Quotation of the Week

“The exodus does not take Israel from serfdom to the freedom of independence but from service of one lord to service of another…The way Exodus talks of freedom—or rather, fails to do so—confronts Western preoccupation with freedom. Freedom in Scripture is the freedom to serve Yhwh.”

From John Goldingay’s Old Testament Theology Volume One (Via Scot McKnight)


  1. What a fantastic quote! All too often we, in the Western world, are quick to spout off about freedom, etc. The reality, as your quote relates, is that we are only free insofar as we are serving the one who is the author of true freedom.

  2. I haven’t read Goldingay’s stuff and the quote is short and out of context. So take the rest with a grain of salt.

    As for the quote itself, I wonder about it.

    I think Exodus has a lot to say about freedom, even in the most worldly current western definitions of that term.

    The Hebrews went from brutal real world slavery to at least a chance for some kind of cultural and religious self determination and a chance for a better life for their kids.

    From a biblical and historical point of view, God seems to work most memorably when people get out from under the thumb of abusive authorities who have overstepped their permission to govern. I think that’s one of the main themes of Exodus.

    Lots of people and cultures around the world would love a real time, real world Exodus story right about now. They’re praying and I’m confident God is listening.

    I appreciate that Goldingay is trying to counteract western secularism, but haven’t we had enough of well meaning western theologies that belittle and downplay real world efforts to improve the lives of the poor and oppressed by denying that books like Exodus have anything to do with ‘western’ ideas of freedom?

  3. Whenever I experience the incredible power of the Jewish Seder. (not the “Christianized” version), I come away with a renewed sense of God’s power to overcome the oppressive and enslaving powers in this world, and the joy and appreciation of the Jews for that gift. ( I find it hard to believe a slave set free from Pharoah’s enslavement wouldn’t experience a renewed freedom – it is certainly an underlying aspect of the Seder service.) However, I do agree with the quote in that God does not offer us that freedom so that we can live lives of self-serving “independence” but rather so that we can be “community”, wherein we become instruments of justice and grace for each other. That is true freedom.

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