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The powers that be : theology for a new…

The powers that be : theology for a new millennium

by Walter Wink

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    Powers, Weakness, and the Tabernacling of God by Marva J. Dawn (StephenBarkley)
    StephenBarkley: Dawn and Wink both approach "the powers" from different perspectives. Wink's more sociological, while Dawn's more exegetical.

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Based on his reading of the Bible and analysis of the world around him, a biblical scholar develops a way of viewing ancient concepts, such as heaven, hell, angels, and demons, in light of modern experience and in a way accessible to all peoples.
  Priory | Aug 29, 2013 |
The Powers that Be is a digest of Wink's Trilogy on the Principalities and Powers. After years of seeing Wink's name curiously sprinkled through the footnotes of other books I've read, I finally decided to read him for myself.

His big idea is this: spiritual evil does not consist of fallen angels named demons who, as individual entities, drag things south. Instead, every entity on earth—people, churches, corporations, nations—has a spiritual identity. These principalities and powers often turn from their God-subjected role and need to be redeemed. This redemption happens through non-violent but often confrontational means.

His description of spiritual evil reminded me of Ellul's view in The Subversion of Christianity where evil is not a distinct entity on its own, but only has power as it aligns itself with humanity.

Wink's theory of Principalities and Powers resonates with our world quite accurately. He often fails, however, on basic exegetical grounds. For instance, in order to encourage people to stand up for themselves non-violently, he interprets the Sermon on the Mount's "turn the other cheek" passage to mean people should proudly assert their defiance to the Powers.

The most disturbing part of the book was the last chapter. In it he used the Daniel account of an angel being delayed to state that God is often powerless to intervene and that it is our job to wake him up! Here are a couple relevant passages:

"We will recognize that God, too, is hemmed in by forces that cannot simply be overruled. ... Prayer in the face of the Powers is a spiritual war of attrition. When we fail to pray, God's hands are effectively tied."

"In our prayer we are ordering God to bring the kingdom near. ... Prayer is rattling God's cage and waking God up and setting God free and giving this famished God water and this starved God food and cutting the ropes off God's hands and the manacles off God's feet and washing the caked sweat from God's eyes and then watching God swell with life and vitality and energy and following God wherever God goes."

In the last chapter in particular ("Prayer and the Powers"), Wink's deity sounds a lot more like Baal than YHWH.

This book is an easy read, and I would encourage you to give it a try if you're interested in this topic. Just make sure (as with any work) to leave your critical apparatus engaged. ( )
  StephenBarkley | Jun 22, 2011 |
My introduction to the idea of the spirit of institutions, and a thoughtful evangelical presentation of the issues. ( )
  iceT | May 18, 2009 |
This was a very easy read based on his powers trilogy. Gives one a good idea of the basic concepts without having to be a scholar or the interest of a scholar. It deals less with the powers themselves and more with how we are to engage the powers, namely - nonviolence. ( )
  adamtarn | May 2, 2009 |
A great summary of his trilocy ( )
  tcatchim | Mar 9, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0385487525, Paperback)

"Perhaps we are not accustomed to thinking of the Pentagon, or the Chrysler Corporation, or the Mafia as having a spirituality, but they do," writes Walter Wink. In The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium, Wink returns to the ancient view of a world filled with angels and demons, powers and principalities, and reinterprets these notions for contemporary people. Wink's book is a challenge for Christians to wake up and become dangerously different, by objecting to the Darwinian games of domination that prevail in many of our governments, corporations, and churches. The book also offers stunningly gracious comfort, by showing that we are all caught up in this game, that the game is even a part of our gift, and that as long as we live in the world, not a single one of us can be pure, but we're called, all of us, to be holy. --Michael Joseph Gross

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:38 -0400)

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