Bring Meaning to Work and Purpose to Spirituality

Reflections on the 2008 Pegasus and Sol Meetings

Adam Kahane gave the first keynote speech that set the tone for the conference. He spoke of the language of power – the drive to act and the language of love – the drive to connect as two irreducible polarities in practice. Neither could function without the other and yet there are tremendous challenges to become bilingual. He offered a framework of falling, hobbling, lurching, stepping and flowing to describe a natural growth path. For those who are not yet familiar with Adam’s work, he is an internationally recognized expert on conflict resolution of the most serious kind, including interracial dialogues in South Africa and between Guatemalan guerillas and the government. His book, “Solving Tough Problems” was endorsed by Nelson Mandela as revolutionary. I missed much of his talk due to a business meeting but caught the tail end of the Q&A session. Adam made two comments that caught my attention:
• He felt that he has only written one half of the story in “Solving Tough Problems” and that part is about Love. He is still struggling with the Power part.
• He is convinced that power without love is abusive but love without power is sentimental and anemic. He went as far as saying that love without power is much worse than power without love since the opportunities for perversion is unlimited in the former case.

From the perspective of theory U, it is quite clear that Adam is making a differentiation between Open Heart and Open Will. Love as he defined it requires open heart, which he experienced and described elegantly in “Solving Tough Problems”, but he felt that the chapter on Open Will is still incomplete in his book and it’s the more important chapter in the context of solving even tougher problems facing humanity at this time.

My 2nd experience was with Diana Smith, who wrote a new book called “Divide or Conquer”. Her major theme is that relationships are everything and make or break all business success. For those of us familiar with theory U, there is really nothing new in the notion itself. Social complexity trumps and encompasses dynamic complexity when it comes to problem solving. But Diana brought some new rigor to relationship skills. Many or even most people mistake relationship development as “schmoozing”, the kind of skillful flattery and small talk common at social and business dinners. Diana has something very different in mind. Her co-presenter was Vanessa Kirsch, the CEO of New Profit Inc., a venture capital firm in social entrepreneurship that has raised more than $120 million in the past 6 years, 80 million in the last year alone. Vanessa attributed a large part of her success to the relationship skills that Diana brought to her and her team. During the Q&A session, I asked Vanessa what motivated her to team up with Diana in the first place. She acknowledged that it was triggered by a personal crisis. Two other partners with whom she started the venture left the firm and she was advised by the board to seek help from a professional coach. Diana made two critical points often obscured about relationships:
• Relationship is built, not born. It does not necessarily take “chemistry” out of the game but definitely downgrade it to secondary;
• Relationship must be recognized as an investment and there is a strategic matrix to help one decide where and how much to invest one’s finite relational capital. It sounds so simple but many people are confused by the righteousness of undifferentiated love that they fail to acknowledge or even become paralyzed by the imperfections of their relationships

In some respect, Diana is actually beginning to address the challenges posed by Adam Kahane since not only she recognizes the power of love or relationships but also the finite resources available for such relationships. The latter naturally calls into question where to invest such finite resources. It takes human will to make such investment decisions. It is not a full solution since Diana’s investment matrix leaves out value systems that are critical to reach Open Will. Nevertheless, it was a very useful first step.

My 3rd experience was with Skip Griffins from Dialogos. I missed Bill Issacs’ talk due to another business conference call. By the time I finished the call, I was 5 minutes late and Bill’s room was beyond capacity (they made a mistake of allocating a small-size room based on Bill’s one page abstract!) Skip told a story of the civil rights movement that was more insightful than any I have heard to date. His main point is that change is the by-products of commitments and must not be over emphasized. The way to achieve large-scale change is through changing the “mood” in people, which will in turn effect change internally and sustainably. The most effective way of changing the “mood” is through songs and rhythms. He argues that the pack of ten Southern Church songs played a more significant role in the civil rights movement than the political marches.

