[Grid::Blog::Via Crucis 2007] Constantine and ‘Power Church’ | The End of Strategy [4]

Via Crucis 2007-3I’ve been attempting to argue over this series of posts that Jesus’ passion, in contrast to Judas’ scheming to catalyze Jesus into revolution, and Paul’s strategizing to get to Rome, critiques the power-plays that we try to make as Christians.

Through Game Theory we have been duped into thinking our best strategy is to not trust one another. But beyond that Christ’s death on the cross – a deliberate ‘loss’ – subverts the very idea of strategy at all.

At Golgotha, God declares the end of strategy.

God will not play our power games.

God is.

God loves.

There is no win or lose.

All too quickly the early church – mostly under the influence of Paul, I would argue – lost this message and began to make itself into a ‘strategic organization’. We don’t really know the effect of Paul’s journey to Rome, what we do know is that in 313CE Emperor Constantine declared himself a Christian. Why? Because he believed that the Christian God had given him victory in battle. Where did he get such a theology? Surely not from Christ. Constantine was a brilliant soldier, and an astute military strategist. Is is possible that there is a thread that leads from Paul’s strategy to evangelize Rome to Constantine’s conversion?

I’m clearly speculating. But what concerns me about Constantine is that from there on we see Christianity moving from a religion of the poor and the oppressed, to a religion held up by the rich and powerful as one which supports them.

This is a long way from the cross, and it seems a long way from us too. But I believe that if the church allows itself to be tied up in strategies, to ‘winning’ people for Christ, it will end be moving towards power-politics, towards support for wars, and away from genuine concern for ‘the other’.

To give oneself for ‘the other’ is to lose. It is to be engaged in transformative relationships, rather than tactical change. It is to love. To know grace. And grace and love have no strategy.

Thanks if you’ve got this far. Month old babies don’t make for clarity of thought, so apologies if it could all have been clearer 😉

Peace over the Easter Weekend.


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8 responses to “[Grid::Blog::Via Crucis 2007] Constantine and ‘Power Church’ | The End of Strategy [4]”

  1. just summing up what your series has sparked me to think about :
    strategy – gaming – power getting V graceful subversion – creative play – love giving – thanks for your inspiring thoughts, peace, j

  2. Likewise, thanks for finding the time, this was a great series.

  3. This has been a really interesting thread, K, and it ties in with a some thoughts that have been rattling around in my head for ages.
    I think the phrase “wise as serpents an innocent as doves” comes to mind – wise to strategies and gaming playing, but innocent of playing them. Innocence here is to do with lack of guilt rather than naïveté, for me.
    I also think that the Sermon on the Mount, and especially the Beatitudes have a lot to say into these thoughts – they’re like the ultimate statements of resistance in the face of power play.
    I also think that the desire to strategise and power-play comes out of the deepest fears and insecurities – its easy to feel that what one is doing has no merit or isn’t very good, and to over-compensate for that fear by tactical means.

  4. i like your comments about innocence mike – reminds me of the children in the marketplace who refused to take the adult role and conform to strategic expectations – child like innocence intuitively and wisely discerns an invitation to join the wrong game – maybe that’s why Jesus said that growing down is the kind of playful spirituality we should seek after

  5. bruce grindlay

    I’d like to think that a re-reading of John Howard Yoder’s “The Politics of Jesus” might contribute greatly to this discussion. Although printed in 1972 it remains, in my opinion, a classic on what is politics/strategy for the followers of Jesus.

  6. Great post … great questions.

  7. We all have a dream. Jesus had his dream of the kingdom. He didn’t negotiate it within himself.
    At some point he had to give up. Jesus tells me by his giving up that it’s not up to us to make the dream come true.
    Giving up takes the ultimate trust that we aren’t the architects of our dream. But non the less we never give up. This is our integrity which collectively creates an undeniable existence.

  8. Dana Ames

    Kester. This is so good. Thank you.
    Peace to you as well, in the name of the Lord Jesus.