“Yet among the mature we do speak wisdom, though it is not a wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are doomed to perish.” 1Corinthians 2:6
In this Lenten series I continue refuting the Christian Right’s view of the meaning of the cross and pointing to a different understanding of the death of Jesus. In my two previous posts, The Suffering God and Creation Crucified, I wrote about where God is present in the injustice and suffering of our world today.
The extreme harm being done to humanity and to creation is not taking place in a vacuum, nor is it inevitable. Rather, it is the direct and predictable result of a human-constructed global system that has grown beyond human control and has taken on a life of its own. Its institutions and operating systems function efficiently as designed, to enslave humans in their service and devour the gifts of the earth to bring profit, prestige, and power to the elite few. It is justified by assumptions and beliefs that represent “the wisdom of this age,” that is, the values, logic, and ideologies that people take for granted as simply the way things are.
The prevailing wisdom of our time requires one to be “realistic” within the dominant milieu, that is, to not think outside of the box of what is possible within the assumptions inherent in our current situation. The wisdom of our age assumes: 1) social hierarchy among human beings and human domination of the natural world, 2) the Market as the key organizing principle for society, and 3) the efficacy of domination and violence in ordering society and conquering evil. These precepts uphold the dominant global system and express the dominant milieu of our age.
As I wrote in the The Subversive Jesus, Jesus was executed because his message and the community he created presented a direct threat to the interlocking network of institutions that made up the domination system of his day and to the values upon which it was built. Today’s dominant institutions differ from those of Jesus’ day, but they are built upon the same “worldly” values: status, wealth, and worldly (including police and military) power. The global system of advanced free market capitalism has progressed far beyond what Jesus could have foreseen, but his critique and the direction he points are still valid, or even more valid, today.
Ultimately, these powers are “doomed to perish”—today’s dominant global system contains the seeds of its own destruction, and we see signs of system fail all around, especially in the United States, the promoter, exporter, and enforcer of global capitalism. In the meantime, those of us who follow Jesus and join with others to seek peace, justice, and healing can expect the ruling powers to respond to us as they did to him, because that is how the “demonic powers” (embodied as institutions) treat the God of Love. Still, we are also offered great gifts of the Spirit, which Jesus said include “words and a wisdom that none of your opponents will be able to withstand or contradict” (Luke 21:15). May it be so, as we move from personal and societal bondage into freedom.
Previous blog post: Creation Crucified: The Passion of the Earth
Next Post: God’s Restorative Justice
This post is part of Sharon’s series, A Lenten Call to Resist.
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