Jesus vs Power

Andrew Sullivan —  Apr 8 2012 @ 9:28pm


One part of my case against Christianism, against Christians wielding political power to control the lives of others, is that the core of Christianity is power through powerlessness. This is a paradox, of course. But it is paradox of Easter, where a death becomes life, where giving up oneself entirely to power in the world is the only way to transcend it.

H. Richard Niebuhr puts it better than I ever could:

"[T]he thought of deity and the thought of power are inseparable. Deity must be strong if it is to be deity.

We meet the God of Jesus Christ with the expectations of such power. If his power be less than that of the world and he be at the mercy of the world, of nature, fate, and death, how shall we recognize him as God? Yet we do not meet this God…how strangely we must revise in the light of Jesus Christ all our ideas of what is really strong in this powerful world. The power of God is made manifest in the weakness of Jesus, in the meek and dying life which through death is raised to power. We see the power of God over the strong of earth made evident not in the fact that he slays them, but in his making the spirit of the slain Jesus unconquerable.

Death is not the manifestation of power; there is a power behind and in the power of death which is stronger than death.

We cannot come to the end of the road of our rethinking the ideas of power and omnipotence. We thought that we knew their meaning and find we did not know and do not know now, save that the omnipotence of God is not like the power of the world which is in his power. His power is made perfect in weakness and he exercises sovereignty more through crosses than through thrones."

(Painting: Salvador Dali.)