Friday, October 28, 2016

Some Theses on the Church in North America Today (6)

6.    After living, faithful relationships with the triune God, the church in North America, perhaps the next most important thing for us to come to terms with is what St. Paul calls “the principalities and powers” (or something close to that in his letters). These realities (whether one conceptualizes them as beings or forces or both is less important that acknowledging their reality) are neither demons or angels (fallen or otherwise). They seem to comprise a class of spiritual realities with a particular divine mandate. The “powers”

a.    are created by God (Col.1:16) to establish and sustain conditions for the flourishing of human life;
b.    have rebelled against God seeking to rule creation themselves distorting and destroying human life (Eph.6:12);
c.    were defeated by Christ on the cross (Col.2:15);
d.    are being pacified by Christ back to their created purpose through the life and ministry of the church (Eph.3:10-11; Col.1:20);
e.    that their futile but continued resistance to God’s will and way in the world is the focus of the church’s mission (Eph.3:10-11; 6:10-12).

This means we are not alone. God designed suprahuman realities to make and keep human life human. When they went wrong, however, those conditions and structures for human life were distorted and became dehumanizing and dangerous. Rebellious humanity became enslaved to these rogue powers and subject to the inhumane conditions and institutions that comprise life in a fallen world.

f.     Sin, then, is an alien power that has us in a death grip. Sins are the symptoms of our slavery to sin. Salvation is thus more than the forgiveness of personal sins but also Jesus’ breaking the power of sin’s death grip on us.
g.    It also means pacifying those defeated powers and beginning to put in place patterns and structures that reflect the freedom and care for others Jesus embodied and calls his people to embody as well.
h.    Sin is both personal and structural, needs both forgiveness and setting right, is found in both the bedroom and the boardroom and every sphere of life in between.
i.     The foes of the church as God’s Subversive Counter-Revolutionary Movement are these spiritual powers still resisting (however futilely) God’s will and way. Not the human beings who continue to live under their sway and dominance. They are sin’s victims as much as those they victimize and need God’s forgiveness and reconciliation too.

j.     Recovering this awareness of the larger horizon of sin as woven into the warp and woof of life on all levels is crucial to the faithfulness of the church.

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