Reflections on the issues facing a contemporary ministry in an urban
small-membership church that is socially conscious as well as salvation cognizant.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Christianity As We Know It
Dr. Renita Weems, in a prophetic discerning of the times at her blog Something Within, has pointed out a few trends that cause us to either reevaluate our theology or be prepared to see Christianity (as we know it)become an afterthought or footnote in history.
Dr. Weems, notes that Vermont, Iowa, Massachusetts, Connecticut all provide full marriage equality to same-sex couples. New York is considering legislation while the City Council in the District of Columbia just voted to recognize valid same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions even though same-sex couples cannot get married in D.C. It now appears as if in the not too distant future same-sex marriage will be universally accepted in the U.S. as it is doubtful that this rushing tide of momentum can be stopped.
I can also report from the front lines of ministry and community service that defeat in the theological fight for sexual abstinence in teens has pretty much been conceded as adolescent reproductive health remains a pressing social, health and economic issue. The strategy in the fight to reduce teen pregnancy has shifted to contraception and prevention of sexually transmitted disease.
Meanwhile, according to a Pew Forum poll the percentage of people who say they are unaffiliated with any particular faith has doubled in recent years, to 16 percent and the number of people willing to describe themselves as atheist or agnostic has increased about fourfold from 1990 to 2009, from 1 million to about 3.6 million.
The question I think that these trends present is Has Christianity become irrelevant for our day?
My take is that maybe we have misread or misinterpreted the scriptures evidenced by the disparity in our placing great theological emphasis upon one or two issues that comparatively receive very little biblical attention while we gloss over the weightier matters such as love and justice which occur repeatedly throughout the entire bible.
It may be a good thing for a misinformed Christianity to die if it is to be reborn with primary scriptural emphasis of justice, described as the establishment or restoration of fair, equitable, and harmonious relationships in society. This is an ethic which holds that everyone has the same inalienable right as anyone else to life, liberty and wholeness as well as freedom from exploitation, oppression, and victimization.
The other ethic that is foundational to the bible and which Jesus counted as the greatest of all God's commandments and the epitome of all the law and the prophets is love. These principles are missing from public policies and our day to day dealings with one another, the lack thereby producing an inauthentic Christian ethic.
Any confining of Christianity to a narrow legalism, slogan, mantra, law, rule, or 'ism including racism, sexism, classism, homophobism, exlusionism rather than the much larger principles of love, justice, or mercy in its application is indicative of a small god, diminutive faith, and petite mind and as such needs to be replaced by something much larger and more authentic.
Male, Afra-feminist, Liberationist, Doctor of Ministry (DMin), Pastor/Social Activist of an urban, inner-city church offering a theological perspective on the day to day issues faced by a marginalized people.