Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Jerusalem or Babylon?

This is my first post so I sort of feel I’m intruding. I have only been able to make one meeting (so far) due to schedule conflicts. I deeply regret having a conflict this Thursday because this is an HUGE issue for me right now. I’ve just begun a DMin program and the readings we have been assigned are really good. One book I discovered in this process is William Stringfellow’s An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land. (Link) The book was first published in 1973 and has been recently reprinted (2004). I offer the following passage as fodder for the conversation:

“The elemental truth of Babylon’s apocalyptic situation is Babylon’s radical confusion concerning her own identity and, in turn, her relationship to Jerusalem. The awful ambiguity of Babylon’s fallenness is expressed consummately in Babylon’s delusion that she is, or is becoming, Jerusalem. This is the same moral confusion which all principalities suffer in one way or another; this is the vocational crisis, really, which every nation in history endures. This is the vanity of every principality—and notably for a nation—that the principality is sovereign in history; which is to say, that it presumes it is the power in relation to which the moral significance of everything and everyone else is determined. Babylon’s famous wantonness, Babylon’s decadence, Babylon’s profligacy has only most superficially to do with materialism, lust, or the decline of moral values, and Babylon’s fall is not particularly a punishment for her greed or vice or aggrandizement, despite what some preachers allege. Babylon’s futility is her idolatry—her boast of justifying significance or moral ultimacy in her destiny, her reputation, her capabilities, her authority, her glory as a nation. The moral pretenses of Imperial Rome, the millennial claims of Nazism, the arrogance of Marxist dogma, the anxious insistence that America be “number one” among nations are all versions of Babylon’s idolatry. All share in this grandiose view of the nation by which the principality assumes the place of God in the world. In the doom of Babylon by the judgment of God this view is confounded and exposed, exhausted and extinguished. A magnificent celebration in heaven extols the triumph of God’s sovereignty over principalities as well as human beings (Rev. 18:20; 19:1-2).”—Stringfellow, p. 51

2 comments:

Dixon said...

Mike,
This is cool. Stringfellow is fantastic!
We'll miss you tomorrow.

Peace,
Dixon

Mike said...

His book was amazing for me. It has transformed my reading of the Psalms as well.

Peace and blessings,
Mike