There is once again a theme of power and love in Skip’s rendition of the civil rights movement. Despite his sentimental reservations on change, he was talking about change nevertheless, a different kind of change. What he was really against was brutal force or mechanical change in complex social situations that really call for change of heart. Once again, he stopped well short of touching on the past and future trends of social changes and their ecological contexts. Therefore, Open Will was left alone, again.

The 4th experience was presented by a group of community organizers from Nova Scotia. They described the systemic breakdowns in their local communities (schools, food supplies, housing, etc) and how self-organizing systems seem to emerge exponentially in recent years. One diagram stuck in my mind, it’s the change curve between two systems or paradigms. They describe their efforts of dealing with the fading system as “giving hospice to the old” and the emerging one as nourishing the new born. While this is hardly new to living systems, they were clearly speaking of the language of love, which were re-enforced during Q&A by many people that it is essential that we pay respect to older generations. To balance things out, I had to stick my neck out to point out that we give hospice everyday at work and in communities by maintaining the status quo or oiling the machine while struggling to introduce something new that will ultimately usher in a new future. It is not uncommon for organizations and individuals to be stuck in existing systems and even suppress the growth of new seeds from within. I am talking about the majority of us in Corporate America who are struggling to break out the straggle-hold of the command-control culture to improve our effectiveness and quality of life. We could all do a better job of giving hospice to the old, metaphorically. That is the language of power that is missing from most conversations even among systems thinkers.

Betty Sue Flowers wrapped up the experience of the conference nicely by illustrating the different plots of human stories: war hero worship, religious worship, scientific worship and economic growth worship. She then asked the audience to tell their life stories using three different plots: as heroes, victims and learners. Peter Senge then joined her to drive the point home: the key challenge facing humanity today is the lack of a compelling new story. What is that new story? Peter quoted some work in the tradition of the French Jesuit priest and paleontologist Teilhard de Chardin. It almost felt like that Peter was trying to “soften the blow” by bringing more human touches to Teilhard’s extraordinary vision to the effect of speaking more of the language of love vs. power …

The theme continued in the afternoon at the Sol membership meeting. This is the second year that I attended the Sol meeting. The scene was almost identical to last year: the language of love permeated the air with an uneasy feeling of something was not quite right with the organization. Sure enough, Sherry, executive director of Sol, opened up with the announcement that Sol will significantly down size its operations at its headquarters and asked members to identify what to preserve. I stuck my neck out, as I did last year, and questioned the key mission of Sol and if we should pay more attention to community development vs. global presence. I did a U diagnosis in front of Peter and everyone to explain the difference and pointed out that geography has nothing to do with meaning creation, which is the true source of a healthy community. I also shared briefly our experience of the past year building One Authentic Swing. It definitely exposed the elephant in the room and prompted passionate conversations. One council member stated publically that we need to put Soul into Sol. Will and how are we going to accomplish that? I wrote a blog and shared it with several friends at Sol, A Journey Less Travelled: Discover the New Soul of Sol. Stay tuned for what comes next …

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John Inman said:
Yan have not been able to find Paul Tillig (sp ?), MLK's doctoral professor on the net. As referenced by Adam Kahane. Do you have any information on him? I want to read his work. I will post thoughts as I am able to completly go through my notes on the conference. General thought? This conference pulled everything together for me. Fantastic. I will certainly go next year.


Hi John

I missed Adam's keynote except for the tail end of Q&A. There is a very famous liberal Theologian by the name of Paul Tillich who wrote proufoundly about existential philosophy and authentic religion. I would not be surprised if Adam was referring to his work. The theme of power and love follows directly the dialectic tradition of Paul Tillich and other prophetic thinkers.


John's Reflections:
I am wondering if the presentation's content was effectively the speech a copy of which Kahane shared with me and some others last year...i suggested upon reflection of it that Justice was the mediator of Love and Power, a la Tillich. But perhaps this is just a candle in the wind.

By a strange co-incidence, I was talking for two hours with Napier Collyns (GBN) a while back, around and about this very subject, of Kahane's current focus, Love + Power. The inter-est in which is, i sense, largely driven by shared experiences of the failure of food lab work in India, and other projects too that ostensibly did not work / do not work / cannot work (?) in which Napier mentions Diana ( not by name) whose thesis was that it is all about 'relationships'. My thought at the time was, well what else could it be about?

