Posted by: rogermitchell | December 31, 2020

A dire day and little rant!

I am so sorry that today has come and tomorrow the UK will be outside the EU.

Brits like me, who see themselves as firstly European and only secondarily, in my case, as English, are now involuntary exiles, disenfranchised and without the freedom of movement with which we have enjoyed our extensive homeland throughout our adult lives. Earlier today the UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson assured us that the UK is still part of Europe and we haven’t left the continent, only the EU, but that is small comfort given that we can no longer exercise our democratic vote, live and work anywhere we wish in our twenty-seven brother and sister nations and visit and receive visits from our European friends whenever and for as long as we wish. What is worse is that we have cast aside the real vision for the European Union, which was not primarily just a trading block but a growing community of peace and mutuality.

Worst still is that the misguided desire for the sovereignty of little Britain has won the day.

A dark stream that has long haunted our history, rooted knowingly and unknowingly in a horrid British exceptionalism, xenophobia and white supremacy has surfaced. Sooner rather than later the destructive implications of all this for human flourishing across our islands will become obvious, and the task of restoration will gain support. But I remain sad that this setback to overall wellbeing has come to pass. As I have said before in previous posts, I have friends and relatives who voted leave and who are good people. What I am not prepared to say is that they were right. I thoroughly love and forgive them, but I think that their action is having and will continue to have dire consequences on life in these islands particularly among the young, the poor, immigrants and asylum seekers and those to whom the kingdom of God primarily belongs.

Posted by: rogermitchell | December 17, 2020

The great deception

All my work, since I returned to academic research in 2005, has centred around the task of uncovering and resisting the deceit that peace and human flourishing comes through the possession of sovereignty. That is to say that the rich and powerful state establishment, and the institutions that they occupy or devise, are always and only the ones to be trusted to lead a particular people group forward. The very concept of the nation state comes from this deception. Our Western representative democracy is currently overlaid on this deception. Which is why those who manage to displace or replace the existing establishment only make a superficial difference and tend to become the rich and powerful themselves.

Kenarchy, a practice of life developed from the grassroots politics of Jesus and the divinely human emotions of love, care and solidarity has developed as an antidote to this deception. This is the subject of my seminal book Church, Gospel and Empire: How the Politics of Sovereignty Impregnated the West (Wipf & Stock 2011) and the related, more readable The Fall of the Church (Wipf & Stock 2013) and with Julie Tomlin and friends Discovering Kenarchy (Wipf & Stock 2014). Hence my opposition to Brexit, of course, which has been the most recent British manifestation of this deception. It is the reason that I have no confidence whatsoever in the current government that have come to power precisely on the basis of a hightened commitment to this long outmoded politics. They are now floundering in the shallows of chaos and destruction consequent on it and are about to take us further into its depths.

Fortunately, this deception has run its course, and while it is on track to ruin the central government of these islands, it won’t withstand the healthy, grass roots, more local movements of love, care and solidarity that are emerging everywhere. Thankfully, as I suggested in my last post, these movements are in fact urged on by the local response to austerity policies consequent on the 2008 economic shaking, and now by the response to the needs brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. It is my hope and conviction that the destructive effects of Brexit will provide similar opportunity and the government’s foolhardy attempt to supposedly restore our sovereignty will prove redemptive in the long run. But in the meantime, those newly joining the ranks of lived experience of poverty, and those whose urban and rural livelihoods are under threat are facing great privations as a result of the sovereignty deceit and those who prolong it. So there can be no apathy from those of us who understand this! Instead there needs to be renewed resolve to engage locally among strangers, friends and neighbours in our towns, cities, villages and suburbs to fulfill the angels’ famous words to the shepherds that first Christmas: “Peace on earth, goodwill among all people.”

Posted by: rogermitchell | November 14, 2020

Time to cultivate local social and economic space!

I don’t believe that central government can resolve the current needs of the UK at this time. Neither the coronavirus pandemic, climate change, the implications of Brexit, the NHS, education, community cohesion nor the social and economic circumstances or the poor, the disabled or the otherwise marginalised – in sum the issues of our time – can or should be left to them. Of course we should expose, challenge, disregard or affirm central government as occasion arises. But doing so is not the priority. Our local towns and cities and their rural hinterland are where we can make a significant difference and real change is possible. It is here that the horizontal politics of love can heal and transform our lives and ultimately undermine the domination of money, status and power that undergirds our current centralised government system. I gave a talk last year at the Morecambe Bay Love and Kindness conversations which spells this out and which you can listen to here if you have not done so already https://reimagininghealth.com/love-politics-part-3-roger-michell/

I am glad to say that both theoretical and practical resources are springing up throughout these islands to help us in our local action for overall wellbeing. Below are some that I have a hand in. My hope is that those who follow this blog, together with the clickers and surfers who pass through it daily, will comment with news and links to similar initiatives and help nourish and fertilise them. Some of you will be able to engage with what we are doing here, others will hopefully be encouraged and resourced to continue and expand what is happening in your own localities.

