Holy Impatience

Western theology has often been focused on future events, somewhere off over the horizon. Walter Brueggemann seeks to challenge this notion in his book In Man We Trust: The Neglected Side of Biblical Faith.

A provocative title for a provocative book. In this book, Brueggemann looks at wisdom literature in the Bible, particularly the life of David, and finds that wisdom sets us free.

Thus, the life which wisdom sees as the goal and meaning of human existence is the well-being of the community and each of its members, i.e., shalom. Moreover, “peace” for the whole community is intensely here and now. There is no “reward in heaven.” There is no deferred dividend. Rather, the life which results from wise action emerges together with the wise action.

Wisdom does not ask a person or the community to wait. Well-being comes in the process of choosing wisely. Thus, wisdom affirms that the goal of responsible living is intrinsic in the very process itself. Being able to live shalom is both the wise action and the happy consequence.

Wisdom represents a protest against such a deferred goal. It is pragmatic and impatient. It affirms that life’s values are embraced or rejected here and now–any other approach which lets us off the hook is quite irrelevant. Any talk of the will of God which doesn’t lead to life for the community here and now is idolatry. Anything which creates life for the community, no matter what its source, is the will of God. (pp. 15, 16, 17).

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