Paul’s vision of a social body formed around a crucified Messiah turns on their head many of the prevailing dominance models of society of his own day. The concern for members of society otherwise marginalized and devalued produced by such a political vision is one with considerable relevance to our own day.
Through a startling act of code-switching, Jesus opposes the pattern of rule among his people to that prevailing among the Gentiles. Our politics must take its cue from the model of greatness and rule through service that Jesus articulates.
Jesus’ description of the scribes and the Pharisees in Matthew 23 provides us with an illustration of the corrupting effects of hierarchical power structures. Given the pervasive and entrenched character of such structures, escaping their perverse dynamics is easier said than done. Nevertheless, we are not left without means of resistance, perhaps the first of which are actions and words through which we make the unseen visible.
A critical issue left unaddressed in Bass’s response to Douthat is the state of power relations within mainline Protestant denominations. In her well-intentioned attempt to counteract the corrosive and controlling ‘narrative of decline’ that plagues mainline Protestant communities, she inadvertently diverts attention away from the reality that the majority of their leadership positions and financial resources are firmly in the control of the Baby Boomer generation….