Minjung and Power : A Biblical and Theological Perspective on Doularchy (Servanthood)

by Yong-Bok Kim

Kim Yong-Bock (family name Kim), Ph. D., is President of Hanil University and Theological Seminary in Chonbuk, Korea (Wanju-Kun Sangkwan-Myun, Shinri, 694-1; Chonbuk, Korea 565-830).  He received his Masters of Divinity and Ph.D. degrees from Princeton University.  He has been a teaching fellow at Princeton Theological Seminary, an international consultant to the Commission on Ecumenical Missions and Relations, National Board of Missions, of the United Presbyterian Church (USA), and is founder and Director of the Christian Center for Asian Studies,  and  Director of the Doctor of Ministries Studies, a joint program with San Francisco Theological Seminary.

This article appeared in The Christian Century, July 15-22, 1987 pp. 628-630. Copyright by The Christian Century Foundation; used by permission. Current articles and subscription information can be found at www.christiancentury.org. This article was prepared for Religion Online by John R. Bushell.


In the post-Cold War situation and the post-modernization process, the breakdown of modern social philosophies and political ideologies, as well as traditional social thoughts opened the door to great confusion in social thinking among Asian peoples and to a lack of ecumenical theological direction in the Christian communities. But at the same time it has opened a new era of creative and active social thinking in ecumenical movements and social movements round the world.

Power has been the perennial problem in human history. The reality of power is complex; and its use and misuse in all human, social and political relations and interactions has been a question of utmost importance for all peoples. In movements for liberation from oppression, the question has been always raised not only in terms of use or misuse , but also in terms of the very nature of power. Now, with breakdown of the socialist states, the crisis of modern liberal nation states, and upheavals in traditional or semi-traditional despotic and authoritarian states, new questions are being raised in the emerging context of global market. The nation state structures are being radically questioned, for they are the unit structures of the political powers that have been most destructive; and the global market agencies are realizing the restrictive nature of the modern nation state structures for free interaction and movement of goods and services.

As human history moves towards the 21st century, the reality of power is being formed in the context of the global market.

The movements of the peoples of God in the inhabited earth are in a rapid transition, great trends lead us to a radically different world. We do not have a definitive analytical grasp of these trends and changes that are determining the life of peoples today. Yet we have to keep trying to discern the signs of the times, as we live and move together in this world.

In the post-Cold War situation and the post-modernization process, the breakdown of modern social philosophies and political ideologies, as well as traditional social thoughts opened the door to great confusion in social thinking among Asian peoples and to a lack of ecumenical theological direction in the Christian communities; but at the same time it has opened a new era of creative and active social thinking in ecumenical movements and social movements around the world. This demands fresh initiatives in theological and social thinking by the ecumenical movement on the question of power.

Signs of the Times: Fundamental Trends and Changes among Peoples

1. The world has become one global market. All life on earth is now condemned to the global market. There is no realistic option for life outside of the market, whatever it is and however it operates. While socialism existed, this was not the situation. Practically speaking, the market has become an absolute reality, although some question whether this is the case, at least, in theoretical terms. This market globalization has profound implications for the peoples of Asia and all life on earth.

The center of rapid economic growth in the world is being shifted to Asia, with Japan and China becoming the axis of this shift; and Asian dragons and "tigers" are playing a dynamic role in this process; and the global market is being shaped by these developments in Asia.

The peoples of Asia are those most effected by the market globalization, as rapid economic growth takes place in some Asian countries. Yet the main player in the market are the corporate entities of capital in and outside Asia, rather than the nation states which are even losing control over the economic life of their own people. The corporate economic entities are most "creative and efficient" and, therefore, most powerful, controlling modern science and technology as well as information and communication in the global market and seeking to knock down all cultural, national or political barriers in order to open high ways for their market plays. This new reality has become more clear since the Urguay Round agreement. What is unique in this market globalization is the Asian socialist countries, which have also embraced the market economy or are in the process of doing so. They call it "socialist market economy". It is not yet clear what this means for the Asian people. What is clear is that these socialist market economies are also growing very rapidly.

