About the Papers

The project is in two parts. The first part is about finding out what ‘the powers that be’ are really up to today, and the second part about how Christians might appropriately engage with them. There are additional papers to part 1 under the heading New Papers.

Part 1 consists of a series of some twenty papers each of which provides a reduction of the text of a key book about ‘the Powers’ written during the period 2003 to the present. The texts themselves dig deeper than more readily accessible sources such as the literature of the campaigning charities or relevant articles in broadsheet newspapers. The reductions amount to a fifth or even less of the originals, thus providing a convenient ’gateway’ to crucial information for busy readers. The aim of the reductions is to convey the ‘essence’ of the text omitting some but not all of the supporting data. Taken as a whole, the collection of papers provides an in-depth and far-reaching account of the current work and behaviour of ‘the Powers’.

Part 2 is essentially theological. It stems from the work of the American, Walter Wink, particularly his book Engaging the Powers (1992) which provides the title for the website as a whole. Wink is seen not so much as an academic theologian but as a modern prophet in the Old Testament mould – discerning where the world has gone wrong and calling it back to where it ought to be.

Wink does not provide a specific political strategy or policy, but rather offers a vision of a way forward based on the Gospel. This is distinctively Christian and avoids pitfalls which affect secular approaches. For example, Wink rejects alternative titles to his book such as ‘Challenging the Powers’. The implication of conflict with an enemy is to be avoided. Christians will treat ‘the Powers’ as fallen, like themselves, and in need of redemption. This implies mutual understanding and dialogue rather than a black and white ‘good versus bad’ scenario.

There are three other sets of papers to Part 2. These are based on books by N T (Tom)Wright, Bishop Lesslie Newbigin and thirdly a book written jointly by Stanley Hauerwas and William H Willimon. The Introduction to Part 2 includes preliminary comments on all of these.

The project is the work of Hamish Preston who also compiled the sets of papers. 

Next: Part 1 - The Powers at Work

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