of social change.

Publication Statement

Copyright is held by the author. User is responsible for all copyright compliance.

Rights Holder

Julie Marie Todd


Received from ProQuest

File Format




File Size

345 p.


Theology, Peace studies

Included in

Christianity Commons