2. The geo-political change and resultant market globalization have brought about the fusion of the local, national, global and cosmic (natural) horizons. all persons or communities and corporate entities must deal with the new multi-dimensionally fused horizons. One must simultaneously think and act locally, nationally and globally, realizing that a local action will have effect not only on the local level, but also on the national, global and cosmic levels. In addition, issues of life and relations among people, groups and communities are affected by these fused horizons on all levels.

As the nation states adjust to the global market, In this process of geopolitical changes, Asian nation states are no exception. They too face a changing role including the possible weakening of their power to protect their own people. What will be the new role of the nation states in Asia? The people are beginning to re-organize their life into one that is locality-centered , religious community centered, culture-centered and, ethnic-centered life, away from the political center of the nation state.

This means that the people's sovereignty (participation) is being organized locally to respond to the global dynamics of the world market as well as to the national dynamics of powers and principalities. The people seek to participate directly and immediately, bypassing the ambiguous political mediation of the nation states.

The symbiotic centers of the power nexus have shifted substantially from the nation state structures to the global corporate entities, deeply affecting the life of the people, and their communities. In response, people are seeking various forms of participatory or direct democracy as a framework in which they can participate directly and form multilateral and multi-dimensional solidarity linkages for creative interventions in the global market process.

3. All problems and issues of peoples' life in all dimensions, are being inter-connected by the globalized market in an oppressive manner. In the past the natural, economic, social, political, cultural and religious dimensions were analytically distinguished, differentiated and even fragmented; they were compartmentalized on both analytical level and the concrete practical level. Or life was reduced to one dimension, the material or spiritual, disregarding all other dimensions or subjugating them to one and organizing them hierarchically with a single dimension on the top, whether this was spiritual or material. Interconnection is needed, but it must be made in a liberating manner.

4. Socio-political relations in the globalized market are not merely structural but also dynamically relational; therefore, contradictions and conflicts in the global market are dynamically relational. Likewise, the struggles, negotiations and cooperation and even solidarity among Asian peoples in the global market are characterized by power relations across classes, castes, races, genders and all other contradictory camps among groups, communities and ecosystems.

5. The electronic information and communication and order, with its hi-tech multimedia communication and processing of information, is a dominant feature of the global market. Its value-added network of communication and information enforces and accelerates the market dynamics in the life of the people. Human subjectivity as the participatory agency of life in all its dimensions, is subjugated under this new post-industrial global information order.

6. Religious entities in Asia will emerge as counter-veiling centers of life, giving identity, values and meaning. Initially they will feel the crisis posed by in the global market, but Asian religions will be great reservoirs of spiritual energy for the life and struggle of the Asian people.

The Victims Tell the Reality of Asian People in the Vortex of the Global Market

1. The market globalization process has engaged the vitality of life and the power of death in bitter contest, as the garden and oasis of life is being turned into a jungle and desert of destruction.

The fundamental contradiction between society and nature that is implied in modern industrial culture and society is being intensified in the global market, which is dominated by fiercely competing corporate agencies. Natural and cultural (spiritual) life are dominated by global market and its relations with the result that natural life is being victimized by market-dominated economic and cultural artificiality and arbitrariness. Hitherto the Western industrial culture has dictated the relations between life in nature and life in human society, both capitalist and socialist. Now it is the dynamics of the global market that will dominate these relations. The culture of the globalized market is neither life-preserving nor life-enhancing. Its limitless competition upholds the logic of the survival of the fittest and the strongest. The market will allow the winners to dominate the losers, and life will be the ultimate loser, becoming deprived of its spiritual foundation as well as its natural base due to the arbitrary contradiction between the natural and the spiritual, imposed by the global market. So far there seems to be no strong counter-veiling trend that can control or balance this negative dimension of market globalization.

2. The economic victimization of the people, -- Minjung, communities and consumers, -- will be absolute and limitless in the global market and dominated by the mamonism of the giant corporate entities, led by the global financial corporate powers. The financial victimization of the people will be noiseless and bloodless but extremely effective. Natural life, human persons, the hungry, the poor and even the not-so-poor middle class people, together with relatively weak economic agencies, will be powerless economic losers in the globally competitive market.

