From 'An Ethic for Christians and Other Aliens in a Strange Land': "America is a fallen nation. Americans exist in time, in the era biblically called the Fall. America is a demonic principality, or conglomeration of principalities and powers in which death furnishes the meaning, in which death is the reigning idol. Enshrined in multifarious forms and guises, it enslaves human beings, exacts human sacrifices, captures and captivates Presidents as well as intimidating and dehumanizing ordinary citizens."
Strong statements, yes, but timely in the biblical context which forms William Stringfellow's perspective of our contemporary situation. Identifying America as a fallen nation with the parable of Babylon in the Book of Revelation - not with Jerusalem the holy nation, as Americans are naively and vainly wont to do - Dr. Stringfellow issues as trenchant an indictment of our society as has been made since Philip Wylie's 'Generation of Vipers'.
William Stringfellow was a practicing attorney and a prominent Episcopalian layman who frequently contributed to legal and theological journals.
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Stringfellow was recognised by many as a prophetic voice â€œcrying in the wilderness.â€ Though he wrote in the '60s and '70s he was ahead of his time in many respects. He left Harvard law school to move into a black neighbourhood in New York as a direct expression of his Christian commitment. He saw that Jesus had commanded his people to serve the poor and needy, so he obeyed. In so doing he discovered he was up against more than the decisions of individuals. He discovered the potent effect of principalities and powers as they work through institutions. Amongst English speaking Christians he became a pioneer for spiritual warfare. Walter Wink, Tom Marshall, Dean Sherman and others built on his theological insights.
Stringfellow maintains that as Christians one of our fundamental mistakes is to underestimate the depth and breadth of the effects of the fall. In particular he illustrates that the fallen angelic powers work through our institutions in such a virulent way that we almost inevitably underestimate what it means to engage with them. Not an easy read, but worth the effort.
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