Powers and principalities

By Dave Henning / January 30, 2023

“In the biblical story, there are forces outside ourselves somehow wreaking havoc in our lives, seducing us away from the God of love.  These forces are known as — to use biblical terms, powers and principalities.  They refer to the belief held by writers of the Bible . . . that . . . there exist spiritual forces whose agenda runs counter to the way of God.”- Rich Villodas

In Chapter 2 (“The Unseen Enemy: Living Against the Powers”) of Good and Beautiful and Kind, Rich Villodas reminds us that we’re all under a power that influences us to live curved inward.  But we also face another problem not located within our heart.  Most significantly, there’s something else at work that we often fail to see.  Yet, we must pay attention to it.

However, Rich observes, some people find it difficult to make intellectual room for these kinds of outside forces.  He explains:

“We like to think we are self-aware and smart enough to recognize when we are being influenced by forces outside of or larger than ourselves.  We might also think we are strong enough to resist any outside influence.  And that sense of insight and strength is exactly the problem.  We are more vulnerable and exposed than we think.”

Certainly, Rich underscores, we must expand our language for the forces that fill the world and influence us in order to understand the fragmentation we experience.  So, Scripture comes in handy here.  Because it gives us categories large enough to understand the evil curving the world in on itself.  And our hearts as well. As theologian Walter Wink noted:

“The utter failure of our optimistic views of progress to account for the escalating horrors of our time demands at least a fresh start at understanding the source and virulence of the evils that are submerging our age.”

In conclusion, Rich stresses, we must deal with this urgent reality.  While the problem with the world is ‘in us,’ it’s also ‘out there.’

Today’s question: How do you define powers and principalities?  Please share.

Tomorrow’s blog: “The great scheme of the Evil One”

About the author

Dave Henning

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