National economic security nets of self-reliance and protection, wherever they exit, are rapidly eroded in the name of the open market, as the weak economic agencies in every nation are exposed to the market plays of the globally powerful economic agencies. The traditional communities are likewise more vulnerable under the pressures of the global market forces which are destroying life everywhere. Hunger, impoverishment, and wasteful consumerism are being promoted by a process of victimization which paradoxically, is taking place in the midst of global economic growth and technological advancement.

In this global context the people must take initiatives for economic justice, for direct participation and intervention in the market process, and for economic actions for sustainable life.

3. The common security of life is being dismantled and subjugated to the jungle of the globalized market, exposing the people to economic, social, political, cultural and spiritual violence which is fundamentally caused by the global market process. Life will no longer; and it is vulnerable to the violent conflicts and confrontations, produced by limitless competition. This violent process is permeating the relations among international and political powers, social classes and cultural groups, national and ethic groups, and caste and religious communities, making it making it very hard to bring about peaceful resolution of conflicts and disputes among the struggling parties, and eroding the foundations of peaceful life.

There has been a tendency for the peace question to be reduced merely to the question of the reduction or elimination of violent military confrontations among nation states and political groups; but now it is the question of securing the common life of all living things on earth. The question of peace and security over against violence is to be understood on the economic, cultural and spiritual levels as well as on the social and political levels.

4. Life contains a politically living subject as its core. It cannot be reduced to a passive object. The global market with its "neo-liberal" developments has weakened the liberal democratic subjecthood of individual persons, powerless groups such as racial and ethnic minorities, and local communities. The people as participating agents in the political process succumb to the syndrome of apathy, hopelessness, and de-capacitation, and the national democratic states are weakened. This political victimization goes beyond suppression of the political subjecthood of the people, but to weaken the participatory process at the global level, taking away national and community protections of political subjecthood.

5. The global market process is strongly supported by the cultural process of communication and information through hi-tech multimedia. The victimization of life is being advanced culturally on the levels of spirituality, consciousness, perceptions and senses. The multimedia, directed by the corporate powers and agencies of the global market, subjugate cultural subjecthood, cultural values, life styles, perceptions of beauty and religious mystery, as well as ethnic national identities of persons and communities to the market's cultural wasteland. The arena of our consciousness and perceptions has become the battle ground between the forces of life and anti-life. This is truly a "cultural war." The exploitation by the market of post-modernistic sensibilities, especially those emerging among the young generations, is a good illustration.

The global market powers will do battle against the people's religious communities and spiritual powers, sapping their spiritual strength and promoting spiritual wilderness and wasteland where souls and spirits will be broken and people's spiritual sources of life will be lost. Religious revivals and the emergence of new religions must be seen in this context of spiritual victimization of the people.

Minjung Politics

In Minjung theology it is a truism that the question of power cannot be separated from the life of the Minjung grassroots people in history. Rather than raising the question of the power merely raised as the objective question of power as such, or the structure or phenomenology of power, this affirms that the true nature of power can only be properly understood in relation to the lives of the Minjung. Furthermore, as the victims of the dominant power, it is the Minjung who are the prime perceiver of the reality of that power. Contrary to the common claim that scientific analysis of society provides deeper understanding of the reality of power, such analysis in fact has not fully revealed the Minjung experiences of the power realities. The Minjung experience power as its victims, which is something the objective scientists cannot do.

It is a fundamental principle in Minjung theology that the social biography (or story) of the Minjung reveals who they are in their persons and in their corporate body. Suffering and struggle is their prime reality, which is directly related to the reality of power. The power reality is just as complex as the experiences of the Minjung. While it is claimed that power can be analyzed scientifically and objectively, its reality is revealed most clearly in the story of the Minjung. The experience of the Minjung and the reality of power must each be understood as a whole.

