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The Powers That Be: Theology for a New Millennium Paperback – March 16, 1999

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Editorial Reviews Review

"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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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In our fast-paced secular world, God and theologyare second-class citizens. Money, politics, sports, and science seem better suited to thehard realities of our world. As the church steeple has been eclipsed by the skyscraper as the centerpiece of the urban landscape, so has the divine realm been set aside in favor of more immediate human experience. One sad consequence of this shift is the loss of spiritual and theological bearings, most clearly evident in our inability to understand or speak about such things. If the old way of viewing the universe no longer works, something else has to replace it.

The Powers That Be reclaims the divine realm as central to human existence by offering new ways of understanding our world in theological terms. Walter Wink reformulates ancient concepts, such as God and the devil, heaven and hell, angels and demons, principalities and powers, in light of our modern experience. He helps us see heaven and hell, sin and salvation, and the powers that shape our lives as tangible parts of our day-to-day experience, rather than as mysterious phantoms. Based on his reading of the Bible and analysis of the world around him, Wink creates a whole new language for talking about and to God. Equipped with this fresh world view, we can embark on a new relationship with God and our world into the next millennium. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Doubleday (April 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0385487525
  • ISBN-13: 978-0385487528
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #34,688 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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112 of 118 people found the following review helpful By Kerry Walters VINE VOICE on June 20, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
If I had to pick the best theology books of the past twenty-five years, Walter Wink's *Powers that Be* would be close to the top of the list. It does nothing less than revolutionize the way Christians have come to think of their role in the world. But when I say "revolutionize," what I really mean--and this is Wink's contention as well--is that it "reminds" Christians of the original message brought by Jesus and accepted by the early Church. And that message is that nonviolence, not violence, is not only what God expects, but also what ultimately works in the world.
Wink argues that humans live under "domination systems"--the "powers and principalities that be." These are the structural and ideological institutions that manipulate our minds, lives, and activities, reduce our freedom, and retard our flourishing. As Christians, we're called to resist them without buying into the "myth of redemptive violence"--the centuries' old chestnut that violence is the only kind of force that works, and that because it works it justifies itself. Jesus showed an alternative way--the path of nonviolent resistance.
In examining nonviolent resistance, Wink is masterful. He persuasively destroys the stereotype of nonviolence as a turn-the-other-cheek passivity by exploring what Jesus really meant when he advocated cheek-turning or walking the second mile. Along the way, he offers one of the most insightful analysis of the post-Jesus "just war doctrine" I've ever read. Wink is realistic enough to not completely reject the doctrine. But he does suggest that we quit using it as a justification for war and begin thinking of it instead in terms of "violence-reduction criteria."
An amazing book that every Christian ought to read and meditate on, particularly now that the dogs of war are baying loudly. I give it ten stars.
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77 of 81 people found the following review helpful By James A. Shields on September 10, 1999
Format: Paperback
"The Powers That Be" is a condensed version of "Engaging the Powers." I read "Engaging The Powers" first and found it very dense in the sense that I had to read a bit and ponder, read a bit and ponder. "The Powers That Be" moves much faster, perhaps because I was already tuned into the themes, but I do think that in this case, less is more. Wink's treatment of the two theories of the Atonement should be required reading for pastors and Sunday School teachers. Several years ago I was teaching teens and a kid asked me what it means when we say that Jesus sacrificed himself for our sins. It struck me like a thunderbolt that I had no idea what those words mean when I knew I should. That's the "blood theory" of the Atonement. I held the "Christus Victor" view of the Atonement but I did not posess the framework nor the knowledge of the historical context to answer the kid's question. The notion that God was so angry at our sinfulness that he demanded a ransom be paid and that no human was good enough so he supplied His own son to be tortured is rotten theology not to mention the "God as monster" image it portrays would make athiesm and "act of pur religion," as Wink says. Under "Christus Victor", God is loving and wants us to live as one in His Kingdom on earth. The Domination System prevents us from living that way, so this loving God appears to us in human form to show us how to defeat the Powers and Principalities which cause some of us to dominate others. Read the book!
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78 of 85 people found the following review helpful By Peter A. Kindle on May 25, 2000
Format: Paperback
Wink has written a fascinating and readable book. This isheavy theology packaged for sale to a junk-food crowd. I recommend itwithout reservation.
The essence of Wink's thought revolves around "redemptive violence," the belief that "violence saves." The powers Wink engages are those which employ violence to maintain their dominance. This dominace of violence, ranging from literal torture and death to softer forms of humiliation and degradation, are described as the explicit focus of Jesus' life and message. His death, rather than being a violent appeasement of a blood-thirsty God, is revealed as the only nonviolent means of defeating the powers - embracing the unjust suffering of violence as a means of bringing humiliation and reproach to the powerful.
Those looking for an exegetical analysis of Jesus' sayings may be initially frustrated by Wink. He uses biblical references as illustrations, not proof texts, and his imagination frequently stretches the limits of "proper" hermeneutics. Nonetheless, his imagination captures the spiritual essence of Jesus' call for nonviolent opposition to evil in a powerful and convincing manner.
Those hoping for a manual of social activisim will be frustrated by Wink, also. His calls for personal reform and renewal as much as he calls for political change. Most of his psychological musings are clearly derived from CG Jung, but seem to be written by one who has found Jung's insights personally meaningful.
In conclusion, I must commend Wink for his short essay on worldviews and how our unconscious adoption/indoctrination into a worldview influences all that we think and believe. I also commend his analysis of prayer, especially in this worldview context.
As a "recovering fundamentalist" I believe this book may prove to be one of the major pillars in my personal attempt to rebuild my faith. I simply loved it.
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