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The Revolutionary Subordination: A note from Doug Harink

Many thanks to Doug Harink, both for his lectures which I live-blogged over the weekend, and for the great time of fellowship we got to have together. Doug has kindly sent me a follow-up note on the lectures that speaks to some key points about the matter of the “revolutionary subordination.”

Let me express my heartfelt and enthusiastic gratitude to Halden for generously live-blogging on my lectures on 2 and 1 Peter. I have read the blogs, and I must say that Halden’s parsing of my lectures is really spot-on—indeed, I think Halden has often stated the matter more clearly and succinctly than I did in the lectures. So maybe the live blog is better than the real thing! In any case, great job, Halden.

There is just one point I want to make about the discussion of “revolutionary subordination,” that I perhaps did not emphasize sufficiently in the lectures. Peter makes clear that the members of the messianic communities to which he is writing are free: “as free… yet as God’s servants” (2:16). This freedom is bestowed by the gospel that Peter has described in detail in chapters 1 and 2 up to this point. Such freedom comes through participation in the apocalyptic power of the gospel, and that means freedom with authority. To be a free person as God’s servant (“being aware of God”, 2:19) is to live in the messianic power and authority of the gospel, which power and authority, in conformity to the crucified Messiah, is exercised most precisely at the moment of submission. So also the gospels show that Jesus’ authority is most clearly displayed at the moment when he stands before the powers that be who will crucify him. He is neither resentful, nor a victim. (Cf. also John 13:3-5: “Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to God, got up from the table…and began to wash the disciples’ feet.”). Likewise Peter’s instruction to “submit” or “be subordinate” is a call to those who share in the authority and power of the messianic age, which share is revealed most perfectly in the grace that the messianic person shows to everyone else, regardless of their place in the social order. Such grace is the opposite of resentment or victimhood.

One Comment

  1. Chris Donato wrote:

    So also the gospels show that Jesus’ authority is most clearly displayed at the moment when he stands before the powers that be who will crucify him. He is neither resentful, nor a victim.

    And this is anticipated in the temptations of Christ, which my community contemplated this Lord’s Day: the Messiah submits to hunger, humility, and the plan and purposes of his Father.

    Monday, February 22, 2010 at 12:59 pm | Permalink

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