What is Radical Christianity?

What is Radical Christianity?

The Statement of Dogma issued in Nashville on August 30th by cbmw.org (a coalition for biblical sexuality), otherwise known as the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, marked a 14-point position statement of what they think evangelical Christianity should be interpreted to mean. It is not the Good News Gospel. It is a recitation of the theology of the Pharisees.

Jesus was born, raised, and lived as a Jew. He read the Hebrew Bible (we call it the Old Testament.) The story of his life, his message of the Gospel, and the radical shift in theology are what we call the New Testament. The religious people of his day followed a strict observance of the 612 laws of the Hebrew Bible and worshiped a vengeful and wrathful God. He was the protector of the Nation of Israel, and when bad things happened, it was God sending his punishment for their misbehavior. Jesus preached a gospel of Good News, love, and abundant living for all mankind --- not just the chosen few. If somewhat reluctantly at first (he was a good and observant Jew,) he came to understand the possibilities for all mankind to know and accept the wisdom and grace of God.

Although the Israelites practiced monotheism (one God), whereas the rest of the world practiced polytheism (many Gods), they still accepted the philosophy of the personification of God(s) as simply a super-human being. Divinity was demonstrated with miracles or victories in war. The stories of the Greek and Roman gods read like a modern-day soap opera with all the twists and turns, betrayals, domination, and pettiness. The first-century Jewish God was like that also. And that is the God that the radical right worships.

I'm not talking about politics now; I'm referring to religion. The leap from repression of sexual minorities to economic repression is not that great. Jesus talked a lot more about his concerns for the poor rather than about sex. Although the Republican Party has co-opted the evangelical movement for its own purposes, the radical right is heretical to the ideal of evangelism.

Paul further explored these possibilities to specifically include Gentiles, and Martin Luther again renewed the idea that religion was a declaration of faith and belief rather than a literal allegiance to established dogma of the day. The Christian Church had grown apart from the teachings of Jesus to become a political state and quasi-empire rather than a religious movement. The break-away of the Protestant Movement led to a century of wars as the battle raged over who would control land rather than how the church would contribute to mankind. The Counter-Reformation changed the priorities of the Catholic Church, but the schism never healed.

Jesus was a radical in every sense of the word. That was what so enraged the power structure of his day, who were subservient to the Roman Empire. Their purpose was to maintain the status quo and keep their privileged position in society even though it meant serving as collaborators with the occupying armies of Palestine. The radical right today is collaborating with corporations to create an oligarchy and eventually perhaps a theocracy. Government has become a servant of the ultra-wealthy rather than a servant of the people. As so once again, we can see the corrupting influence of power when it over rides the principles of love and abundant living. Discrimination is justified because their interpretation of the Bible says they can exclude others who are different than the majority.

The radical right feeds on the fears that the social mores of the 19th & 20th Centuries are weakening and under-mining society. The evolution of social justice in the 21st Century is simply a reaction to the economic and social repression and rampant inequality of European society of that age and its focus on building empires and acquiring colonies. The European empires claimed they were bringing Christianity to the uncivilized world, but it was exploitation similar to what occurred in the Americas in the 16th Century. But the great empires of Rome, Spain and Great Britain collapsed as the result of their own preoccupation with military might. The world simply out-grew them, and they collapsed internally from their own corruption and focus on maintaining the status quo..

LGBT people, people of color, and other minorities have come out of hiding to claim social justice for everyone --- not just the privileged few. As such we not only will become a more just society but also a more Christ-like nation that embraces everyone without conditions based on ancient interpretations of the Hebrew Bible.