Cover

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Accolades, Half Title, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Further Titles

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pp. 2-13

Contents

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Preface

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pp. xv-xvi

Awkward as it is to express mathematically, there are really four books that belong to this trilogy. In addition to Naming the Powers, Unmasking the Powers, and this volume, there is also Violence and Nonviolence in South Africa: Jesus’ Third Way.1 The book on South Africa provides what this one lacks: a practical case study of the relevance of nonviolent direct action ...

Abbreviations and Symbols

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pp. xvii-xx

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Introduction

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pp. 1-10

One of the most pressing questions facing the world today is, How can we oppose evil without creating new evils and being made evil ourselves?
It is my conviction that any attempt to face the problem of evil in society from a New Testament perspective must be bound up with an understanding of what the Bible calls the “Principalities and Powers.” ...

Part I: The Domination System

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pp. 11-12

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1. The Myth of the Domination System

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pp. 13-32

Violence is the ethos of our times. It is the spirituality of the modern world. It has been accorded the status of a religion, demanding from its devotees an absolute obedience to death. Its followers are not aware, however, that the devotion they pay to violence is a form of religious piety. Violence is so successful as a myth precisely because it does not seem to be mythic in the least. ...

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2. The Origin of the Domination System

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pp. 33-52

How did the Domination System get started? The myth of redemptive violence gives this answer: war, conquest, plunder, rape, and enslavement are all ordained in the very constitution of the universe, which itself is formed from the corpse of a murdered goddess. “Civilization” is a condition of periodic or perpetual warfare, “peace” the achievement of warfare, “prosperity” ...

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3. Naming the Domination System

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pp. 53-68

The New Testament is thoroughly familiar with the Domination System, and has specific terms for describing it. In this chapter we examine three terms whose real meaning has sadly been obscured for many readers of the Bible. They are the Greek words kosmos (world), aiōn (age), and sarx (flesh). With these terms the biblical writers named the Domination System ...

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4. The Nature of the Domination System

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pp. 69-92

The good news is that God not only liberates us from the Powers, but liberates the Powers as well. The gospel is not a dualistic myth of good and evil forces vying for ascendancy, as in the myth of redemptive violence. It is a sublimely subtle drama about the intertwining of good and evil in all of historical reality. The Powers are not simply evil. ...

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5. Unmasking the Domination System

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pp. 93-112

If the Domination System is so insufferable, why do people tolerate it? Why do they not rise up against a way of life that provides advantages to so few and misery to so many? How is it possible that literally billions of people permit themselves to be hoodwinked and fleeced by tiny circles of elites propped up by armies far from adequate to subdue the population of the world? ...

Part II: God’s New Charter of Reality

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pp. 113-116

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6. God’s Domination-Free Order: Jesus and God’s Reign

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pp. 117-148

The irreducible fact about Jesus is that he was executed. Yet he did not represent an armed threat to the existing order. He broke no civil or criminal laws. He violated religious laws and customs regarding the Sabbath, handwashing, and holiness, but in every case the issue hung on interpretation, and no doubt some rabbis would have supported him; ...

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7. Breaking the Spiral of Violence: The Power of the Cross

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pp. 149-166

When the Domination System catches the merest whiff of God’s new order, by an automatic reflex it mobilizes all its might to suppress that order. Even before Jesus experienced its full fury against himself, he apparently predicted the outcome.2 The Powers are so immense, the opposition so weak, that every attempt at fundamental change seems doomed to failure. ...

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8. To Wash Off the Not Human: Becoming Expendable

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pp. 167-178

One does not become free from the Powers by defeating them in a frontal attack. Rather, one dies to their control. Here also the cross is the model: we are liberated, not by striking back at what enslaves us—for even striking back reveals that we are still determined by its violent ethos—but by dying out from under its jurisdiction and command. ...

Part III: Engaging the Powers Nonviolently

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pp. 179-184

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9. Jesus’ Third Way: Nonviolent Engagement

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pp. 185-206

Human evolution has provided the species with two deeply instinctual responses to violence: flight or fight. Jesus offers a third way: nonviolent direct action.2 The classic text is Matt. 5:38-42: ...

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10. On Not Becoming What We Hate

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pp. 207-222

In the previous chapter I suggested that “Resist not evil” is better rendered “Do not return evil for evil,” “Do not mirror evil,” “Do not respond to evil in kind.” This refusal of reactive opposition is one of the most profound and difficult truths in Scripture. We become what we hate. The very act of hating something draws it to us. ...

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11. Beyond Just War and Pacifism

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pp. 223-246

The new reality Jesus proclaimed was nonviolent. That much is clear, not just from the Sermon on the Mount, but from his entire life and teaching and, above all, the way he faced his death. His was not merely a tactical or pragmatic nonviolence seized upon because nothing else would have “worked” against the Roman Empire’s near monopoly on violence. ...

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12. But What If . . . ?

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pp. 247-258

It is surprising how few people have seriously considered nonviolence as a way of life and a strategy for social change. We are so inured to violence that we find it hard to believe in anything else. And that phrase “believe in” provides the clue. We trust violence. Violence “saves.” It is “redemptive.” All we have to do is make survival the highest goal, and death the greatest evil, ...

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13. Re-Visioning History: Nonviolence Past, Present, Future

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pp. 259-274

History has been written by the victors. What young people learn in schools is largely a chronicle of kings and dynasties, wars and empires. Androcratic systems teach androcratic history. Even where nonviolent resistance was successfully used, it tends to be neglected. A people kept ignorant of the existence of the history of nonviolence will naturally believe ...

Part IV: The Powers and the Life of the Spirit

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pp. 275-278

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14. The Acid Test: Loving Enemies

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pp. 279-294

In the spiritual renaissance that I believe is coming to birth, it will not be the message of Paul that this time galvanizes hearts, as in the Reformation and the Wesleyan revival, but the human figure of Jesus. And in the teaching of Jesus, the sayings on nonviolence and love of enemies will hold a central place. Not because they are more true than any others, ...

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15. Monitoring Our Inner Violence

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pp. 295-314

I am not a very nonviolent person. I have a sharp temper that I have learned to control fairly well, and find myself indulging at times in violent fantasies. I am trying to discover how a person as deeply schooled in violence as I was can begin to practice nonviolence. As I indicated earlier, one could characterize the approach I have been developing in this book as nonviolence for the violent. ...

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16. Prayer and the Powers

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pp. 315-338

We are not easily reduced to prayer. We who grope toward praying today are like a city gutted by fire. The struggle against injustice has exacted from us an awful cost. In a similar period with similar smuggles, Camus wrote, “There is merely bad luck in not being loved; there is tragedy in not loving. All of us, today, are dying of this tragedy. ...

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17. Celebrating the Victory of God

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pp. 339-346

How remarkable, that despite its sober exposé of the Domination System, the New Testament is so free of gloom or quailing before the Powers! From beginning to end, there is only the note of victory—a victory in the unknown and open future, for the whole human race and the universe, and victory even now, in the midst of struggle. ...

Notes

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pp. 347-446

Index of Passages

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pp. 447-466

Index of Names

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pp. 467-478

Index of Subjects

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pp. 479-492

Acknowledgments

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pp. 493-494

About the Author

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pp. 495-496