What is the purpose of the Christian life?
I have been asking in this series of blogs, “what is the purpose of the Christian life?” To this point, I have been suggesting that it is to imitate and fulfill the mission of Jesus. In the last few posts I have been arguing that the coming of Jesus was in fulfillment of all that the OT promised. In particular, Jesus fulfilled the mission of the OT people of God to make God known.
I have noted that one of the great promises of Scripture is the “Immanuel Principle:” the promise that God will dwell among His people: see Lev 26:11-13 and Ezek 37:24-27.
In order to understand the significance of this promise for the life of the people of God today we must reflect on two key elements of the Immanuel Principle. In the last post I noted that the first key of the Immanuel Principle is that it is primarily about God dwelling among His people and only secondarily about a place. In this post, I will reflect on the second key element: namely, that God’s dwelling among His people is a present reality!
God presently dwells among His people
The second key to understanding the Immanuel Principle is that the fulfillment of God’s promise to dwell with His people has already begun!
Though, indeed, the book of Revelation places God’s dwelling among His people at the end (Revelation 21-22), it is important to note that Paul cites the very same OT passages (Lev 26:11-12 and Ezek 37:24-27) and argues that they are being fulfilled in the present! That is, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the life of God’s people today is also the fulfillment of the Immanuel Principle. Paul says, “For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, "I WILL DWELL IN THEM AND WALK AMONG THEM; AND I WILL BE THEIR GOD, AND THEY SHALL BE MY PEOPLE” (2 Cor 6:16).
In this passage, Paul cites Ezekiel 37 and Leviticus 26 and contends that the fulfillment of God’s promise to dwell among His people has already begun in the life of the believers through the presence of the Spirit. We are the temple of God and the fulfillment of God’s promise to dwell among His people! This is key. Paul places the dwelling of God among His people—in fulfillment of the Immanuel Principle—not in some distant future, but as a present reality!
This doesn’t mean that there will not be a glorious future fulfillment as expressed in the book of Revelation. The difference between the fulfillment now and the future fulfillment is that sin, death, and sorrow remain in the present. In the future fulfillment,
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.”
 Note the use of all caps is the NAU’s means of confirming for their readers that they are convinced that the saying derives from the OT.
I have been asking in this series of blogs, “what is the purpose of the Christian life?” To this point, I have been suggesting that it is to imitate and fulfill the mission of Jesus. In the last post I argued that the coming of Jesus was in fulfillment of all that the OT promised. In order to understand the mission of God’s people, however, we need to go deeper for a bit.
God dwells among us
The God of Christianity is worth knowing. He is transcendent. He is glorious. He is Holy. And He is love. This God, and we could go much further in our description of His magnificence, desires to be made known. God is not simply concerned about making sure we go to heaven when we die, or that we don’t go to hell. He desires to be in relationship with us.
One of the great promises of Scripture, often deemed the “Immanuel Principle,” is found in Leviticus 26:11-12, “Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.”
We see here that God’s desire is that we might dwell with Him, or He with us! This promise reverberates throughout the OT and finds expression in the great covenant promise of Ezekiel:
“My servant David will be king over them, and they will all have one shepherd; and they will walk in My ordinances and keep My statutes and observe them. They will live on the land that I gave to Jacob My servant, in which your fathers lived; and they will live on it, they, and their sons and their sons' sons, forever; and David My servant will be their prince forever. I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant with them. And I will place them and multiply them, and will set My sanctuary in their midst forever. My dwelling place also will be with them; and I will be their God, and they will be My people” (Ezek 37:24-27).
Now at this point, it might be easy to jump to the book of Revelation and see that the ultimate fulfillment of this promise is present in the description of the New Jerusalem:
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, "Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them. . . . He who overcomes will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be My son” (Rev 21:3, 7).
The purpose of the Christian life, then, is to imitate Christ and fulfill His mission which was to make God known.
In order to understand the significance of this promise for the life of the people of God today we must reflect on two key elements of the Immanuel Principle. This will be my next two posts.
