Christ and our Mission: an Ignatian Excursus

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Aloysius Pieris, S.J.


The Jesuit Connection

Father E. Degrez, the Socius to the Provincials of India (POI) has requested that I engage you in “a short study of the Theology of Religions (Buddhism) with special reference to Christology, Ecclesiology and Missiology.”  (italics in the original).  One might add also spirituality.  This is a massive undertaking for a day’s study.  So I have put in your hands a fifty page presentation which I had prepared for you: God’s Reign for God’s Poor : A Return to the Jesus Formula.  It is a seminal study, and it could serve us as a reference book to be consulted during and after our deliberations. All I do here is cut a slice of it, a cross-section and present it to you. To you who  have been making and giving the Ignatian Exercises, there is nothing new that I offer here; I am only articulating what we all know.

I shall do this on the basis of our common Christian heritage channeled to us, not through the “scholastic theology” in which we were once drilled, but in the manner of a “positive theology” which Ignatius himself has defined as that which “moves the heart to love and serve God our Lord in everything” (Ex. 363). The Spiritual Exercises themselves are an hitherto unexplored mine of “positive theology” because they are firmly rooted in a thoroughly biblical and Jesus-centered spirituality.

Before I begin, I have to warn you about a possible misunderstanding regarding the Ignatian character of my theological excursus.

  • I remember having read many years ago a book of Wiener (the scientist-genius who created the missiles) where he makes a remark whose implication (if I may put it in my own words) would be something like this: both Jesuits and Communists have a strong black and white dualist view of things, which drives them to achieve their goals with a frantic zeal.
  • Recently someone gave me a photocopy of a synopsis (made by the Ishvani Documentation and Mission Digest) of an article in the Bangalore Forum by a certain Ishvaradevan who says that I tend to use the dichotomous language of Rich-Poor distinction by which I violate charity or Christian agape!!!
  • I received a similar ad hominem remark from Hans Küng at one of our annual meetings of the CONCILIUM (Madrid 1993). After listening to my talk on the Universality of Christianity2 he remarked that I was too Ignatian in presenting the dichotomous scheme without any kind of “Hegelian dialectics”, without introducing a synthesis between the two contradictory positions. In fact, he clearly mentioned the Meditation on the Two Standards in making his critique.

But I was elated to hear from Küng that the lgnatian view of the world as Two Standards in Conflict was an influence in my life’s thought... though I must confess that this was the meditation together with the one on the Kingdom, that I found most difficult to absorb both in my mind and in my heart, right from the Novitiate, and even now, because the implications of accepting this scheme are too clear to me - and I am sure to all of us.

Yes, indeed, there is a dichotomous non-compromising dualism in Ignatius, which, for me, is exactly the one that the whole bible unfolds as the axis of revelation. There is absolutely no getting out of it.3  I believe, therefore, that a Jesuit striving hard to be rooted in the Exercises, has before him three options from which to choose the best way of handling this Ignatian Dualism. These three options represent three classes of people, almost parallel to the three mentioned in the Sp. Ex 149-156:

a) The Evangelistic and Fundamentalist Option: The dualism is an inner conflict within us vis-a-vis Jesus and Satan, and it has nothing to do with the conflict between values based on Riches and values based on Poverty. According to this view, the struggle for the poor as a part of our struggle to be poor runs the risk of being a Marxist concern, rather than a biblical concern.4  The Vatican’s Curial theology and the opus dei spirituality, and many evangelistic currents in the fringes of the Reformed Churches seem to come under this category. Bishop Malcolm Ranjith of Sri Lanka, entrusted with the task of New Evangelization, claimed in a much publicized sermon that Jesus himself was not concerned about the social problems of his day.
b) The Liberal Theologians’ Option: Try a third way which combines the two system of Values. Hegelian dialectics? Seek a “synthesis” between the Two Standards, a compromise between the two antithetical value-systems. Here, the concern for civil liberties override the concern for the economic rights of the poor, the third world etc., just as the liberal democratic emphasis on the rights clashes with the moral obligation to curb the wants of the few in order to satisfy the needs of the many. The liberal theologians have, understandably, over-reacted against Paul VI’s Humanae Vitae and dismissed his Populorum Progressio as a naive attempt at flirting with Marxism.
c) The Liberation Theologians’ Option: Struggle hard to admit the conflict and struggle honestly to keep to the value-system of the Gospels (recommended in the Sp. Ex.) and enter into the struggle with Jesus according to his programme of action and pay the price for it.5  With and in Jesus, become his co-victim vis-a-vis the Other Value-System. This spirituality is based on obligation/service, not on one’s rights primarily. To Love and to Serve!  It is the banner of Jesus, the Crucified God, exalted on the very instrument of his humiliation.


When I read the Bible with the eyes of the third class of people, I find that the Value-System of Jesus as advocated in the Second Week of the Ignatian Exercises can be expressed by two equally valid formulae, each of which is a profession of faith and a programme of action:

For Moses and his people:”We have no King but Yahweh”.

For Jesus and his friends:”We have no Father but the One in Heaven”.

Each of these value-slogans or professions of faith, is a theological statement loaded with missiological and ecclesiological imperatives which constitute a spirituality, i.e. a kingdom-praxis. No other king, i.e., no other God, no other Father. It is the new charter of freedom offered by God of Moses and the God of Jesus against the domination system of the world, against the Standard of Lucifer. Try to express this in a scholastic idiom, and you have the Principle and Foundation of the Ignatian Exercises (no. 23).

In this first talk, I shall take each of these faith-expressions separately, in order to draw out the Standard of Values given to Israel (Part One) and to the Church (Part Two), so that we could appreciate how the other Standard of Values is recognized and named in the Second Testament (Part Three). The second input, of course, will deal with inter-religious dialogue in the context of the Two Conflicting Systems.



(A) To Serve is to Reign

For Moses and the Israelites, the idea of a “king”, as manifested in the cultures that surrounded them, seemed to symbolize domination. In the slave-empires that successively dominated Israel (e.g., Egypt, Babylon, and later Assyria, Greece and Rome) there was a natural alliance between the kings, priests and gods: the kings represent the gods and rule with a divine mandate while a priest class who serve these gods support the rulers. All of them together form part of the leisure class that has all the power and the wealth in their hands. They thrive on the labor of slaves, the worker-class who have no rest. These latter work all the time. Leisure is a luxury they cannot afford.

