Thursday, March 15, 2001

The Powers That Be

by Walter Wink

Stand back, I'm gonna toss this one in the Elbe river. But before I do, I suppose I should mention the two very good points about this book. The first is the thought that everything has a spiritual dimension to it. Not only do people have a soul but also our organizations -- church bodies, corporations, nations. These are the "powers" referred to Ephesians 6:12 and a few other scripture passages. The second point is that these "powers that be" have a good, God given purpose, even if they've been twisted beyond redemption. (For example, Germany still needed a government after the Nazis were removed from power.) Okay, those are the two very good points. He also makes a good case for pacifism and non-violence. But I'm also sympathetic to that point of view, so I'm not as critical as one might be. So what's wrong with this book? What evil has the author done that makes me want to take his handiwork and dunk it? Well, basically, Walter Wink is, in my opinion, a bad theologian. He has developed a nice theory about a supreme evil power, the Domination System, and seems to interpret the Bible according to that theory. Those passages that fit in well with his theory are held up, those that would raise questions are either not mentioned or explained away. To be fair, the main thrust of the book is not to show how the Bible supports his theory. (Condemning violence, especially in combatting the evil of this world, stands out as the main point.) But for such a lover of scripture as I am, the sin of twisting scripture is nigh unforgivable. I can't really take any of his statements seriously, knowing that they are built, at least in part, on an interpretation of God's Word that I cannot abide. So this one's gone. (Oh, and I should mention that this book is a condensation of a trilogy of books previously written by Wink: Engaging the PowersUnmasking the Powers, and Naming the Powers)

LibraryThing link


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