In my last post I asked the question: what is the purpose of the Christian life? I suggested that the purpose of the Christian life and the call of God’s people is to carry forth the work of Christ. In order, then, for us to understand our mission as the people of God, we must understand the mission of Jesus.
The Mission of Jesus
One way to comprehend the mission of Jesus is to recognize that in addition to His coming to die and rise again, He also came to do what Adam, Abraham, and the Israelites were called to do. Namely, to be a blessing to the nations by making God known both to the nations and to the whole of creation.
Let me explain:
First, it is essential to see that the NT story is the continuation of the OT story. Now, there is typically very little objection to the claim that in the coming of Christ the OT is fulfilled.
The problem is that for many Christians the notion that the OT is fulfilled is often limited to Jesus’ fulfilling the sacrificial laws and prophecies pertaining to His death and atonement. The writers of the NT, however, seemingly want us to know that everything is being fulfilled in Jesus. The whole story was about Jesus.
Jesus and the fulfillment of the OT
The gospel of Matthew begins with a genealogy (Matt 1:1-17). Matthew informs his readers that the genealogy is intentionally divided into three equal parts of fourteen generations:
“So all the generations from Abraham to David are fourteen generations; from David to the deportation to Babylon, fourteen generations; and from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah, fourteen generations” (Matt 1:17).
The first part of Matthew’s genealogy divides the story from Abraham to David (Matt 1:2-6a). In doing so, Matthew affirms that Jesus is the true descendant of Abraham and the rightful heir of Israel.
The second part of Matthew’s genealogy separates the time from David to the deportation to Babylon (Matt 1:6b-11). From this we learn that Jesus is the true descendant of David and, thereby, the rightful King.
The third section of the genealogy extends from the deportation to Babylon to the Messiah (Matt 1:12-16). The significance here, for Matthew, is that the story of Israel and the OT, which ended with the nation in exile, is coming to its fulfillment in Jesus. The end of the exile is here in Jesus. God is restoring His people and fulfilling His promises in Jesus.
This is precisely what Luke demonstrates in his account of the story of Jesus. Luke’s opening reference to the things “accomplished among us” (Luke 1:1) and his concluding statement in the mouth of Jesus that “everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled” (Luke 24:44) forms an inclusio; which is an author’s way of framing a work in order to set forth his purpose.
Clearly Luke views the whole story of Jesus as the fulfillment. Luke wants his readers to view the entire story of Jesus in light of the things that “have been accomplished among us” (Luke 1:1). This includes far more than Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection. After all, the Gospel of Luke has twenty four chapters and only two of them (Luke 23, 24) describe the events surrounding Jesus’ death and resurrection.
The Gospel of Mark associates Jesus life, death, and resurrection in terms of the coming of the Son of God—note the inclusio of Mark 1:1 and 15:39: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God” (1:1); “The centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, ‘Truly this man was the Son of God!’” (15:39). It is important to note that the title “son of God” was used for both Adam and Israel. The Gospel of Mark, then, is an announcement that Jesus is the true Son of God, and that in Him the call of Israel is being fulfilled.
That the Gospel of John views the story of Jesus in terms of a larger narrative that extends beyond Jesus’ atoning death and resurrection is evident from the opening “In the beginning” (John 1:1); a clear allusion to Genesis 1:1.” This is confirmed by the fact that Jesus, after rising from the dead, appears to His disciples and then “breathes” on them (John 20:22). The word for “breathe” here is the same term used in the Greek version of Genesis 2:7, when Adam became a living being after God “breathed” on him. It is also used in Ezekiel 37:9-10, a passage that looks forward to a future restoration of God’s people.
The gospels present the coming of Jesus in a manner that far transcends His role of dying and rising for our sins. This in no way is meant to diminish the significance of Jesus’ death and resurrection.
It is through His death and resurrection that Jesus defeats death and establishes His kingdom. In fact, Jesus’ death and resurrection are not only essential to the story of redemption, they are, as we will explore more fully, essential to His mission, and, consequently, to our mission as the people of God. If, after all, Jesus establishes His kingdom through death and resurrection, then it stands to reason that the people of God further the advancement of the kingdom through their deaths and resurrection.
