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The Powers That be: Theology for a New Millennium Hardcover – 1 Jan 1998

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group; 1 edition (1 Jan. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385487401
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385487405
  • Product Dimensions: 1.9 x 14.6 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,637,900 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

About the Author

Dr. Walter Wink is Professor Emeritus of Biblical Interpretation at Auburn Theological Seminary in New York City. He received the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Prize, awarded by the Fellowship of Reconciliation for 2006. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is not new, neither are the insights; the message is not time worn but new for each generation facing forces that threaten to deprive people of respect, dignity and a right to self expression.Walter Wink traces the 'domination factor' in family relationships, politics and the life of multinational companies which subtly push people into an unhealthy acceptance of non humane values. His notion that all 'systems' have a kind of soul that expresses itself in being either for the common welfare or self interest and control lies at the root of so many enterprises in society.He shows how the Christian message is tied into the empowerment Jesus gave by offering ways of non-violent resistance which preserve dignity for people considered lesser. Behind the scripture words and phrases are subtleties we don't see until they are opened up for us. Wink does this, in thesame way as Jesus lived out the fatal consequences of standing up to the bullies.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a challenging and powerful book. There is great depth and detail and so it is difficult for a short review to do it justice
The primary message is that Jesus preached and lived a nonviolent gospel. But this leads to the recognition that (other than in the first few centuries) the Church has mostly embraced militarism.
Wink reviews the roots of Just War thinking and finds them wanting (no war can really be said to fulfill the criteria) but he also considers Pacifism and concludes that too often Pacifists have taken a weak, passive approach far removed from the active response Jesus counseled.
Drawing on the practical out workings of a non violent approach adopted by King and Gandhi, Wink sets out how Jesus rejected Violence but advocated active resistance to evil. And he also sets out how the Christian command to love enemies is incompatible with lethal force.
Wink is a realist and addresses the suspicion that the advocates of non-violence are cowards. He quotes Gandhi who demanded that his recruits to the non-violent struggle should be at least as brave as the soldiers who were willing to fight and die; rejecting violence is not necessarily a way to personal safety.
But in non-violent struggle there is hope, as enemies can be changed and a new order built on firm foundations, in stark contrast to violent revolution, which generally deposes one tyrant who is then replaced by another.
And of course this is not mere theory- a review of history shows how non violent struggle has achieved phenomenal success in such places as S Africa, the US and Eastern Europe.
The question remains as to why the mainline Churches seem to have rejected the way of Jesus.
Read more ›
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Format: Paperback
Wink's argument is passionate, reasonable, and convincing. Non-violent resistance has always been the Christian response to injustice, and now that force of courageous compassion is re-shaping the world. Wink's accounts of the great democratic revolutions of the 1980s and 90s give inspiring tribute to a growing movement for partnership, which is sweeping away the old "powers that be". He shows how Jesus' dream for the world is practical, doable, and just good sense. "God's domination-free order", he feels confident, will prevail.

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
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VERY INTERESTING BOOK.......LOTS OF ANSWERS....LOTS OF QUESTIONS....I WILL BE LOOKING FOR MORE....
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x958f69e4) out of 5 stars 56 reviews
116 of 122 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9590d57c) out of 5 stars A profoundly important book 20 Jun. 2002
By Kerry Walters - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I had to pick the best theology books of the past twenty-five years, Walter Wink's *Powers that Be* would be close to the top of the list. It does nothing less than revolutionize the way Christians have come to think of their role in the world. But when I say "revolutionize," what I really mean--and this is Wink's contention as well--is that it "reminds" Christians of the original message brought by Jesus and accepted by the early Church. And that message is that nonviolence, not violence, is not only what God expects, but also what ultimately works in the world.
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.
81 of 85 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x973e5ad4) out of 5 stars Sometimes less is more. 10 Sept. 1999
By James A. Shields - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
"The Powers That Be" is a condensed version of "Engaging the Powers." I read "Engaging The Powers" first and found it very dense in the sense that I had to read a bit and ponder, read a bit and ponder. "The Powers That Be" moves much faster, perhaps because I was already tuned into the themes, but I do think that in this case, less is more. Wink's treatment of the two theories of the Atonement should be required reading for pastors and Sunday School teachers. Several years ago I was teaching teens and a kid asked me what it means when we say that Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins. It struck me like a thunderbolt that I had no idea what those words mean when I knew I should. That's the "blood theory" of the Atonement. I held the "Christus Victor" view of the Atonement but I did not posess the framework nor the knowledge of the historical context to answer the kid's question. The notion that God was so angry at our sinfulness that he demanded a ransom be paid and that no human was good enough so he supplied His own son to be tortured is rotten theology not to mention the "God as monster" image it portrays would make athiesm and "act of pur religion," as Wink says. Under "Christus Victor", God is loving and wants us to live as one in His Kingdom on earth. The Domination System prevents us from living that way, so this loving God appears to us in human form to show us how to defeat the Powers and Principalities which cause some of us to dominate others. Read the book!
81 of 88 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9655fda4) out of 5 stars A challenge to traditional Christian faith - Don't miss it! 25 May 2000
By Peter A. Kindle - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Wink has written a fascinating and readable book. This isheavy theology packaged for sale to a junk-food crowd. I recommend itwithout reservation.
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.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9590d9b4) out of 5 stars Excellent philosophical basis for activists 18 Jun. 2003
By Happy Camper - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I bought this book when it was recommended as "essential reading" at a peacemaking workshop. I found it invaluable in putting to rest my tendencies to demonize others, especially those in power, and to forego action because I was not blameless. This book proved the basis for me to regain my optimism about the possibility of acting in the world--acknowledging reality while remaining optimistic for change and social justice. I went out and bought 12 copies to give to influencers of policy, from Bill Clinton to fellow members of my Peace Covenant group. You don't have to believe in any particular dogma to get a lot out of this overview of ways to look at the world and to engage with it. I've already run out of copies and hope that more people read this book.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x9590db58) out of 5 stars Good & evil, war & peace-Wink deftly examines hard questions 26 Mar. 2003
By Three Crows - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This latest distillation of Wink's thinking about the problem of evil and the necessity of nonviolent action is a wonderful read. It is clearly written, would be a great focus for an adult Sunday School class, and uses terminology that even the theologically uneducated can comprehend. Not a lot of theology books are page turners that can be read in one sitting, but this one is (at just over 200 clearly written pages). Then you go back for more.
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.
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