Perhaps i was being oversimplistic - overcomplex. Perhaps we are not doing justice to both?
andrewcampbell said:
This is the piece of sent to Adam as a file. I hope it deepends the conversation here for those who heard the speech esp.

Love, Power and Justice

by Paul B. Henry

Dr. Henry, an associate professor of political science at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, is the author of Politics for Evangelicals. This article appeared in the Christian Century November 23, 1977, p. 1088. Copyright by the Christian Century Foundation and used by permission. Current articles and subscription information can be found at This material was prepared for Religion Online by Ted & Winnie Brock.

The past five years have seen a resurgent awareness in evangelical Protestantism relative to the Christian community’s political responsibility. But despite this awareness of political responsibility, maturity and consistency are sadly lacking in the pronouncements of evangelicals on this topic. The evangelical community, to paraphrase social critic Michael Novak, seeks to leap from piety to practice with little reflection on guiding principles and practical goals.

There are at least three basic concepts which require clear delineation as to what is meant in the contemporary evangelical dialogue regarding matters political. These three are power, love and justice.

Politics and Power

The very essence of politics is the use of power -- the power to determine who in a given society gets what, how, when and where. We can talk about means and ends for a society without conceding the necessity (or desirability) that the sword of the state be the implementing agent. But we must be clear, then, in acknowledging that such talk is no longer talk about politics.

We can talk about the “power of God to transform lives,” but we are no longer talking about the political power of the state, which by definition refers to instituted social authority which enables the state to force compliance upon its subjects regardless of their volitional relationship to the state’s demands. One can talk about ‘the fallen powers” or Christ’s victory in resurrection over the “principalities and powers” but that, in and of itself, is not talk about the politics of the Soviet Union or the United States. One can speak of the “sovereignty of God,” but one still has not dealt with the sovereignty of the Cook County Democratic Committee.

That is not to say that such talk is useless or unnecessary. Indeed, beliefs relative to the sovereignty of God, Christ’s conquering of the principalities and powers, or the transforming power of God in individual lives have profound- implications for the way in which we must think about politics. But spoken of in and of themselves, such concepts do little to illumine the path from piety to practice. Indeed, they often serve to obfuscate that path and to mask immoral practices in moral pieties.

There can be no politics apart from the use of power. And yet, as Paul Tillich notes, it is not uncommon to find Christian essayists who develop concepts of “The Politics of God” or “The Kingdom of God” in such a way that they seek a political order in which “powerless love” overcomes “loveless power.” The problem to which Tillich refers is clearly evident in the writings of two contemporary individuals who have had a decided impact on the rising social and political consciousness of the evangelical community -- namely, Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners, and John Howard Yoder, whose book The Politics of Jesus is probably the most profound restatement of Anabaptist social theory in the past quarter of a century.

Yoder and Wallis juxtapose the power politics of the world (i.e., the “powers” of the world expressed in social, economic and political relationships) with Christian love (i.e., servanthood, the cross, self-denial). In the words of Wallis: “It seems to us impossible to be both what the world’s political realities set forth as ‘responsible’ and to take up the style of the crucified servant which is clearly the manner of the life and death of Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Testament” (Agenda for Biblical People [Harper & Row, 1976], pp. 122-i23). Yoder calls the church to “a social style characterized by the creation of a new community and the rejection of violence of any kind” -- by which he means the economic and political orders held in place by the power of the state. “The cross of Christ is the model of Christian social efficacy, the power of God for those who believe” (The Politics of Jesus [Eerdmans, 1972], p. 250).
An Apolitical Strategy

It must be noted that while Wallis and Yoder reject “the way of the world” in their refusal to acknowledge any legitimate use of power, they do not advocate a withdrawal from the world or an abandonment of the church’s mission to the world. In this sense, they differ profoundly from the separatist tendencies of the older fundamentalism. Indeed, they maintain that the subordination of the cross becomes a “revolutionary subordination” in the name of the Christ who has conquered the powers in his resurrection. The acceptance of political powerlessness, for Wallis and Yoder, creates the basis for the manifestation of the power of God as transforming agent. And thus the Christian community bears witness to the world, not only standing in judgment upon it but also prophetically pointing to the path of the world’s redemption.

