The Prophetic Imagination Notes, part 2

He said to them, “How foolish and slow you are to believe all that the prophets have spoken!  Wasn’t it necessary for the Messiah to suffer these things and enter into his glory?”Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted for them the things concerning himself in all the Scriptures.
-Luke 24:25-27

What a commission it is to express a future that none think imaginable!
-Walter Brueggemann

“We should avoid like the plague any talk that suggests that we have enlisted God on our side, and now have him in our pockets.”
-J.I. Packer

My dad had a Triumph when I was in high school.  Loved that car.

Triumphalism is bad theology.(1)  & (2)



Quotes and notes from chapter 1, part 2 of The Prophetic Imagination, by Walter Brueggeman.

Breaking with Triumphalism and Oppression

  • The radical break of Moses and Israel from imperial reality is a two-dimensional break from both the religion of static and triumphalism and the politics of oppression and exploitation.
  • Moses dismantled the religion of static triumphalism by exposing the gods and showing that in fact they had no power and were not gods.
  • The mythic claims of the empire are ended by the disclosure of the alternative religion of the freedom of God.
  • Moses discoses tha Yahweh, the sovereign one who act in lordly freedom, is extrapolated from no social reality and is captive to no social perception but acts from his own person toward his own purposes.
  • Moses dismantles the politics of oppression and exploitation by countering it with a politics of justice and compassion.
  • The reality emerging out of the Exodus is not just a new religion or a new religious idea or a vision of freedom but the emergence of a new social community in history.
  • ...a new social community to match the vision of God's freedom.
  • The gods of Egypt are immovable lords of order.
  • ...no revolution, to breaks for freedom.
  • There were only the necessary political and economic arrangements to provide order, "naturally," the order of Pharaoh.
  • ...inevitably it served the interests of the people in charge, presiding over the order and benefiting from the order... kings did prosper and bricks did get made.
  • It is a marvel of prophetic faith that both imperial religion and imperial politics could be broken.
  • Moses... his work came precisely at the engagement of the religion of God's freedom with the politics of human justice.
  • ...we will not have a politics of justice and compassion unless we have a religion of God's freedom.
  • if we gather around a static god of order who only guards the interests of the "haves," oppression cannot be far behind.
  • Conversely, if a God is disclosed who is free to come and go, free from and even against the regime, free to hear and even answer slave cries, free from all proper godness as defined by the empire, then it will bear decisively upon all sociology because the freedom of God will surface in the brickyards and manifest itself as justice and compassion.
  • The liberal tendency has been to care about the politics of justice and compassion but to be largely uninterested in the freedom of God.
  • As a result, social radicalism has been like a cut flower without nourishment, without any sanctions deeper than human courage and good intentions.
  • Conversely, it has been the tendency in other quarters to care intensely about God, but uncritically, so that the God of well-being and good order is not understood to be precisely the source of social oppression.
  • Moses, paradigm for prophet, carried the alternative in both directions: a religion of God's freedom as alternative to the static imperial religion of order and triumph and a politics of justice and compassion alternative to the imperial politics of oppression.
  • The point that the prophetic imagination must ponder is that there is no freedom of God without the politics of justice and compassion, and there is no politics of justice and compassion without the freedom of God.
  • (my notes) The "Moses program" is not just about escaping empire, although being freed is very important to those enslaved.
  • (my notes) Rather, his work is nothing less than an assault on the consciousness of the empire, aimed at nothing less than dismantling the empire's social practices and mythic pretensions.
  • The prophetic tradition knows that it bears a genuine alternative to a theology of God's enslavement and a sociology of human enslavement.
  • That genuine alternative, entrusted to us who bear that calling, is rooted not in social theory or in righteous indignation or in altruism but in the genuine alternative that Yahweh is.
  • Prophecy begins in discerning how genuinely alternative his is.
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2. against theological triumphalism, Isaac S. Villegas

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