In this profound and enlightening book, Jesuit theologian Antonio González analyses the nature of global empires since the time of Babylon. His premise is that empires maintain power by any means necessary, including exploitation, injustice and idolatry. It is in this context of empire – specifically the Roman empire – that Jesus proclaimed the reign of God as opposed to the reign of Caesar. Within God’s reign, God alone rules, with mercy, love, justice, and special concern for the oppressed. Imbued with this faith, a new community of believers developed, particularly among the poor, who lived what Jesus proclaimed, sharing resources and practicing equality and forgiveness rather than retribution. The author documents how, during the first centuries AD, post-resurrection communities continued to practice living in the reign of God.
With the rise of Emperor Constantine, however, this vibrant counter-cultural movement of believers became coterminous with, and was institutionalised within, the Roman Empire. When that empire fell, over time the institutional church became the dominant power with all the trappings of empire. The author shows how the evils inherent in empire are still prevalent today throughout the world, with the church often blessing and sharing in the power.
Antonio González, a leading Spanish theologian, has worked in El Salvador and in Guatemala at the Jesuit University, as well as in various centres of higher education in Europe. He shares with liberation theology the perspective of God’s option for the poor and the centrality of praxis in the Christian message and life. He is a member of the Mennonite community and the General Secretary of the Fundacion Xavier Zubiri in Madrid, Spain. González is a prolific author whose works include Structures in Praxis, Trinity and Liberation, and more recently, Theology of the Evangelical Praxis.
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