Today the Minjung throughout the world face a complex situation of power that is local as well as global. The power complex has a certain socio-economic base, mingled with political organization and influence, and with religio-cultural values and influences as well as highly developed scientific and technological capacities. Power is never one-dimensional, but is a complex mixture of multi-dimensional factors. The Minjung experience the power of transnational corporations as well as the power of local and national economic powers; they live under the domination of the imperial powers, local and national ruling powers, and the combination of all of these. As for the powers of modern and traditional religions and cultures, the Minjung experience these in the form of technocracy as well as traditional "despotism." This reality is felt acutely among the Minjung at the present historical juncture, with its radical global transition and uncertainty about the future. The powers have become conservative and reactive to changes that might jeopardize their interests. Beginning with the changes in Eastern Europe, the world is in the process of a "re-constellation" which is characterized by the breakdown of the cold war ideological polar structure, the realignment of the military powers, the reordering of the economic powers, and the rapid globalization of communication and cultural life. The participation of the Minjung is being short-circuited in the vortex of these complex global power dynamics; their network is undercut in every direction, so that their struggle is difficult; and the violence of power against them grows more sophisticated day by day, intensifying their unrelieved sufferings. The Minjung experience of economic power is more than poverty, hunger and exploitation; it is the distortion of their political economy, which is their basis of life. The modern industrial economy destroys and distorts life on earth. The people cannot participate meaningfully in the planning, production and distribution of their political economy, whether it is capitalist or socialist. The question of the economic life of the Minjung goes beyond the issue of class. The question is whether they enjoy a full life or suffer the distortion of their life. This involves ecological questions as well. The economic life of the Minjung should be based upon life protection and enhancement. Social injustice against the Minjung is based upon social status differentiation, ethnic and racial discrimination, gender discrimination and other factors-all intertwined with the economic base of the society, although the relation between economic and social is not necessarily logical or mechanical.

Social bonds by blood, by region, by nationality and religion are interrelated in a complex webwork, so that social injustice cannot be reduced to a purely economic considerations. The political victimization of the Minjung is also very complex. Their basic human dignity is violated by the state structures and by the actions and procedures of government. Their rights of participation are curtailed, restricted and suppressed. The capitalist powers, be they liberal or authoritarian, limit and suppress Minjung political participation. The socialist powers also prevent Minjung participation in political, cultural, social and economic life. Secret police operate in both capitalist and socialist states to suppress Minjung engagement. The violence employed against the Minjung by the oppressive powers is not only physical but also economic, social, political and cultural; it is psychological and communal, corporate and spiritual, as the exercise of power becomes ever more sophisticated. The rising tide of "people's powers from below" to confront the powers and principalities in these various arenas, has brought new mechanisms of suppression by use of technocratic means.

The Minjung are deprived of access to science and technology in the industrial society; and they are denied the cultural means to cope with the world information and communication order, now dominated by the global corporate powers. National traditions, religious traditions, and even cultural values are being harnessed and manipulated to suppress the Minjung as they confront the powers-that-be. The emerging new constellations of powers and principalities are so complex that it would be illusory to try to analyze them in terms of structures and systems. They are far too complex for such analytical calculation, though we might still have to rely upon this till we have better means to grasp the new dynamics of power. This power reality is not remote from the life of the Minjung; rather they experience it immediately in their everyday life.

Here we need to go beyond mere analyses of power contradictions: we have reach out to grasp the interconnectedness of powers in terms of time and history, in terms of space, locus, expanse and dimension. Social theories have failed in this respect: social contradictions have either been too simply interconnected according to logical or structural analysis or left unconnected to fall into fragmentation or reductionism.

The stories of the Minjung as victims of power truthfully reveal the reality of power: this is a fundamental thesis. Any analysis, however scientific it may be, which does not take into account the story of the victims of the powers, is not a faithful account of those powers. Political theories and ideologies are fundamentally justifications of the powers; they are not theories about the sovereignty of the Minjung. Any theory of social transformation must include the fundamental question of the Sovereign Minjung, including how it is suppressed by the powers. The fundamental failure of Marxism is that it does not have an adequate theory of Minjung participation; and the failure of liberalism is that it has absolutized the individual self, turning it into the private corporate self, which is the core of its polity. Political liberalism has failed to establish Minjung Sovereignty against the private corporate self, such as the TNC.

Political Biography of the Minjung

The people have suffered under the powers and principalities throughout history. Their political experiences reveal the nature of political history and, thus, the nature of political power. Under the political regimes of the political totalitarianism and absolutism as well as colonialism and imperialism in the West, and ancient despotism and imperialism in the oriental civilizations, the people suffered severely and political sovereignty completely.

