Monday, July 16, 2018

The 'Prejudice Gospel' 2: What is it?

I previously introduced this idea here. Now, I'm gonna unpack it.

The Prejudice Gospel movement makes some groups feel further away
Paul wrote, 'He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near.' (Eph 2:17). When white middle class brothers act as if they are the near ones, and those at the margins are far away - they grossly distort the gospel. By contrast, the Bible teaches that no matter your class, or ethnicity, or disability, unless you were Jewish, you were in the 'far away' group. Being at the margins of UK society doesn't in anyway make you further from God. Yet, conservative evangelicalism often makes those at the margins feel further away. For the fortunate ones who recognise they are not in reality further away from God, they still often feel further away from their brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Prejudice Gospel movement looks down on those who are weak
If someone shares a weakness, even if it's a mc brother, then gossip and suspicion abound, and doors to service are closed. If someone shares that they need the help of others, they are seen as weak and unfit for ministry. Part of the New Testament good news however is that God is most strong in our weaknesses (2 Cor 12:9-10).

The Prejudice Gospel gives less access to those at the margins
Whereas Ephesians teaches that 'through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,' (Eph 2:18-19). Conservative Evangelicalism is fraught with the old boy network on multiple levels. Those at the top, keep their own network, and look down on and shut out the next tier. This tier feel hard done by, but they create their own network, that gives their friends plenty of access whilst shutting out the next group. And so on, it goes, until the margins, because networking tends to be a middle and upper class activity that hasn't been impacted by James 2:1-6. At the bottom of the pile, people just feel like they don't have access to the fellowship, resources, and affirmation of the higher ups. Even if you fight the Spiritual battle to know that its not true that you don't have access to God himself, you still feel shut out from your brothers and sisters in Christ.

The Prejudice Gospel movement doesn't preach to the poor
It will preach to the wealthy, and the middle and upper classes, but hardly any funds are diverted to preaching to the poor and down trodden. Great lengths have been taken to ensure the word 'poor' does not appear in any mission statements, even though it features in a number of Jesus and Paul's (Luke 4:18; Matt 11:5; Gal 2:10)! The message is that there's good news for the wealthy, but not the poor.

The Prejudice Gospel movement does not accept everyone
Jesus said, 'Very truly I tell you, whoever accepts anyone I send accepts me;' (John 13:20). Those of us impacted by the prejudice gospel do not accept all those Jesus sends. We tend to only truly accept those who have exactly the same doctrine and practices (even though we acknowledge that our doctrine may be wrong in places, and that our praxis is not perfect). But even then, people at the margins who subscribe to the same doctrinal basis are not as accepted.

The Prejudice Gospel believes in 'strategic' ministry over word based & repentance based ministry.
Whilst the rhetoric sounds otherwise, the church planting strategy, posh boy camps, student emphasis etc. all communicate that unless you're higher up in society, you're not gonna get saved and make an impact. Furthermore, when prejudice is exposed, the good news is that we'll eventually come up with a new strategy to correct it, rather than the good news that we can repent and be forgiven.

The Prejudice Gospel says you must conform to our ways.
Even though Paul said no-one should feel like a stranger (Eph 2:19), there is a distinct culture that demands minorities assimilate. It starts off as subtle offers of training and mentoring. And the minorities' suspicions are assuaged by empty promises of, 'we want to learn from your culture.' But whenever a sister or brother speaks up, they are interrupted, corrected, and eventually branded as outspoken, unless they shut up. 'Strangers' then have the option of assimilating, so as to not feel like a stranger. However, the majority culture will not bend towards the stranger's culture. If the strangers refuse to change their ways, they will be gossiped about and sidelined, because of course, they're doing ministry all wrong!

The Prejudice Gospel uses Straw man arguments of social gospel to avoid loving deeds.
Armed with the propaganda of 1) any second they could slip into the 'social gospel', and 2) poor people wouldn't be poor if they were as responsible as the middle classes-- adherents to this movement avoid any loving deeds that could help alleviate suffering. It doesn't matter that Jesus's good news included bringing justice (Matt 12:18,20; 23:23)-- unless its the abortion issue, they don't do justice. All the while, this communicates that the good news is to be born into a middle class family, and definitely, not to be born a refugee who ends up cut off from their support base, and unable to cut through the red tape of our benefits system.

The Prejudice Gospel teaches faith plus background for ministry
Whilst Jesus said you just need faith to do great works for him, this movement teaches you need faith plus background. 'Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.' (Jn. 14:12 NIV)