EPH 6:12 D32 “Powers” in my view of Paul:
When the Bible (both OT & NT) speaks against idolatry, it does not have (US) modern humanity in view. It was addressed to a primary ancient near east audience and culture thousands of years ago and was “written for us, but not to us” (as my good friend John Walton often says); yet the message is still vitally relevant today. Eph 6 is aimed at the ancient near east societies that worshipped other gods, that is, societies that had the wrong trajectory of worship. What I find interesting is these “pagan” societies still believed in the sacred, perhaps even more than the evangelical church does today. They were off course in not worshipping YHVH, but they had the notion of what was sacred and to be valued in other gods. Conversely, our culture today is not sacred, but we still give away our hearts to and/or “worship” other entities. This is why so many today are walking away from the church and Frank Viola would call main stream evangelical Christianity “Pagan Christianity.” By Biblical definition, we are worshipping the wrong entities and they aren’t even sacred. We are worse than Paul’s Rome.
Today we have sent God into exile as we frolic in “our” Babylon.
Pagan worldliness has abdicated the spiritual world. “Forces” have replaced the sacred.
Today we live in a world that doesn’t honor anything sacred but still operates by similar forces, (not a personal God.) We are concerned with the social forces that affect our comfort, the economic forces that affect security, the political forces that shape our fear and prosperity, and the moral and ethical forces that govern interpersonal relationships. What we (the modern evangelical church) usually call “Satan”, or “spiritual powers” are almost always the world forces that we continue to “worship”, and thus we enter into a similar ancient relationship of modern enslavement and idol or power/god over forces. In the same type of thinking as the Ancient Near East thinking of idolatry and gods, we fear that these modern forces will at the very least control us, and possibly even extinguish or annihilate us. For the first time in human history, the world is without gods, any gods, including YHVH the God of Israel.
Peter Leithart (one of my favorites) also observed that modern Christianity (and specifically the modern church) is nothing more than institutionalized worldliness. It is Rome ensconced in the sanctuary.
Our culture is idolatrous and is controlled by powers/forces/systems of the world. We don’t worship a one true God in the sense of “everything or all.” The world is no longer sacred. There are some who still desire to live set apart wholly devoted as sacred to YHVH, but will their actions ever truly live that out? Will we return as “Christian’s” to the allegiance that YHVH asks for or will we continue to live in idolatry?