Civil Rights, prophetic Black Christianity, and the future Church


My man Zossima over at Forgetting Ourselves has laid out some beautiful thoughts on the relationship between American Evangelicalism and the African-american Church tradition.
His thoughts have helped me realize why I don’t find the recent criticisms of Emergent that amusing. I find myself in a different church/theological orbit than those that lodge conservative theological complaints at Emergent. What I see in Emergent is a willingness to have the kind of dialogue I see taking place with Zossima. However, I do not believe that Zossima identifies with the Emerging church/movement/conversation/etc. but I do see these kinds of discussions taking place in this conversation. Which I find to be quite refreshing. And the more I get into this conversation with Emergent type folks the more I find myself debating epistemology with its detractors. Honestly, I don’t know if that is worth the effort. I find issues of poverty, economic justice, and ‘real’ eschatological issues grabbing my theological palatte. Am I wrong for feeling this way? Someone help a brutha out! Let me know something.

Ant

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8 thoughts on “Civil Rights, prophetic Black Christianity, and the future Church

  1. I’m beginning to feel a bit overwhelmed myself by the recent and impending “discussions” between emerging advocates and their detractors. While I believe there is some important dialogue to be had I’m not sure that most of us are called to expend significant energy towards it. Those who should are probably feeling compelled to do so and that’s good. The rest of us might do better to put our best energies into doing our thing, whether it falls into the category of emerging or not. So, do what you do.

  2. Anthony,

    I think some of the debate and dialogue is actually the strength of the emerging movement. If not it becomes an esoteric enclave, like denominations of old, with no permeation to keep it fresh and prophetic. Some “detractors” maybe practicing a “hermeneutics of suspicion”, and other may just simply feel threatened and unsettled about the move from the systematic to the more organic. And some folks are just plain old judgemental and jealous (we call them “haters”).

    What I often see, and Latin American Educator, Paul Fiere says it well, the “oppressed can often become the oppressor” because of an adhesion to the oppressor’s mode of operation. Many of us have left conservative movements and are exploring perhaps an expanded and more “progressive” theology. I’ve been guilty of “icing” the old school in the manner it was done to me. So I realize the importance of keeping some type of engagement with my conservative counterparts because I can still learn from them. I was reading Acts 15 (verse 5) the other day, and I was surprised who was still represented in the first Christian movement.

    Thanks for allowing the space for dialogue.

    Jose H.

  3. Jose,

    you are a dangerous brutha if you are reflecting on friere. i would love to hear your thoughts on how friere’s readings on oppression and communal resistance can be incorporated within a discipleship community. me and a good friend are about to start up a discussion group here in charlotte, nc using this type of language and reflection.

    your words of wisdom are well received.

    thanks,

    Ant

  4. jose,

    also. i agree that there still needs to be some critical dialogue with our conservative brethren. i am reading “Next Reformation: Why Evangelicals Must Embrace Postmodernism” by a cat named Raschke. He addresses some of the theological/epistemological issues that deeply concern conservative evangelicals that have taken a critical stance towards the emergent movement.

  5. “i would love to hear your thoughts on oppression and communal resistance…within a discipleship community”

    there’s so much to say about this…i think one of the biggest obstacles to movements and the pursuit of justice is middleclass christianity (i’m complicit in this). we acquire some education and $ and no longer identify with oppression as much. I think when we talk about communal movements, we need to ask ourselves who is represented in the conversation. Are there poor folk included. Or are we setting the agendas and think tanks. Friere talks about empowerment through the oppressed “naming the world.” So class becomes a big question. are we allowing the very folks we’re seeking justice for give perspective and have their voices heard. I don’t want to take up too much room…but this is a tidbit of that…

    Jose H.

  6. “i think one of the biggest obstacles to movements and the pursuit of justice is middleclass christianity (i’m complicit in this). we acquire some education and $ and no longer identify with oppression as much. I think when we talk about communal movements, we need to ask ourselves who is represented in the conversation.”

    I think Jose has a good point here. Class definitely becomes an issue as people strive to get out of situations of being poor. Some fall prey to some of the same self-righteousness that can be seen in some church settings yet instead of it being about being close to God and “living right” it’s about being in a higher income bracket. For others, the reaction to money and education is just a matter of a different lifestyle and new discoveries that simply remove them from the pulse of what is happening ‘on the street’. In any case there is a need to make sure that voices are heard.
    Kristine M.

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