John Steward of Jesus
  The "Good News" (Gospel) > Archives > Thoughts on Liberty > Power struggles

Power struggles

November 1, 1980

Perhaps all reform movements (Kuyper, Doleantie, etc.) should be looked at again to see whether the real struggle was not against false doctrine, but rather against the growing power of some men in their attempt to control other men, and the reassertion by the “little people” that they were free. Doctrine is usually the system of ideas which gives legitimacy to a growing or entrenched power base.

The doctrine of the prophetic, priestly, and kingly roles of all believers,and the doctrine of sphere sovereignty, are assertions that free (saved?) men need not submit to the authorities who claim powers which are not legitimately theirs. Luther's struggle may have been as much against the powers who were seeking to control his daily life as it was against the doctrine that submission to these powers was necessary for his life of works which would bring salvation. “The just shall live by faith,” implies that the just do not depend on works for salvation, and, even more significantly, that the just need not feel damned because they have not submitted to the authority of the priests, and popes, who nave declared which works are necessary for a specific individual, such as Luther’s stair climbing. Luther’s awakening was as much a liberation from the power of the superior who ordered him to climb the stairs, as it was a liberation from the doctrine that submission to this superior was necessary for salvation. The two are tied together. But a heresy is seldom significant unless it implies the right of one man to challenge the authority of another man to control his thinking and actions relative to the heresy. Perhaps all religious heresy trials and all reforms, all revolutions, all attempts at constitutional reforms, etc., are best seen as fundamentally such power struggles.

Christ, as our prophet, priest, and king, releases the believer (himself anointed as the same) from loyalty, in the absolute sense, to any other man on earth. This is very much a part of the freedom which the gospel brings. Salvation by works is salvation by submission to the priest, the witch-doctor, etc. The Christian gospel is the good news of the freedom of the individual from the domination of any other man on earth. It is because the true Christian, therefore, never seeks to “lord it over” other Christians, that Christians are often referred to as bands of “little people.” They have no human king or master among them. Christ alone is their prophet, priest, and king.