Friday, August 12, 2016

Well Said: All the kingdoms of the world belong to a fallen spiritual force.

In the Gospel of Matthew, we find the account of Jesus’ confrontation with the devil in the desert. After tempting Christ with sensual pleasure (“turn these stones into bread”) and with glory (“throw yourself down and the angels will hold you up”), the devil entices him with the alurement of power: “all these kingdoms, I will give you if you but fall down and worship me.” What is most interesting about this final temptation is that the devil couldn’t offer all of the kingdoms of the world to Jesus unless he, the devil, owned them. Indeed, in Luke’s account, this is made explicit. Satan says, “I shall give to you all this power … for it has been handed over to me, and I may give it to whomever I wish.” I don’t know a passage in any of the literature of the world that is as critical of political power as that one! All the kingdoms of the world belong to a fallen spiritual force.

Whereas many (if not most) cultures both ancient and modern tend to apotheosize their political leaders, the Bible sees right through politics and politicians. One of the most important contributions of the Scriptures to contemporary politics, at least in the west, is this deep suspicion that power tends to corrupt. The institutionalization of this suspicion in complex systems of checks and balances is a healthy outgrowth of the Biblical view.
Robert Barron, Vibrant Paradoxes

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