Tuesday, July 10, 2018

The 'Prejudice Gospel' 1: We wouldn't want more prosperity gospel churches planted, so why more prejudice churches?

In conservative evangelicalism I've often heard the perils of social gospel and prosperity gospel. For the record, I'm not a fan of either. However, our own constituency has the 'Prejudice Gospel'. We might not be too aware of it, but many in the word of faith movement aren't too aware of the term and implications of 'Prosperity Gospel' either.

There presently seems to be almost the white man's great burden to plant as many churches as possible to compensate for all the other churches who haven't got it right (I'm not talking about those who plant where there's no evangelical churches at all). But, you know what? We haven't got it right either!

Across the globe the UK is famous for its classism, and there's no reason to assume that at conversion we Christians automatically jettison every classist attitude that we've been entrenched in since birth. When Tim Keller spoke at EMA years ago, he told us we needed to deal with our classism problem in the church. But almost nothings happened. Its possibly the only Keller point that hasn't been celebrated over here! So we're possibly planting classist churches.

Since Stephen Lawrence years ago, and more recently, Brexit, our racism, which we tried to deny for so long, has also become well known. Again, there's no reason to think we as Christians are immune to racism. Those of us who have grown up amongst minorities, and then joined conservative evangelicalism, have witnessed racism in the church, even though it far more subtle than EDL marches. So we're possibly planting racist churches.

We also suffer from ablism. Look at the stats, and see how underrepresented people with disabilities are in churches, especially in leadership. How many churches and conferences even have decent disabled access? Furthermore, where is a robust theology of strength in weakness taught and practised? And where's the support - do we leave it to the government who are doing poorly in this area?

I'm gonna combine classism and racism and ablism here and say we have a problem I call the 'Prejudice Gospel'. I can't unpack it all here, I just want to introduce the concept. In general we have a good news message that wrongly includes the message that certain groups are superior and of more worth, and more desirable than others: 'God died for all kinds of people, especially the white middle classes.' Everyone has access to God and church, but some have more access than others!

What's the solution? Well, what would you expect of Benny Hinn if he were to stop promoting Prosperity Gospel? Possibly public repentance & being mentored? I think we need to trust enough in Christ's righteousness to be able to sit down with people and ask them of their experiences of prejudice (without any push back). And then publicly repent and make changes in keeping with that repentance.

more to follow on the prejudice gospel....