 This is why Paul can say that Jesus is the true seed of Abraham (Gal 3:16).
 Though we could be generous and make it two and a half chapters if we wanted to the include the end of Luke 22 and its description of Jesus’ arrest.
 Cf Gen 5:1-3; Luke 3:38.
 Cf Exod 4:22; Hos 11:1.
What is the purpose of the Christian life?
In previous posts I have argued that the goal of the Christian life is to grow in the likeness of Christ. Now, I wish to address the question: what is the purpose of the Christian life?
I am going to make a statement that may very well sound blasphemous. I assure you that it is not. So, before you cease reading, please allow me to clarify. The statement is: “Jesus did not finish the job.” Granted, this sounds extremely blasphemous; downright heretical. Nevermind my plea for clarity. You should stop reading this blog. Clearly I do not hold to an acceptable theological position. Before you do that (I hope it is not too late. Though if you are reading this sentence, I guess it is not), allow me to clarify.
The reason why this statement looks blasphemous is that for most Christians “the job” that Jesus came to do is usually limited to: atoning for sin, defeating death, inaugurating the resurrection, and providing for the forgiveness of sins. If this is all that is meant by “the job,” then, of course, Jesus finished the job.
But, what if “the job” extended beyond these? After all, if “the job” was only to die and rise again, then why did Jesus minister for three and a half years? Why didn’t He just get baptized, go to Jerusalem, and die? Or, better yet, just go to Jerusalem and die? And why do the gospels make so much of the life and ministry of Jesus?
Now, I suspect that some might respond here by saying that the life and deeds of Jesus serve as a model for us. We should be kind like He was. We should love our enemies like he did. We should pray often like he did. These are fine suggestions. Surely, as we have seen, there is a call to imitate Jesus.
The NT writers intimately connected the ministry of Jesus to the coming of the kingdom. In other words, according to the NT the totality of the life and ministry of Jesus, as well as his death, resurrection, and ascension, and the coming of the Spirit, mark the beginning of the kingdom of God, or the New Creation.
What is essential for us grasp, both in regards to understanding the NT and the purpose of the Christian life is that in Christ the new creation has begun, but it does not end with Jesus!
The purpose of the Christian life and the call of God’s people, then, is to carry forth the work of Christ. Consequently, in order for us to understand our mission as the church, we must understand the mission of Jesus—which I will elaborate on in the next post!
Wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters around the world experience significant oppression. They are, simply because of their gender, routinely deprived of education and other opportunities afforded to men. In some countries, women are forced into unwanted marriages. According to the World Health Organization 35% of women worldwide have experienced either intimate partner violence or non partner sexual violence in their lifetime. One out of every three women have been a victim of some form of physical violence by an intimate partner. And it is not just out there. In the United States, one out of every six women will be the victim of an attempted or completed rape.
When all factors are equal, such as experience and education, women working the same jobs as men are paid significantly less than their male counterparts. Gender discrimination goes well beyond pay: it includes a lack of respect. Women often feel less important. They are passed over for promotions or important assignments, and even turned down for a job simply because of their gender. In addition, women are more often harassed than men: 70% of women believe online harassment is a major problem; and that it is often overlooked or dismissed.
If we are appalled at the practice of slavery, then we should be far more appalled at the global treatment of women today. There are as many as ten times more women trafficked in sex slavery today than there we slaves brought to the new world.
Though there are more women in the western and European world today, and though they tend to live longer lives, demographers have estimated that there are between 60 and 100 million missing women from societies due to infanticide of female babies. In many countries girls are aborted far more frequently than boys.
For evangelicals who are so radically concerned with the abortion issue, why are we not speaking up! This is not what God intended! It is time for the church to stand up and cry out at the injustices brought upon our wives, our daughters, our mothers, and our sisters.
Women in the church
Women have played a prominent role in the church for centuries. Historically women have been the majority members of the church. The large female membership likely stemmed in part from the early church's informal and flexible organization offering significant roles to women.