The Attrahasis epic has registered the widespread Mesopotamian belief that gods were a leisure class for whom work was a degrading occupation, so that the Mother Goddess was constrained to impose the drudgery of work on the humans. According to this myth, therefore, the few humans who enjoyed the privilege of not working because they live on the labor and toil of others, were to that extent the most divine of human beings. This Myth expressed a theo-logy of domination accepted in the “developed” nations that surrounded Israel.

By contrast, lsrael professed a God who works like us but also rests like us (Gen. 2:3), expecting that all work with Her and all rest with her (Ex 23:12; 31:17). Work is not degrading, but salvific. Work is spiritual. Work is divine. This was not only a novel concept of work, but also a revolutionary notion of God.6

Liberation from Egypt, therefore, was not only a deliverance from the land of slavery governed by idle gods who favor the powerful leisure class; it was also a discovery of the True God who works and rests with humans. This is the meaning of the Sabbath, a HOLIDAY which would, therefore, be a HOLY DAY set apart to worship the One True God by recalling gratefully lsrael's liberation from a System of Domination (Dt 5:l3-15).

Note that the Sabbath was an anti-domination institution. Jesus would later criticize the religious elite of his time for turning the Sabbath into an instrument of domination. Remember that those who want to control others in the name of God would first install a Dominating God who would justify their policy of domination. This could be true of any religion. The Exodus and the Sabbath are a critique of any such “theology of domination”.  Authentic theology is always a theology of liberation.

Conclusion: Wherever Yahweh is allowed to reign as the only God, there would not be a neat division of people into a leisure class and a worker class. Even slaves, where they unfortunately exist, have to join God in a divine rest. Furthermore, there is no special class of kings, priests and gods. In God’s Reign all are kings, all are priests and alI are gods. A Royal Priesthood, a Priestly nation, Sons and Daughters of the Most High.  As our Liturgy says: To serve the true God is to reign with God: cui servire est regnare. The Reign of Yahweh is a non-domination system of equals, “taking charge of the whole earth” (Gen. l:26). It is when Israel tried to imitate the “developed” nations around it instead of “teaching the nations” all about Yahweh’s Reign, that they, too, began to build a Kingdom based on forced labor, as Solomon certainly did. It was a sin against God and God’s People, drawing the wrath of prophets.

(B) To Serve is to Worship

This vision of the Reign of Yahweh pivots round a very significant Ignatian concept whose biblical meaning determines our spirituality and our mission, our ecclesial life and our liturgical life, and even our idea of Jesus and our relationship with him, in short, Christology. What is it?  Service. Ignatius might have picked it up from his feudalistic milieu, but as in many things he has got the right word in the right place, and the Scriptures confirm the appropriateness of the choice in a way Ignatius would never have imagined.

The Hebrew verb meaning “to serve” as well as “worship” is the same: abd. It is the preferred word for the worship of the True God. Now worship means many things. In the very first book of the bible we find one of the key meanings of abd: creative labor. In Gen 2:5 Yahweh finds the earth unproductive because there was no rain and because there was no human being to “work out” (abd) the land, and finally in Gen 2:l5 we see God placing Adam in Eden to “work” (abd) on the land and maintain it. This kind of labor by which we humans work on God’s creation and improve it, is abd: service. All service is also worship because it expresses our covenant partnership with our Creator.

Abd is also the word for forced-labor and even bondage. Forced labor, by which one serves another human being is slavery. Unlike the false gods who favor the leisure class, Yahweh has ears tuned to the cries of the abadim (the slaves) for they were made to “serve (abd) the Egyptians with rigor”:

And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve (abd) with rigor. And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage (abd) in mortar and in brick and in all manner of work (abd) in the field; and in all their work (abd) wherein they made them serve (abd), {was} with rigor (Ex. l:l3-14).
And the People of lsrael groaned under their bondage (abodah) and cried out for help, and their cry under bondage (abodah) came up to God. (Ex. 2:23).

Yahweh remembers the Covenant he had made with Israel, and therefore Yahweh promises to bring Israel out of abodah, bondage (Ex 6:5-6). What does this mean?  Forced service to another human being under rigorous conditions is not worship, but sin which the Creator could not tolerate. Thence comes the great struggle between Yahweh’s representatives (Moses and Aaron) and Pharaoh (Ex. Chs 8-l0): that lsrael cannot render authentic worship (abd) to the true God in a climate of slavery (abd). The non-dominating and liberating God can be worshipped only in freedom. Hence Yahweh instructs Moses to urge Pharaoh with these words:

You will speak thus to Pharaoh: Thus says the Lord: Israel (is) my son, (even) my first-born. And I say to you: let my son go that he may serve/worship (abd) me. (Ex 4:22-23).

The theology of worship contained in the word service requires an in-depth study. To serve God is to worship the God of Freedom in a domination-free context, where all (masters and slaves, men and women, Jews and Gentiles, adults and children, and even the land with its crops and animals) rest from work to celebrate God’s great deeds on our behalf and her faithfulness to the covenant. Worship is service to God, and a free and creative laboring for one another, not a ritual manipulation of God or human emotions. That is why the ST generally tried to avoid using the term leitourgia, the Septuagint’s Greek term for levitical worship and preferred words like latria or douleia. Authentic worship coincides with the Holiness of the Covenant: which consisted of serving one another.7  All the Commandments were a negative formulation of a positive charter of freedom which allowed a community that is marked by the mutual service (abd) of its members to express itself as a community rendering authentic worship (abd) to the one and only God of Liberation.

The Bible does not speak primarily of human rights as such, but of service. The rhetorical question of the first Murderer “Am I my brother’s (and Sister’s) keeper?” was a murderer’s refusal to be responsible for the others’ life. True worship is taking one’s responsibility for others. The command to “rule” the universe, or more accurately, to “take charge of the universe” (Gen 1:28) meant that as the covenant partners of God, we work on the land (abad) and take co-responsibility with God for the whole world. This responsibility is a call to service. To love and to serve, as the lgnatian slogan runs.