For the sake of concreteness, let us take Korean modern political history as an illustration. The Minjung suffered under Confucian despotism till the beginning of the 20th century. The political economy of this regime was that of agriculture, mainly producing rice. The people, commoners, were discriminated against by the ruling Yangban class; they were exploited as tillers of the land and producers of goods, they were forcibly conscribed as corvee, and most of them were subjugated as private and public slaves. They served obligatory military duties and were excluded from political participation, being only the object of power. The legal institutions, which existed were to protect the status and power of the ruling Yangban class; therefore they functioned punitively turning the people into the victims of the local magistrates, who were the administrators in judicial and other areas. They did not defend the "rights" of the people. Under such despotic rule, the people's sovereignty was legally non-existent. However, the people steadily resisted this despotic power.

Under the Japanese empire and in the divided land under the cold war system of the four imperial powers the Minjung also experienced the suffering imposed by modernized totalistic, authoritarian and military dictatorships. Here we find the stories of the Jungshindae (the "comfort women"), the war widows, and the workers, peasants and urban poor, exposing the nature of the political powers in the modern Korea.

Biblical Political Order

as the Paradigm of a Minjung Politics of Doularchy

I. Political Biography in the Bible

The stories of the Hebrews under the imperial rule of Pharaoh are told and retold as a paradigmatic expression of the political social biography of the people. The stories of the Minjung under the Davidic reign appear in the Bible as illustrated by the story of Naboth and his vineyard. The story of the Suffering Servant under the Babylonian Empire appears in the Servant song of Isaiah 53. The stories of the Crucified One under the Roman Empire and many other crucified ones are also political biographies of the Minjung which expose the unjust despotic, imperial regimes led by the principalities and powers.

II. The Biblical Paradigm of Dominant Power

The nature of the despotic and imperial powers is described throughout the books of the Bible in the stories of the Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Greek and Roman empires and small kingdoms in the ancient Middle East. The nature of power is very well expressed in Samuel's opposition to the establishment of a kingship for the people of Israel. In I Samuel 8:10-18:

"He said, 'These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your menservants and maidservants, and the best of your cattle and your asses, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.' "

The socio-economic slavery, military regimentation, "official robbery", and negation of the just rule of Yahweh are some of the manifestations of the arche of DESPOTAI (despotic rule). The fundamental character of the despotic rule is that the ruler is the legislator and therefore above the law. This is extended to the point that the king becomes an absolute authority, a religious deity. It is very clear that the Biblical rulers used religious trappings to absolutize their authority. Even the Davidic monarchy, as in the cases of king Solomon and king Ahab, used religious institutions and trappings to justify their arbitrary actions and rules.

The political power (Exousiai=authority and force, principalities and powers) of the Pharaohs, Emperors, and Caesars of the Egyptian, Babylonian, Assyrian, Greek and Roman empires assumed a divine status to absolutize their authority and power. Witfogel(1) calls this oriental despotism, which has the distinct political economy of the hydraulic civilization. T. Van Leewen(2) calls it ontocracy. The point is that the political authorities of these empires are regarded to be divine. This makes them the legislators, and since the laws are the very expression of their will, they are above the laws and are bound to none. Their authority is hierarchical, despotic and authoritarian. Baalism in the Old Testament is a similar despotic polity; and for this reason the prophets attacked it fiercely, as it crept into the Davidic monarchy. The monarchs of the Davidic kingdoms were constantly subjected to the pressures and temptations by the despotic rules of the empires and kingdoms surrounding the people of Israel (I Kings 21:1-15).

The political authority of Arche in the Bible is expressed in various forms of hierarchy, patriarchy, monarchy, Basilei (Regime), Despotai (despotism), Pharaoh, Caesar, Kurios, Baal (Lord), and finally Diabolos (Devil or Satan). Diabolos is the Prince of the World, self-appointed ruler of the world to injure the people and cause their death. Diabolos is the rule over the whole world, directly resisting God and God's sovereign rule. This is the ultimate denial of God; and when humans obey the Diabolos, they are resisting God. Biblically and historically, God and Diabolos cannot co-exist in the world.

When the Sovereignty of God is not recognized by the earthly authorities, the powers become sovereign by themselves, and thus ultimately deny the sovereignty of the Minjung, suppressing and subjugating them.