Morecambe Bay Poverty Truth Commission http://www.morecambebaypovertytruthcommission.org.uk/

Morecambe Bay Love and Kindness Movement http://lovemorecambebay.co.uk/

The Lancaster University Centre for Alternatives to Social and Economic Injustice http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/casei/

The Lancaster University Social Action Research Group https://lancasteruniversitysocialactionresearch.com/

It is my hope that The Kenarchy Journal http://www.kenarchy.org will help undergird these many developments. I particulary commend Spencer Paul Thompson’s substantial article “The Commodified Christ and the Economics of Jubilee” https://kenarchy.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/05/Kenarchy_Volume1.7.pdf. Whether or not you are a person of Christian faith you will find it illuminating and challenging.

Posted by: rogermitchell | October 24, 2020

Why do Children go Hungry?

My good friend Dr Andy Knox has responded to the current UK crisis of child poverty in his most recent blog post. I’m with him all the way on this!! https://reimagininghealth.com/while-children-go-hungry/#top_page

Many Christians and churches across the world have been implying that the pandemic is God’s punishment for the sins of twenty-first century nations. I strongly disagree and encourage Christian friends who are tempted to think this way to think again. My good friend Brad Jersak deals with this question in the latest edition of Clarion: Journal of Religion, Peace and Justice. I recommend his response to you.

https://www.clarion-journal.com/clarion_journal_of_spirit/2020/07/qr-with-brad-jersak-2-chronicles-7-and-the-pandemic.html

Posted by: rogermitchell | July 20, 2020

Undoing structures of patriarchy

Those familiar with my theological research and writing will know that I regard our contemporary Western system as a continuation and consummation of empire. The good news is that this may at last be coming to an end, and the redemptive potential of the coronavirus and its aftermath is that it is accelerating this. In my view, patriarchy has been a core structure within this system and it too must come to an end if we are to find a new genuinely collaborative and loving way of life. It is my conviction that it is the task of the politics of love to hasten the end of the Western empire and the undoing of patriarchy. As you might expect, I believe that the gospels can help us with this.

Last week Sue and I were reading Matthew’s account of Jesus’ address to the crowds and his disciples about the patriarchal empire system of his day of which the scribes and Pharisees were key promoters and representatives. This was clearly seen in their role in the world of fashion, culture, religion and commerce. As Jesus puts it “they do all their deeds to be noticed by men.”

Jesus then proceeds to make four very strong statements about the motives of these social pillars followed by three uniquivocal directives to his followers that undo the structures that this kind of behaviour upholds. “But they do all their deeds to be noticed by men; for they broaden their phylacteries and lengthen the tassels of their garments. They love the place of honor at banquets and the chief seats in the synagogues, and respectful greetings in the market places, and being called Rabbi by men. But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ.”(Mtt 23:5-10)

In exposing and cutting these deep roots of empire it seems to me that Jesus identifies a strategy that can begin to undo the endemic institutional structures of patriarchy. If we undo these three core elements of empire then other evils will begin to unravel with them. If no-one elevates the role of teachers, fathers and religious or political leaders over others then the demonic hierarchies of men over women and white supremacy will begin to come down. Let none of us think that this is going to be easy. It’s about both how we view others and how we view ourselves. Let’s be clear right away that this is not decrying teaching, fathering or leading. Jesus commissioned his disciples to teach the nations (Mtt 28:20), affirmed the exhortation to honour father and mother (Mtt 19:19) and gave the twelve leadership roles (Mtt 10:5ff).

At issue is the use of the roles of teacher, father and leader as a means of acquiring honour and position for oneself, compared to others, and thereby affirming the hierarchical organisation of the governing institutions of the social order. The key clarifying statement is later in the chapter which records the list of Woes that Jesus unleashes on these selfsame scribes and Pharisees. Jesus uses his famous metaphor of “white washed tombs filled with dead men’s bones” to describe them. “So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness” (Mat 23:28). More than anything this is about an appearance of propriety which in fact covers up self promotion. Self promotion, or what the apostle Paul calls “vainglory” (Phil 2:3) is the fulness of lawlessness. Drawing on apparently proper laws and protocols it actually conceals “all uncleanness” (Mtt 23:27). Titles that harness teaching, fatherhood and leadership in the cause of self promotion are primary levers of institutional patriarchy, prejudice and injustice.

