Liberating the Captives

When it comes to the one, holy, universal and apostolic church, the most glaring lack in the modern church is the “one” term. Instead of a one-Body church, the church is a fractured community of diverse voices. So much so that there are branches or segments of the church that are often unheard. A friend of mine, Kathy Khang, wrote a book called More Than Serving Tea, a book advocating female teaching and leadership gifts and a book that made many of us aware of issues at work in the Asian Christian community.

Where do we see the Latin voices? Where do you see a collection of Latin church thinking and Latin church issues?

Recently I came across Raymond Rivera, Liberty to the Captives: Our Call to Minister in a Captive World, and I’m quite impressed by the scope of Rivera’s approach to gospel ministry. His approach combines a soterian gospel with a justice gospel, all wrapped into his vision for a holistic message and ministry. Rivera’s book is one of the more “biblical” approaches I’ve seen to holistic gospel studies.

His thesis: Humans, all humans, and institutions are captive to the powers of death. The gospel liberates.

God created humans in a good condition: spiritual, emotional, mental, physical, and social; but humans brought about their own captivity. This captivity is brutal and dehumanizing, it leads to spiritual decay, to civic decay, and it has led to “dual citizenship.”

This dual citizenship is Rivera’s way of talking about divided loyalties: we may live in a world with the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of man (his expression) but “our primary citizenship” is to the Kingdom.But too many Christians are ruled by the dominant culture, shaped too much by the collective sin and the principalities and powers, and are ignoring the least of these. So the question is To whom do we surrender our allegiance?

So he explores a kingdom vision for a holistic ministry, which involves:

1. A ministry that is humane and restorative.
2. One that is marked by four elements: liberation, healing, community, and transformation.
3. One that calls us to holistic living, serving, and leading in a godly way.

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  • I see a deep polarity at work in so much of this. God is both a god of order and justice. Some of us are oriented toward the need for order. But sin is always entwined in all we do. The order we create brings injustice. But because we want order, and especially if we are beneficiaries of the present, order we resist change to the order.

    So some of us are inclined toward addressing injustice. We muster all our energies against the injustice. We become iconoclastic without careful thought about a more just order genuinely entails. That often leads to the destruction of the good with the bad, and that makes circumstances ripe for sinister people who do have a plan for a new order to fill the vacuum. The injustices can become even greater.

    I think it is interesting that in the Hebrew Testament God ordains both “law and order” types (kings) and those who speak truth to power (prophets).