To sum up: our spirituality is continuous worship/service:

  • First, it means our labor (abd) with which we partner the creator in perfecting God’s Creation, by which we become co-creators. Every type of creative activity is service and worship.
  • Second, every kind of service to our neighbor, by which we lovingly become their “slaves”: as Jesus did when he washed his friends’ feet as part of the Covenant worship of the thanksgiving-meal.
  • Third, Worship is free service, not forced labor. Refuse to be enslaved by other human beings or by other gods. Every form of idolatry is non-worship. Responsibility and obligation towards others does not mean allowing or much less encouraging irresponsible people to exploit us. lt is in this context that the notion of “rights” come into our spirituality.
  • Fourth, authentic worship is praise and thanksgiving, recalling God’s great acts of liberation on our behalf and humbling ourselves before such a loving friend whom we do not deserve. (Cf. the fruit of the Jesuit’s daily examen).
  • Fifth, a gathering of the people into a community of equals, which is the fruit and the context of authentic worship. An authentic worship goes counter to a pyramidally structured society; it is both a sign that expresses and a means that creates a communion of freedom and equality.
  • Sixth, creating a contrast-society where Yahweh is the Sole Sovereign. lt is a pedagogical society serving as God’s magisterium, with the mission to teach all nations to break down all national idols (race, language, religion, culture etc.), the false gods (baals, moloks etc) and false values (power, prestige, honors and titles) that destroy communion and equality.
  • Seventh, the greatest expression of Worship is the Sabbath: (1) Seventh day, (2) the seventh year and (3) the seven times seven (=the 50th or the Jubilee) year. It is the Lord’s time of visitation (kairos, ora) when the pyramid of inequality is razed to the ground, fellowship is restored, debts are cancelled, mutual reconciliation and forgiveness are made to reinforce the social ethics of the Covenant: service (loving responsibility for one another). It is obedience (service/worship) to the God of Liberation, as well as a celebration of the Covenant.
  • Eighthly, such authentic worship is characteristic of a mobile community which is not tied down to special times for rites and prayers, or to a special cultic place such as the Temple, or to a power-wielding intermediary. Neither in Jerusalem nor on Mt. Garizim, but in Spirit and Truth (Jn 4:19-2l ), i.e. semper et unique as Jesuits' mobile character requires.

(C) Jesus, the Servant-King

The notion of the non-dominating kingship that Jesus claimed for himself cannot be understood except in terms of the value-system of Israel which Jesus confirmed with extraordinary vigor. Ignatius has captured the whole spirit of it in the meditation on the Call of Christ the King (Ex. No 91), and in fact in the whole of second and third weeks. It is a kingship proclaimed from the cross, which is the throne from which alone he reigns. Jesus resisted the other value system with such consistency, that he did not use their methods even to prove their futility. He resisted to the point allowing that system to kill him. That was his way of winning. It was on the cross that the naked victim exposed the victor’s value-system in all its nudity. This is the way of the cross, the one Ignatius presents as the Standard of Jesus.

I am going to tell you in a few moments how the Jesuits at a particular time in history gave a wrong twist to this concept Christ the King. But these Jesuits were not that original in doing it. There were others before them who had seated Christ on the wrong throne, thrust on his head a crown that belied his mission, and clothed him with a power that clashed with his love.

The Messiah-King had his own regalia. According to the prophet’s expectation, he would not be seen on horseback (a symbol of power and prestige in Israel) but “gentle and riding on a donkey” (Zech. 9:9). Just imagine the Pope going about in a threewheeler rather than in a bullet-proof popomobile. Jesus used this ridiculous symbol of the ass to tease the powers of this world and claim a kingship of another kind. That was a decisive moment for Israel; for their power-wielders mocked this King and apostatized, saying: We have no King but Caesar. Ironically, it was Caesar, now their King, who enthroned their God on a cross, forcing one of the Roman mercenaries to cry out spontaneously [Mk l5:39]:This man truly was the Son of God (divi filius, a title of Caesar). The conflict between Caesar and Christ continues, and it is very difficult for us, the church, to keep clear of apostasy. For if we cannot find another King, we  at least turn Christ into a King whom we can manipulate, as will be illustrated in a little while.

Perhaps one of the crucial Christological, and therefore, ecclesiological turning points in our Christian history is Constantine’s alleged vision of the Cross with the words: in hoc signo vinces. What a contrast with Ignatius’s vision at La Storta! The cross which laughed at all imperial pomp and power, is seen by Constantine as the sign and pledge of Imperial Conquests. In fact, one wonders what was really going on behind the scenes when the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross was established. All of a sudden, Constantine’s mother discovers the true relic of the cross, and it is exposed for veneration in the Constantinian Basilica of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem on 14 September 320, not long after the Edict of Milan which officially converted the religion of the slaves of Rome into a respectable ideology of the Empire. The Pauline and Johanine kerygma of the exaltation of the Crucified God was diluted into the Emperor’s exaltation of the Cross, the totem of political domination. Consequently, the Way of the Cross which defines Christian discipleship would no more be as evident in the institutional church as theVeneration of the Cross on altars, church steeples and breasts of clerics.

This ideological manipulation of Christianity is mentioned here in order to recall something similar which the Jesuits had done from about the last decades of the 19th century [1880s] up until the early decades of this century, with far-reaching consequences. They did this to “save” the church from a century of secularization triggered off by the French Revolution [1789]. The church which till then controlled every sector of life as the dominant power, began to lose its hold over the States and on all human institutions. Too long accustomed to the Two Swords Theory of medieval papacy, a veritable system of domination, the church was not spiritually disposed to be educated by these events to renounce its power so as to regain its authority. It was desperately trying to restore its post-Constantinian privileges as if they were divine rights derived from the Sovereignty of Christ.

At this moment, the Jesuits who had become “papists”, which Ignatius firmly and unambiguously did not want them to be,8 offered the church the theo-ideology which it was desperately groping for. However shocking it may be to acknowledge it today, the Jesuit who came up with this idea was Henri Ramière, the man who spread the devotion to the Sacred Heart, promoted the Apostleship of Prayer and edited the Messenger du Coeur de Jesus. Thank God, here in our missions, these devotions have remained uncontaminated by that ideology. But initially in France and then in Europe, Ramière’s publications (between 1879-1880) introduced into the ecclesiastical parlance the expression “the Social Kingship of Christ”.  His thesis was entitled: La Royauté sociale de Jésus-Christ demontrée par sa nécessité. A preliminary study made by the Italian historian Domenico Menozzi, has shown that this theory widely diffused by Ramiere and also by other Jesuits [e.g. in the Civilta Cattolica] had heavily influenced the encyclical Quas Primas with which Pius XI instituted the feast of Christ the King in December I925.9  Already, four years earlier, in l921, Cardinal Laurenti, presenting the Pope’s first encyclical Ubi Arcano, interpreted the pope’s mind with concepts borrowed from Ramiere et al., and with words that exactly described what Buddists in our country understood clearly as the goal of “Catholic Action”. Said Laurenti:

This is the social kingship of Jesus Christ: when the State will be Christian, when all the states are Christian, and I say “Christian” of the only one true Christianity, of the one sole church of Christ; when laws are Christian, when the schools are Christian, when marriage is Christian, when the tribunals are Christian, when the arms are Christian. All this we desire, all this we demand. But we do not ask for too much, Gentlemen. These are but the rights of Christ the King, and we cannot diminish them. We cannot accept the concept of a secular state (stato laico); for that is the negation of God, the negation of the Social Kingship of Jesus Christ.10

This feast of Christ the King which Pius XI instituted (now celebrated at the end of the Liturgical year) was not the one we celebrate on Palm Sunday and Good Friday: the Messiah riding on a donkey to be enthroned on the Cross as “the Lamb that is slain”. This new feast was permeated by a Christology of Domination, i.e., a papacy equated with the church, and the church equated with Christ, and Christ equated with a church and a papacy dominating every sphere of the world and claiming the right to exercise power in every sector of human life. Christ the servant-king washing the feet of his friends is gone for good. J-M Tillard, OP, in his classic, The Bishop of Rome (London, 1983) blames the Jesuits [mainly those of the 19th century) for playing a major role in creating the present bloated image of the papacy. Was it, perhaps, their Christology that was responsible for this papism, or was it their papism that inspired that kind of Christology?. However, Ignatius who gave us the Exercises, despite his medievalist Ecclesiology (which identified the church with God’s Reign) did not subscribe to this naive interpretation of the Kingship of Christ.

The Christological twist that the Jesuits imparted to ecclesiolatry seems to have been immortalized in the signature tune of the Vatican Radio:Christus vincit, Christus Regnat, Christus imperat, originally a Carolingian hymn later used as an anthem of the crusades.11  We are still paying the price for it, despite Vatican II.  Pope Pius Xl’s Catholic Action is remembered with fear and anger by the non-Christians of this country even today. The Vatican’s suspicions about the emergent Asian Theologies comes from this Domination-Christology.

A lot of spade work has to be done by us in Asia where this Colonial Christ has been clearly rejected by 97% of our people. Here we Jesuits have to play a significant role in presenting the Jesus of the Gospels and of the Exercises, the King who never takes life but gives his own to make others live - so well witnessed to in the personal lives of most of our missionaries -, a guru who wields authority rather than power; in short, a servant-king who elicits a Chistology of Iiberation which could emanate only from a domination-free Church animated by a non-proselytizing Missiology. [Here consult God’s Reign for God’s Poor, Chapter VI]

This new task is a species of creative labor (abd) and would be the finest act of worship (abd) we Jesuits can render to our non-domineering God, and a service (abd) to our Asian people and to the Asian church...if only...we have the kind of nondominating leadership that encourages initiative and creativity by giving even error the time and the freedom to express the truth it is trying to say. Hence we must constantly call to mind the value- slogan which Jesus taught his church.


This slogan is more radical than Israel’s. Here again we must read the gospels with the eyes of the Third Class of people mentioned above in the Introduction.

The effort of Jesus to make us experience God as our Abba, our darling daddy, was also an effort at demonstrating that Yahweh’s Reign has already come in his person and in those little ones he gathers round him: God is not distant like other gods; s/he works with us and for us (4th gospel; Sp.Ex 236). According to Jesus, the Reign of Yahweh means intimacy with God, or to put it in Ignatian terms, familiarity with God. Abba is the word that says it best: God is near, just here, totally at our disposal, seeking intimacy with us. Just sigh, and S/he hears, because it is the Son’s Spirit that sighs in us, calling him “Abba, Father.”  This Spirit has been poured into our hearts so that we may become one fellowship with Jesus: a Company of Jesus.

Does the word “father” imply a domineering male God? lnterestingly, feminist scripture scholars like Elizabeth Schussler-Fiorenza12 hold exactly the opposite view, namely, that here Jesus is presenting us with an anti-male anti-domination image of God, as we are about to see.  The Council of Toledo (675 AD) spoke of the Son as born ex utero Patris [from the womb of the Father]. The Hebrew word which expressed God’s, mercy is rachamim derived from rchm, which also means the womb (rechem), the feminine organ that gives birth and sustains life. “Be ye as non-domineering as your maternal father in heaven,” Jesus seems to say!

Moltmann, whom I follow here13 notes that the FT refers to God as father of Israel 11 times, but in the ST, Jesus addresses God always as “Father” [except when he recites Ps. 22 on the cross: “my God My God”] and the word occurs 170 times. Also when he speaks about God, he refers to him as “my father” (Pater mou) or “the Father” (Ho Pater).

Though it was at his Baptism that God reveals Herself as father of Jesus [“This is my beloved son”], there is a somewhat disturbing scene in Luke where the boy Jesus, just twelve, defies parental authority, not only by deed (staying back in the temple) but also by word (Why did you look for me?) and spoke of his “Father’s business” which his mother did not know about. Luke, here is hinting at something that might sound strange in our ears: that the Abba experience of Jesus was a source of scandal to the pious believers, including his parents. For, it seemed to run counter to the 5th commandment (4th in the Catechism: Honor thy father and thy mother). He leaves his own (His mother and family) and relies solely on Abba. His family, quite like the Pharisees, thinks he is “off his mind” i.e. eccentric (Mk 3:21 ).

There is a reason for this in the legal tradition of Israel. Deuteronomy (21:18-21) rules that a “stubborn and rebellious son” who does not obey his parents has to be taken before the elders and accused, among other things, of being “a glutton and a drunkard”. And then he is to be stoned to death. The Gospel writers had this text before their mind when describing the public image of Jesus as a glutton and a drunkard (Lk 7:34). He broke his biological ties with his family, and he deserved execution.  And if such person's body is hung on a tree, according to the same Law, (ibid., v.22), God’s curse is upon him, and he should not be left on the tree for the night but buried the same day..., as Jesus certainly was. He is the accursed man hung on a tree (See Gal. 3:l3)!! Besides, he died as a son who renounced his family. The Abba experience, therefore, leads to death, not any death but the most accursed one. The Abba experience collides with the values of the accepted secular and religious order. It found its climax on the Tree of the Cross.

