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The Powerlessness That Must be Silenced

Well, I should be reading some of the new and excellent books that I have sitting about my room right now such as J. Kameron Carter’s Race: A Theological Account or Ted Smith’s The New Measures. Soon enough. For now I’m still re-reading some old favorites, namely Hart’s The Beauty of the Infinite and Alan Lewis’ Between Cross and Resurrection and being seized again by the beauty of so many passages in both. Of the two though, I would have to pick Lewis hands down if I could only keep one. Here’s one of the many glorious passages in the book:

“What damage could be done to the mighty structures of the empire by one who gave Caesar his due, who scorned the bigotry which hated an infidel and punished the ungodly, and who pictured a kingdom of freedom, peace, and love in which the distinction between friend and foe would lose all meaning? Yet, with their unseeing eyes, the Romans had rightly perceived a radical and dangerous subversion — with clearer intuition, it seems, than those who still characterize the preaching of Jesus as spiritual and therefore not political. What, in fact, could be more ‘political,’ a more complete and basal challenge to the kingdoms of this world, to its generals and its lords, both to those who hold power and to those who would seize it, than one who says that his kingdom is not of this world, and yet prays that the kingdom of his Father will come and his will be done on earth. This is an aspiration for the world more revolutionary, a disturbance of the status quo more seismic, an allegiance more disloyal, a menace more intimidating, than any program which simply meets force with force and matches loveless injustice with loveless vengeance. Here is a whole new ordering of human life, as intolerable to insurrectionists as to oppressors. It promises that forgiveness, freedom, love, and self-negation, in all their feeble ineffectiveness, will prove more powerful and creative than every system and every countersystem which subdivides the human race into rich and poor, comrades and enemies, insiders and outsiders, allies and adversaries. What could an earthly power, so in love with power as to divinize it in the person of its emperor, do with such dangerous powerlessness but capture and destroy it? It could change everything were it not extinguished, and speedily.” (p. 49-50)

Of all the books I have read I have found few whose prose seize me with the certainty that the author thereof has stood in the very presence of God and discerned the heart of the gospel in a way I can only catch the fringes of. Alan Lewis is one of the foremost among those few. He truly understood the gospel of God’s revolution.

4 Comments

  1. scott wrote:

    Well, you finally quoted a passage from the book that put it on my must-read list, which is, like yours piling up. Thanks!

    Friday, August 29, 2008 at 2:07 am | Permalink
  2. Doug Harink wrote:

    Halden,

    A marvelous quote from Lewis. I have not read the book, but now I feel I must. In the meantime, I am immediately putting that quote into my (nearly finished) commentary on 1 Peter. Thanks!

    Friday, August 29, 2008 at 9:15 am | Permalink
  3. Halden wrote:

    It’s a wonderful book, one of the most compelling ones that I have ever read. I’m you’ll end up reading it. There are certainly elements of its sort of philosophical narrative (i.e. the standard “fall” of trinitarian theology through Augustine story) that could be critiqued, but his constructive theological work is brilliant.

    Friday, August 29, 2008 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  4. Halden,

    I had the same experience of being arrested by this book. I’ve read it through three times now cover to cover. It’s absolutely breathtaking at certain points. Thanks for the quote, one of the many great ones from this gem.

    Patrick+

    Friday, August 29, 2008 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

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