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Liberating Deconstructions: The Messianic in James Cone and Jacques Derrida

Prewitt-Davis, Elijah

A messianic promise, even if it was not fulfilled, at least in the form in which it was uttered, even if it rushed headlong toward an ontological content, will have imprinted an inaugural and unique mark in history.
—Jacques Derrida

Liberation theology is its own messianic promise. It expresses a hope for the future rooted in the present oppression and suffering of fleshly creatures. The future, then, is not simply something one can speculate about in regards to liberation theology, abstracted from the future it has always already been speaking of, that is, the future it has always already been working toward: the future is immanent to liberation itself. Such messianic promises have for a while now been uttered through Christs of many forms, faces, skin colors, sexual orientations, and heritages. The proliferation of Christs has kept the future open to many oppressed people who have certainly imprinted their inaugural and unique marks on history. And yet, these Christs have never attained to total presence, and their promise of total liberation has remained deferred, thus giving credence to those who point to the failure of liberation theology because liberation has not yet happened.


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Union Seminary Quarterly Review
Union Theological Seminary

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Union Theological Seminary
Union Theological Seminary
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September 22, 2015