While it is good to be a teacher, father or leader it is not okay to turn these jobs into positions of power and authority over others. They are roles and can be callings, but they are not hierarchical titles or positions. Titles entitle and entitlement is one of the worst characteristics of empire. Entitlement carries the assumption that some jobs, tasks and identities are intrinsically and self apparently more worthy of respect than others. They are not. While the scribes and Pharisees were political players they were religious leaders. Given that Jesus’ woes were reserved for them and his warnings were directed to his followers and disciples, I conclude that the gravest kind of patriarchy is to be found among those men who use their expertise in teaching, fathering and leading to carve out for themselves positions of entitlement in the ecclesia or to advance their role in the workplaces of the world. Those familiar with my post-renewal ecclesiology will know that I understand the primary task of the ecclesia to be repositioned in the world for the overall wellbeing of the whole family of humanity and the cosmos. Hence the behaviour of Jesus’ followers within the life of the city and the spheres of society absolutely matters and is essentially counterpolitical. We are here to embody and embed the politics of love, not to take power for ourselves.

This has set me doing some deep thinking personally. Being awarded a doctorate for my theological research nine years ago was incredibly healing for a working class boy. It has also enabled me to speak up for the poor and the oppressed and to challenge the empire system. I think that academic, ecclesial and political titles can do the same for women and those from oppressed racial groupings. But I am aware that for me at least it can be a cover for the self promotion and personal entitlement that maintains patriarchy. So I’ve decided to stop using the title doctor. I will use the letters PhD and describe my role in various academic workplaces where it helps give validity to my theological writings and activism, but I’ll get rid of the title from now on!

Posted by: rogermitchell | June 7, 2020

Unhelpful mindsets (2)

As we have seen in the previous post, nation states like Britain and the USA mistook the biblical account of Israel’s stewardship of the land for the blessing of all the families of the earth for a justification of exclusive ownership of land by nations as the original purpose of God. In much the same way the Evangelical and Pentecostal-Charismatic churches have tended to take on a similar view of the church. They have regarded God’s new covenant as the evidence that the church are God’s specially protected favorites on planet earth, rather than the agents of grace for the poor, strangers, and enemies. For this reason the misapplication of God’s covenant with the land of Israel often continues to feature in the church’s expectations for the future. 

1. Ghastly eschatologies

This privileged position for the church is particularly characteristic of the modern dispensational eschatologies that center round the church’s future relationship to an anticipated thousand years of peace. In times of apocalyptic change like the current pandemic some of these ghastly eschatologies are reappearing. These are the amillennial, premillennial, and postmillennial theories that have occupied much theological debate about the end times. It is especially true of the premillennial eschatologies that posit the removal of the church prior to a supposed great tribulation that befalls the rest of humanity before the establishment of a millennial reign of peace centered on a reconstituted Israel complete with Jerusalem and its temple. These theories came to great public prominence in the 1970s through Hal Lindsey’s The Late Great Planet Earth and more recently the Left Behind series of books and films from Tim LaHaye and Jerry B. Jenkins. What is distinctive and particularly problematic about these various eschatologies is the assumption that the climax to the salvation story is a new and cosmic Christian empire with Jesus on the throne and the neo-nations of Israel and the church as his ruling cadres. 

The basic problem with these dispensational eschatologies is that they reintroduce the imperial view of God that Jesus came to fulfill and correct. This is by no means a merely esoteric matter of interesting theological speculations on the nature of the end times. These are life and death issues that need to be faced. It is well documented that President George Bush Junior’s policy on the Middle East was directly influenced by such eschatologies.[1] The highly influential worldwide intercessory movement has been at least partly infected by them. In this way they have inadvertently been a means of exacerbating some of the very problems they had intended to overcome and have continued the colonization of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement by biopower (the capitalist economic commodification of everything).