III. The Sovereignty of the Minjung under Doularchy

The reign of DOULOS in OIKOS TOU THEOU is the conclusive theme in the Bible.

If any one would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all(Mark 9:35).

"And Jesus called them to him and said to them, 'You know that those who are supposed to rule over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. But it shall not be so among you; but whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of man also came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many' " (Mark 10: 42-45).

"Who has believed what we have heard? And to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or comeliness that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that made us whole, and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all. He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away; and as for his generation, who considered that he was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people? And they made his grave with the wicked and with a rich man in his death, although he had done no violence, and there was no deceit in his mouth. Yet it was the will of the Lord to bruise him; he has put him to grief; when he makes himself an offering for sin, he shall see his offspring, he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand; he shall see the fruit of the travail of his soul and be satisfied; by his knowledge shall the righteous one, my servant, make many to be accounted righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities." (Is. 53:1-11)

This is the political economy (OIKOS) of God in which Jesus Christ has fulfilled the Servanthood to serve all, that is, to raise them up as the subjects of life in the global market.


Phases of Development of Doularchy in the Bible

Phase I

The Covenant declares the slaves to be the subjects of liberation in the story of the Exodus. The sovereignty of Yahweh is the denial of the sovereignty of Pharaoh against Yahweh and over the Hebrews, thus opening a historical space for the sovereignty of the Minjung. The meaning of the Covenant is that God has established a relationship of partnership with the slaves in God's sovereign rule of all creation. Thus, the event of the Exodus is an original paradigm of the political economy of God, in which the servants are lords and subjects.

Phase II

The Covenant Code in the tribal confederacy is a conjugation of the Exodus doularchy paradigm. In the tribal communities in the Palestine area after the Exodus, there had continued the reproduction of the slave-based productive relations. In this situation the Sovereign rule of God is expressed in the form of the covenant code, especially in the Sabbath laws (Exodus 21:1-33:33).

"Now these are the ordinances which you shall set before them.

When you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, `I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,' then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall bore his ear through with an awl; and he shall serve him for life. When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt faithlessly with her. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money (Exo 21:1-11).

In this covenant code the slave is transformed into someone who has "rights" over the master. In fact, in the productive relations of slavery, it is the role of the slaves which undergirds the status of the master, functionally speaking.

Phase III

In the Davidic monarchy under the Covenant Code the reign is legitimated on the basis of the covenant code. This means that the rights of the slaves will be protected and the rule of God's justice will be established. The Prophetic Movement against the powers and principalities is fundamentally towards the order of doularchy where the powerless, the weak and the slaves are the partners of God, participating in the Reign of God.

The historically existing paradigm of power, such as despotic monarchy, was to subjugate the people and to rule over them. The Davidic covenant demanded that the king be under the Covenant Code in which the slaves are to be liberated and they should be protected. That is, the institution of the king existed to serve the people in covenant with the (elders of the) people (II Samuel 5:1-3). If the king was established according to the model of the despotic ruler, the people would be turned into the slaves (I Samuel 8:10-18). Here the king becomes the servant of God; and the king is to serve the people, who is the partner of God in the covenant. At the same time the king is doubly in covenant with God and with the people of God. The reason for the existence of the king to is implement the covenant code, which is the order of the Exodus.

When this order of reign was disturbed by the "despotic rule", the prophets resisted against the kings. The first king who was challenged on this ground was King David himself, when he took Bathsheba, killing her husband Uriah (II Samuel 12:1-15).

Typical of the despotic king was Ahab, against whom the Prophet Elijah rose up to defend people like Naboth (I King 21:1-29). The model king was described as one who was faithful to the covenant with God and with the people (II Kings 23:1-3).

Phase IV

The EBED YAWEH under the imperial rule of Babylon is envisioned as the king of the peoples of God. The Suffering Servant appears on the scene who would reveal the Justice (of God) to all nations and who would establish peace. The suppressed nation as the corporate subject of the Suffering Servant provided the form of political identity which would bring about the Messianic Reign of Shalom in which the suffering Minjung would be vindicated (Isaiah 50:4-9). This does not mean that the Suffering Servant will become the despotic ruler. It means that the oppressive rule will end and it will be replaced the rule of the Shepherd, who gives his life of the sheep (Ezekiel 34).

