Tag Archives: anabaptist

preach loudly and carry a good book! #AnaBlacktivism #TheNewPacifism

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I have always had a problem with the oft-used phrase, “Speak softly but carry a big stick,” but for the life of me could only point to why the “big stick” part was wrong. I oppose War preparedness, empire-building, and “pre-emptive strikes” because I believe in Jesus, and His way of nonviolence. As a child being raised in the Black Baptist and Methodist/Holiness traditions, church services were centered on the preached Word. The Word was not only the written words of the Bible, but also God’s writing onto our daily lives, and us writing back in response during worship. Dialogue with God was to be loud and joyous. Unfortunately, many Christians who claim the label Anabaptist/NeoAnabaptist from the dominant culture have rejected part of the tradition dating back to the first Anabaptists. The Radical Reformers were argumentative and persistent in their writings, probably in the views of some Emergent Church leaders, “uncivil” or “lacking grace.” J. Denny Weaver and Gerald Mast argue in the introduction of their Defenseless Christianity, “Mild speech could be a luxury for those in charge or having the most weapons”: Stay civil and grace-filled, but always find a way to remind those on the margins you got the power! You’re still in charge of the Church’s future! “Defenseless Christianity” in Mast’s and Weaver’s view was and always has been “a contentious, quarrelsome discursive community” much like ancient Israel was (as evidenced by the disagreements we see in the Hebrew Bible).

One of the risks of the Word-centered approach that I am all too familiar with is the cult of personality. I can understand the appeal of Eucharist-oriented worship services; there’s little room for one individual (the pastor usually) to get all of the glory. Yet such approaches can be just as hierarchal and authoritarian. The other risk of having a vision where contesting worldviews is the norm is that the “free” market of ideas can get co-opted, especially given the fact that what often passes as the postmodern is often a reflection of late capitalism. What winds up happening is that many religious ideas are appropriated by the nation-state at the expense of others. Holiday celebrations. Public displays of the Ten Commandments. The Bible being interpreted heretically and taught in public schools. You name it. The Anabaptist commitment to the Separation of Church and State presupposes a freedom to defend the community’s right to practice a non-competitive religion. An AnaBlacktivist and more biblical view of free speech would be one that enables communities and individuals to speak out on behalf of the defenseless and marginalized.

So, I say, in the spirit of Defenseless Christianity, preach loudly, and carry a good book!

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2 free online events on race and Christianity #MennoNerds #AnaBlacktivism

There are two exciting conversations on race and Christianity I wanted to highlight.  First, my friends over at MennoNerds will be having a dialogue entitled, “MennoNerds on Race, Mutuality, and Anabaptist Community” on June 12th. 2014 at 6:30pm Central Standard Time. For more see the MennoNerds site, as well as participants such as my friends Drew Hart and Katelin Hansen. You can register for free at the following link: link here on Google plus: MennoNerds on Race

Secondly, to commemorate JuneTeenth, the blerdy scholar-activists at #AnaBlacktivist seminary have decided to host a Twitter Chat on Anti-Blackness, Liberation, and Shalom on June 19th [Time yet to Be Determined]. Please join us by following the hashtag: AnaBlacktivism

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Anabaptist Theology & Black Power: Intro #AnaBlacktivism

In the recent decade since September 11th, 2001, there has been a surge of Christians in the church, the academy, and online the have taken up the label of “AnaBaptist.”  For many evangelicals, this moniker is a symbol to separate themselves from their parents’ version of Christianity.  The history of the Radical Reformation is an immense departure from the Protestant and Catholic Reformations.  It is one of beheadings, persecution, tears, exiles, and furious debates.  The sufferings of the early Anabaptists as well as the past and present oppression faced by African Americans (and persons of color) are bound up in the history of The Cross.  Given the fact that the historic struggle against White Supremacist Constantinian Christendom is something that Anabaptist theologians and Black Liberationists have in common, one would think that these would be natural allies.  Unfortunately, this is has not been the case.

In fact, the opposite has been true.  In texts and online, many white emergent church leaders who self-identify as Anabaptist dismiss liberation theology as “inherently violent.”  When pushed further, as I have on occasion, these leaders share documents from written by Joseph Ratzinger, when he served as Prefect of the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.  What is excluded from the discussion was any mention of the imperial violence that Liberation theologians and their communities experienced, particularly by way of the U.S. American military.  On the other end of the spectrum, because of the supremacist narratives guiding the contemporary appropriation of Anabaptist theology, Black liberationists have dismissed nonviolence as a theology and an ethic because of the consistent failure of  Anabaptist missional leaders to remember the suffering of the colonized appropriately.

In this series for next, I hope to articulate my view about how the values of the Radical Reformation and Black Liberationist theology are reconcilable, and more importantly, why both traditions need each other.  This would include an inclusive vision of what it means to participate in the Radical Reformation across racial, class, and denominational lines, without dropping any of the Anabaptist Distinctives that Tyler Tully identified: A) A Jesus Centered Lens in reading all of Scripture; B) A Confessing, Free Church of Baptized Jesus Followers, and C) Living Out Moral Agency as Participants in the Triune God’s Shalom, or as Tyler put it best the non-violent lifestyle that  means “Shalom is more than the absence of conflict (Pax Christi), it is the peace that surpasses all understanding and the project of the Holy Spirit as God’s Reign fosters wholeness through reconciling the hierarchies of class, race, ethnicity, age, sex, gender, sexuality, and ableism.”

I shall examine each of these three Anabaptist Distinctives as they relate to Black Liberation theology.  One may say that this series is an AnaBlacktivist Manifesto, with basic distinctives for #AnaBlacktivism.  

 

This is the first part of 4 for  my contribution to the MennoNerds Synchroblog : MennoNerds on Anabaptist Convictions“As MennoNerds, we all have found certain distinctives of Anabaptism to be central in our expression of faith.  This article is part of a MennoNerds Synchro-Blog in the month of May on Anabaptism. For the list of distinctives go here. For the list of articles, go here