OMNIPOTENCE (FORCE) OR VULNERABILITY (DEFENCELESSNESS)? THE SIGNIFICANCE OF A THEOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION OF THE CATEGORY OF POWER ON AN ETHIC OF CONFLICT MANAGEMENT

D J Louw

Abstract


Theology cannot avoid the issue of conflict management. It is therefore important to make clear what is the biblical meaning of the category of power and its significance for an ethic of conflict management. Theology is exposed to one danger: the danger of misusing the concept ‘omnipotence’, and to regard the Almighty category (God’s force and authority) as a justification either to gain or maintain power. The translation of omnipotence with the Greek word ‘pantokrator’ could easily mislead the church to understand omnipotence against the background of either the Hellenistic gods involved in a power struggle or the militarized environment of the Canaanite world. Theology is in need of a new paradigm. The suffering God and the theology of the cross are the framework for such a new paradigm: the omnipotent presence and power of God expressed as vulnerable faithfulness and overwhelming love/grace. This assumption corresponds with the Hebrew phrase: ‘el saddaj’. The ethical principle in conflict management which corresponds with God’s vulnerable faithfulness is the biblical principle of self-sacrifice. 

Keywords


Conflict management; Category of power; Ethic of conflict management; Omnipotence; Almighty category; Pantokrator; El saddaj; God’s vulnerable faithfulness

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7833/28-0-1837

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ISSN 2305-445X (online); ISSN 0254-1807 (print)

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