While so many conversations have been happening around the direction of a new Methodist movement, and for which I am incredibly grateful, there remains something missing from the current conversations. Here are my thoughts.
By and large liberals have almost completely ceded the ground of evangelism to evangelicals, most of whom practice a form of evangelistic cultural colonialism. That is why I call them Evangelical Nationalists. The abuse Evangelical Nationalists heap on individuals is horrific and only getting worse. We need a helluva lot more evangelism happening from people who follow the biblical Jesus; our evangelism needs to shift from “winning people to Jesus” to rescuing people from the North American Church. Here is why we need a shift in evangelism.
There is another important area to fight discrimination against the LGBTQ community and that is allowing state adoption and foster care agencies that receive taxpayer funds, but yet, to discriminate against LGBT families and non-evangelical Christian families. This issue has been creeping up in numerous states as Evangelical Nationalists are getting the green light from this administration to discriminate against LGBTQ people at will.
The ironic thing is that if evangelicals I had known would have committed themselves to stopping illegal wars; if they would have focused on welcoming refugees and immigrants, if they would have sought restorative justice rather than retributive justice, if they would have wanted everyone to have access to affordable health care and a living wage, then I would still be an evangelical today. But they didn’t and I am not.
A classic confrontation between an inspired prophet of God and yet another religious cleric more interested in protecting the institution and the social and political status quo than in truth, justice, or holiness. This conflict seems so incredibly familiar because it has been happening throughout all of history and remains as incisive now as it was during Amos’ time.
I just finished Katey Zeh’s book, Women Rise Up, and it is an important and timely book that should be read by everyone reading this (and more!). Like an excellent guide, Katey walks with us through both the Old and New Testaments and points out the many stories where women figure prominently. I am usually not big on reading theological books, but this is truly an excellent read and so very challenging.
On Tuesday of this past week Democratic leaders, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer met with donald trump and both parties agreed on an infrastructure plan totaling $2 trillion. Not discussed was how to fund the plan. This where we should worry.
This past weekend in the span of two days donald trump announced that he is pulling the United States out of the Small Arms Trade Treaty and then, the next day, there was a shooting at a synagogue in San Diego that killed one person, injured three, and terrorized hundreds if not thousands more. These two actions are related.
I wrote this back in 2014 and have updated it. The three weeks include biblical reflection, contextual reflection, stories, and discussion questions. For a downloadable copy email me at Bill@figtreerevolution.com. If repentance from attempting to bring about our own self-preservation through violence is to start anywhere, it should start with the church.
trump has only one challenge that lies between the rock-bottom point he has reached and a road to liberation: honesty. Peter recognized his betrayal. Peter allowed his heart to be laid bare. Just think about it, the only thing lying between trump’s hellish existence and the sweet joy of liberation in Christ is his willingness to be honest.
There is a question that is too honest and too disquieting that I hardly can say it loud to myself. But it is the honesty of it that I feel I cannot escape and a question I feel has to be spoken, even to be written out. I cannot help but wonder, since this question has secretly been swirling in my mind throughout my adult life, and even before, that perhaps others wonder this too. The question is simple, but yet, pierces me even as I write it: does anything I do really matter or make a difference?
For years - almost my whole life - I have waited for this day; anticipated it with eagerness and expectation. And now it is finally here. Opposite Day. You have no idea how long I have tried to guess when it would be here. And for so long as a kid I kept wondering who it is who would be the one to announce its arrival. I should have known it would be a group of people who claim biblical fidelity and leadership in holiness. I never would have guessed this name because it never existed until a couple of years ago and the name itself is one of the oddest names of a group I have ever heard of, but thanks to the Wesleyan Covenant Association, Opposite Day has arrived!
And then this bigger question has constantly dogged me from the earliest days of walking with Jesus: if we as followers of Jesus are called through, prayer, Bible study, and participation in other means of grace and spiritual disciplines to center ourselves in God, and if we believe that God truly has a preference for the poor and vulnerable and, through Jesus, was and is incarnated among those on the margins of society, then why do we continually try and position ourselves in the center of power and the places that reinforce our prior perceptions and judgments?
In considering that the past is but prologue and there is nothing new under the sun, we who work for the liberation of all of creation need to continue to steady ourselves because the hate speech and attacks against us are only beginning. In what is a sure sign of white, Christian fragility, trump and his evangelical henchmen (emphasis upon “men”) are going to go after us particularly with the charge of socialism as we head into 2020.
But these days, when evangelicals have placed donald trump as the head of evangelicalism, then being a jerk is just being another self-centered, self-consumed American Christian. Sadly, every week I run into more people who have been hurt by this kind of jerky, America-first Christianity. People will surely continue to leave the church because of it too. It is ruining the church’s missional engagement and is a serious form of abuse. Jerk, for many people, has become all too synonymous with evangelical and worse yet, with being Christian.
My main frustration today, and immediately when Barr’s letter to Congress came out, was with the fact that our criminal justice system is deeply broken. Though trump and his crime family have broken all kinds of laws right out in the open, the criminal justice system is working over time to profile, arrest, indict, and sentence to prison for years at a time people of color and poor people.