Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power

Playing God: Redeeming the Gift of Power

by Andy Crouch

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Overview

  • 2014 Midwest Publishing Association Award of Excellence (General Trade)
  • 2014 Outreach Magazine Resource of the Year ("Also Recommended," Leadership)
  • ForeWord 2013 Book of the Year Award Honorable Mention (Adult Nonfiction, Religion)

Power corrupts—as we've seen time and time again. People too often abuse their power and play god in the lives of others. Shady politicians, corrupt executives and ego-filled media stars have made us suspicious of those who wield influence and authority. They too often breed injustice by participating in what the Bible calls idolatry.
Yet power is also the means by which we bring life, create possibilities, offer hope and make human flourishing possible. This is "playing god" as it is meant to be. If we are to do God's work—fight injustice, bring peace, create beauty and allow the image of God to thrive in those around us—how are we to do these things if not by power?
With his trademark clear-headed analysis, Andy Crouch unpacks the dynamics of power that either can make human flourishing possible or can destroy the image of God in people. While the effects of power are often very evident, he uncovers why power is frequently hidden. He considers not just its personal side but the important ways power develops and resides in institutions.
Throughout Crouch offers fresh insights from key biblical passages, demonstrating how Scripture calls us to discipline our power. Wielding power need not distort us or others, but instead can be stewarded well.
An essential book for all who would influence their world for the good.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780830837656
Publisher: InterVarsity Press
Publication date: 09/06/2013
Pages: 288
Sales rank: 758,678
Product dimensions: 6.30(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Andy Crouch is executive editor at Christianity Today. He is a senior fellow of the International Justice Mission's IJM Institute, and a member of the Board of Advisors for the John Templeton Foundation. He is also the author of Culture Making.

Table of Contents

Introduction


1 The Discovery of Power


Part 1: The Gift of Power: In the Beginning It Was Not So

Exploration: Genesis 1 - 2 - Original Power

2 Power Is a Gift

3 Idolatry

4 Injustice

A Note: Evangelism and Social Action

5 Icons

Exploration: John 2 - The Wedding Wine


Part 2: The Grip of Power: It Will Not Be So Among You

Exploration: Exodus 20 - The Ten Words

6 The Hiddenness of Power

7 Force, Coercion and Violence

8 The Lure of Privilege

Exploration: John 13 - Jesus, Power and Privilege


Part 3: Institutions and Creative Power: From Generation to Generation

9 The Gift of Institutions

10 Principalities, Powers and Broken Institutions

11 Becoming Trustees

Exploration: Philemon - The Peculiar Institution


Part 4: The End of Power: We Had to Celebrate

12 Disciplined Power

13 The Sabbath Ladder

14 The End of Power

Exploration: Luke 15 - Prodigal Power


Acknowledgments

Notes

What People are Saying About This

Amy L. Sherman

"It's likely that most readers of this book will both possess more power than they realize and feel uncomfortable with the amount of it that they know they've got. This book holds keys to liberation. It illuminates that power is, foundationally, good. It offers 3D pictures of what power is for (flourishing) and what its right use looks like (creative image-bearing that expands our own and others' joyful 'meaning-making'). Crouch's Bible-saturated teaching frees us from guilt and guides us in the active, humble and, importantly, essential calling to steward our power, thus helping us avoid the equal dangers of abusing our power and neglecting it. Playing God is a wise, deeply insightful, imaginative work; by heeding its lessons, Christians will be far more fruitful in their efforts to advance Jesus' kingdom in our broken world."

Gary A. Haugen

"Perhaps no question with such urgent life-and-death consequences is more poorly understood among Christians in our era than the stewardship of power; but gloriously, in Playing God, Andy Crouch provides the clarity we need in this once-in-a-generation work of sweeping theological and sociological depth. It is fresh, rigorous, profoundly helpful and a delight to read."

Soong-Chan Rah

"Andy Crouch presents an essential treatise on one of the most important yet undiscussed topics for the promotion of justice in American Christianity—the issue of power. The work of God's justice in the world requires an understanding of the dynamics of power. Crouch shines the light of Scripture on what could be a divisive topic. Playing God should spark this long overdue conversation."

Brian Fikkert

"What do poverty, the cello, human trafficking, iPods, loan sharks, wine, the tower of Babel and the Olympics have in common? Crouch shows that all of these are expressions of power, God's unique gift to humanity. With unceasing eloquence, Crouch delivers a unique perspective on everyday life that opens readers' eyes to a whole new world of conflict, meaning and possibility. A truly transformative experience."

Scot McKnight

"In deft moves of integrating sound biblical theology with astute observations about culture, Andy Crouch wades into the immense topic of power—the powers, institutional power, cultural power, racial power—to offer the alternative Christian perception of power, a power that can be reshaped by the gospel about Jesus Christ, refashioned by love and reoriented by a new community called the church. In this book worldly power is deconstructed and replaced with a new kind of gospel power."

Mary Andringa

"This is a thoughtful and compelling book about power. Thinking of power as a gift which is meant for flourishing gives the reader much to consider. Institutions are meant for flourishing. Therefore, leaders of institutions must ask the question about how they are using the power gifted to them. Are they image bearers of that power or god players? The author's biblical and personal stories help the reader work through these and many other great questions."

Russell D. Moore

"This book plowed through my heart, leaving idol shards everywhere in its path. Andy Crouch, one of Christianity's most compelling visionaries on culture, examines power and the ways we should harness it for human flourishing and the glory of God. The book will prompt you to rethink assumptions and perhaps to reset priorities. It is a 'powerful' read, in the right sense of that word."

Gabe Lyons

"Once again, Andy Crouch cuts to the heart of the matter by challenging us to take seriously the One whose image we bear. Playing God is a clear and compelling call for Christians to steward the kind of power that enables flourishing."

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