The Abba experience is also an attack on the human Father as a symbol of domination. In the Hebrew as well as the Greco-Roman culture in which Jesus lived and taught, the father of the family had despotic powers, even over the life of those in his care. Now read Mk 3:32-35 carefully and note how any allusion to a human father is left out : “Your mother and your brothers are outside looking for you”, they say; to which his reply is: “Who are my mother and my brothers?” Then, looking on those who sat with him, he says: Here are my mother and my brothers: whoever does the will of my Father is my brother, my sister, my mother. There is no mention of the father. He does not stop there. He even says: Call no man your Father (Mt 23: 29), as if to say: “Erase that domineering figure from your mind. There is a Father in heaven; he is the real father; he does not dominate.”  Thus, Jesus seems to invite his disciples to be as “rebellious and stubborn” as he is so that in his Abba’s family, they can live without a domineering person. Note carefully these words.

Truly I say to you, no one who has left house, or brothers or sisters or mother or FATHER or children or lands for my sake or for the gospel [= intimacy with God = nearing of the Reign] who will not receive hundred fold NOW in this time, houses, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and lands [no mention of the FATHERS] with persecutions and in the age to come eternal life (Mk I0:29-30).

The omission is deliberate. In the new Family of Jesus, there is no human father. It is intriguing that Joseph comes out in the Gospel as a non-dominating figure. Was it a rare exception in Israel? He works behind the scene, and quite efficiently. Presumably, in Jesus’ value-scale, he is a model father!

Thus the Abba experience presupposes new family of Jesus. In Matthew (11:27, and parallels) there is a very profound observation with many implications: Only the Father knows the Son and only the Son knows the father, or anyone to whom the Son reveals. But it is to the “little ones” that the intimate self-revelation of the Father and the Son is offered.  I think the implication is clear: - The little ones come near the Father when Jesus draws near to them. And Jesus is always attracted to the little ones as his friends, not to the Big ones. Intimacy of the Father with these little ones constitutes the coming of Yahweh’s Reign. Only the little ones can receive and proclaim God’s Reign. The little ones alone can form a community of disciples; the Big Ones who dominate “like the gentiles” cannot form a community. They cannot lead the church of Christ.

This new family is not a regimented organization, but a fellowship of the Holy Spirit. For only the Spirit of Jesus can utter the word Abba. No law, no Domineering Leader, no Centrally Controlled Power, no Ritual Manipulation of people’s religious submission can raise a fellowship out of human beings. Only the Spirit that cries within all of us to the one and only Father can form a community. This Spirit must be given the Freedom to mould us according to the Triune Community that God is. For this Spirit given to us is the Communion between the Father and the Son.

These considerations give us a new understanding of the Parable of the Two sons, wherein Jesus holds before us the image of a non-dominating human Father.

Probably, in the culture of this day, it was only a “rebellious and stubborn son” who would ask for his inheritance and leave the home in search of adventure, and thus incur the wrath of the Elders of fsrael. This Father would not object, but lovingly yield to the son’s wishes. He would not report him to the elders, as required by the law. He gives him absolute freedom.  If the son thinks of returning, it is not because he repents of any disobedience, but because he thinks of what he misses. When he returns, the Father does not get him stoned to death, as required by the law. On the contrary, he covers him with his warm embrace, as if to say “I will not allow a single stone to be hurled at you; rather let the stones if any, hit me.” [as perhaps Jesus did in the case of the adulterous woman). This son has died and risen says the ideal Father presented by Jesus who himself is a rebellious and stubborn son who would rise from death to glory.

The parable ends with a rather negative picture of the good son-who remained at home but never grew up because he never realized the nearness of the Father. He preferred a dominating Father. He was, therefore, indignant about his Father’s indulgence, and too jealous to form one communion with his rebellious and stubborn brother or with his non-domineering Father. He failed to realize that he did not need any other feast than the experience of intimacy with Father. This son died just when the other was rising from the dead.

This is a great lesson for those called to lead communities non-paternalistically. Jesus presents himself as the rebellious son of a non-dominating Father. This father rejoices when we take the reins into our hands, seek freedom from domination, and fall from the dizzy heights of innocence to the solid ground of spiritual maturity and thus become an Easter Person. [Here consult God’s Reign for God’s Poor, chapter III & IV]

This leads to our final consideration: the Domination System that kills whoever seems “rebellious and stubborn”.



St. Ignatius describes the Standard of Satan as a domination system with images that conjure up power, fear and confusion [Sp.Ex. 140] and a strategy of “nets and chains” which trap and enslave us [Sp.Ex. I42] and thus alienate us from God our Abba. The values advertised by the domination system are desire for riches, followed by honor which in its turn leads to pride, the source of all the vices that make up the System. The Reign of Yahweh comes as we join the Company of Christ our King and work against the current by our poverty [non-riches], humiliations [non-power] and humility [non-domination]. Ignatius, of course, is using the virtue-vice language of his time to make his point.

The ST gives us a vivid picture of the Domination System with many powerful words which complement the lgnatian sketch. This System is described in terms of the “powers” (stoicheia) operating in this world; if you do not know to engage them for the better, they will trap you into a system of slavery, a system of domination from which you cannot get out easily. We get entrapped in a monstrous system of our own making. It is a System which we have created because we have been negligent in handling the powers that are within and without us: the unwise use of creatures, as Ignatius might say [cf. SpEx. 23].

Of all the words that describe the System created by us, there are three significant ones, kosmos, aion and sarx, which I present here straight from Walter Wink’s exegetical study.14

(A) The System alienated from God

Apart from the positive meaning of the “world” (kosmos) as something good, which is created and loved by God, there is another usage which clearly refers to the “human sociological realm that exists in estrangement from God.”  This kosmos is the Domination System that is not even aware of its alienation from the non-dominating God. It is created good, but estranged and, certainly, capable of redemption. Today’s theologians have invented a new word which has now been appropriated by the Magisterium: Structural Sin. This neologism points to the world (kosmos) in so far as it has been structurally deformed into an anti-God, anti-human, anti-earth monster, before which we feel helpless. lt constitutes the ethos in which we live, breathe, move and have our being!

The rendering of the word kosmos with the phrase “Domination System”, makes Wink’s translations of the key passages from the ST speak to our times with greater clarity and urgency. Listen to this, for instance : “You are of this system (world) but I am not of this system” (John 8:3). That was Jesus speaking to the Pharisees. John, therefore, thinks that “They belong to the Domination System (kosmos); therefore, what they say is determined by that System, and that System listens to them” (1 Jn 4:5).

