Yesterday, Tyler Tully wrote for the MennoNerds Synchroblog on Missional Spirituality:
“Contrary to the colonial model of disciple making, and past our notions of spiritual growth through purity (as the absence of anything that would pollute), I say the Kingdom of God is actualized “alongside the other” because our salvation from structures of privilege and oppression is always experienced communally. It springs from the present coming of Jesus “in the flesh” of the “other.” The gospel becomes actualized in us and for us, making us both spectator and participant in the New Kingdom of God. It is not a gnostic, noetic, or theoretical reality positioned in a past event, but a present, concrete reality. This liberating presence of Jesus–very real, very actual–is the gospel of salvation for both oppressor and oppressed, the privileged and the disenfranchised.”
You can read the rest at The Jesus Event: The True Gospel Is In the Other
Tyler’s approach to spirituality reminds me very much of James Cone and his chapter “The White Church and Black Power” where Cone argues that racism is inherently a theological issue.
“The issue is clear. Racism is a complete denial of the Incarnation and thus of Christianity. Therefore, the white [those churches of every cultural background who uphold oppressive values] denominational churches are unchristian. They are a manifestation of both a willingness to tolerate it and a desire to perpetuate it.”
(page 73, Black Theology and Black Power)
Making the connection between controversies over white supremacy and the early church Christological controversies:
“To be racist is to fall outside the definition of the Church. In our time, the issue of racism is analogous to the Arian Controversy of the fourth century. Athanasius perceived quite clearly that if Arius’ views were tolerated, Christianity would be lost. But few white churchmen have questioned whether racism was a similar denial of Jesus Christ” (ibid).
Two things: first, when it comes to Christianity, there is no such thing as Christian White Supremacist or Christian racists or Christian PaleoConfederates. You either believe the Logos put on Second-century Jewish flesh, or you do not. Many of the evangelical, missional and emergent dudebros and dudettes that accuse me (and others) of being too obsessed with racism call for tolerance of white supremacist individuals out of sentimental, privileged notions of forgiveness. Forgiveness I do believe in, it is cheap grace and refusals of repentance for racist practices I do not affirm.
Second, Racism is not only a denial of The Incarnation; white supremacy, anti-black racisms, etc., but is also a rejection of The Cross and Resurrection– the very Good News, itself as well. The Gospel is God’s Victory Speech, the evangelion, in the greek just meant a good report, and the genre of these reports happened in the Roman Imperial context where Caesar’s would proclaim their “gospels” or military triumphs. Racists (including those who remain silent on church’s racist practices) rebelling against God’s win through God’s Son, Christ Jesus, the triumph of reconciliation and liberation over empire , the triumph of healing and community over and against the sickness of white supremacy. So, whenever one prays to and meditates on our Risen Savior or whenever one resists racism wherever it raises its ugly head, she or he is partaking in the victory of the Triune God.
This is my contribution to the MennoNerds Anabaptist Missional Spirituality synchroblog.
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