But what must be recognized is that such thinking provides political critique and judgment while rejecting political involvement and practice as a corrective strategy. For all of its political relevance and all of its political language, it is in the end an apolitical strategy rejecting power, and thus rejecting politics as well. Theirs is a strategy which advocates social involvement, which would effect political consequences. But it rejects political involvement directed toward social consequences.

If the evangelical community is going to develop a political ethic, it must be one in which power is recognized and accepted as a legitimate means to the ends it seeks. To reject power is to reject politics. Such a rejection may not in and of itself be improper -- but we should at least be clear as to what it is we are doing. The confusion has been great, however, because the very individuals who have done so much to renew the social conscience of the evangelical community have also been those who have rejected politics as a means of fulfilling social obligation. And while the evangelical conscience may indeed have been reawakened, it remains -- at least in terms of understanding the linkages between power and politics -- as apolitical today as it was 20 and 30 years ago.

The Characteristics of Love

While insisting that one cannot speak of politics without also speaking of power, we have nonetheless thus far not answered the question as to whether love and power are compatible. For if they are incompatible, and the Christian is indeed called to live a life of servanthood in love toward one’s neighbor and God, then those who reject politics in the name of Christ are correct. It is imperative, therefore, that we distinguish the characteristics of love so that we can examine its compatibility with the exercise of political power.

First, we must acknowledge that love is something voluntarily given. Love can not be forced against one’s will. Acts of the political order, however, invariably contain by definition elements of compulsion and involuntarism. Thus, insofar as the power of the state is associated with involuntarism and the act of love with voluntarism, we must conclude that the state cannot love any more than love can be forced.

Second, love is something that must be personally mediated. Since the voluntary nature of love necessitates the existence of a will by which it can become activated, love is always personal. The state, like any other instituted social order, has an objective existence and achieves its ends indiscriminately. The citizen’s relationship to the state is an “I-it” rather than an “I-thou” relationship, and incapable of the personal mediation necessary for love to become activated.

Third, love is always sacrificial. That is to say that love is always a voluntary (noncompulsory) act in which one wills to allow something to happen at one’s own expense for the well-being of another. Let me give an example. Suppose you are a clerk at a turn-of-the-century “mom and pop” neighborhood grocery store. Suppose a poorly dressed and obviously destitute widow comes into the store to buy a loaf of bread. Fumbling through her purse, she finds the last quarter she possesses with which to purchase the ten-cent loaf of bread. Upon the completion of the purchase, you as the store clerk return 15 cents change to the widow. There is nothing loving in giving the lady her change. The change is hers just as surely as the loaf of bread is now hers.

Now let us suppose that, moved by the widow’s evident poverty, you decide simply to give her the loaf of bread. You have no obligation to do so, you are not forced to do so, but you will to do so. You sacrifice your right to a fair price for the bread to the widow’s advantage.

Fourth, since love is freely given, it goes beyond ordinary moral obligation. To fulfill moral obligation is to respond to moral necessity, and therefore, it is an act of duty rather than of free moral will. It is important to qualify this statement by noting also that going beyond one’s moral obligation necessarily involves first fulfilling one’s moral obligation.

Let us return, for purpose of example, to the store clerk and the widow to illustrate the point. This time, suppose the widow, due to her failing eyesight, mistakenly gives the clerk nine pennies and one dime for the loaf of bread which costs only ten cents. In returning the nine pennies to the widow, the clerk is not demonstrating some form of extraordinary love but simply fulfilling the moral obligation of not taking advantage of the widow’s weakness of sight.

