Neil Shenvi about Jesus and structures

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Husband, Father of 5, Pastor
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2 Responses to Neil Shenvi about Jesus and structures

  1. Julian says:

    But that isn’t true, the language of the Powers in Paul is very analogous to what we describe as systems today. I think Jesus message is ALL ABOUT confronting, unmasking and defeating those powers, not in a violent way, but rather, but the self giving way of the cross.

  2. Julian says:

    From my latest blog:
    Yoder gives us a sense of the scope of Paul’s language in describing these realities:

    “When in modern social analysis such terms as “power” and “structure” are used, everyone knows just about what is meant; but still a logician would have little trouble in demonstrating that not everyone means exactly the same things and nothing else… Something of the same stimulating confusion is present in the thought of the apostle Paul as he applies some of the same thought patterns to different challenges in different contexts. He speaks of “principalities and powers,” and of “thrones and dominions,” thus using language of political colour. But he can also use cosmological language like “angels and archangels,” “elements,” “heights and depths.” Or the language can be religious: “law,” “knowledge.” Sometimes the reader perceives a parallelism in all of these concepts. Sometimes not.

    We see that Paul is aware, not just of “ruling authorities” who rule over him, and limit his freedom, but sees a broad array of forces and systems that impinge upon us. Yoder finds it helpful to speak of “structures,” which he defines as the “patterns or regularities that transcend or proceed or condition the individual phenomena we can immediately perceive.” In other words, we are thinking of those larger, patterned wholes which are not reducible to individual phenomenon. One example would be the state, the state is a patterned whole—some might call it “emergent”—which is not reducible to any individual phenomena, and yet is a force in our lives. It is not merely the scowling figure of Ceaser that restrains us, but also the larger system that we call the state. The state has power, that is, “some kind of capacity to make things happen,” and power over us: it can make us do things we wouldn’t otherwise do. That is the role of these structures in our lives, they exercise power over us for some regulative end. Some of the powers present in our modern lives include: “…Religious structures (especially the religious undergirdings of stable ancient and primitive structures), intellectual structures (-ologies, and -isms), moral structures (codes and customs) [and] political structures (the tyrant, the market, the school, the courts, race, and nation). This broad category of systems which we will, following Yoder, refer to under the shorthand of the Powers, have both a physical and a spiritual reality.

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