The Impulse of Jesus

(This post originally appeared in the online publication Undoing Domination.)

The central impulse at the heart of Jesus’ teachings was the proclamation of the Reign of God, or what Walter Wink called “God’s Domination-Free Order.” It was the creation of a new community, a new citizenship, built not on national, tribal, or familial bonds, but on a shared commitment to doing the will of God. For followers of Jesus, this consisted of a twofold commitment to nonviolence and undoing the Domination System.

New Testament scholar Walter Wink defined the Domination System as follows:

An encompassing system characterized by unjust economic relations, oppressive political relations, patriarchal gender relations, prejudiced racial or ethnic relations, hierarchical power relations, and the use of violence to maintain them; in short, “civilization.”

Understood in this way, Jesus’ ministry was a radical critique of domination, aimed at bringing healing to the creation by calling people to repentance and helping them discover what it means to be fully human.

The central quest for communities of faith today is to recover for ourselves what Jesus unleashed, that original impulse at the heart of his teachings aimed at undoing the old order of domination and bringing about a new order of life and freedom. Only then will the church have what is needed to bring about positive change in people and all creation.