Prophetic Process: The Meat of the Message

We are at a point where a transition post is needed. We have laid the foundation for understanding the prophetic task in the first two segments of this series: the prophetic person and the prophetic paradigm.  Personhood provides the character necessary for the prophetic task to be authentic.  Paradigm provides the context in which the prophetic task takes place.

We turn next to the prophetic process.  This is the meat of Brueggemann’s message because it is where belief merges into behavior–into lived theology–into social holiness.  Brueggemann describes the process as a movement from order, to disorder, to reorder. [1]  He uses this theme in nearly all of his books, weaving it into the larger tapestry of transformation, which is the aim of the prophetic task from start to finish.

I have decided to refer you to the key resources for connecting with the prophetic task rather than writing multiple posts about them.  If you intend to incarnate Brueggemann’s ideas, it is important for you to learn directly from him.  So, I will write about the basic prophetic process, and hand you off to Brueggemann himself.

In taking this route I want to be clear that I remain convinced that we must embrace and practice the prophetic task in our day. We are living in a time when ’empire’ is once again posing a threat to the ways of God. [2]  We did not choose to live in this generation, but we must not absent ourselves from the mandate to speak and act prophetically in it.  And that is all the more reason to link with Brueggemann directly and drink from the deep and nourishing wells he has dug, and continues to dig.

[1] Brueggemann also looks at the process in terms of reality (order), grief (disorder), and hope (reorder). His book, ‘Reality, Grief, Hope: Three Urgent Prophetic Tasks’ (Eerdmans, 2014) is a must-read book for exploring his thought in detail.

[2] A second must-read book is ‘God, Neighbor, Empire’ (Baylor University Press, 2016).  In it he makes repeated connections between the time of the prophets and the time in which we live today.

About Steve Harper

Retired seminary professor, who taught for 32 years in the disciplines of Spiritual Formation and Wesley Studies. Author and co-author of 42 books. Also a retired Elder in The Florida Annual Conference of The United Methodist Church.
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