Tuesday, December 16, 2008

John Goldingay on Evil and the Exercise of Authority

"We are involved in a struggle against the ruling forces that are masters in a dark age. The powers of evil specialize in ruling, in exercising authority. As far as one can see from Genesis, there was no authority structure designed for human life in the world except the one contained in God. There was no authority of one human being over another until after sin came into the world: that was when people began to exercise domination over each other. There was no headship, no government. Human authority and resistance to human authority both belong to this age, not to the age of creation or the age of new creation. Whenever human authority is being exercised, we are in the realm where the powers of darkness operate.

"That applies to the world and to the church. When rectors or archdeacons or bishops give in to the temptation to act in an authoritarian way, or in a manipulative way, they act under the influence of the powers of darkness. When church councils or clergy either accept that kind of authority or rebel against it (you should listen to clergy talking about their bishops), they are working with the assumption that the church operates as an institution that belongs by its inner nature to this age. They are colluding with the powers of darkness. The same is true in a Christian community such as a theological college, in the way principal, tutors, and students operate. We get sucked into a way of working that is the way of the powers of darkness."

- John Goldingay, To the Usual Suspects: One Word Questions (Paternoster, 1998), 171-2.

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