I’ve been reading a little bit of Jacques Ellul this week.
I’m not sure I agree with everything he says in this book, but enjoyed being made to think about why I don’t agree with him.
(Actually, I’m maybe lying because I felt like I agreed with lots of the stuff he said in the book. But it seems that it’s far from the Christianity I’m used to and there are no book recommendations from authors I might consider ‘sound’ on the back so I assume there must something to be wary off and that makes me want to cover my bases in case . It’s like I’ve still got a inner ‘Dodgymeter’ that I forget about then if I pick up certain books it goes off. Rob Bell -ding-a-ling-a-ling! Beware, dodgy!! Ding Ding Ding!!)
‘The political game can produce no important changes in our society and we must radically refuse to take part in it’
What Jacques!??Did I really just read that…what about salt and light and all that. What about Wilberforce?
He then goes on to look at anarchy in the bible (where he defines anarchy as the nonviolent repudiation of authority).
That is when things get interesting.
For instance when Jesus appears in front of the religious leaders and Pilate he doesn’t seem to be impressed by their authority.
Or the prophets who appear to speak out against the rulers of Israel in the OT.
Or the Israelites wanting a king and God not seeming particularly enthralled.
Or for someone who wrote that we should obey the authorities and be good citizens in Romans Paul seemed to be in trouble a lot with them.
Ellul also talks a little about the passage in Matthew where Jesus says.
“You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave— just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
What does that mean?
Do we only serve each other in church and then maybe lord it over people in work or a political party? How society function if we didn’t have leaders or managers?
How can a church not allow the ordination of women priests as it’s forbidden and yet have a Pope, Cardinals, Bishops?
‘Power’ is a word that keeps on cropping up. Even Lord of Rings has that a central theme, Frodo seeking to destroy the ring that would give Sauron power over Middle Earth. Thinking about church we often have a default setting to seeking the ‘movers and shakers’. If the Roman Catholics have got Pope Francis we might have a Tim Keller or Rob Bell. And if we have speakers for a conference they will be from a big church that is going somewhere. Movers and shakers.
“But you …it must not be the same among you.” In other words, do not be so concerned about fighting kings. Let them be. Set up a marginal society that will not be interested in such things, in which there will be no power, authority or hierarchy. Do not do things as they are usually done in society, which you cannot change. Create another society on another foundation.
We might condemn this attitude, talking of depoliticization. As we shall see, this was in fact the global attitude of Jesus. But we must take note that this is not desocialization. Jesus is not advising us to leave society and go into the desert. His counsel is that we should stay in society and set up in it communities which obey other rules and laws’