Walter Wink Amidst the Powers

So I had a big post cued up on Walter Wink‘s presentation on the powers that he gave for this year’s Ephiphaneia conference. Then I went to my old theology professor’s blog, Politics of the Cross Resurrected, and found that he had a critique that did a way better job than I ever could.

Here’s Craig Carter in all of his glory:

Wink gave a 50 minute talk in which I did not hear the name “Jesus Christ” once. (He may have slipped it in somewhere, but I did not catch it.) There were a few references to God. For Wink the powers are totally demythologized; they are the spirit or ethos of an organization that can outlive individual members. There was no mention of the resurrection or the second coming. His mantra: “The powers were created good, the powers are fallen, the powers can be redeemed” was similar to the Biblical view, but not quite there. The creation and fall parts are fine, but he weaved a tangled web out of redemption.

He talked a lot about how we should work hard to redeem the powers (government, universities, businesses etc.) whereas we are instructed in Ephesians that we are to stand against the powers when they attack us and in Colossians that Christ has already conquored them in his death and resurrection. Christ redeems the powers – in his first coming and in his second coming – and our job is to bear a witness to Christ, not to redeem the world or the powers, in the meantime. With all the demythologizing that was going on, I’m afraid that eschatology got short shrift. Insofar as there was any escatology, it had to do with a totally immanent version of liberal progress empowered by human effort rather than a decisive in-breaking of God into history in the form of the Second Coming of Christ.

I don’t see why Evangelicals would get excited by a liberal who uses some biblical language to express an essentially secular political message. The liberals should get their own mythological language to express their faith. Lifting “powers” language out of the NT theological framework centered on Christ just distorts the Bible, rather than getting us anywhere. This was made blindingly obvious by Marva Dawn’s exposition of Ephesians later in the day. (HT)

And on a lighter note, here’s a Derek Webb song that was performed during the conference: