THIS IS ONLY MY PRELUDE, FOR I HAVE TO GET TO WORK IN AN HOUR
I have been thinking over the recent events in evangelicalism the past 2 weeks, from the Farewell Tweet to the Gospel Coalition’s early reviews of Rob Bell’s Love Wins to the emerging church’s defense of Rob Bell, and I have been thinking about the future of evangelicalism as well.
Rachel Held Evans and Scot McKnight both shared their thoughts, and I can see where they are coming from. But at the same time, both posts were written from privileged standpoints, with a failure to recognize what exactly that privilege might be.
I submitted to you that the emerging church is playing the role of white liberal protestantism in the 1920s, while evangelicalism, the fundamentalists of that time. Well, if these two groups are replaying that history, the persons who get left out, the ones traditionally on the margins, racial minorities get the short end of the stick. This is a battle for the leadership of American Christianity. In this Armageddon which we have seen over and over again, it is white liberal (predominantly male) debating conservative white male leaders. The concerns over which are truly destroying the church, the failure to engage in racial reconciliation as well as overcoming the DESTROYER OF FAMILIES, the Prison-Industrial complex. The Emerging Church/Evangelical divide is what the apostle Paul called a FOOLISH controversy to brother Timothy.
I do sometimes wonder how convenient it is for the Emerging church and conservative Evangelicalism to marginalize the Azusa Street revival movements of last century. It was in that movement, where there was evangelical theology being preached, races being reconciled as God was using people who were poor, who were going through racial segregation and war (the Mexican Civil War) to bring God’s glory, yes God’s glorious presence into the here & now. The suspicion by the Neo-reformed movement and emerging circles have less to do with an opposition to Pentecostal practices and theology (prooftexting, who doesn’t, that’s really the question?) but it is a matter of economic status and bias (I submit). The notion that God could provide a renewal of the church by the power of the Holy Spirit through the bodies of the economically & racially oppressed seems impossible for the bourgeois sensibilities of the emergent and neo-reformed movements.
Cessationism, therefore, is a political doctrine, and a very very convenient one at that. Imagine if the Spirit did move, from the outer edges of our police-statist society, on death row. It could happen. I don’t think however, renewal will be possible from racially segregated portion of Christianity that continues to dismiss the suffering of the disinherited.
I invite you to read Drew Hart’s post on the Evangelical Split.
Drew said it best,
“In the end, neither Piper and his peeps, nor Bell and the boys represent me, and billions of other Christians globally. We have absolutely no stake in this growing feud (that is just heating up in my opinion). No stake, because for many it still leaves us in the same place (except with fewer tokens) of not being heard or taken seriously, and not being treated with dignity as though we lacked the Imago Dei in us. It is now more than ever that we need to take our attention off of superstars like Rob Bell and John Piper… and begin learning from those who have been crying out from the margins with a very different gospel. A gospel that is good news to the poor and oppressed.”