Water Mosaic echoes from home

pondering the mysteries, simplicity, and humor of life

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The Powers That Be

Over the past week, I've been reading Walter Wink's book The Powers That Be. In his summary of his own masterfully crafted trilogy, Wink describes a theology for a new millennium. The Powers That Be are not just people who are in charge, as we might quickly assume, but they are the systems themselves, the institutions and structures that knit society in a tightly woven garment of power and relationships. Not only are The Powers That Be people or institutions, but they are spiritual. Their spiritual makeup lies within the core of these structures. In Wink's mind, "there is nothing, from DNA to the United Nations, that does not have God at its core. Everything has a spiritual aspect. Everything is answerable to God."

For the Apostle Paul this is what he could have meant when he spoke of "principalities and powers." Maybe Paul wasn't necessarily speaking about disembodied spirits inhabiting our atmosphere, but institutions, structures, and systems. The Powers are both invisible and visible, earthly and heavenly. Even though these Powers That Be were created for goodwill, many have prostituted their intent for greed, power, harm, oppression, etc. When the Powers integrate themselves around idolatrous values and principles, we get what is called the Domination System. The task then becomes unmasking their idolatry and recalling the Powers to their original purposes in the world.

How interesting is it that God wants the ekklesia (assembly) to perform this task, even though it is fallen as well? God not only liberates people from these Powers, but liberates the Powers from their destructive behavior as well. Thus redemption occurs as these Powers are freed from their bondage of idolatry and renew their created function.

It seems as though another CEO of a titan telecommuncations clan has fallen. Bernard Ebbers, former CEO of WorldCom was found guilty in a Manhattan courtroom of all nine counts of orchestrating $11 billion fraud that banktrupted his own company. He now faces a sentence that could land him in prison for life. Just another story of the fallen Powers corrupting those within its system and how they fail to serve the common man.