In summary, I have suggested that love is voluntary and freely given; that since it involves moral volition, it must be personally mediated; that love is sacrificial, and thus limited to the extent to which an individual is capable of personally absorbing the consequences of its acts; and finally, that love extends beyond duty or moral obligation (implying that it must first fulfill moral obligation or duty).

The Use of Coercion

But politics, on the other hand, involves involuntary servitude. Its very nature assumes the sanctioned use of coercion and force to achieve its ends. It is instituted in formal organization and operates impersonally. (Otherwise we should say that it operates arbitrarily and is discriminatory.) And the leaders of the state obviously engage in actions for which others are called on to sacrifice. (Otherwise there would be no need for force or coercion, and there would no longer be a need for the state’s existence.) Most of us would he more than pleased with a political order which at least met the demands of moral obligation. Indeed, we would be tempted to rebel if the state sought to require us to exceed moral obligation. For in so doing, it would act as a totalitarian state which recognizes no limits to the power of the state or to the citizen’s obligations toward the state.

To use the power of the state as a means of effecting love among its citizens is therefore not only contradictory, insofar as love cannot be forced or coerced; it also destroys the distinction of “moral obligation” by which the difference between a limited and a totalitarian government is marked.

Given the duality between power and love and the apparent conflict between “loveless power” and “powerless love,” how shall we choose? So long as the choice is put in these terms, it would be difficult to do other than to choose to be a political eunuch in order to become a servant in the Kingdom of God. Surely, God calls us to the higher and more noble path of love over power.

But critical questions remain. By what is love to be informed other than by its willed motivations? If love is the sacrificial act of going beyond one’s ordinary moral duty, how do we define such moral duty so as to know when it has been surpassed and love has taken its place?

It is the concept of justice which creates other alternatives by which the concepts of “loveless power and “powerless love” can be reconciled. And it is justice which enables us to be servants of both power and love.

The Claims of Justice

The refusal to recognize the claims of justice as universal and eternal -- and thus inviolable even in the context of Christian social ethics -- has demanded a high price both in terms of the political relevance of the church and in terms of the church’s own theological integrity. The theology of Albrecht Ritschl, for example, suffered from this error. Ritschl was reduced to juxtaposing loveless power and powerless love. In so doing, he created an entire theological system which contrasted the Old Testament “God of power” with the New Testament “God of love.” In the process he was forced to abandon the concept of God’s judgment and retribution for sinners, was forced to adopt a universalist concept of salvation, and gave to the church a love ethic of which nothing substantive could be said.

At the practical level, the love ethic then becomes irrelevant to the problems of politics because, in the words of Reinhold Niebuhr, “It persists in presenting the law of love as a simple solution for every communal problem” (Reinhold Niebuhr on Politics, edited by Harry R. Davis and Robert C. Good [Scribners, 1960], p. 163). Thus, as we deal with the concept of justice, let us not suppose that it is of lesser relevance or importance for the Christian than the concept of love,

We must begin by acknowledging that the claims of justice are universal, eternal and objective. The claims of justice spring from the personhood of the just God, and they lay claim to all that is contingent upon his creative power.

But given the assertion that justice makes itself manifest in the “creation ordinances” of God, why is it then that humanity has never reached consensus as to the substantive elements and characteristics by which justice can be defined? The most commonly accepted starting point defines justice as the “giving of every person his or her due.” But what is due each and every individual, or each and every group of individuals, is a constant point of contention. It is here, then, that we must make some important distinctions in regard to notions that have clouded evangelical attempts to deal with the problem of justice.

While some thinkers have posited love and power as the only values from which Christian choice must be made in evaluating Christian political responsibility, at the exclusion of the concept of justice, others have included justice -- but in such an ambiguous and ill-defined manner as to make the term as meaningless and without content as discussions relating to the “love ethic.”

The claims of justice, if they are to become operational in a political society, must be defined with some meaningful degree of particularity. “Justice,” in the words of Niebuhr, “requires discriminate judgments between conflicting claims” (Love and Justice, edited by D. B. Robertson [World, 1967], p. 28). Justice as an abstraction is not enough. We must work out an understanding of justice in particulars, lest we fall into the trap of moralizing about politics while having nothing to offer in terms of a moral critique that speaks to particular situations in time and space.