2. A properly incarnational theology

It is not primarily the specifics of an eschatology that makes it ghastly, although for sure some details are quite dreadful, but the theological and political assumptions that drive it. A properly incarnational theology always argues from Jesus to God. This works forwards as well as backwards. That is to say that our expectations about the future peace that Jesus came to bring needs to be of the same substance as the incarnation. Any second coming of the gospel Jesus will manifest the same essential kenotic lordship as the first coming. So we can say that concepts of future victory for the church and judgment on its enemies that run counter to Jesus’ demonstrations of victory and treatment of his enemies cannot belong to the future kingdom of God. This means that a Jesus hermeneutic has to be applied to the epistles as well as the Old Testament and particularly the Revelation. The latter clearly stands together with the few brief passages of Jesus’ own apocalyptic in the counterpolitical stream of the Old Testament prophets. Seen this way the Revelation and Jesus’ apocalyptic are about exposing the here and now of the status quo, more than providing precise details of an as yet unknown future. Once this is understood the Revelation becomes an extraordinarily practical handbook for the radical activism of subversion-submission spelt out in the previous chapter. Martin Scott has helpfully demonstrated this in his exposition of the letters to the seven churches in the first three chapters of Revelation. He applies the message and imagery of the letters to particular city types in order to see how a city and its hinterland might best be developed for the blessing of the nations.[2] In their book Unveiling Empire[3] Wes Howard-Brook and Anthony Gwyther give a comprehensive overview of what a radical political interpretation of the apocalypse might look like when applied to an imperial society in any generation.

3. The roots of dispensational eschatology

Donald Dayton has done comprehensive work on the rise of the premillennial eschatological theories we have been considering here.[4] He helpfully explores their roots in the tension between the dispensational eschatological views of John Wesley’s eighteenth-century associate John Fletcher and Wesley’s much more this-worldly reformist and incarnational approach. He explores how the futuristic premillennial views came to dominate a century later, particularly as developed in the writings of the Plymouth Brethren evangelist J. N. Darby. Dayton explains this in terms of a deep frustration with the perceived failure of the evangelical justice agenda such as that characterized by Oberlin College despite the fact that, as we have seen already, he regards that movement as itself a primary harbinger of the Pentecostal-Charismatic outpourings. This shows how easily the church becomes vulnerable to a crisis of faith when egalitarian grace fails to be properly earthed and the expected rule of peace seems to be delayed. This is both challenging and encouraging. Challenging, because it shows how the failure to have a properly incarnational perspective reduces the gospel to the expectation that it is merely about immediate breakthrough for personal blessing. It exposes a truncated gospel that assumes that either we get permanently healed or socially freed in the present or we simply wait for our sufferings to be justified sometime in the future. Encouraging, because, notwithstanding the apparent crisis of faith that led to the rise of such ghastly eschatologies, the utter abandonment to God of the late-nineteenth-century people of faith, despite their vulnerability to empire, led to an unprecedented outpouring of transcendent grace.

——————————————————————————————————————–

[1] See, for example, Yaakov Ariel, “Messianic Hopes and Middle East Politics: the Influence of Millennial Faith on American Middle East Policies.” LISA e-journal, Vol IX – n0.1, 2011. Religion and Politics in the English-speaking World: Historical and Contemporary Links

[2] Scott, Impacting the City.

[3] Howard-Brook and Gwyther, Unveiling Empire: Reading Revelation Then and Now.

[4] See Dayton, “The Rise of Premillennialism,” 145.

[5] Hardt and Negri, Multitude, 352.

[6] Ibid., 101.

[7] Negri, Insurgencies, 12.

[8] Badiou, In Praise of Love, 57.

[9] Ibid., 59.

[10] Hardt and Negri, Multitude, 352.

[11] 1 Cor 15:17, 19.

[12] Rom 8:36.

[13] Mayhew, “Turning the Tables, Resurrection as Revolution,” 1.

Posted by: rogermitchell | June 4, 2020

Unhelpful mindsets

It is now seven years since the publication of my book The Fall of the Church https://www.amazon.co.uk/Fall-Church-Roger-Haydon-Mitchell/dp/162032928X Although I shared a lot of the content here on my blog while I was writing it, it is likely that many of you now reading this have never read it. This is even more likely to be the case with those who follow my Facebook page and who want exposure to my theology, politics & social comment, but haven’t realised quite how radical that is!

So I’ve decided to re-post some of the final chapter on “Myths and Obstacles” in several posts starting today, and link them to my Facebook page so that those who wish can have a serious think about them and respond if they wish. The most resilient of these myths and obstacles come within what we sometimes think are Christian mindsets but actually are obstacles to the testimony of Jesus. They can be summed up in three categories. The first of these consists of problematic beliefs about the gospel narratives or “gospel myths” that significantly undermine the Jesus story. The second is made up of idolatrous perspectives towards Britain, the United States of America, and particularly Israel that regard all three nation states as in some sense “promised lands.” Finally come the peculiar beliefs about the end times that I term “ghastly eschatologies.”

