Posted by: rogermitchell | August 21, 2012

The Fall of the Church CH3: streams of love

Chapter Three briefly relates the history of the love stream as it continued alongside the partnership of church and empire, explaining how and why love so easily defaulted to the domination system.

Firstly, the chapter begins with Eusebius’s own History of the Church where he tells the stories of Irenaeus and Dionysius, two early church leaders who resolved with love, controversies over baptism and the date of Easter that otherwise tended towards the re-emergence of a law-hierarchy-temple system. The section shows that despite recording the incidents, Eusebius was unable to see how crucially gospel orientated the answers were. Instead, the form and content of the theology he advocated made both the dating of Easter and the issue of baptism future subjects of imperial conformity, persecution, excommunication and even death.
Secondly, the late twelfth century lives of Joachim of Fiore and Francis of Assisi are focused on. The chapter outlines Joachim’s innovative trinitarian theology, his prophetic exposure of the emperor, and the new shape he saw for the future people of God. Francis’ parallel practical new way of life with its radical renunciation of property is described with its source in his attempt to recover the testimony of Jesus. The section then notes Joachim’s inability to include church with empire in his prophetic critique or to break the mould of hierarchy in the shape of his own new order. A similar lack is recognised in Francis’ failure to apply his way of life to the imperial politics of the day, or understand the egalitarian grace of the eucharist that called into question the hierarchy of papacy and priesthood.
Thirdly, the chapter tells the stories of how Gerard Winstanley and William Penn marvellously reconnected land and people in the seventeenth century. This outlines Winstanley’s radical recognition of the stewardship of the land for the good of all in digging up St George’s Hill near Cobham to grow crops for the poor, and William Penn’s inclusion of Native Americans as stakeholders in the ‘Holy Experiment’ of Pennsylvania. The rapid overthrow of the Diggers’ initiative and the eviction of the Native Americans from Penn’s experiment after a generation are evaluated partly in terms of both Winstanley and Penn’s failure to adequately ground their revolutions in the kenotic thinking and power of the Jesus story.
Fourthly, the pentecostal outpouring of Azusa Street is introduced as a divine initiative to recast the fulness of the love stream in terms of egalitarian grace and reverse the understanding of God that has been subsumed by sovereignty for centuries. The signs of the love stream found in each of the preceding moves and others like them are shown to be consummated there. The neo-Marxist call for a reinfusion of Judaeo-Christian love as a resource for motivating the potential power of immaterial labour is brought alongside this new breakthrough. The tendency of both Pentecostalism and Neo-Marxism to default to contemporary global forms of empire is acknowledged but the possibility of their providing mutual elements of a complementary future politics is considered.

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Responses

  1. Fab. Bring on the pubiication date!


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