The Powers That Be: Theology for the New Millenium

Book, 1998, 224 pp
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Walter Wink, professor of biblical interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary, offers challenging advice for congregations seeking to live out principles of compassion for the poor and oppressed. He reminds us that all of life (including institutional systems) should bring forward God’s kingdom and serve all persons. Congregations and denominations are among the institutional powers that create order in our society.

Although such powers do enormous good, they also can do profound evil. By looking at the soul of an institution, one can discern whether it has served God's people or it has "fallen" and must be redeemed. Fallen powers seek their own welfare above that of others. They dominate others. They create an idol of something other than God. And in order to sustain their privileged position, they must rely on a culturally accepted hierarchy—maintained, however indirectly, by violence.

While Wink argues that Jesus opposed any forms of violence, he does not argue that people should simply surrender to domination. Rather, he finds in Jesus' teachings a way to unmask the powers for what they are and offer opportunities for redemption. Through their actions and prayers, people of faith can unmask these fallen powers and return them to God’s will for the benefit of all.

This book may be useful to congregations involved in social action and justice, congregations interested in examining how they can be "in the world but not of the world," and congregations seeking to clarify their positions on domination, violence, or war.

This book is a condensed version of the Trilogy: Naming the Powers, Unmasking the Powers, Engaging the Powers
PublisherPenguin Random House

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