This system is so all pervading that we breath it as the air. The system makes us see its values, it makes us trust its values, so that we are blind to see and believe the values of that other order which Jesus is speaking about. Says the Johanine Jesus: “For judgement I came into this System, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see [guides and interpreters of God’s Law] may become blind” (Jn 9:39). “And this is the Judgement, that light has come into the System, and the people [so blinded by the System] loved darkness rather than light” (Jn 3: 19).

Thus, standing before Pilate, a representative of Rome’s Imperial System of Domination, Jesus makes this claim: “The New Reality (basileia) of which I speak is not of this Old System of Domination (kosmos); if it were, my aides would fight that I not be delivered to the Jewish authorities. But the New Reality of which I speak [my kingdom] does not take its rise from the Domination System (kosmos)” (Jn 18:36).

Hence those who really longed for this New Order of God, or as Wink puts it, those who wished to be delivered from the Domination System into the “equalitarian non-hierarchical sufficiency of the reign of God”, perfectly understood what Jesus meant when he raised this rhetorical question (which Ignatius, according to the legend, is believed to have repeated in the ears of Francis Xavier): “Of what use would it be to be successful in this system and thus fail to live” (Mk. 8:36).15  That is why Paul reminds us: “Christ Jesus came into the System (kosmos) to save those who have missed the point of living” (I Tim 1:15).

In the letter of James (the first Social Encyclical?), the question is asked: “Has not God chosen those who are poor in the Domination System to be rich in faith and heirs of the New Reality (basileia) that he has promised to those who love God?” (Jas 2:2). Now, who are those who love God except those who have refused to cooperate with the System? For James also says: “Do you know that friendship with the Domination System is enmity with God?” (Jas 4:4). Hence John pleads:

“Do not love the Domination System or the things pertaining to it. lf anyone loves that system, the love of the Abba is not in that person. For everything in that system - the desire engendered by an alienated body and a wandering eye and the arrogant pretensions of those who are full of themselves - is not of the Abba, but is begotten of the Domination system itself. That system is passing away, with all its perverse desires, but the person who does what God wants done remains Ôinto the aion’ that is coming” (1 Jn 2:15-17).

No wonder, that for Ignatius, “doing what God wants to be done” was the measuring rod of spiritual progress [Ex 189]. For God’s will engages all of us in the task of ushering in the New Order which runs counter to the spirit of the existing system, the spirit of self-worship (or self-interest in Sp.Ex. l89). Those who have thus opted for the New Order receive the Holy Spirit, “not the spirit of the Domination System (kosmos) but the Spirit that is from God” (1 Cor 2:12). This is the Spirit that introduces us to Abba, the non-dominating God.

The ultimate response of the non-Dominating Abba to the Domination System is the Cross, which Ignatius presents as the Standard of Jesus, the Symbol of the alternative System, the one that brings liberation. Paul and John are the most eloquent exponents of this vision:

“May I never boast of anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ by which the Domination System (kosmos)” - which crucified Jesus - “has been crucified to me, and I to that System” (Gal. 6:4).
“In the old system, you face persecution. But take courage, I have vanquished the Domination System.” (Jn 16:33).
“If the System hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you would collaborate with the System, the System would love you for it; but because you have turned your backs on it [because I have extricated you from the System] it hates you” (Jn 15:18-19).

Ignatius was right. Lucifer is the “presiding spirit” of the Domination System. “The whole kosmos lies under the power of the Evil One” (1 Jn 5:19). If Satan offered Jesus a prominent place in this system enticing him to riches, honor, and pride (Sp.Ex. 142), he is going to make the same offer to us:

“The devil led him up and showed him in an instant all the Kingdoms [spheres of influence?] of the Domination System. And the Devil said to him: To you I will give you their glory and all this authority; for it has been given over to me and I give it to anyone I please” (Lk 4:5-6).

He is in charge of this System. We are, indeed, foolish to have handed this world to him to make it a Domination System. Yet, Jesus would not condemn us for doing this foolish thing nor does he condemn the System as such, but his coming had already condemned the Ruler of the Domination System (Jn 16:11 ), for Jesus has come to heal the System (Jn 12:47). He is the “Savior of this System” (Jn 4:42), and the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the System (Jn 1:29), and therefore it is from him that the System itself must learn of His Love for the Abba, which the Ruler of the System is incapable of knowing:

“I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler (archon) of this System (kosmos) is coming. He has no power over me; But I do as the Abba has commanded me so that the System may know that I love the Abba” (Jn 14:30-31).
“I do not pray that You [Abba]; take them away from the System” [for that is the theatre in which God’s Sovereignty must be established] “but that you keep them from the Evil One”. (Jn 17:15).

This followers of Jesus do not, therefore, run away from the System, as the Essenes did. Rather, as Paul says, they are “to deal with the System as if they had no dealings with it. For the basic structure (schema) of the dominant System (kosmos) is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31). How does this happen? Wink is almost Ignatian when he says that this happens when an increasing number of people find themselves going after the Leader of the new system: “You see you can do nothing. Look the kosmos has gone after him” (Jn 12:19). God’s system comes in the gentle manner described in Sp.Ex 146. It is the weak of the system confronting the strong of the system, foolish challenging the wise (1 Cor 1:20-21). For, as Wink suggests, “Prayer persuasion and social struggle thus occupy the community that lives [in the Domination System] Ôas if’ God’s Reign has already begun”.16 This is the mission that defines the Jesus Community, or the Company of Jesus, a contrast society that anticipates the New Order.

(B) The Time and the Texture of alienation

The other two key terms, aion and sarx, are equally significant. The word aion means epoch, time. Wink says that “Where John uses kosmos to unmask the Domination System from a structural point of view, Paul prefers aion for demarcating what we might call the Domination epoch”.17  The kosmos refers to the spatial dimension, while aion to the temporal dimension of the System. This means two things:

  1. The Domination System did not begin with time. There was a time when there was no Domination System, and there will be a time when there will be no Domination system. We created and inserted this system into time. Thus Time needs to be healed. We must “redeem the time” (Col. 4:5).
  2. This aion of domination will be superseded by the aion to come, the time of Liberation (Mt 12:32). Thus there will be another aion, but not another kosmos. lt is this Kosmos that will reach a New Aion. The world will NOT be destroyed when redeemed; rather, it will be redeemed into a new era. Bible knows no successive worlds, but only successive epochs.

