Hitler, Principalities, and Church

Stringfellow equates the biblical “principality” to modern-day “ideologies” or “institutions” or “images”. He talks about the principality of Hitler’s “image” eventually possessing him—where Hitler surrendered to his image in the struggle for control. Public image is a principality that can become demonic in proportion. He also talks about how invitations to serve an institution are often invitations to bondage. He calls them “angelic powers”. He asserts that demonic doesn’t mean evil, but that it refers to death and fallenness. “No man escapes enduring the claims for allegiance and service of the principalities. For a man to live in the state of fallenness is to endure these very claims”. “A profound concern for self-survival is the governing morality of every principality… by this a man is judged” (An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens In a Strange Land, p. 63).

I’m thinking a lot about this idea these days as it relates to the church. When the church becomes self-possessed… overly concerned with its image, influence, and effectiveness, and when it becomes obsessed with its own survival, it is possessed by a power. And the invitations to serve this institution are invitations to bondage.

As a Christian, church-member and pastor, this is of GREAT concern to me!

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  • Jeff Roach

    You examine all of the hard stuff, David. This is good, important self-examination and I am proud of you for doing it. I think your thoughts on this are correct and enlightening.

  • Thanks Jeff. Actually, it is having engaging conversations with friends like you that help sharpen my thoughts in these kinds of issues.

  • jake

    Your comment after the quote is correct. Religious history is replete with it.

  • C. S. Lewis said that man was created to be an adjective, but is sinfully trying to be a noun. Self-possession is something we ALL battle against, no matter what station in life we hold. If we want to learn about what self-possession is, the easiest way is to look at ourselves. I, as a Christian, as a church member, am concerned about this for myself. Friends, mentors, and strangers who model a life possessed by Christ, these are the people I long to spend time with.

  • kari

    as a believer (i do not like to use the word christian simply because i find it lumps me in with the ultra-religious or the liberals and both are just kinda embarrassing), a person part of the universal church (former local church member), and non-pastor (former youth pastor), it does not give me so great a concern.
    unlike jeff and jake, i’m not so sure i can give the stamp of approval to your thoughts today as being correct…they may be, but it seems more like a good platform for dialogue rather than a packaging and marketing to like minded folks.
    i do have a personal GREAT concern however – it leans more toward the question of what will an authentic community of god’s people look like and how do i, and my family, make that vital connection.