This is a dialogue of sorts between me and one of Facebook friends in response to The Institute for Christian Socialism. His statements are in quotations, and mine are in italics, with the exception of the final paragraph. This is long overdue, Bradley, sorry! Thanks for giving me the opportunity to think through these things a little bit.
‘we are necessarily committed at the same time to the work of anti-racism, feminism, Queer liberation, anti-imperialism, indigenous sovereignty, and related emancipatory struggles.’ “I need more time to analyze and articulate than I have, but this is all I have time for.This statement comes at the end of the explanation “what is the socialism of the gospel.” But what this movement is doing is redefining the gospel. While some on the “right” may miss the gospel in the way they abuse power, this movement flat out takes the actual gospel out of the equation. They have made the gospel about socialism. I think the “socialism” of the Scriptures was a result, not the point of the impact of the Kingdom.”
In reading the “What is the Socialism of the Gospel?” statement I did not get the same sense that you did. I definitely see socialism a result of the gospel, as I do here in this statement, and I don’t see socialism in opposition to the gospel. In fact, I see socialism as an embodiment of Christian discipleship. Yes, Christ died and rose again, but he also lived, and there would have been no death without life first.
“It is an extreme swing to the left–and they have left out the actual message of the gospel, as clearly articulated through Scriptures–the divine work of redemption made necessary by human sin and carried out by the death and resurrection of Jesus. This is simply Liberation Theology brought into a first world context.”
I don’t think there is anything wrong with liberation theology, as it is simply a theology coming out of a certain context, addressing certain questions within that context. All theology is contextual. Again, the gospel can include the message of non-material (spiritual) redemption, but it doesn’t only include the message of non-material redemption. There are numerous warnings in Scripture about the dangers of power, money, and being rich.
“And yet, without the death and resurrection, there is no gospel. Without sin there is no need for salvation. The implication of the true gospel makes possible and necessary a life lived in response to it, which certainly many Christians miss–but this movement is dangerous in that it seems to completely leave out the real gospel.”
Nowhere did I read in this statement that they deny the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ. You’re right; many Christians don’t embrace discipleship in a holistic sense.
“That Gospel is powerful enough to change the hearts of men; but the sin in humanity is still strong enough to corrupt even the best of us. You know all these things–the real danger, I feel greater than the danger you fear, is to change our omit the sacrificial work of Jesus–Paul warns of it–it’s ‘another gospel.’”
I don’t have this fear; one can be a Christian, even an E/evangelical, and be a socialist.
“Even the artwork of this sight is Erie–looks violent–the language is not loving. it looks nothing like what Jesus was bringing and it changes he message– it is a threat to the true gospel, and I think quite dangerous… This is not an endorsement of Falwell, Trump, or anyone else–but it is a reminder that we are never to change or manipulate the gospel–or omit it.”
This is standard revolutionary symbolism that also speaks of solidarity with the oppressed; there’s nothing to be afraid of, unless you’re a capitalist billionaire.
“And the gospel was never intended to be tied to a ‘political movement.’”
Everything is political when it involves people.
I embraced socialism precisely because I believe faithfulness to the gospel requires me to not only preach spiritual redemption, but faithfulness to the gospel, the good news of Jesus, demands that I continually audit my relationship to money and power, and as Jesus does, side with the powerless. And with that, time to re-read Our God Loves Justice.