Christian suffering and martyrdom

An opportunity for forgiveness and reconciliation


  • Richard Howell


Forgiveness, reconciliation, suffering, martyrdom, violence, remembrance, Orissa, India


Dealing with the recent killings of Christians in Orissa, the Indian author maintains that forgiveness and reconciliation are proper Christian responses to suffering and martyrdom. The Early Church lived this by God’s superhuman power and was marked by holiness. Unfortunately, from the time of the medieval church a merger between violence and holiness has led to crusades, post-Reformation religious wars, the Conquista in Latin America and the shedding of blood of Christians by Christians eg. in Rwanda. However, there were Christians strongly objecting this. A brief survey of other religions also shows a merger between violence and holiness. Christians must not let evil succeed by responding with violence and retribution but must try to overcome evil with good by letting the cross of Christ shape their relationships with others. How should the Church remember and respond to the suffering experienced? The memories must be interpreted within the Christian world view, the wrongdoing must be publicly and truthfully remembered, condemmed and forgiven. In the battle against evil, even against evil in one’s own culture, the Church needs inter-church community.

Author Biography

Richard Howell

Dr Richard Howell of New Delhi/India, was the co-convenor of the Bad Urach Consultation “Developing an evangelical theology of suffering, persecution and martyrdom” held on 16–18 September 2009 in Germany, where he presented this paper. He is the General Secretary of the Asia Evangelical Alliance (AEA) and of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI). He is a member of the Global Christian Forum (GCF) and was principal of the Allahabad Bible Seminary in Uttar Pradesh, India, from 1990 to 1996. He holds an MA and BD from India, a ThM from Canada and a PhD from Holland.