Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Easter Week Buzz

There was a ton of TV and radio stuff about Jesus last week. Even the media are "Easter and Christmas" followers of Jesus...

Here is a great article by Roland Martin on CNN. Are you tired of single or double-issue people? Martin has a great point: Jesus (and by extension his followers) should speak to a myriad of issues, in particular those that adversely affect life and oppose justice. Some right-side followers of Jesus want the issue to be only about abortion or homosexuality. But poverty, crime, societal injustice, capitalistic injustice, racism, genocide, war--all of these adversely affect life and oppose justice!

A friend and mentor said to me years ago that many people spoke out against the sins that made them uncomfortable but that they weren't tempted with themselves. Sin that didn't affect them or that affected them personally didn't matter. I'm not sure he wasn't right.


BWolf30 said...

What up Arnie? Finally commenting on your blog... I saw the article as well by Roland Martin the other day and was actually thinking about it before I saw your post. It bothered me when I read it and I will tell you why. I do agree with the surface meaning of the article - Christianity has in many sectors become a right-wing, issue (the big 2) driven, gospel-obscuring endeavor. The churches I attended growing up unfortunately probably fit somewhere in this category. My problem is that Martin, as with so many self-proclaimed attempts to rediscover the "real" meaning of Jesus - as seen in liberal churches, almost any popular media presentation on Christianity, and especially the culturally compromised dribble of the Emerging camp - offers nothing of a robust, Biblical Jesus that confronts us with clarity, power and Truth. Instead, he simply substitutes "abortion" with "poverty" and "homosexuality" with "social injustice" and we are left in the same position, although not surpirisingly in a much more politically correct one.
Martin makes the following comment: "But aren't we also to recommit ourselves to live more like Jesus? Did Jesus spend his time focusing on all that he didn't like, or did Jesus raise the consciousness of the people to understand love, compassion and teach them about following the will of God?" I truly wonder which Gospels he is reading. Of course we are to live more like Jesus, and this means the emptying of ourselves and being crucified to the world that we might live with Christ in the abundance of life he offers. And all of this is of course predicated on Jesus' death and resurrection. But let us not forget to actually read the Bible so that we don't let some watered-down, PC, non-confontational version of Christ stand in our way.
Now let me be clear - only focusing on abortion and homosexuality as the highest expression of Christianity in America today is just as short-sighted and unbiblical as the alternative of simply adjusting the issues and leaving the fundamental assumptions the same, which is what Martin and most in the EC offer us. We need to recover and hold fast to the true Jesus as he is revealed in God's Word. He is loving but confrontational, He exposes sin yet attracts sinners, He cares for the poor, downtrodden and oppressed, yet He knows the concerns of this world are nothing in the end. He never makes sinners comfortable in their sin, He never condones an affront to the glory of God, He is rigid in purpose and unflinching with compromise. He attacks those who obscure the Word of God, He reaches out to the sick and ailing, He vitiates hypocrisy, yet he always offers forgiveness - 7 times 70 times. Christ came into the world to seek and save those who are lost, let us not remake Jesus into something less.
Well, I think you see where I am going. Martin does make many valid points but in the end I think he is like so many others - he uses the failures of one part of the church as leverage to justify silence (or more accurately, compromise) on important issues. He doesn't explicitly say this but reading the article I get the feeling that just like with the EC guys, anyone with a Biblical opposition to homosexuality and/or abortion is scorned as a hypocrite or judgmental, or whatever. Well, its not that easy. Jesus first came to save us, and through the inworking of God's life into ours, as the new man replaces the old, society gets changed, it doesn't happen the other way around as the history of liberal Christianity over the past 150 years so clearly shows. Let us return to the Bible and God's Word and accept no substitute on the right or left!

Arnie Adkison said...

Brandon, glad to have your comments.

No doubt a HUGE danger in the emerging church, postmodern Christianity, or whatever point of view that passionate followers of Jesus take, is to think that your flavor of Christian thought and practice is the most virtuous. Simply replacing abortion and homosexuality with poverty and injustice just changes the taste but not the purpose from the same mistakes the right side of the church does. I'm reminded of Jim Wallis' "God's Politics" subtitle: "Why the Christian Right is Wrong and the Left Doesn't Get It."

You ask, "Did Jesus spend his time focusing on all that he didn't like, or did Jesus raise the consciousness of the people..." I am thinking about this question. Definitely he did the latter, you're right about that. But did he ever focus on things that he thought were wrong with religious people? Did he not challenge them with comments like "you tithe of your mint, dill and cumin but ignore the weightier matters...justice, mercy and faithfulness" (see Matthew 23.23-24) to refocus what he knew to be "off" on their religious priorities? Was he saying that they should stop tithing their spices? Or was he simply saying that there were more important things that should not be ignored?

I can't speak for Martin, or the emerging church (although you know I disagree with your assesment of them). What I can say is that we cannot reduce following Jesus to any particular stance on only a handful of issues, and I think that you would agree. We must find the path of following the Way of Jesus for all of these issues. I would think that Martin sees "justice" as a broader concept than "abortion" or "homosexuality." Maybe a better way to compare is to say that we need to find the path on issues of justice and issues of sexuality and all the things that are entailed in each. And on hundreds of other issues too.

As to your last paragraph, I'm going to post another blog on that topic soon.

BWolf30 said...

Hey, just to clarify, it seems you attributed the "Did Jesus spend his time focusing on all that he didn't like, or did Jesus raise the consciousness of the people..." quote to me, that actually came from Martin's article. Martin does what so many others do in the popular media - say something to the effect that Jesus just came to love and affirm us (with the assumption that this means affirming us in any lifestyle choice we make and opposing broad social injustice). My point was that if we actually read the Bible it will make us uncomfortable and will be confrontational as Jesus constantly gets in the face of others and the manner in which he "raises the consciousness of the people" is decidedly different from the image created by the compromised, toned-down Jesus made to be amenable to our self-absorbed supposedly autonomous culture. Spurgeon said Scripture was a lion and just needs to be unleashed, I think that hits the nail on the head. Anyways, we would probably agree broadly with most of the other points, but then again we have said that before!