I’m going to begin with the second of these mindsets that is particularly prevalent at the moment and that I call “Promised Lands”.

Promised lands

This is a problem that is particularly deeply rooted in Britain and the United States of America. This is the manifestation of the partnership of church and empire that is religious patriotism. I am not referring here to love of one’s country, but the idea that one particular country or another is especially favored by God in being positioned over against others in a morally or culturally superior manner. This is sometimes referred to as exceptionalism or manifest destiny. It tends to carry with it the idea of a special relationship or covenant with God that apparently guaranteed the nation’s past and present prosperity. The thinking is that such an advantage will continue into the future as long as the nation involved keeps to certain conditions at the heart of its political construct, such as the ten commandments. While this reading of the relationship between God and nations might conceivably be defended from the Old Testament story of Israel, just as long as one avoids crucial parts of the message of the prophets, it runs counter to the fullness of the divine character and purpose revealed in the incarnation. As we have already seen from Jesus’ final public remonstration with the temple authorities, it was precisely this selfish promotion of national dominance that aligned Israel with empire and lost its calling to the nations.  

1. The purpose of Israel

If as God’s initial promise to Abraham stated, the blessing of God is for all the families of the earth,[1] then the gift of land, culture, and people is to be stewarded for the rest of humanity. The advent of Jesus and his identification with those displaced by empire, such as women, the homeless, the asylum seeker, and the poor, made clear that the kind of society that sided with empire for its own survival and prosperity was far from the kingdom of God. Israel’s chronic inability to understand their kenotic purpose as God’s loving agents provided the background to the incarnation story. As chapter 2 has already pointed out, the radical prophetic stream constantly called them back to their original destiny. They were to be the means of making “wars to cease,”[2] of speaking “peace to the nations,”[3] of leveling social stratification,[4] and of bringing “justice to the nations”[5] until “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.”[6] As Luke’s famous Magnificat sums it up in Mary’s own prophecy of the incarnation, it was to pull down the mighty from their thrones and exalt the lowly.[7] In these terms the purpose of Jerusalem was as the mountain of the house of the Lord to which the nations came to see the governance of God demonstrated.[8] It is this that Jesus speaks of rebuilding in three days[9] and Paul describes in Galatians as “the Jerusalem above.”[10] It was this destiny that the gospel testimony saw as completed in Jesus, including the fullness of the battle prophecies of Zechariah, Jesus’ most quoted Old Testament book. At the cross all the prophesied eschatological battles reached their culmination. Now “all the tribes of the earth” could “look on Me whom they have pierced . . . and . . . mourn,” and not only the tribes of Israel who represented them.[11] We can say confidently from the testimony of Jesus that if there is any ongoing prophetic destiny for the Jerusalem “below” it must be as a place of inclusive blessing for all nations, including its enemies. 

Despite this incarnational fulfillment in Jesus, the idea that God’s covenant guarantees the ownership and rulership of the land by a particular state or people has continued to define world politics. As we have already seen, the assumption that this was the nature and purpose of God’s blessing to Israel played a key part in the foundation of the Western nation state in Britain during the seventeenth century, and often continues to uphold it. Gilbert Burnet drew on the supposed sign and parallel of ancient Israel[12] in his legitimation of William and Mary, and William Paterson did the same in securing the Bank of England’s currency of debt on the future prosperity of Britain. Even William Penn drew on an idealized view of native English justice to undergird his Holy Experiment instead of drawing on the egalitarian loving justice of the incarnation.[13] Had he done the latter he might have written kenotic love deeper into his initial configuration of the American Constitution.

2. Subconscious mythologies of the nation state

It is this background to the Western nation state that makes patriotic practices such as the pledge of allegiance to the American flag and the singing of jingoistic national anthems, something much more than love for the land of one’s adoption or birth. Personal identification with the deep subconscious mythologies of the nation state works strongly against the necessary challenge to the status quo brought about by the practice of civil disobedience advocated in the previous chapter. Romanticized notions of nationhood such as those summed up in Shakespeare’s “this sceptred isle”[14] and songs like “Rule Britannia,” “Land of Hope and Glory,” “America the Beautiful,” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” all occupy the space that Jesus obtained for egalitarian grace. Gratitude for the gift of a land and culture to steward for the blessing of the other nations of the world is undoubtedly a good thing, but the proud, violent national idolatry that emerges from below the surface of our supposed promised lands is dangerous and destructive. 

