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Holy Week presents us with a number of theological problems. One of them has to do with the nature of God's power.

On the one hand, we remember the "impotent" God of Good Friday. He's the one who dies on a cross and yet saves the world. So, some Christians conclude, power is found in weakness, humility, and death. We are not only not to wield the sword, we should also never be angry, aggressive, strong, or forceful. Gentleness and mercy, in every and all situations, becomes the ethical mantra.

On the other hand, Holy Week culminates in Easter, when we remember the omnipotent God who conquers all, including death itself, and thus saves the world. The conclusion of many today is that power is to be found in faith, hope, and even aggressive love. We can do all things through the power of the resurrected Christ. We are already victors! For some, this means exerting a positive, can-do attitude in daily life; for others, it entails a hope-filled and energetic work of justice. In either case, it's all about defeating the powers by holy strength.

So the theological problem of Holy Week is a very practical problem. Jesus gave us authority to confront evil in all its forms (Matt. 10:1). Our answer to the Holy Week question about power goes a long way in determining how we do God's work in the world.

On the one hand, the Bible reveals an extraordinary God of extraordinary ability. From the opening words of Genesis—"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" (Gen. 1:1)—to the closing of the Book of Revelation—"the Lord God omnipotent reigneth" (Rev. 19:6, KJV)—the Bible showcases a divine being who possesses unparalleled power.

This is the God who, without any materials to work with, fashions a universe. ...

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April 2009

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