Saturday, November 26, 2005

Subverting the Empire...

I just finished reading Walsh and Keesmaat's Colossians Remixed. (Subverting the Empire.) This is a book that warrants a second reading, not merely because it is relevant, but because its argument is complex and carefully constructed and hence its truthfulness is not immediately apparent, at least to me. Reading the book, I felt the same sense of being led to a particular foreseeable conclusion, by a series of questionable concessions, as I feel when reading Plato's dialogues. At each pivotal point, I feel that the argument has been a little contrived, that the theoretical choices have been oversimplified and therefore somewhat narrowed. Coming to the conclusion, one wants to backtrack and perhaps contest more carefully a point that one had granted while feeling just a little uncomfortable with the choices offered or with the accuracy of the underlying assumptions.

In any case, I want to go back now and carefully scrutinize their argument. I hope to reflect on that scrutiny here.


  1. Nice, the comparison to Plato's dialogues!

  2. Gideon Strauss is alive! This is good news! And, all it took was a critique of Colossians Remixed to wake him up. Curious, indeed. Wink, wink.

    Joe, I too wrestle with many parts of Colossians Remixed. We’ve talked about some of my criticism/concern before. I look forward to reading more of your own thoughts soon.

    In a nutshell, mine go something like this: I didn’t like my heart after reading the book. I was often pissed off at the world and got a sense that the authors would take delight in the pain and agony that would incur if the empire was actually “subverted.” It just didn’t feel Christ like to me. The other concern I have is that I really appreciated, even agreed with many of their conclusions, but was not often convinced that they actually came from the Colossians text. It was as if they had conclusions in mind already, conclusions from the left-of-center political persuasion (not that there is anything wrong with that, of course!), and then they looked to find some affirmation of them in the text.

    Here’s my real dilemma, however. I’ve spent some time with Brian Walsh. We’ve spoken by email and in person on a number of occasions and I really appreciate his passionate commitment to Christ, the Bible, and the work of the Spirit in history. He is a brother in Christ. One I have enjoyed being around and learning from. He’s pushed me to consider the far-reaching implications of the Gospel of the Kingdom, and has given me a vision, both in his writings and in his living, to live more faithfully for God’s glory and the benefit of others.

    This, of course, does not mean that he doesn’t warrant criticism, iron sharpens iron, but just know that he is a man of God whom I deeply respect… even when I don’t fully agree with him. May Colossians Remixed challenge us to wrestle deeply with Truth!

  3. Man, i want in on this one! -i guess i know what i'm picking up tomorrow!