When we look at the New Testament we learn that women held prominent roles in the early church: including, the evangelist Priscilla, the deaconness Phoebe, and Philip’s daughters that prophesied. Luke portrays Mary in the posture of a disciple when he notes that she was sitting at the feet of Jesus. Women were prominent in the resurrection accounts of all four gospels. The letter to the Corinthians indicates that women were praying and prophesying in church.
It appears that the hallmark of the new covenant is that men and women will equally receive the Spirit. Thus, Peter’s citation of Joel: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18).
When we read of women taking on such prominent roles, we must recognize that this was radically counter-cultural. The church was blazing a trail that had not been much trodden.
When we look at the church today, however, women are often consigned to a second-place status: a second-place that is often a significant distance from first. Why, then, if the NT consistently elevates the role of women, do most churches relegate them to an inferior status?
In this series of posts, I will contend that women play a significant role in the NT because in the new covenant God is restoring His creation which includes the equality of gender and race. Hence, Gal 3:28 “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
 Two out of three of the world’s illiterates are women. See: https://www.savethechildren.org/us/what-we-do/global-programs/education/girls-education.
 One third of the world’s girls are married before they are 18. One of every nine women are married before they turn 15. See: https://www.icrw.org/child-marriage-facts-and-figures/.
 See: https://www.who.int/en/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/violence-against-women.
 See: https://ncadv.org/learn-more/statistics.
 See: https://www.rainn.org/statistics/victims-sexual-violence.
 Cf Acts 18. Note in 18:18, 26, Rom 16:13, and 2 Tim 4:19 her name precedes that of her husband suggesting strongly that she has a more prominent role. 1 Cor 16:19 is an exception where Aquila appears first, but this only makes one wonder more why Priscilla (or Prisca) is listed first in every other occasion.
 Rom 16:1 appears to call Phoebe a deaconess. Though most translations use ‘servant’ here. The calling out of Phoebe itself suggests someone of note. Grammatical considerations also lend towards her being a deacon. Some contend that the masculine “deacon” is used and not the feminine “deaconness” but it does not appear that the feminine “deaconness” had to come into use yet.
 Acts 21:18-19: they are called prophetesses. One must remember that a prophet in the NT is more than one who receives oracles from the Lord. But they are often associated with teaching and exhorting. Cp Paul’s contrast of those who speak in tongues vs those who prophesy in Acts 14.
 Luke 10:39.
 1 Cor 11:5.
(This blog is part 3 of a series of blogs on “the Gospel and power”).
The first blog in this series addressed the “upside-down” nature of the Gospel—namely, that the kingdom of God comes through faithful, sacrificial, and loving witness. I, also, addressed matters of church discipline. And thirdly, I referred to a documentary that focused on a movement among some Christians to influence the world by placing godly men in positions of power around the world.
The third point—putting godly men in positions of power—seems like a good idea to many. I, however, am deeply troubled by this idea. In addition to what I wrote earlier, I am troubled because I believe that it is in direct conflict with the Gospel and the mission of God’s people.
God’s people are to advance the kingdom of God through their faithful, loving, and sacrificial witness. To say it again: the gospel advances when God’s people faithfully, lovingly, and sacrificially witness for the kingdom. That is, we do so the same way Jesus did—by dying!
Now, it may seem incredulous to suppose that the kingdom of God advances through the death of God’s people. And that is the point! The kingdom of God doesn’t advance its empire the way the world’s empires advance! This may be hard to swallow but it is the absolute message of Scripture and it is supported by church history.
The thinking behind those who aim to place godly men in power, then, falsely assumes that it is God’s desire to place Christians in power so that they can affect Christian laws upon a secular society. Now, this might be a noble endeavor. But I would vigorously contend that it is an inherently non-Christian endeavor.
For one, the endeavor to impose Christian laws and ethics upon a culture does not make Christians, nor a Christian empire. It may make for a society with good laws. But it doesn’t necessarily make a society of good people.
Now, do not misunderstand. I am not saying that Christian men (and women) cannot or should not be in positions of power. Nor, am I saying that making good laws is not a noble endeavor.
