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This is a 3 Part Story

Part 1: How Much I Hate Change.

I have control issues. And when you like to be in control, you don’t like change. Why? Because when you change things on me, it’s harder for me to make sure I know everything. And knowledge is power.

My wife is supremely creative. And when you like to create, you change things. Why? I don’t know, I ask God that question every day. Creation, by definition, makes something new. And new things, by definition, are different than the old things. And so, to create is to change the status quo.

Part 2: How Much Kings & Pharaohs Hate Change.

After reading Brueggemann’s brilliant Journey to the Common Good a few years ago, I realized the same pattern emerges in the Hebrew Bible. A pattern that painfully reveals that monarchical Israel has become oppressive Egypt. People in power, like, say, Egyptian Pharaohs, and Israelite Kings, will always be afraid of change and will always privilege the status quo. Why? Because the status quo is “how things are” and when you’re in charge, you tend to like to keep things “how things are.”

Part 3: How Much God Loves Change.

And so God, creative as God is, seems to thrive on change. To change landscapes, oceans, hearts, possibilities, and alternatives. This cannot help but clash with those in power. As the prophets can attest. And so, the creative God is also the liberating God.

Here are some passages from Isaiah and then Brueggemann that have shaped my thinking:

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” -Isaiah 43:19

“The practice of exploitation, fear and suffering produces a decisive moment in human history. This dramatic turn away from aggressive centralized power and a food monopoly features a fresh divine resolve for an alternative possibility.” – Brueggemann on the Exodus in Journey to the Common Good

“The royal-temple ideology, embodied in royal claims of legitimacy, asserted and imagined that it was an indispensable vehicle for God’s way and blessing in the world. . . The painful experience of [exile] made clear the inadequacy of . . . the royal-temple ideology.” – Brueggemann on the Exile in A Commentary on Jeremiah

“His ministry evoked a passion and an energy that had disappeared in the old helplessness. Both his adherents and his enemies sensed the same thing: An unmanaged newness was coming, and it created a future quite different from the one that royal domination intended to permit.” – Brueggmann on Jesus in Prophetic Imagination

This blog was originally posted in March 2016.

Pete Enns, Ph.D.

Peter Enns (Ph.D., Harvard University) is Abram S. Clemens professor of biblical studies at Eastern University in St. Davids, Pennsylvania. He has written numerous books, including The Bible Tells Me So, The Sin of Certainty, and How the Bible Actually Works. Tweets at @peteenns.