You are here

Taking on principalities and powers

One of St. Paul's intentions is to take on the "principalities and powers" (Ephesians 1:20 ff) They are the entities and institutions whose primary interest is preservation. Preservation of place, authority and identity. Paul takes on the principalities and powers because he is primarily interested in transformation. The soul's transformation. It comes through peace -- which, for Paul, is not the absence of conflict but is the presence of justice. And so Paul seeks to deconstruct the divided house between Jew and Greek, slave and free -- and reconstruct it on the foundation of race, class and gender equality. He is interested in the reunification of all things. Paul sees a battle -- between Christ's desire for the inauguration of peace and the Principalities and Powers' perpetuation of conflict, which is their misguided recipe for preservation. We are preserved -- and transformed, by Christ's peace.


Dearly Beloved,

In Mark's Gospel, Jesus advised to render to Caesar what is his. I always understood that to mean that Jesus was commanding us to separate our political aspirations from our spiritual lives. It seemed to suggest a partition between the worldly matters of life and the heavenly considerations of the spirit.

The principalities and powers Paul writes of in Ephesians 1:21 suggests that the two have been joined. The lexicon of power and the nomenclature of principalities certainly informs a political sensibility to the role of faith. The public ministry of Jesus as an active agent that heals the sick, feeds the hungry and gives sight to the blind is further codified in James admonition of faith without works is no faith at all.

St. Augustine in the City of God squarely addresses the conundrum of bifurcation of the rendering to Caesar while serving God. Augustine's cosmology created two states, one earthy, one heavenly and it was only through the good office of a Holy See that the separation is justly reconciled.

This Socratic thinking finds root in Plato's Republic, suggesting that the best form of governance can only be achieved through an enlightened philosopher King who understands the perfectness of God's good truth. This allows The Holy See to understand divine truths and be the best arbiter of earthy justice to reconcile a broken earthly city with the perfectness of the heavenly spheres.

Theocracies run counter to the democratic ideals that flowered during the Age of Enlightenment. St. Augustine's ideas have been used throughout history to justify the repression of religious tyrants and fascist dictators. To this day the debate continues as fundamentalists curse the blessing of secular democracy to impose the narrow truths of their personal deity.

The good news is that the ministry of The Righteous One lives on in the hearts of men and women of good will all over the world. The Children of Light keep the hope of Christ alive. They are the sure and present helpers whose work repairs the breech to traverse the bridge linking the Earthy and Heavenly Cities. Uniting all the beloved in the inclusive community and unconditional abundant love of the Holy Spirit.


Peace and prayers to all the beloved,


Add new comment

Our comment policy requires that you use your real first and last names and provide an email address (your email will not be published). The Communications Office of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark reserves the right not to publish comments that are posted anonymously or that we deem do not foster respectful dialogue.