It is hard to make your adversaries real people unless you recognize yourself in them—in which case, if you don't watch out, they cease to be adversaries.

The Habit of Being: Letters of Flannery O'Connor

Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process he does not become a monster.

Friedrich Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Unity will always be something imposed from outside rather than growing from within: and so it comes about that states need enemies.

Rowan Williams, "Politics and the Soul: A Reading of The City of God"

During times of war, hatred becomes quite respectable, even though it has to masquerade often under the guise of patriotism.

Howard Thurman, Jesus and the Disinherited

As christians, we must develop a will to embrace and be reconciled with our enemy. This will to embrace is absolutely unconditional. There is no imaginable deed that should take a person outside our will to embrace him, because there is no imaginable deed that can take a person out of God's will to embrace humanity—which is what I think is inscribed in big letters in the narrative of the Cross of Christ.

Miroslav Volf,

All wars are civil wars, because all men are brothers . …Each one owes infinitely more to the human race than to the particular country in which he was born.

François Fénelon, quoted at A.Word.A.Day (

Our enemies can often correct our faults by their disparagement, just as the flattery of friends can corrupt us.

Augustine, Confessions

The gift our enemy may be able to bring us [is] to see aspects of ourselves that we cannot discover any other way than through our enemies. Our friends seldom tell us these things; they are our friends precisely because they are able to overlook or ignore this part of us. The enemy is thus not merely a hurdle to be leaped on the way to God. The enemy can be the way to God. We cannot come to terms with our shadow except through our enemies.

Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers

We too often have difficulty in loving our enemies precisely because we are afraid they might repent. Such was Jonah's problem . …Jonah is unable to cope with the loss of his enemies . …He would rather die than face a gracious God and the Ninevites as potential friends.

Gregory Jones, Embodying Forgiveness

Christ made peace with all our enemies too, on the cross. Let us bear witness to this peace to all.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Testament to Freedom

Related Elsewhere

Miroslav Volf is known for grappling with matters of loving and forgiving enemies. Christianity Today articles by or about Volf include:

To Embrace the EnemyIs reconciliation possible in the wake of such evil? (Sept. 21, 2001)
After the Grave in the AirTrue reconciliation comes not by ignoring justice nor by putting justice first, but by unconditional embrace. (Sept. 21, 2001)
Love Your Heavenly EnemyHow are we going to live eternally with those we can't stand now? (Oct. 23, 2000)

Past Reflections columns include:

Life After Christmas (December 26, 2001)
Love & Marriage (November 13, 2001)
The Word of God (October 22, 2001)
Leadership (October 11, 2001)
Suffering (September 13, 2001)
Change (August 14, 2001)
Living Tradition (July 18, 2001)
Sacred Spaces (June 11, 2001)
Friendship (May 17, 2001)
The Cross (Apr. 12, 2001)
The Quotable Stott (Apr. 27, 2001)

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