Prophecy and Doxology

"Prophecy cannot be separated very long from doxology, or it will either wither or become ideology."

      --Walter Brueggemann, The Prophetic Imagination

I think this insight is important for progressive Christians trying to resist the purity psychology that operates within progressive Christianity in their efforts to lift up "the least of these."

Social justice activism without doxology--without what Thomas Merton described as "the contemplative core" of activism--is tempted in two different ways. On the one hand is burnout, cynicism and despair. On the other hand is bitterness, anger and violence, which fuels the creation of another oppressive order to oust the current one. Victims become victimizers.

In short, the pursuit of justice--prophetic utterance and action--must attend to the spirituality of the conflict with the principalities and powers in order to resist and combat the attendant temptations. Let me restate that so the point is clear: We must attend to the spirituality of the conflict--and not just the external, political particulars--in our resistance to the principalities and powers.

Prophetic utterance and action focuses on the politics, the raw empirical facts of injustice. Doxology--along with other spiritual disciplines such as prayer, silence, fasting, and Sabbath--focuses upon the interior spiritual life of the Christian fighting for justice, the fight to love and extend grace toward self and others in the heat of the fight.

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3 thoughts on “Prophecy and Doxology”

  1. Yes, how we see things, how we focus on things around us, determines how we approach everything.

    "The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw-and knew I saw-all things in God and God in all things".
    Mechtild of Magdeburg

  2. As I've said before, I'm sure this is a good reason for integrating the Daily Office into your spiritual practices. It provides a good, solid, balanced diet of doxology, lament, contrition - even imprecation, where I think singing the "square-bracketed verses" at least allows us to be honest with ourselves about our desire for violence.

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