Posted by: rogermitchell | May 26, 2013

The heart of kenarchy

I am going to dive into the heart of kenarchy and encourage those of you who have little or no idea of what I’m on about to comment accordingly!

So firstly a reminder that kenarchy is the opposite kind of power to the exertion of my own domination, independence and autonomy that constructs empire, whether on a cosmic, local or personal front.
Secondly a reminder that the word kenarchy and the related adjective kenotic derive from the Greek word keno, to empty, that Paul uses in his letter to the Philippians when he says that Jesus, instead of using his divine power to insist on his own way, “emptied himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, being made in the likeness of men … he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:7-8). Here the fulness of love is described in terms of the way Jesus emptied himself of the kind of power that could be used to control and dominate others but instead poured power out as a gift of love to meet the other, which is, as we have been discussing in previous posts, measured by the reach across to one’s enemies. As Luke records it “But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you” (Luke 6:27).

The cross in the Roman Empire of Jesus’ time was a prescribed form of punishment for those deemed to oppose the then accepted means to peace on earth, peace through the sovereign power of the Roman hierarchy. The Roman peace depended on control by hierarchical order, law and the ownership of property. If you opposed it, then you could expect to be crucified. You would be regarded as an exception to the peace, instead of which you would receive violence and death. By calling for disciples of Jesus to take up their cross and die every day, the gospel narratives deliberately position them as those in opposition to the Roman way of peace. “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me” (Luke 9: 23).

It’s important to realise that by identifying himself with the then instrument of retributive justice Jesus was taking the part of common thieves, robbers, insurrectionists and murderers like Barabbas. The Roman way to peace was to identify your enemy as anyone against your power, good or bad, and destroy them. By choosing to risk the cross by positioning himself and his followers against the Roman way every day, he united himself with the enemies of the system, including those who would transpire to be his enemies too, whether Judas Iscariot, Barabbas, the baying crowds or the thief next to him who didn’t repent. This is how come the cross reaches to our enemies.
To be continued…..

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Responses

  1. Looking forward to the next instalment!

  2. Lovely to hear from you! Next installment following tomorrow I hope. Time to walk and cogitate later this afternoon…

  3. Does this mean that walking with my cross daily does not position me with upright, middle-class, law-abiding church-goers? Yes! Free at last from all those, dare I say it, unchristian expectations. And hey, no more good girl stuff, time to step out and be a bad girl – challenge the existing order rather than serve it. c.

  4. Right on Cheryl!!

  5. “The Roman way to peace was to identify your enemy as anyone against your power, good or bad, and destroy them. By choosing to risk the cross by positioning himself and his followers against the Roman way every day, he united himself with the enemies of the system, including those who would transpire to be his enemies too…”

    The enemies of the system! Let’s just say the system is the Western Imperialist one, or the global capitalist, or the 3rd incarnation of the Roman one. Who are the visible and blatant enemies of this system. The ones the western media chooses to vilify everyday in more and more egregious ways. The ones beginning with T.. and A.. and M.. and I… and C… Are these the ones, in taking up my cross, I’m united with even though it would transpire, when we get down to the nitty gritty, we’re enemies. Enemies but with a common foe. Our means might be dramatically different, I am for peace, many are for war, but the aim is the same – the undermining and ultimate downfall of a system that has and is repressing and destroying us all.

    When we choose the cross, the kenarchic way, we choose to position ourselves against the system and we risk being categorised with the common criminal, the bloodied terrorist, the blinkered bigot and everyone else, under another sun, who we would find it hard to have dinner with.

    Is this, Mr Mitchell, not also the kenarchic way?

  6. Yes Rosie, I think it is!

  7. I’m very interested in Your research, Roger. Thanks! For almost one year I have been diving into it and will do so on. We regulary speak about kenarchy as Gods way to act and react in this way in our home meeting. For me and us it goes together with Jesus having called us into freedom. I mean, we all know the old way of act and react according to imperial systems – in our couples, educating, churches and society. We know this was NOT the Godly way. But know we have the honest question: WHAT is the Godly way. For this we get more and more answers also out of Your work, Roger. Thanks!

  8. I’m so glad this stuff is helping you! I’m looking forward to finding that time we’ve already tried to work out to meet up again. Kenarchy course are coming up in October, November and January. Let us know if any of these might work. Also Sue may be in Germany in the autumn.


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