The first disconcerting things about the present era is the language barrier between the followers of Jesus who live in the aion to come, and those who lead the Domination System of this aion. We who follow Christ must accept this incomprehension as a given. Paul complains that that wisdom of God he speaks about “is not the accepted wisdom of the Domination Epoch (aion) or of its rulers (archonton)”, although this wisdom “was established before the aions began, for our transformation into beings of light”. For, Paul continues, “None of the rulers (archonton) of this Domination Epoch (aion) understood what God was doing; for if they had, they would not have crucified the one who dispenses that light” (1 Cor 2:6-8). Indeed we are dealing with Rulers who crucify those who strive to redeem the System, Rulers who do not understand our language of liberation.

Therefore, “do not be conformed to this Domination Epoch (aion), but be transformed by the renewing of the mind” (Rom. 12:2). For, Christ will “set us free from the present evil aion, according to the Will of our God and Abba; to whom be glory into the aions of the aions to come [time infinitely extended]” (Gal 1:4-5). Thus, in the aion to come, the kosmos will receive another structure which will be domination-free, when “the reign of our Lord and his Christ shall reign into the aions of the aions” (Rev. 11:15).  The battle of the Reign of God will not fail, because Christ is struggling with us and will share the fruit with us. (Sp.Ex. 95). For, he has already given himself “to set us free from the present aion” (Gal. 1:4).

Finally we come to the third word, sarx which, too, is often mistranslated. In fact like kosmos (world), so also sarx (body) has a positive and a negative meaning depending on the context. According to the positive meaning, the flesh or the body is something good and holy and not to be opposed to the Spirit along the matter-spirit distinction of the Greeks. Wink reminds us that the ST nowhere defines redemption as deliverance from the body, rather it speaks of the “redemption of our body (soma)” (Rom. 8:23). Like the kosmos, our sarx too, will be resurrected into a “spiritual body”, that is a body totally governed by the Spirit of the Risen Lord. Such a body we are called to anticipate in the way we live here and now.

The classical instance of a positive usage of the word body (which Wink does not mention, here,) is Rom. 12:1 where Paul says: “I urge offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God -- this is your spiritual act of worship”. Here we have the notion of “worship” as “service”, i.e., the living out of one’s secular obligations [= offering our bodies] under the influence of the Spirit of God, whence comes the phrase “spiritual act of worship”. Not to live your life in the Spirit is to succumb to the System, as Paul insinuates in the very next sentence: “Do not conform to the pattern of this world [= to the sinful structures of this Domination System].”

Here, the bodily existence lived in the Spirit of God is contrasted with the same secular living conducted according to the pattern of Domination System. The former is Worship, i.e., “spiritual sacrifice”; the latter is anti-worship or idolatry.

That premised, let us follow Wink again, in decoding the frequently used Pauline phrase kata sarka (according to the flesh) in its negative sense of “dominated existence”.18  Everything done through selfish interests, including asceticism undertaken as a means of securing one’s life and one’s power, is “fleshy” according to Paul (Col. 2:20-23). This Pauline insight has become the foundational principle of Ignatian spirituality. Paul’s manner of expressing it gives us a glimpse into how we should live in the body without succumbing to the Domination System. Listen to Paul as Wink translates him:

For though we are living in the Domination System (en sarki), we are not fighting it by means dictated by the Domination System (kata sarka); for the weapons of our warfare are not the System’s (sarkika), but have divine power to tear down defenses. We overthrow rational calculations and everything that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, taking captive every thought into the obedience exemplified by Christ (2 Cor. 10:3-5).

Finally, let us be aware, with Wink, of a very dangerous feature of the Domination System: its perverse recourse to “redemptive violence by which it shelters for the very few, fantastic privileges denied to the many” and by which “the exploited many are beguiled into supporting the system that oppress them, even to the point of voluntarily offering up their own lives.”  That is why, I think, the Latin American Theologians insist that “conscientization” of the victims is essential not only for their liberation but also to redeem and heal the System itself. Or else we are

taken captive through that type of philosophy and rationalistic sophistry which has its origin in human tradition, in the fundamental assumption of the Domination System [stoicheia tou kosmou] and not in Christ (Col. 2:8).

This clear picture of the Domination System (kosmos, aion, sarx), carries with it a crucial question for those who feel called to fight under the Standard of the Cross: How do we respond to the “Call of Christ the King” to redeem the System together with all its socio-spiritual powers (stoicheia)? Where do we start?

Here is a clue:

(C) Non-co-operation with the System

I have borrowed the following insight from Richard Rohr’s Simplicity. The Art of Living (Cross Road Publications, New York, 1992, pp. 160-163), which, some years back, I photocopied and sent to many Jesuit houses. The reason? To show how we are so entrenched in the Domination System that we read the values of that system even into the Gospels; and how, on the other hand, the victims of that System could teach us the true meaning of the Word which in our case is choked by the “cares of this aion” (Mk 4:19).

The allusion is to the well known Parable of the Talents. How often I have preached what I have received from tradition, that the unpopular and cruel King is God the Father or Christ the Judge, while the hero of the parable is the man who made the most profit, - the non-profiteer being the villain of the piece! This capitalistic interpretation was universally taken for granted... till one day an unsophisticated group of compesinos in a Latin American Base Community totally unaware of the traditional interpretation, heard this text read out to them, found in it a true story that they saw happening around them and concluded that Jesus was simply showing them the way the cruel system operated right before their eyes, the way we should react to it. Some of the best theologians have since then realized that the parable was a true story confirmed by history. They said: How come we never saw that before?

From now on, I allow the American Franciscan, Fr Richard Rohr to say it in his own words, italicizing the gospel text so as to make the reading easier:

“He proceeded to tell them a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they supposed that the kingdom of God was to appear immediately.”  This is the starting point. These people expect that a simple unproblematic shift of power is just about to occur. And Jesus tells himself: I have an urgent need to talk to these people. I believe they have no idea what price they will have to pay. I believe they don't know what God's Kingdom costs. “He said therefore ÔA Nobleman went into a far country to receive a Kingdom.’” Like all good preachers, he starts off with a memorable political event, so that every listener knows what he is talking about. We think, of course, that when Jesus mentions the word “king”, he means God the Father. But in reality this refers to Archelaos, the son of Herod. Back then, every one knew that Herod’s son had gone on a three-year furlough to Rome after becoming King.

