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The Revolution Starts Now

March 14, 2007

Okay, I nicked the title of this post from the 2004 Steve Earle album, and I am an Earle fan. But this post has nothing to do with that album.

Several years ago, a coworker of mine had a sign in her office. It was one of those pieces of photocopied text that you see pinned up in offices and cubicles everywhere. It said, “The truth shall set you free. But first, it shall PIxx YOU OFF.” (Well, it had the whole word, not pixx, but you get the point).

This morning I stumbled across an article called “Preaching Revolution” by Zack Exley. Exley offers up a portrait of a progressive evangelical movement in America that is gurgling beneath the surface of the religious landscape.

I love grassroots movements. I love a good Cinderella story (or for those who are not biblically illiterate, a good David and Goliath story). I love rooting for the underdog (unless the underdog happens to be the Chicago Cubs – hey, you gotta draw the line somewhere!). And I consider myself a progressive evangelical Christian. I think these folks are onto something.

From the article: … the Revolution is not primarily a reaction to Republican attempts to politicize the church. What sets it apart from mainstream evangelicalism is not a liberal rejection of Republican politics, but rather a more radical rejection of conservatism and liberalism, and anything else that is not the “kingdom of God.”

HALLELUJAH AND AMEN!

Bishop Willimon recently blogged about how mainline Christianity has lost its nerve. He’s right. We’ve been so afraid of ticking people off that we’ve tempered our truth-telling, lost our prophetic voice, and become irrelevant. What’s worse, we’ve descended into theological nitpicking, arguing about biblical literalism and authority (while ignoring the needs of our laypersons who are growing ever more biblically illiterate) and lost our credibility in the eyes of many.

Why are Christians interested in debating evolution vs. creation? Shouldn’t the church be focused on what the creation narrative means – that God has appointed us stewards of God’s creation? Why have Christians allowed ourselves to be pawns in partisan political games rather than exposing partisan politics for what it really is: partisan politics tears people down, Christianity is supposed to build people up; partisan politics exploits the moral and ethical values of the masses in order to serve its own economic agenda, Christianity should be about saving people from economic, physical and spiritual distress (all are interrelated).

Christianity is supposed to be a revolution. We treat Christianity like it’s nothing more than a good idea. They don’t hang people on crosses for having good ideas – they hang them for being revolutionaries. Jesus and Paul were always in the business of telling people what they weren’t ready to hear: specifically that God loves your enemies as much as God loves you; because God loves you, you are supposed to change your ways and treat people differently; that your faith (that is, your service to God and each other) is more important than your religion (saying the right creeds and confessions).

Regain your theological spine. Reclaim the prophetic voice. Tell the churches the uncomfortable, disconcerting truths. It will tick them off. Then it will set them free.

The Revolution Starts …….. NOW!

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Roadtripray permalink
    April 11, 2007 4:17 pm

    I loved your comments. I have been a conservative as long as I can remember. But I am agitated by liberals AND conservative Christians in the stances they take sometimes.

    I think the UMC needs to extract itself from politics when there isn’t an obvious Christian mandate to take one side or the other. One debate I had with a wonderful fellow Christian regarded the proposed minimum wage hike. She felt that as Christians we should support the minimum wage hike. Personally I’m against the minimum wage hike and would rather see those efforts go into job training and other educational encouragements.

    My point is that I don’t think either position is morally superior or “more Christian” than the other. Each is a different way to attack the issue of poverty and livable wages.

    I don’t like the United Methodist Church inserting itself in issues such as lobbying for a minimum wage hike. When there is a clear moral distinction between one side and another I think the church has a mandate to speak out. But I’d prefer the church transform the world through the gospel and winning people’s hearts for Christ rather than forcing compliance through an alliance with Caeser.

    I just used that issue as an example, but there are countless examples where the UMC has appeared more like a secular lobbying group than a church. I would feel the same about it if their position agreed with mine. Let’s transform the people and then the people can worry about the details.

    — Ray

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