Last monday (yes during the NCAA championship game) many of us gathered around the issues of the emerging church's need to engage in social justice. Peter Cha, the presenter, was very impressed with the group and our discussion. While talking with him yesterday he mentioned it had been a long time since he had been so challenged and stretched by the group he was speaking at.
We discussed two wrong turns that the Church made in the 20th century: 1) The "Great Betrayal" of the liberal church which lost the gospel amid political/social action; and 2) the "Great Reversal" of the evangelical church that reduced the gospel to merely marking time in this world while waiting from the next. The first focused on high level politics , and the second focused on grassroots conversion, with neither resulting in any real justice for the poor and the oppressed.
The basic issue, for us in the 21st century, is how to make our faith public now that we have realized the bankruptcy of a privatized "gospel" of sin management, disconnected from life here and now. Unfortunately, our discussion never really landed on a third way beyond the liberal and evangelical strategies. Many questions still remain...At what level and for what purpose should Christians engage in politics? What strategy for justice should the church adopted? And while the church should stand up and protect the poor, oppressed, and marginalized in society, we were certainly not in agreement as to what form that would take in-/out-side the Church. Maybe we should have "part two" to this gathering...? (any interested?)
Also, for those interested, there is a lively conversation at the emergent website dealing with economics and poverty.http://www.emergentvillage.com/speak_out/bulletin_boards/messages.cfm?PAGE_ID=94&TOPIC_NO=59
(up/rooted has partnered with Emergent as a local cohort. Emergent is a national organization for networking and equipping "missional Christian Leaders.)
peace be with you,
up/rooted: a collaborative friendship to understand and engage
the emerging Post-Christian culture.