Had James Dunn lived to witness this year’s Fourth of July event – hijacked by President Trump – he would have let his freedom of dissent ring loud and clear. At this moment in the history of American Christianity and American government, Dunn’s distinctive gospel dissent needs to be heard and heeded.
We must not only deal with the ongoing effects of atrocities, we must also change society itself. Lamentations may acknowledge sorrow over atrocities committed, but they do not repair the harm nor transform the world.
It’s an over-reach to conscript God’s favor for our political calculations, as if God has a pre-determined plan for each discrete nation, political party or individual leader. Our prayers to God about present circumstances should prompt our own actions to mend the world. God is always on that side.
Political leaders’ amorality and immorality about justice has always been tolerated, if not actively enabled, by religious nationalists in congregations in all regions of the country and in every religious sect.
John the Baptist spoke truth to power, refused to pander to politicians and insisted that no earthly kingdom is coterminous with the Kingdom of God. In other words, John got right what many evangelical preachers get wrong.
Our historic convictions as Baptists are not a liability in today’s environment. They are a deep well of wisdom and strength. When we lean into what makes us uniquely Baptist, we truly can make a difference in the world.
In his new book, The Color of Compromise, Jemar Tisby documents the ways in which white Christians, churches and religious institutions inside and outside the South manifested, acquiesced to and facilitated racist responses to people of color in general and African Americans in particular.
How do we discern how the Spirit works in our particularities for the sake of the larger mission? Today I imagine the Spirit’s fire would fall down on LGBTQ folk, enabling them to speak to God’s testifying work in their lives and in their communities.
I believe there has never been a better day to be the church. Indeed, I believe the 21st century will find the church of Jesus Christ emerging from decades of slow decline to rediscover authentic community, witness and vibrancy.