What I am saying is that God’s desire for His people is to work for His kingdom. There will indeed be a day when Jesus will rule all the nations. But it will not be by placing Christians in power in this age. Instead, the ruler of this age (the devil) must be permanently cast aside; and, death and sin must be eradicated. Until that happens, which I would affirm takes place at the second coming of Christ (but if you want to push it to the end of the millenium it doesn’t matter to me), the people of God are called to lives of faithful, loving, and sacrificial witness.
Until then, the people of God may attempt to influence the nations of the world. We may seek positions of power. But we must understand that it is not through power, force, or military might that the kingdom of God comes. It is through a faithful, loving, and sacrificial witness. As a result, our deeds are just as important as a words.
Thus, when Christian leaders in power fall from grace and commit blatant sins, they should model repentance and contrition, and they should step down. After all, if a pastor or other leader did such, we have already agreed that they should step down.
For some reason, there is a fear among Christians that we cannot have Christian political leaders step down because someone who is not a Christian—someone who doesn’t share Christian values—might step in and fill the office.
This line of thinking is seriously in error. Our Christian witness is of greater importance that having Christians in seats of power. “They will know you are my disciples” not because you made Christians laws, but because of your conduct and character. When Christians hide their sins, or confess them, and, yet, do not step down, they are testifying to the world that their power is more important than their character.
When they don’t do what we would expect any other Christian in leadership to do, then we have placed too great an emphasis on the position and the power. And we have failed to understand that this is not the way the kingdom of God comes.
Hence, the documentary; which was produced to warn people about the Christian agenda to rule the world and influence the nations for their cause.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matt 5-7) Jesus explains that in the Old Testament law one was not permitted to murder, commit adultery, or lie. But, in His kingdom, Jesus explains, doing any of these in one’s heart was equal to doing them in one’s actions.
The point is that having good laws does not make one Christian. The nature of the Gospel is to have one’s heart transformed.
When we endeavor to force Christian values on others through power, it often repels people from the Gospel. When Christians are respected for being Christians and for living according to their ideals—which are predicated on a faithful, loving, and sacrificial witness—then the Gospel flourishes.
 In my upcoming book I spend much time defending this statement.
(This blog is part 2 of a series of blogs on “the Gospel and power”).
The first blog in this series addressed the “upside-down” nature of the Gospel—namely, that the kingdom of God comes through faithful, sacrificial, and loving witness; and matters of church discipline; and a documentary that focused on a movement among some Christians to influence the world by placing godly men in positions of power around the world.
The third point—putting godly men in positions of power—seems like a good idea to many.
I, however, am troubled by this idea. I am troubled because I believe that it is in direct conflict with the Gospel. In this blog, I will contend that putting Christian people in positions of power may well lead situations that conflict with the Gospel.
The aforementioned documentary went on to show that those values sometimes went ignored if/when they were transgressed. For example, when men committed acts of adultery, instead of doing the very things we should expect men of God to do, they were protected by the Christian establishment.
From the vantage point of those producing the documentary this was the height of hypocrisy. From their perspective, these Christian organizations were trying to obtain power in order to impose their social, economic, political, and moral standards on others (which to some in the secular world, appears cultic). Yet, these men of Christian ideals were not willing to live up to those very same standards when they violated them. They wanted to impose Christian values on the world, in other words, but they were not willing to follow them themselves.
Many of you may be reading this and conclude that there is nothing wrong here. These men, at least some of them, were contrite and repentant. They probably sought reconciliation. They likely tried to do the right thing.
Let’s assume for a minute that this were true in all cases. We have already established that Christian leaders need to be held to a higher ethical standard than others. Furthermore, for their own sake, and for the sake of others who have been injured by the leader’s fall from grace, and for the sake of the church’s witness to the world, these men need more help. To allow them to remain in their positions of power after a significant sin conveys the message to all that these men are to be treated differently from the rest because of their positions of power. This is precisely the opposite of what I set forth in the first blog. When leaders sin, the consequences need to be more severe.
What, in effect, is happening in these cases is that keeping men in positions of power is deemed more important than the Gospel. This might sound outrageous. But the Gospel, which includes our witness to the world, is adversely affected when Christians, especially Christians in places of power, sin.