A classic example of this problem is illustrated in the Politics of Aristotle. Aristotle points out that if we define justice as rendering to each man his due, there are nonetheless two logically attractive and yet mutually contradictory principles by which this concept of rendering rights can be interpreted. In the first instance, there are those who argue that since all persons have a fundamental spiritual or moral equality, then that equality ought to extend to all social, economic and political relationships in which they find themselves. In the second instance, there are those who argue that since individuals are unequal in the contributions they make to a society, the inequalities of contribution ought to be recognized in consequent social, economic and political relationships. Both arguments have merit. Indeed, this age-old dilemma is at the heart of much contemporary political debate between democratic socialists and democratic capitalists in modern Western societies.

‘Redemption Ordinances’ in Political Theory

Granting the need for dealing with justice in more than simple abstractions, we face even more clearly the problem that people disagree as to the applications to be drawn from such abstractions (such as that of giving each man his due). Of what good are “creation ordinances” if, through the fall, the human being’s perception of what is just, let alone one’s moral motivation to act on those perceptions, is thoroughly clouded?

Hence, it is not uncommon in Christian political theory -- particularly contemporary Christian political theory -- to reject the concept of a universally known justice via creation ordinances and turn, instead, to the notion of “redemption ordinances.” Given the fall of humanity, these people argue, there can be no sure knowledge of justice aside from the Scriptures and God’s incarnate Word in Jesus Christ. I surely would not wish to argue that the fallen human’s knowledge of or capacity for justice was unimpaired by the fall. But I would like to point out several dangers in the thinking of those who reject the concept of justice based on creation ordinances known to all persons, regardless of their religious persuasion or soteriological and revelational systems.

First, to reject creation ordinances out of hand places our reason as creatures bearing the image of God. (however fallen) into conflict with revelation-ally based knowledge. It is an epistemological problem which extends itself, logically, to asserting that in all areas of knowing, reason has nothing to say aside from revelation. In the realm of culture, it suggests that Athens has nothing to say to Jerusalem.

Second, this position has very serious practical consequences for strategies of political involvement. For if only those within the household of faith and conversant with the revelation of God in his redemptive ordinance can speak with authority on matters of justice, then Christians are unable to communicate or work with non-Christians in political endeavor. There can be no “secular” basis for political involvement by the Christian -- only a religiously informed and motivated involvement which is sectarian by definition. If we deny natural knowledge of the political good, the only alternative for the Christian is to (a) withdraw from politics because it is worldly or fallen, or (b) establish a “Christian” politics which is sectarian in ambition and motivation.

The disjoining of God’s “creation ordinances” and the consequent universal norms of justice attached thereto, from God’s “redemption ordinances,” which establish a unique rationale for a “Christian” politics, has demonstrated itself in various forms in contemporary Christian thinking. Many evangelicals and fundamentalists have sought uncritically to impose revealed norms of religious righteousness on the secular society with little if any justification insofar as how such policies would affect nonbelievers. Hence, crusades to make America a “Christian nation” are not infrequent, and Christian standards of morality and ethics are uncritically (and usually inconsistently) upheld as normative for the secular state.

Many neo-orthodox thinkers, subsuming “redemption ordinances” to “christological ordinances,” have uncritically (and equally inconsistently) sought to apply the “love ethic” of Jesus with little regard for the objectifying norms of justice which must inform the spirit of love. And many Anabaptist and revolutionary thinkers, subsuming “redemption ordinances” to “eschatological ordinances,” have uncritically (and equally inconsistently) sought to apply the ethic of the Christ who makes all things new and has conquered the “fallen powers” into an ethic of revolutionary consequences, disregarding the fact that the powers given to Satan have always been held in check by the Creator God, and that while the conquering power of God has indeed been visibly and dramatically revealed in the resurrection of our Lord, we are told nonetheless that Satan’s powers shall be unleashed in new fury before the final consummation of God’s kingdom.