Before heading off, Jesus’ “Nobleman” has ten of his servants summoned and gives each of them ten pounds. “Trade with these till I come.”  The historical situation behind this is that before he went to Rome, Archelaos appointed viceroys. And he expected these men to collect the same unfair taxes that he had. He wanted them to oppress the poor the same way he had. When he got back, of course, he wanted to rake in the whole profit. Furthermore, it is a historical fact that a delegation of the country’s inhabitants was sent after him with the message “Don’t come back; stay where you are.” This is exactly what the next verse says: “But his citizens hated him and sent an embassy after him, saying, ÔWe do not want this man to reign over us.’”

Thus Jesus is not talking about some sort of rejection of God or God’s gifts, but about altogether down-to-earth topics of politics and oppression. The story then proceeds: “When he returned, having received the Kingdom, he commanded these servants, to whom he had given the money, to be called to him, that he might know what they had gained by trading. The first came before him saying, ÔLord your pound had made ten pounds more.’” So this viceroy was just the same sort of cutthroat as Archelaos himself. “And he said to him: ÔWell done good servant. Because you have been faithful in very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.’”  What Jesus is saying to his disciples is: “If you play along with their game, they will reward you for it. The world takes care of its own.”

“And the second came saying, ÔLord your pound has made five pounds.’ And he said to him, ÔAnd you are to be over five cities.’”  I used to think that the first two servants were the heroes; but that’s the prejudice of the capitalist mind-set. In reality the first two are blackguards, and the third is the hero. “Then another came saying, ÔLord here is your pound which I kept laid away in a napkin; for I was afraid of you, because you are a severe man; you take up what you did not lay down.’” - this is precisely the Judgement that Jesus passes on the world- “Ôand reap what you did not sow.’” Ronald Reagan called this the “trickle-down effect.” He claimed that by some obscure miracle the poor would get richer as the rich got still richer. This is a very comfortable myth for the people right up there on the top.

“He said to him, ÔI will condemn you out of your own mouth, you wicked servant! You knew that I was severe, taking up what I did not lay down, reaping what I did not sow. Why then did you not put my money into the bank, and at my coming I should have collected with interest?” The third man is the one who is really prepared to take the consequences of his inner obedience. Nowadays we would call this “civil disobedience.” [..] “And he said to those who stood by, ÔTake the pound from him, and give it to him who has ten pounds’”.

But now we suddenly hear a hesitant voice from the wing saying, “Lord, he has ten pounds.”  Why should the rich always get richer, and the poor always get poorer? The world takes care of its own. But Jesus taught his disciples not to play along with this system. This is the last parable in the Gospel of Luke, which Jesus tells before he enters Jerusalem to be crucified. lf you want to live the truth, then you must be prepared to pay the price for it. Sometimes it seems that Jesus’ only program for social reform is non-cooperation and non-idolatry...[end of the quote]

We might have to ask ourselves this unpleasant question about our Apostolic Institutions: Is there any one among them that “plays along with the Dominant System”? Is there any by which we could register our non-cooperation with the System? Is there a specific mode of formation which Ours should receive which would prepare them for this new engagement? Does the Two Standards play a prominent role in our apostolic discernment and in the discernment of our ministries? Could we offer a thoroughly Ignatian contribution to the Asian Church?

My second input (which is on inter-religious dialogues19) would raise a similar question: Of what use is inter-religious dialogue in Asia, if it is not done in the context of our refusal to cooperate with the Dominant System. lf the adherents of various religions do not meet and dialogue on that basis they would play into the hands of the powers (stoicheia). They would cease to be a liberating force for humankind.


  1. A talk given to the Jesuit Provincials of South Asia, 2 February 1998, Colombo, Sri Lanka.
  2. Later published in Vidyajyoti Journal of Theological Reflection, 57 (1993) 591-595 and taken up as the framework for Universalidad de Cristo, Universalidad de Pobre: Aportacion al dialogo interreligioso (ed. X.J. Alegre, J. Gonsales-Faus), Sal Terrae, Santander, 1995. These Spanish Jesuits presumably recognized and appreciated the Ignatian mould of my presentation.
  3. What I refuse to accept is the dualistic schemes such as “contemplation and action” and “faith and justice” which try to bisect our Christian commitment to the Standard of the Cross. I have argued this out in God’s Reign for God’s Poor, chapters one, two and five.
  4. The Vatican as well as the Evangelists attack Liberal Theology for its “secularity” and Liberation Theology for its alleged Marxist inspiration and acceptance of class struggle. What Liberation theologians say is that “class struggle” is not a programme of action to be undertaken (as allegedly in Marxism) but a mere statement of fact, something happening in overt and covert ways right before our eyes, therefore, something to be taken seriously by every Christian committed to the coming of God’s Reign.
  5. The natural affinity between Liberation Theology and Ignatian spirituality can be sensed in Jose Maga–a S.J., Jesus Liberador. Hacia una Espiritualidad desde los empobrecidos, Mexico, (no date).
  6. Here onwards I follow Bastian Wielenga, Biblical Perspectives on Labor, Madurai, 1982, pp. 31 ff.
  7. This is explained in detail in Asian Theology of Liberation, Orbis Books, New York, l988, pp. 6-7.
  8. Monumenta lgnatiana, Epp. 12:244, quoted in J.W. O’Malley, The First Jesuits, Harvard University Press, Cambridge MA, 1993, p. 296.
  9. D. Menozzi, “Regalita sociale di Christo e secolarizzazione. Alle origini della Quas Primas” in Christianesimo nella storia, 16/1, Feb. 1995, pp. 79-113.
  10. My translation from the Italian original quoted in Menozzi, p. 79.
  11. Menozzi, p. 88.
  12. In Memory of Her, London, 1993, p. 151.
  13. Jurgen Moltmann, History and the Triune God, SCM London, 1991, pp. 10-25.
  14. Walter Wink, Engaging the Powers. Discernment and Resistance in a World of Domination, Minneapolis, 1992, pp. 51 ff.
  15. Wink (ibid. p. 55) translates it as follows: “What does it profit people to gain the whole system (kosmos) and forfeit their lives?”
  16. Wink, 58. Emphasis added.
  17. Ibid. 59.
  18. Wink, 62.
  19. Here you are kindly requested to read God’s Reign for God’s Poor, chapter six, which is the second input for this study day.