Three Responses to Exile (Walter Brueggemann)

BrueggemannW300This past weekend in my message, “New Life,” which launched our new series “Exiles: A Study of 1 Peter,” I mentioned the work of Walter Brueggemann on how we respond to the situation of exile. While I did my best to summarize what he wrote, I’m posting his full outline of the three responses to exile below., This material is drawn from Cadences of Home: Preaching Among Exiles, page 116f.

The question this leaves for us is how to embrace our exile when we sense God’s absence, how to respond in faithful ways to such an odd circumstance. I have already suggested that three lines of response are possible.

  1. It is possible to respond in assimilation. There were a number of Jews in Babylon who found Jewishness too demanding, and who capitulated and simply joined dominant  Babylonian values and identity. It is possible for baptized Christians to assimilate into imperial America in the same way, to embrace the dominant American hopes and fears that are all around us, to live so that the world does not notice our odd baptism or our odd identity.
  2. It is possible to respond in despair. We can recognize the power of Babylon and the absence of Yahweh, concluding that this situation of homelessness and displacement is permanent, knowing that though Babylon may be very wrong, God has failed and we are helpless. This is the temptation for those of us who know better than to assimilate, but for whom resistance is a defensive posture without buoyancy or expectation. This response to displacement has most in common with the grim resolve of Stoicism.
  3. The third possible response to exile, for persons who refuse assimilation and eschew despair, is to respond with fresh, imaginative theological work, recovering the old theological traditions and recasting them in terms appropriate to the new situation of faith in an alien culture. It is thus my urging that this new time of beginning for the church be a time and place for imaginative theological recasting that takes full account of the church’s new cultural situation.

New Life (discussion questions)

Exiles Series Gfx_ThumbHere are the discussion questions that accompany my message, “New Life,” which is the first part of our series “Exiles” on the book of 1 Peter. This study walks through 1 Peter 1:1-12.

1. When was a time that you felt extremely out of place? What happened?

2. This weekend we begin a new series, “Exiles,” where we will journey through the New Testament letter, 1 Peter. Before starting this study, pray that God would transform you as you read and ponder the Scripture. Then, whether you are alone or with others, read 1 Peter 1:1-12 aloud.

3. Background: While there is some debate, the letter known as 1 Peter was most likely written by the Apostle Peter somewhere in the early to mid-60s during the reign of Nero. Peter writes to a group of followers of Jesus Christ in Asia Minor (present-day Turkey), who are facing trials for their faith. It is most likely that this group includes Jewish-background believers with some ties to Rome as well as local Gentile (non-Jews) believers. Peter writes in order to encourage them with God’s truth so that they will persevere (1 Peter 5:12).

4. 1 Peter 1:1-2 provides the opening or salutation of the letter. What do you notice about the recipients’ situation? How does Peter say about God here?

5. In verses 3-5, Peter bursts forth with praise and thanksgiving for God. What has God done for believers, according to Peter in these verses?

6. If the believers receiving this letter were suffering in their cities, why do you think Peter’s words about their inheritance is so important (vss 4-5)?

7. Peter leads us into a deep discussion about trials in verses 6-9. What does he say is the purpose of our trials and why can we have joy in the midst of them?

8. What trials are you facing right now? What do you think it looks like to live into Peter’s perspective on suffering shared in these verses?

9. One thing we can easily forget as believers is what a gift it is to know about Christ. Read verses 10-12 and reflect on what Peter is saying about our perspective on the gospel compared to those in the past and even the heavenly angels.

10. What is one specific thing God is speaking to you about your life with God through this study? If you are with a small group, discuss that with one another and pray about these things together. If you are studying on your own, write it down, pray about it, and share this with someone during the next few days.

New Life

Exiles Series Gfx_Web HeaderThis past weekend at Eastbrook Church we began a new series entitled “Exiles: A Study of 1 Peter.” I launched us into the series with some background on the concept of exiles before walking through 1 Peter 1:1-12.

You can watch the message here or subscribe to our audio podcast, following along with the outline below. You can also follow the entire series at our web-site.

If you’re interested in getting to know us more at Eastbrook, please take a moment to connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Vimeo. You could also join our community by downloading the Eastbrook app.


Exiles…a reality check (1 Peter 1:1-2)

“To God’s elect, exiles scattered throughout the provinces of Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia” (1:1b)

Exile Praise…the giving God (1 Peter 1:3)

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (1:3)

Exile Hope…an eternal inheritance (1 Peter 1:3-5)

“He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade” (1:3-4)

Exile Joy…in the midst of trials (1 Peter 1:6-9)

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials” (1:6)

Exile Grace…in a curious cosmos (1 Peter 1:10-12)

“It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit” (1:12)

Exiles: A Study of 1 Peter


Exiles Series Gfx_4x3 Background

Many of us feel the tension of our life of faith with the world around us. The Apostle Peter describes this by writing to a group of early believers that they are “foreigners and exiles” in this world. What does it mean to live as an exile where the hope and truth found in Jesus Christ touches every aspect of our everyday lives?

Join us in November and December as we explore the message of 1 Peter for modern-day exiles at Eastbrook Church. You can follow along with the series via our web-site, our Vimeo page, our Facebook page, or by downloading the Eastbrook Church app.