Friday, February 04, 2011

The Dangerous God of the Future

"The biblical God is not eternally himself in that he persistently instantiates a beginning in which he already is all that he ever will be; he is eternally himself in that he unrestrictedly anticipates an end in which he will be all he ever could be.

. . .

Thus the revelatory content of the Exodus was not mere escape from the Egyptian past but the future that the escape opened: 'You have seen ... how I ... brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be ...' And this was a true, that is, risky, future: in Israel's memory, Exodus was inseparable from forty years' wandering in the desert, in which the Lord figures as the dangerous leader of a journey whose final end was geographically chancy and temporally unknown, and whose possibility depended every morning on the Lord's new mercy.

. . .

Gods who identity lies in the persistence of a beginning are cultivated because in them we are secure against the threatening future. The gods of the nations are guarantors of continuity and return, against the daily threat to fragile established order; indeed, they are Continuity and Return. The Lord's meaning for Israel is the opposite: the archetypically established order of Egypt was the very damnation from which the Lord released her into being, and what she thereby entered was the insecurity of the desert. Her God is not salvific because he defends against the future but because he poses it."

-Robert Jenson, Systematic Theology Vol. 1, 66-67.

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