Since the establishment of the nation state of Israel after the horrors of the Holocaust, the danger of it coming to embody the idea of God’s commitment to special lands and people has been very real. Instead of encouraging Israel to pursue its ancient heritage of being a blessing to all the families of the earth, there has been a tendency for the United States, Britain, and other nations to invest the modern nation state of Israel with special status as a talisman of justice and blessing. Supported by American and British vetoes at the UN council, defended by atomic weapons, and financed by Western investment, it has become the archetypical symbol of the political currencies of law, violence, and money that undergird the whole Western imperial project. It is crucially important to point out here that while the parallel promotion of the Palestinian people as a rightful alternative claimant for ownership of the so-called promised land is fully understandable in the circumstances, it only replaces one symbol of sovereignty with another. In so doing it makes the more striking the destructive implications of the exclusive ownership of land for a particular people instead of its stewardship by all its inhabitants for the common good. From both a creational and incarnational perspective, land is the context for every tribe and tongue and nation to live together in peace and harmony. The current Middle Eastern tragedy is a clarion call for kenarchy coming from the very place of its source.


[1] Gen 12:3.

[2] Ps 46:9.

[3] Zech 9:10.

[4] Isa 11:6.

[5] Isa 42:1.

[6] Hab 2:14.

[7] Cf. Luke 1:52.

[8] Isa 2; Mic 4.

[9] Matt 26:61; John 2:19.

[10] Gal 4:26.

[11] Zech 12:10; John 19:37.

[12] Mitchell, Church, Gospel, & Empire, 123, 121.

[13] Murphy, The Political Writings of William Penn, 394.

[14] Shakespeare, King Richard II.Act 2 scene 1.

Posted by: rogermitchell | June 1, 2020

The Kenarchy Journal official launch!

I’m delighted to tell you that after months of preparation, the Kenarchy Journal, Volume 1: 2020 Starting Points is now fully available online. While kenarchy is a gift for everybody, those of us who configure a politics of love in these terms are strongly motivated to do so in a way that deeply penetrates existing socially constructed mind-sets. This is why we combine applied academic research and writing together with grassroots social, economic and political activism. Kenarchy has developed over the last decade as a form of political theology and we make no apology for that, but it now embraces a wide and interdisciplinary perspective relevant to the life and practice of love. The purpose of the Journal is to advance applied research, and as such, it is an academic journal. However, the intention is to make kenarchy more widely known and practiced and so we invite thinkers and activists motivated by love and concern for overall wellbeing to engage with the research material via the forum and when they can to submit articles of their own. You can access it here: http://www.kenarchy.org

The simple core approach to life that sustains my activism and theology is the embrace of an incarnational hermeneutic. Or put it another way, my faith in and commitment to the gospel Jesus is the deep source of my relationship with the divine, the human and the cosmos. Those of you familiar with my work will know that I find this to have a decisively political outworking which I and a whole network of thinkers and activists with whom I collaborate configure as a politics of love or kenarchy. We express this in terms of seven foci, the first of which is the instatement of women. Given that the nature of divinity and humanity seen in this way is an all embracing life-laying down cruciform gift of love, its outworking is decisively positive and others-affirming, even and particularly enemy-loving! For this reason I have hesitated to assess theological and cultural opionions and traditions different to mine as wicked or evil or in need of repudiation or repentance. But theology and knowledge are progressive and eventually there are boundaries which love must draw.

So, I believe that it’s time to say that beliefs, mindsets and practices which oppress, subjugate or displace women in preference to or domination by men are unequivocally wrong, whatever their source in religion, ideology or culture. They are contrary both to the divine nature and to humanity in the image of God. As such they are an evil that needs repenting of, or put in Christian terms are unequivocally sinful. It is my considered view that that they can no longer be excused and any arguments from biblical and other religious texts and writings that purport to substantiate such oppressions of women are in so doing exposed as misapplied and misguided. I’m aware that for many of us this has all been obvious for a long time, but I have been shocked in recent years that men across a wide spectrum of church, work place, politics, economics, culture, and religion have continued to excuse, espouse, and practice forms of patriarchal entitlement. It’s time to stop and draw the line. Those who subjugate women to men are guilty of an evil that needs repenting of. They are enemies of love and overall wellbeing. Enemies of course need to be loved, but that does not mean that they can be justified or supported in their beliefs and practices.

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