Is It “Goodbye Evangelicalism” or “We Join You In Your Suffering”?

Is It “Goodbye Evangelicalism” or “We Join You In Your Suffering”? August 28, 2014

Thabiti Anyabwile wrote a remarkable post about Ferguson and the failure of movement evangelicalism:

When James Cone wrote A Black Theology of Liberation in the late 1960s, he was attempting to provide a theological framework for understanding and guiding the feelings and actions of African-American protestors. He wrote in the wake of a deadly riot in Detroit. He felt a burden, a heavy weight to say something meaningful as a Christian. He felt, as many had before him, that if Christianity had no answer for Black people caught in the roiling cauldron of Jim Crow segregation and state-sponsored terrorism then Christianity had no credibility whatsoever.

I wish the evangelical church felt the same way that Cone felt. Though I find Cone’s answers unbiblical and untenable, he at least raised and grappled with legitimate questions of justice from the vantage point of the oppressed. And until evangelicalism finds the courage and the love to enter those questions with empathy for that vantage point on a quest for better answers than Cone’s, then evangelicalism as we know it is dead.

I’m not talking about the “evangelicalism” of progressive Christians who seem to rarely preach and emphasize the biblical gospel while championing every cause, the “evangelicalism” that has no evangel. I’m talking about the “evangelicalism” of “Bible-believing Christians,” of “gospel-centered people,” of “conservative” movements that pride themselves on not being “those liberals.” I’m not talking about your local church or my local church as much as I’m talking about the movement as a whole, at its highest levels. I’m talking about the “movement evangelicalism” that I run in. That evangelicalism is dead.

Read the rest here.

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  • The answer we’d give is not one they want to hear, I think:

    “He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?”

    “”But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”

    Like all the social justice in the Bible started first with Israel turning away from their sin and back to God. Then God sent deliverance and aid. A lot of people now seem to want the justice, but not the repentance, and it leads to things where any attempt at doing so just fizzles because human sin wipes out the results. That’s the only way you can really address this as an evangelical; you must repent before anything. You can’t be healed without approaching Christ first and recognizing who He is.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    I don’t think you were supposed to say that out loud. You’re supposed to pretend you have too much humility to judge entire communities full of people you know nothing about.

  • That’s fake compassion though, and one of the things preventing the cycle from ever being broken. Nothing great can happen without first turning back to God, and the Bible is clear on that.

  • Maine_Skeptic

    Let me be more direct. Your comment was ignorant and breathtakingly arrogant. You know nothing about the people that you’ve judged as unworthy of justice,

  • It has nothing to do with being unworthy of justice. There can be no lasting justice unless people inside change and turn to God first, who brings justice. Otherwise you get the people tearing down what they try to build; rioting when they have everything to lose by doing so.

    Doesn’t matter who you are. A lot of efforts of white people to address problems fail for the exact same reason; they talk about social justice but are unjust in their hearts. Everyone thinks the problem is an abstract system that they aren’t a part of.

  • Benjamin Martin

    But Thabiti Anyabwile can judge all of the people in evangelicalism and just declare them dead, right? You ok with that?