Saturday, February 8, 2014

Four Theses On What Weak Power Is Not

Weak power is an incredibly important concept in political theology.  Walter Benjamin has articulated it in his On The Concept of History.  I have examined this concept in detail in my recent book, Being Promised.

It is hard to succinctly define weak power without contrasting it with other forms of power.  Here I hold out several negative theses to begin such a discussion:

1.  Weak power is not self-restraint.  Weak power does not originate from any power one has.  It is not taken up or learned.

2.  Weak power is not pretending to be weaker than one is.  If one's power is weak it simply is such -- it emerges from another and cannot be mechanized, expected, or otherwise planned-for.

3.  Weak power is not "slumming" or somehow allowing oneself to be taking by another.  That is a self-restraint whereby I am negating or limiting myself.   Weak power is not a phone call away from being restored to a stronger or more forceful power.

4.  And, regarding the interpretation of Paul's discussion of power in 1 and 2 Corinthians:  God's power is not stronger than our strength because humans can only reach 10 and God is an 11.  Rather, God's weakness is weaker than any weakness we might have.

Benjamin, Walter. “On the Concept of History.” In Walter Benjamin, Selected Writings, vol. 4:  1938-1940, edited by Howard Eiland and Michael W. Jennings. Translated by Edmund Jephcott et al., pp. 389-400.  Cambridge, MA:  Harvard University Press, Belknap Press, 2003.

Walter, Gregory.  Being Promised:  Theology, Gift, and Practice (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2013).

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