Walter Wink on nationalism and the myth of redemptive violence

Walter Wink, writing in 1992 in Engaging the Powers, with paragraphs just as relevant today:

The myth of redemptive violence thus uses the traditions, rites, customs, and symbols of Christianity in order to enhance the power of a wealthy elite and the goals of the nation narrowly defined. It has no interest in compassion for the poor, or for more equitable economic arrangements, or for the love of enemies. It merely uses the shell of religion — a shell that can be filled with the blasphemous doctrine of the national security state. Emptied of their prophetic vitality, these outer forms are then manipulated to legitimate a power system intent on the preservation of privilege at all costs.

Why then do large masses of the non privileged submit to such a myth? Why, for example, do blue-collar workers, who are among the most victimized by the ruling elite, continue not only to support their oppressors but to be among their most vociferous fans? The answer is quite simple: the promise of salvation.

And then a little further down:

The myth of redemptive violence is nationalism become absolute. This myth speaks for God; it does not listen for God to speak. It invokes the sovereignty of God as its own; it does not entertain the prophetic possibility of radical denunciation and negation by God. It misappropriates the language, symbols, and scriptures of Christianity. It does not seek God in order to change; it claims God in order to prevent change. Its God is not the impartial ruler of all nations but a biased and partial tribal god worshiped as an idol. Its metaphor is not the journey but a fortress. Its symbol is not the cross but a rod of iron. It’s offer is not forgiveness but victory. Its good news is not the unconditional love of enemies but their final liquidation. Its salvation is not a new heart but a successful foreign policy. It usurps the revelation of God’s purposes for humanity in Jesus. It is blasphemous. It is idolatrous.

This is only chapter one. I have a feeling there are more quotes to come.

One thought on “Walter Wink on nationalism and the myth of redemptive violence”

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.