Not only that, but allowing them to remain in positions of power sends a message to the leaders themselves that they are special and need to be treated as such. Consequently, they do not receive all of the consequences for their sins that others might. The result is that they fail to get the necessary counseling and help that they need. Instead, they retain their positions of power, and begin to live with a sense that they are above the law. Because they do not face the necessary consequences of their sin, they often continue living unscrupulously. The end result is that the very law that they are put in positions of power to impose on others does not, in effect, apply to them.
Another effect of this special treatment for those in power is that sin itself is often minimized. This is used to justify the softer punishment for the leader who has sinned. In order to minimize the sin, however, the victim is often pushed aside. After all, giving the victim the necessary care they deserved, would only validate the severity of the sin.
Why do good Christian leaders in positions of power compromise their own core Christian values? More importantly, how can the Church not stand up and object when this happens?
The answer is, of course, complex, but a key catalyst is the conviction that it is deemed more important to have such men in positions of power, than it is to impose Christian discipline. In other words, the desire to have men who espouse Christian ideals in power is deemed more important than having men who actually live them out on a consistent basis.
There is another, and more significant, flaw with this approach to power. Namely, that it is in direct conflict with the Gospel of Christ.
The Gospel is that Jesus is Lord and that through His life, death, resurrection, and ascension, He has become the world’s true Lord. Jesus presently reigns as king through His people, who are called to proclaim His kingdom to the world. We proclaim the kingdom by imitating Jesus. The overriding ethic of Jesus’ kingdom is love! Thus, just as Jesus overcame power through faithful, loving, and sacrificial witness, so shall we. (In the book I am currently writing I spend 60-100 pages laying this out and defending this thesis. But I suspect that you expect a blog to be a bit shorter). At some point in the future, Scripture indicates that Jesus will return, vindicate His people, and establish His kingdom in full. At that time, death, sin, and corruption will vanish.
The Gospel has often been referred to as the "upside-down Gospel." Jesus’ way of doing things doesn’t fit with the world’s way. The world uses power. Jesus uses love. The world demands that we look out for number one. Jesus demands that we look out for the other—especially the one that others won’t look out for.
I suspect that most of you who are reading this will have no trouble with this notion. Well, we at least have no problem with this in theory. We all recognize the difficulty in living it out.
. . . .
If a pastor or church leader were involved in some form of moral failure, I suspect that most everyone reading this would recommend some form of pastoral care for the afflicted and church discipline for the offender. Such discipline should, in the least, include confronting the offender so that he/she repent, demanding that they obtain counseling and other help, and then aiming for eventual reconciliation.
Most would agree—depending on the nature and severity of the sin—that the pastor or leader should step away from ministry for at least some specified period of time, if not forever—depending of the seriousness and length of the sin, as well as how well the pastor or leader has received help.
In such instances, church discipline is intended to address issues of sin on at least three levels.
First, there is the care for those injured by the pastor or leader’s sins.
Secondly, it is designed to help the pastor or leader who committed such acts.
Finally, there is the witness of the church to the world. Certainly, this third level is only secondary to helping those who have suffered recover, and those who have sinned get well. Nonetheless, when the church deals with sin in a congregation, especially when that sin is committed by a leader, it must be cognizant that the world is watching.
I suspect that most of you who are reading this will have no trouble with what I have just set forth—other than the fact that such situations are difficult and grieving and because of this we often fail to do it out well.
. . . .
I recently watched a troubling documentary. Apparently there are Christians who perceive that God desires to place Christian men in leadership positions around the world in order that they may influence the world for the gospel. Their motive is certainly fine. And, I suspect, their hearts are in the right place.
I suspect that most of you who are reading this will have no trouble with this notion. In fact, I suspect that most of you think that this is a good thing.
 This is what is supposed to happen. We all, likely, know of instances in which this process wasn’t followed. In effect, once you have finished this book you might see why.
 The documentary was presented from a secular perspective and aimed to expose the movement and its agenda. I am not addressing whether or not it was good. My point is in regard to the concept that Christians should aim to advance the kingdom by putting people in positions of power.