Book Discussion Series, Week 6
Does the gospel of “the kingdom of [God’s] beloved Son” (Col. 1:13) constitute what philosopher Michel Foucault called a “regime of truth”? Truth, Foucault claimed, is not some objective reality beyond us, but a product of power. The political structures that impose power – “multiple forms of constraint” to suppress opposition, he called “regimes of truth.”
Walsh and Keesmaat observe that Colossians clearly is a “worldview text,” pointing to a comprehensive vision of life that speaks to all the great questions of meaning. But they propose that “the kingdom of God’s beloved Son” differs from the totalizing, violently imposed regimes of truth that postmodern thinkers seek to deconstruct:
…[W]hile regimes of truth invariably trade on the sense of guilt and unworthiness of their subjects, this kingdom is rooted in forgiveness….[T]he kingdom of the beloved Son is a reign of forgiving and welcoming inclusion.
…[I]n profound contrast to regimes of truth with their multiple forms of constraint, the kingdom of the beloved Son is a kingdom won not through violence imposed on others but through violence imposed upon the Son [see Col. 2:13-15] (110).
Paul’s gospel does make “universalizing claims” in the context of a power struggle.
But note how the struggle is won. Not by might versus might, not by regime overtaking regime, but by sacrificial love absorbing violence and fury of the powers (111).
How do we square this understanding with the prevailing pattern of Christendom turning the gospel into a violently-imposed “regime of truth”? In view of that historical and contemporary reality, how is it possible to bear authentic witness to the gospel Paul wrote about in the letter to the Colossians?