I recently read a challenging book titled “A Black Theology of Liberation,” by James Cone. I’d rather not summarize the book too much, but instead encourage you to read it. I don’t agree with everything, but love some things. This is actually refreshing.
Based off Cone and his very extreme, concrete approach to liberation, I have a few questions or points for the church relating to the often abstract ideas of salvation and evangelism. In the Bible, Jesus uses healing, physical healing, to invite people into the kingdom of God. He does not deny a person’s physical circumstances and tell the blind man or the man with leprosy that he’s not going to heal them, but that they should still believe in God!
Don’t we do that? Don’t we hope to heal people’s souls and ignore their bodies and physical situations because they’re just too difficult?
I hope we can all agree that the church as the body of believers worldwide should be actively involved in liberation. We need churches and communities to equip us for being sent to the world. Otherwise they have no purpose and become like clubs. This can’t just be something they do to remain healthy – real service and real liberation through Jesus are the essence of their being. I wonder if being sent to the world means more than just carrying around a nice attitude in our workplace or school, if it means more than, as a friend recently lamented, acting happy and hoping someone asks you “why are you so happy all the time?” so you can tell them about Jesus. This doesn’t de-legitimize secular callings, but I just think we’re called to more, more, more than just a smile.
I do not doubt that unbelief is a major problem in America. I would love to have more people involved in this Jesus movement. But we need to have a movement of God’s salvation to call them to, rather than an abstract idea too often embodied in just “going to church.” I firmly believe in actually talking about God rather than hoping that our actions witness to it, as I referenced above, but our actions need to back up those words.
There are other major problems in America, like race (still). I recently heard a statistic that 3 percent of Minnesotans are black. 37 percent of the Minnesota prison population is black. My campus is segregated in many ways, because it perpetuates itself as a Norwegian college with very very loose Christian ties (I would argue), which makes those outside the culture feel like … outsiders.
Right now, I don’t have specific solutions or anything. I just know that I needed to write down these thoughts and work through them. I appreciate any of your thoughts, challenges, or questions.