- Paperback: 240 pages
- Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell; New edition edition (1 Jun. 2000)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0385487525
- ISBN-13: 978-0385487528
- Product Dimensions: 13.9 x 1.7 x 20.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 312,860 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Powers That be: Theology for a New Millennium Paperback – 1 Jun 2000
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Top Customer Reviews
--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Wink argues that humans live under "domination systems"--the "powers and principalities that be." These are the structural and ideological institutions that manipulate our minds, lives, and activities, reduce our freedom, and retard our flourishing. As Christians, we're called to resist them without buying into the "myth of redemptive violence"--the centuries' old chestnut that violence is the only kind of force that works, and that because it works it justifies itself. Jesus showed an alternative way--the path of nonviolent resistance.
In examining nonviolent resistance, Wink is masterful. He persuasively destroys the stereotype of nonviolence as a turn-the-other-cheek passivity by exploring what Jesus really meant when he advocated cheek-turning or walking the second mile. Along the way, he offers one of the most insightful analysis of the post-Jesus "just war doctrine" I've ever read. Wink is realistic enough to not completely reject the doctrine. But he does suggest that we quit using it as a justification for war and begin thinking of it instead in terms of "violence-reduction criteria."
An amazing book that every Christian ought to read and meditate on, particularly now that the dogs of war are baying loudly. I give it ten stars.
The essence of Wink's thought revolves around "redemptive violence," the belief that "violence saves." The powers Wink engages are those which employ violence to maintain their dominance. This dominace of violence, ranging from literal torture and death to softer forms of humiliation and degradation, are described as the explicit focus of Jesus' life and message. His death, rather than being a violent appeasement of a blood-thirsty God, is revealed as the only nonviolent means of defeating the powers - embracing the unjust suffering of violence as a means of bringing humiliation and reproach to the powerful.
Those looking for an exegetical analysis of Jesus' sayings may be initially frustrated by Wink. He uses biblical references as illustrations, not proof texts, and his imagination frequently stretches the limits of "proper" hermeneutics. Nonetheless, his imagination captures the spiritual essence of Jesus' call for nonviolent opposition to evil in a powerful and convincing manner.
Those hoping for a manual of social activisim will be frustrated by Wink, also. His calls for personal reform and renewal as much as he calls for political change. Most of his psychological musings are clearly derived from CG Jung, but seem to be written by one who has found Jung's insights personally meaningful.
In conclusion, I must commend Wink for his short essay on worldviews and how our unconscious adoption/indoctrination into a worldview influences all that we think and believe. I also commend his analysis of prayer, especially in this worldview context.
As a "recovering fundamentalist" I believe this book may prove to be one of the major pillars in my personal attempt to rebuild my faith. I simply loved it.
How do we think about organizations or nations that do bad things? What are the real demons of the world? Why do wars occur? What is the theory behind nonviolence, and why should Christians understand it? Wink takes some broad, deep and meaningful issues and manages to make cogent arguments in short, simple terminology. I particularly found his discussion of "just war" theology to be helpful.
This is one that I'll refer to again and again as I write sermons and do my own theological discernment. Every pastor should own it, and I highly recommend it to lay persons as well.