The Character of Justice

Let me, then, suggest the following criteria in establishing the character of justice. First, justice must be based on universal claims of right. To establish justice on the basis of sectarian authority alone is to do violence to our very confession that all persons bear the image of God, and that all persons carry a knowledge of the good. And consequently it follows that all persons are bound to the demands of justice.

Second, justice must be defined within the context of a given social order, and it must be enumerated in terms of specifics. To base one’s plea on “justice” alone is not enough.

Third. given the universality of the norms of justice and the universality of the consciousness of justice, one can derive procedures and practices which, when honored, increase the likelihood of policies and programs which eventuate in justice. Indeed, this is exactly what our concepts of “civil rights” seek to do in our constitutionally based democracies; it is the recognition that the means employed must not do violence to the ends pursued. (We must point out that nonwesternized societies of a traditionalist character have sought to recognize the same principles of constitutionalism in less articulated ways.)

Fourth, we must recognize that the norms of justice are objective and that they exist independently of human volition. Hence, claims can be made in the name of justice, and claims can be rejected in the name of justice. Whereas love must be volitionally given, justice demands to be recognized independently of human volition.

Fifth, since the “God of love” is also a just God, love and justice cannot stand juxtaposed. Love may go beyond justice -- but it can never seek less than justice. Love may inform and inspire reverence for justice -- but it can never be an excuse for absolving the claims of justice.

Sixth, since justice is an objective quality establishing rights and obligations, calculations can and must be made by individuals and societies as to how their actions serve the claims of justice. Given the fact that not all persons willingly seek justice, power can be used legitimately if and when it serves the cause of justice. While we have suggested that love cannot use power to achieve its ends, justice must use power to achieve its ends.

Such distinctions are necessary -- not only because to call upon the state to love” is self-contradictory, insofar as the state’s actions are rooted in power and not voluntarism, but because the claims of love are rooted in sectarian acknowledgment as opposed to universal norms of justice. As the church proclaims the gospel, it sensitizes the community at large (as well as the Christian community) to the demands of justice. Hence, while justice remains the servant of love, it is love which serves as the enabler of justice.

Further, to seek to use the state as an instrument of love implies not only a sectarian state but a totalitarian state. For it is the discriminating norms of justice which are used to delineate the questions as to what is mine and what is thine. To deny justice in the name of love is to deny the very civilities which are at the root of constitutional government itself.

By adding the concept of justice to those of love and power, new alternatives for evangelical Protestantism’s thinking about politics are created. Politics, rooted in power, nevertheless fulfills a legitimate function when it serves the claims of justice. Love, while rejecting power and going beyond the rights and duties established by justice, establishes a will for justice and a moral motivation which crowns the just act. Love, while personally mediated, complements justice with its objective demands.
Hi Andrew

Thanks for your insight and thoughtful article. It certainly expands the spectra of our political, social and religious challenges and emphasized the necessity of BOTH, not either, being in the world and with God in traditional religious language. It is also clear that the paths or connections between the two have become strenuous at best in evangelical and other religious traditions. In my opinion, although justice is a nice incremental step exposing the key inconsistency of the existing system, it is far from illuminating a new and potent path. As we know, unless and until an alternative emerges, the immun-systems of the old will dominate and kill competing new seedlings. The key and missing piece to the puzzle in this conversation is creativity in an evolutionary and/or developmental context. We need a new science, not traditional theology, for that kind of vision/conversation/knowledge to emerge. The beauty of theory U is that it provides such a "tool-kit" for the average person to experience creativity in their daily living. Despite all its short-comings, I am still hopeful that it will make a difference in the long run.

BTW, I missed most of Adam's speech at Pegasus in last Nov due to a conflicting business commitment (a minor form of the tension between being in the world and with God?). But I command Adam for his courage to even put the question on the table. There is a strong force field of "love ethics" even among systems thinkers :)

Warm Regards,


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What Do We Mean by Mastery?

Cog on a Wheel
Mining Deeper Energy at Work
Optimizing Organizational Energy
Improving R&D Productivity

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