Evangelical blogger Brandan Robertson picked up my discussion with fellow Patheos blogger Adrian Warnock on the “persecution” of Christians in the UK (part one and part two), and offers a thoughtful and challenging take. Thoughtful, because he recognizes the societal dynamic which is taking place: Christianity is slowly losing its social privilege and some Christians are experiencing that as “persecution” and unfair treatment. Challenging, because it reminds me, an atheist and a Humanist, that you can find inspiration in strange places.
Although I wholly reject Brandan’s beliefs about God, and find his beliefs about women and gay people to be quite wrong, I find something compelling and stirring in his description of the purpose of the Church:
I happen to believe that this loss of privilege is a gift from God to the Church. When we are privileged, everything is corrupted. We begin to worship prominence over Jesus and begin to build political and social platforms instead of the Kingdom of God. Christians come from a long history of real persecution and oppression. Our faith is meant to function on the grassroots level, not as a state or national force but as a subversive, Spirit empowered movement that changes the world from the bottom up. The Church is supposed to be built on the least of these- the poor, marginalized, broken, addicted, battered, scared, hopeless- not the strongest, mightiest, and most powerful. So maybe what we are experiencing isn’t persecution at all- it’s the hand of blessing from God that is stripping us from our undeserved privilege. And maybe we should start seeing it as that and stop telling ourselves that our society is persecuting us- because it does nothing but create a victim mentality and makes everyone not like us an enemy which has proven historically to be catastrophically destructive for everyone.
If the Christian Church where consistently a voice for the oppressed and marginalized, a subversive grass-roots force working to uplift those on the edges of society, a check on the powerful and a warning to the might – that is a church I might want to be a part of.