Saturday, March 26, 2011

Prolonging The Exodus

Is the relevance of the Exodus today exhausted by it being an event which foreshadows the work of Jesus? Are we too quick to a christocentric reading of Old Testament narrative to the utter exclusion of any ecclesiocentric moments - that is, readings centred on the life of the "called out ones", the church?

Yoder says that in the liberation represented by the Exodus, "what for matters more than what from". Allow Walter Brueggemann to succinctly describe the "what for":

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 community that has historical body, that had to devise laws, patterns of governance and order, norms of right and wrong, and sanctions of accountability. The participants in the Exodus found themselves, undoubtedly surprisingly to them, involved in the intentional  formation of a new social community to match the vision of God's freedom.

This was the "what for" for the people called out of Egypt, and it surely represents the "what for" for the called out ones today. Replace "the Exodus" in the above paragraph with "the death and resurrection of Jesus" and we are suddenly talking sensibly, if not uncomfortably, about the church. There may be points of discontinuity, but the free God's vision for his people today is no less radical than his vision for the ones he lead out of Egypt. 

The Exodus, therefore, is more than the supplier of poignant images to grace atonement theory. It is a story which shapes the lives of the people of God today, the ones "on whom the ends of the ages have come". For as Liberation theologian J. Severino Croatto wrote, “we are enjoined to prolong the Exodus event because it was not an event solely for the Hebrews but rather the manifestation of a liberative plan of God for all peoples…an unfinished historical project.”

Is the relevance of the Exodus today exhausted by it being an event which foreshadows the work of Jesus?
That depends on how wide your vision is when it comes to the work of Jesus.

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