Jon Sobrino - Jesus The Liberator: A Historical-Theological View (via jomcarlson)
Invisible Christian Privilege
The mentality of persecution amongst Christians is something I’m fairly familiar with because it was big when I was a teenager. One of my favourite books as a teen was a compilation of martyrdom stories called Jesus Freaks which was published by 90s Christian rap-pop band DC Talk (Did I just admit to that? Uh, moving swiftly on!) This book pretty much typifies this mindset. Glorification of Christians losing their lives because they stood up for what they believed in the face of a powerful ‘other’.
Of course, the truth is that white, middle-class Christians are probably some of the most privileged out there. I know this because I am one of them. The very fact that I can write this post about my religion and put it in the public arena without fear demonstrates my privilege. For some people it’s important to maintain the feeling of persecution, I suppose so that they can feel close to Jesus (who was crucified) and the early Church (which was in the minority in its day). This is probably the real reason why there is so much noise about same-sex marriage; it’s about standing resolute against the flow of the majority, perpetuating the myth of persecution.
Incidentally, this is why you should never lambaste a conservative Christian - playing the role of persecutor will get you nowhere. The best couse of action is to subvert that expected role and instead befriend them, giving them the room to change their minds in their own time.
Some Christians are coming to recognise their privilege, and that is causing very interesting things to happen. The Liberation theology/Social Gospel movements amongst Catholics and Protestants respectively are making a resurgence and one of the “twelve marks” of the New Monastic movement is “relocation to the abandoned places of Empire”. The people who make up the Church are coming to recognise themselves as ‘the Empire’ and the religious elite. This is worrying to some because Jesus really didn’t like the religious elite and he was executed by the Roman Empire.
This recognition and/or abandonment of Christian privilege is part of what is getting me excited for the future. I don’t know any middle-class, Christian law students who don’t aspire to halt human trafficking or to advocate for refugees. There is a growing disaffection with consumerism, with many young Christians opting instead to live simply, often relocating themselves to low socio-economic areas and integrating with those communities. Before I moved to the UK, I attended a meeting about the problems caused to Aboriginal Australians by the NT Intervention and the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act in Australia. The meeting was populated by Christians from churches across the south-east Queensland area. Christians are beginning to acknowledge and attempt to abandon their privilege, which means they are coming to genuinely empathise with the disempowered.
And the kicker? The hotbed for this shift is amongst young people in the oft-maligned Evangelical churches.
In some ways, we’ve seen this all before - none of these movements (even New Monasticism) is actually new. This way of living has been at the forefront or an undercurrent in the Church since its inception. But looking back, we haven’t seen anything quite like this since the 60s, when the Jesus People movement and Liberation theology movement happened in North and South America. I’m very interested to see - and to be part of - how the acknowledgement/abandonment of Christian privilege will play out, particularly now that it seems there are some powerful churches in the United States with firm political reasons to hold on to that privilege.