Revelation speaks to the reality that we are caught in the fray of cosmic conflict. We are guilty. We’ve already been contaminated. But it’s not too late for us to exit empire and enter the kingdom. We are yet both victim and victimizer. We have healing work to do, and we must take responsibility for the ways in which we have benefited from and been complicit with the religion of empire. This is the truth of Revelation. God wants to liberate us in body, heart, soul, and mind.
- Revelation reveals how scapegoating functions within empire to define its own boundaries and contours as being over and against wicked others.
- Revelation critiques wealth and shows that even in the first century there was prophetic critique against an economic system that was based on abundance for some, while exploiting the rest.
- Revelation demonstrates the importance of liturgy as something that forms people into the likeness of either empire or the lamb.
- Revelation reveals an alternative social order which becomes the center of resistance rooted in a vision of what the book describes as “the multitude.”
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“Resisting Empire: The Book of Revelation as Resistance” is my new book offering an alternative look at how Christian communities can read the Book of Revelation through the lens of liberation theology.
Here are two great summaries of the book from Rev. Darryl Aaron and Wes Howard Brook (both have written material in the paperback version of the Resisting Empire) :
The book of Revelation, according to C. Wess Daniels, is a resistance text for “Angelic Trouble-makers,” who must learn how to remix, understand how scapegoating functions, recognize the shaping and forming powers of liturgy, and discover the composition of the multitude…. I pastor a people who have historically been pushed to the periphery of all existence, even ontologically declared as non-human or three-fifths human. Therefore, to read the “multitude is a beautiful tapestry woven together of all humanity, with those who were lynched, those who were oppressed and victimized, at the center with the lamb. This centering of the victims and marginalized is something that is too often missed within western, white, middle-class Christianity today,” makes my soul happy. This prophetic claim of Daniels places Black people at the heart of God. –Rev. Darryl Aaron
No other book has been as consistently and wildly misread as has John of Patmos’s visionary narrative. And yet, at the same time, no biblical book carries as much passionate power and imagery aimed at inspiring Jesus-followers to “come out” of the place of imperial violence and domination and to dwell instead in the light- and love-filled realm of God. C. Wess Daniels masterfully and clearly lays out a series of reading strategies and perspectives culled from the best of recent scholarship to invite readers into engagement with John’s vision. If you’ve been drawn to study Revelation but have been stymied as to where or how to start, you can trust Wess’s step-by-step guidance to lead you into the depth and breadth of this unique narrative. –Wes Howard-Brook
I wanted to make a few more things available for the book that readers can download to use while you read. These are like graphic novel summaries, capturing key ideas from the book. Sketchnotes #3 is the one that summarizes the whole book into a few select images.
The first download is a .pdf of some of the charts that show up in the book. Kindle doesn’t translate those charts very well so here there are which will be easier for you to read. The second link is a series of short devotionals based on the work within this book that was original published for “Fruit of the Vine” publication.
If you are looking for a verse by verse commentary on the book of Revelation that will tell you what it “really means” then this is probably not the book you’re looking for.
Yes you will get interpretation. But what you will also get is an extended reflection on what it means to try and read the Apocalypse of John in this world which is so very different from the era in which John of Patmos was writing. And I hope you will take that extended reflection seriously because it will tell you something about how you can read the rest of the scriptures as well.
Let’s look at how we usually read Revelation. We see it as a kind of future history — the world’s first science fiction story if you will. It’s a call to arms it’s a call to join the winning team. And that means fighting the good fight now when it doesn’t look like were winning at hall in faith that God our quarterback will call us offside when the real fight begins. With this reading the beast and the false prophets and all the other strange critters crawling around the pages are all the other guys — there are the bad guys but where the good guys.
C. Wess Daniels presents us with a thoroughly biblical Christology of the Slaughtered Lamb. This is who Christ is for us and this is the model of faithfulness that Christ leaves with us. Life is not about fighting until the rapture comes — it’s about loving our enemies until the our enemies become friends.
He examines this image of Christ using scapegoat theory. Scapegoat theory was made famous by René Girard the French literary and social sciences critic. But Daniel accesses a Girard mostly through James Alison — the Catholic theologian who applied Girard’s theories to theology. At the heart of our sinfulness lies our tendency to point fingers at other people to make our own discomfort at our vulnerability go away. This is a trap. And God’s way out of that trap is to place her faith in the Lamb that was slaughtered from the foundation of the world.
Read this book. Share it with others. Learn to have faith in a God who is more than just the biggest bully on the block. DavidMcKay | Apr 9, 2019
Resisting Empire looks at the Book of Revelation through a different lens than the “Rapture” one that became popular a few generations ago. It reaches for an older reading, based in the Roman Imperial oppression experienced by the churches who received the revelation. This book draws a line between the “religion of empire” and the “religion of the lamb that was slain,” contrasting the lives we lead within each.
Daniels’ quote repertoire is alone a reason to read it. He’s pulling from James Cone, Martin Luther King Jr, James Alison, and Wes Howard-Brook.
If the Book of Revelation has always confused you, or if you’re turned off by Rapture Theology, this is one you’ll want to check out. It’s short too! –Maco April 8, 2019
If you read the book and like it, I’d love to have you leave a short comment on Amazon for me. Thank you in advance!
One response to “Resisting Empire: The Book of Revelation”
[…] But also, every day, there are people on every sacred and secular path of faith who choose not to submit. Who choose, instead, to treat every living creature, including the earth itself, as sacred and whole—even at the risk of their own suffering and death.2 […]