Creation and the Powers

Richard Bauckham

The enmity and violence in the  created world certainly have something to do with ‘the powers’. it seems very likely that Paul is referring to unseen spiritual forces, of a kind that the Colossian Christians felt determined their fate and was responsible for the evils of their lives. But of course these unseen forces had very tangible dimensions: natural disasters, sickness, death, oppressive political  and social structures. Paul is not necessarily endorsing the ways in which the Colossians thought about such powers, but affirming that , whatever hostile powers there might be, in heaven or on earth, Christ has pacified them, at least in the sense of having definitively established the peace that is to prevail throughout the creation. in our contemporary context, we might appropriately apply this insight to the forces at work in the current destruction of nature: the global economic system, consumerism with the addiction to excess that it promotes, the seemingly unavoidable ‘short-termism’ of even the most democratic political systems. Such realities of our wold may seem out of human control, subjecting us to their fearful direction rather than implementing some collective will. Their hostility to God’s purpose is more than the sum of human intentions to despoil and destroy God’s world. In such a context we may understand Christ’s pacification of such powers as taking effect through us, a we confront them and seek peace between humans and the rest of creation despite their seeming supremacy. (159)

The Bible and Ecology, Waco TX: Baylor UP, 2010

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