Perspective: A Pocket Guide to the Christian Use of Power

A Pocket Guide to the Christian Use of Power

These statements, expressed with particular concern for associations between men and women, define the Christian ideal in both personal and organizational relationships. They would fit snugly on a 4 x 6 card.

  • God made us all, male and female, in the divine image (Genesis 1).
  • The Bible sides with the weak against oppression by the strong (Exodus, the prophets, Jesus).
  • Jesus, the Word made flesh, repudiates coercive power and embraces the persuasive power of service and humble witness (John 1, Hebrews 1, Mark 10 and parallels).
  • The Holy Spirit clarifies the meaning of Jesus’ ministry and drives disciples toward new and deeper insight (John 14 and 16).
  • Paul, prompted by the Holy Spirit, repudiates all distinctions of status based on inherited traits or imposed conditions (Galatians 3).
  • When, following the Holy Spirit’s promptings, new consensus comes uneasily, both Gamaliel-like patience and dramatic protest may reflect the spirit of Jesus; coercion does not (Mark 11 and parallels; Acts 5 and15; 1 Corinthians 9).

Charles Scriven is Board Chair of Adventist Forum, the organization that publishes Spectrum.

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This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at

Power in this essay is used in the context of leadership and service. in that context the critical attribute is the willingness and capacity to listen. That is in very short supply in the preset administration of the church. Christ invites us to follow Him, not some formulary. Tom Z


What bothers me is the fact that the GC doesn’t even see that the unions act according to their moral conviction. Working policy should never trump moral convictions. The GC’s priorities are out of order!


If I might add one more point.

  • Pride causes people to take roles that God has not given them, this can lead to destruction (2 Chronicles 26:16-22)

Well stated. Maybe we should print these up on postcards and mail them to the leaders at the GC.


“Richard Bauckham rightly comments – When the slaughtered Lamb is seen ‘in the midst of’ the throne of heaven [rev 5:6; 7:17], the meaning is that Christ’s sacrificial death Belongs To The Way God Rules The World. The symbol of the Lamb is no less a divine symbol than the symbol of ‘the One who sits on the throne.’” –
It is CRITICAL that we NOT MISS the paradoxical significance of this Lamb of God sharing the identity and sovereignty of God. In his exaltation Jesus remains the Lamb, the crucified one. He participates in God’s identity and reign, making him worthy of worship, as the slaughtered Lamb, And Only As Such. This is the consistent witness of the New Testament:that the exalted Lord remains the crucified Jesus. And this one is “the true face of God”.
end part 1. [part 2 was deleted will see if have enuf characters for it]
When this witness is neglected or forgotten, trouble follows swiftly. Any reading of Revelation, and ANY practice of theology more generally, that forgets this central NT Truth is theologically problematic, even dangerous from its inception, not to failure, but to success – and that is the inherent defect. Even faithful Christians want an almighty deity who will rule the universe with power, preferably on their terms,and with Force when necessary. Such concepts of God and their sovereignty induces adherents to side with this kind of God in the execution of [allegedly] divine might in the quest for [allegedly] divine justice. Understanding the reality of the Lamb as Lord, and thus of Lamb power, should terminate all misperceptions of divine power and justice,and erroneous human corollaries. But the misperceptions persist. Revelation is often misread as a demonstration of precisely this kind of coercive divine power in human history, especially interpreting Vision of Judgment. Chapter 4 and 5 are Rev’s hermeneutical key to reality, divinity, history and ethics and can then place the Visions of Judgment in proper perspective.'
Reading Revelation Responsibility [uncivil worship and witness by following the Lamb into the New Creation], Michael J. Gorman, pg 111. [Cascade, 2011]


Scream, “Bravo!”

With usual eruditeness, conciseness, and profundity, Charles Scriven has done it again.


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