Binding the Strong Man: Front Matter to 20th anniversary edition (Foreword by Obery Hendricks, New Preface by Ched Myers and Introduction by Sam Wells)

$3.50
Date: 
Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Orbis Books. 40 pp.

Everyone can point to an event that has changed their lives forever. Encountering Binding the Strong Man was such an event for me. It caused a seismic shift in my thinking and forever changed the direction of my life’s vocation.

The year was 1988. I was a second-year, second-career seminarian, doing well in my studies but becoming increasingly disillusioned with them. Most disappointing for me was the sterility of biblical studies. I found aspects of higher criticism fascinating, the various modes of exegesis informative, and the (infrequent) forays into devotional reading comforting. Yet something was missing. Seminary taught me that Jesus was executed for the political charge of sedition against the Roman state. But what fueled that charge? In the Gospels I could see fashes of the kind of political confict that could have earned Jesus the empire’s ire, but they were isolated incidents, as far as I could tell. From what I could see, there was no underlying, coherent political dimension to Jesus’ ministry. The Gospels seemed to say that Jesus’ execution was the sad result of a tragic misunderstanding, that he was a strictly religious reformer who simply had been misunderstood. But where in that, I wondered, was to be found the earth-shaking power that had changed the world? And if that power was really there, why didn’t the Gospel writers say so? It began to occur to me that rather than preparing me to fght the good fght, my seminary studies were really readying me to take my place in a status-quo, counter-revolutionary enterprise that was more concerned with proffering promises of heaven than with building a world of true peace and love and justice for all. If so, I wanted no part of it. I hadn’t been an activist for most of my life to end up only offering salve for the wounds of political oppression and exploitation, instead of struggling to dismantle the systemic forces that caused the people’s wounds.

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by Ched Myers

All articles on this site were written by Ched Myers unless otherwise specified.