Perhaps the biggest need for Christians in the USA is to develop less of a trust in the federal and state governments and more of a biblical posture toward government.
Do you see the government connected to the “powers” or is the government — local, state, federal — neutral? Is it inspired by the powers? Does government have a natural proclivity toward the powers?
John Howard Yoder’s last book, published posthumously on the basis of his lectures in Warsaw (Poland), Nonviolence – a Brief History: The Warsaw Lectures , devotes a lecture to the “powers.”
There have been two big postures toward what Paul means by the “principalities, powers and authorities.” First, the conservative view is to connect them/it to demons and to see them as defeated spiritually. Second, the liberal view is to connect them to outmoded beliefs in archangels and the sooner we get beyond that kind of thinking the better.
Yoder knows the work of Hendrik Berkhof, a Reformed theologian of the Nazi years, who examined the “powers” in a powerful book (Christ and the Powers). The powers are creatures of God; they are created to serve God and mankind; they are fallen but not destroyed. They have become instruments of subjugation and oppression. The best word for the “powers” in our language is “structures.” They are corrupted or can be corrupted.
Jesus was both victim of the powers and a victor over the powers.
To confess Jesus as Lord, therefore, is not just personal; it is cosmic. The gospel is cosmic. It assaults the idolatrous desires of the powers.
The solution to the powers is not to redeem them but to form an alternative community under the Lord Jesus Christ. Our confession and our community is a witness to the defeat of the powers.