Willimon, Powers, and maybe not going far enough

Click to Order

I am not a Willimon expert, but I have to wonder if he is not an adherent to Christus Victor. I get this sense from his near-constant use of the cosmic metaphor. For example,

Christians are witnesses to a great cosmic incursion, an invasion in which god, rather than being distant from the world, has daringly entered the world (Gal. 4.4). The world is God’s contested territory in a vast program of reclamation.

Alright, I guess that is a pretty enough picture. Theological, but a little science fiction. Can we, the modern thinker, still hold to the notion of the Christus Victor, however, and see salvation as God bursting forth, defeating the powers and principalities? He (again) quotes Barth who loved the phrase “Jesus is Victor!”. Our author goes on to note that this love of Christ has ‘defeated the principalities and powers….and forever secured all creation as his territory.’ The one thing which Willimon doesn’t do is to name them (yet). Here, I am reminded of Gombis‘ work in which while exploring Paul’s use of the dramatic in Ephesians, notes that we shouldn’t name those powers, but steadily work against them. But Willimon goes on to connect Genesis to Golgotha with, “God’s Genesis assault upon chaos was brought to glorious fulfillment in Jesus’ victory on Golgotha.” All of this, to me, is a wonderful way of hiding the fact that Willimon may in fact be a closet henotheist and understands that the Most High God has defeated the powers of chaos through Christ but will not name what these powers are.

Can any respected theologian go so far as to comment on who or what these powers might be without threatening their monotheism? Or, perhaps I am going too far.

Enhanced by Zemanta

You Might Also Like

5 Replies to “Willimon, Powers, and maybe not going far enough”

  1. This is a good point. To declare victory over unnamed powers is to dodge responsibility for proving that you actually scored a victory. It is an empty claim. We have no idea what exactly was defeated. It is like a government declaring a military emergency but thirty years later they still can’t name the enemy. Eventually, the population becomes suspicious.

    I think that Wright indulges in the same kind of hollow argument when his says that the inauguration of God’s Kingdom only started with the resurrection. One would think that after two thousand years later, the process would be a little more noticeable.

    If these are supposed to be heavyweights among theologians, then more’s the pity for the field.

    1. I’m not that critical – but whereas Gombis is advocating not naming powers today (for fear of the silliness what would ensue), I would prefer when speaking about the powers which Christ defeated, to name them. Baal. Zeus. Satan. Things like that.

      1. You’re probably right. These men are probably thinking along the lines of infernal powers rather than punting on the subject. If they were indeed more up front, their theology might be challenged and pushed far beyond where it is today.

Leave a Reply, Please!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.