Phase V

When Jesus described himself as the "doulos or diakonos of All", it was against the worldly political order of the Roman empire and against the political order of hierarchy, even in the mind of his disciples. Jesus's reference is to the Suffering Servant and to the Shepherd, who serves and dies for the sheep (Mark 9:35; Mark 10: 42-45).

Jesus' practice of servanthood in John 13:1 ff (Jesus' washing the disciples' feet) is to establish the doularchy directly and personally in the midst of the community of the people of God. Therefore Jesus took the form of the servant, as it is expressed in Phil. 2:7 (Morphe Doulou).

Thus Jesus' doularchy is a direct transgression of the Roman political economy of the slavery and the Roman exousia of the Caesar; his doularchy is being the servant of all, against all oppressive politics; and his doularchy is to make all people and Minjung the sovereign partners of in the Messianic Reign. In the Doularchy, politics means making the Minjung the political subjects.

Phase VI

Participation under Doularchy in Common Bond is the connection between Koinonia and Diakonia. Doularchy and Koinonia (Bond) is closely connected: The Minjung in Corporate Bond become subjects to serve each other so that the Minjung become serving sovereigns and sovereign servants. In Gal. 5:13 "Serve each other through agape" is the order of the One Body in Christ in inter-linking faithfulness (covenant) (Gal. 3:26-29). Thus ecclesial order is the paradigmatic manifestation of the Jesus doularchy in the political order of humankind, including the Roman Empire.

Concluding Word

God's Sovereignty is for the Sovereignty of the Minjung, debunking the arche of the diabolos. Power does not have any independent ontological status; it is non-being. Only the Minjung can erect the authority to rule; the Minjung are the Sovereign; and the Arche is Doulos. Doulos makes Arche. (Servant makes master.) The Doulos are in common bond to establish Exousia.

What is the polity of feminist politics? What is the polity of liberation politics in Latin America? What is the nature of the political order that is sought by Black liberation theology? How should the theologies of liberation seek a common political order in this coming 21st century?

The political economy of the Minjung is mutual servanthood and a mutual Bond that makes them sovereign, and turn Arche into Doulos: Doularche, which guarantees the Minjung's participation as Sovereign-in-Bond (Covenant). This is radically different from social contract theories.

Doularchy in 21st century politics should mean that the Minjung become a comprehensive sovereign in the bond of servanthood, liberated and not enslaved, erect and not bowed down. This means direct participation in authority and politics by the mutually serving community for the enhancement of all life; it means the covenant solidarity of all Minjung and all living things throughout the earth.


Biblical References

1Sa 8:11 He said, "These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots;

1Sa 8:12 and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots.

1Sa 8:13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers.

1Sa 8:14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants.

1Sa 8:15 He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants.

1Sa 8:16 He will take your menservants and maidservants, and the best of your cattle and your asses, and put them to his work.

1Sa 8:17 He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.

1Sa 8:18 And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day."

1Ki 21:1 Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.

1Ki 21:2 And after this Ahab said to Naboth, "Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house; and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money."

1Ki 21:3 But Naboth said to Ahab, "The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers."

1Ki 21:7 And Jezebel his wife said to him, "Do you now govern Israel? Arise, and eat bread, and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite."

1Ki 21:8 So she wrote letters in Ahab's name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the nobles who dwelt with Naboth in his city.

1Ki 21:9 And she wrote in the letters, "Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people;

1Ki 21:10 and set two base fellows opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, `You have cursed God and the king.' Then take him out, and stone him to death."

1Ki 21:11 And the men of his city, the elders and the nobles who dwelt in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters which she had sent to them,

1Ki 21:12 they proclaimed a fast, and set Naboth on high among the people.

1Ki 21:13 And the two base fellows came in and sat opposite him; and the base fellows brought a charge against Naboth, in the presence of the people, saying, "Naboth cursed God and the king." So they took him outside the city, and stoned him to death with stones.

1Ki 21:14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, "Naboth has been stoned; he is dead."

1Ki 21:15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, "Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money; for Naboth is not alive, but dead." 

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