Faith and power

Events have unfolded recently that confirm how seeking power and keeping power control events of the day around the world. When I speak of power in this context, I mean “coercive power”.

Groups and nations vie for power over others in a constantly spiraling series of violent confrontations. Nations and groups that already hold power over others or “imperial” power vie to keep it. What do religions have to say about that?

I can only speak as a Christian. People of other faiths can speak for themselves, but most faiths have a special place and advocacy for the powerless.

Mark L. Taylor is a modern Christian theologian. He captured a core value of Christianity that we sometimes forget or disregard in our relationship to power.

Taylor wrote: “Jesus died the victim of executioners with imperial power. There is an inescapable opposition between the life and death of Jesus and imperial power. To embrace and love the executed G_d is to be in resistance to empire. To be a follower of the executed Jesus of Nazareth is to venture down a road without having a place in the system of imperial control.”

Too many times, however, we Christians have attempted to be on the side of empire and not the side of the victims of imperial power. We are really supposed to be in opposition to oppression and empire building. When the head of the Roman Catholic Church spoke words in that vein, he was labeled a “communist” when, in fact, he was repeating the words of the Nazarene rabbi that stared it all, who asked where we were when we saw Him hungry, naked, homeless, imprisoned or a stranger.

Taylor was on target when he wrote that there is an inescapable opposition between the followers of Jesus ben Joseph and imperial power.

The question remains, however, what are we going to do about it? More about that at a later time.

Grace and peace.


About tpurchasesnj

I am a Presbyterian minister. I am also a former military chaplain. It has always been important to me to examine the impact that religion has on the public sector. That is the purpose of this blog; to explore the ways that religion intersects the market place.
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