Empire

From its inception, Christianity has been shaped by empires.

Jesus was born under the Roman imperial occupation and governance of Palestine; when he was an infant, his family had to flee to Egypt to avoid the imperially appointed ruler, Herod Antipas. Jesus was crucified by the Roman Empire as a threat to imperial stability.

Christian traditions developed within imperial contexts from the Roman and Byzantine Empires to the high colonial empires of nineteenth-century Europe, often with the dominant church authorities in alignment with the imperial powers. Theology has been deeply influenced by the various forms empires have taken throughout history, but empire has never been able to completely control theology. There are always theologies that resist imperial ways of life and promote alternatives.

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Featured Book

Globalization and Theology (Horizons in Theology)
by Joerg Rieger

Globalization is a catchword of our time, referring to the interdependence that affects us all. But we often meet globalization with extreme ambivalence, recognizing that it has both positive and negative consequences for economics, politics, and culture. Joerg Rieger makes the point that even theology, itself, can be a manifestation of globalization. At its worst, theology can reflect Western intellectual imperialism and at its best, theology can encourage a compelling vision of diversity within unity. The author articulates a theology of globalization as a diverse phenomenon that respects different ways of seeing and knowing, thus encouraging harmony rather than homogeny.

Christ & Empire: From Paul to Postcolonial Times
Christ and Empire: From Paul to Postcolonial Times
by Joerg Rieger

Although we loathe admitting it, Christians have often, through crusade, conquest, and commerce, used the name and power of Christ to promote and justify political, economic, and even military gain.
Rieger’s ambitious and faith-filled project chips away at the colonial legacy of Christology to find the authentic Christ – or rather the many authentic depictions of Christ in history and theology that survive our self-serving domestications. Against the seeming inevitability of globalized unfairness, Rieger holds up a “stumbling block” that confounds even empire.

Beyond the Spirit of Empire: Theology and Politics in a New Key
Beyond the Spirit of Empire: Theology and Politics in a New Key
by Néstor Míguez, Joerg Rieger, and Jung Mo Sung

In Beyond the Spirit of Empire, the authors analyze the global empire not only in its political and economic dimensions, but also in its symbolic constructions of power and in its general assumptions often taken for granted. How does empire mould human subjectivity, for instance, and how does it affect the understanding of humans within the whole of creation? What are the religious dimensions of empire, its claims to divine attributes like omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, eternity, and what about its alleged exclusiveness and pervasiveness that destroys human life and freedom, which turns politics into a banal matter? The authors propose to look beyond empire to the possibility of politics and freedom, to the recovery of the notion of people, to the importance of ongoing concern for the oppressed and excluded, and to a messianic faith that allows us to live in anticipation, though ambiguously, of the promise of new times to come.

Empire and the Christian Tradition: New Readings of Classical Theologians
Empire and the Christian Tradition: New Readings of Classical Theologians
by by Kwok Pui-Lan, Kwok Pui-Lan, Don H. Compier, and Joerg Rieger

Distinguished theologians assess the achievements and legacies of thirty- one theological giants in light of Christianity’s engagement with imperial power, conquest, colonization, and post colonial themes. A unique textbook anthology ideal for classroom use.
Recommendation
This volume is significant because it examines the depth of the impact of imperial ways of life on how Christians have thought about central theological themes like God, humanity, sin, and redemption, while simultaneously demonstrating how theology has challenged imperial ways of life throughout history. This diverse collection of theologians model how theologians can continue to draw on Christian tradition with awareness of the deep impression empire has had on theology and the residual resistance to empire present in historical theology.