The time for justice is now: November 12, 2014 at Freedom Plaza in Washington D.C. at 12:30 p.m

Brothers and Sisters, the time for justice and truth to break loose in our society has always been right now. We cannot afford to merely remember the courageous actions and words of our heroes of the past like Martin Luther King Jr. and Ida B. Wells, we must embody the spirit of that struggle of love and hope, but for our time and in solidarity with this new emerging movement of justice that is clashing with the death-dealing powers that keep crushing the most vulnerable. We are called to speak up for those that have no one to champion them. The truth right now is that Black people are being killed on the street without consequence. The rise of executions of unarmed black people, and the equally alarming silence of the Church that claims to worship the Unarmed and Executed One, is a sign that we have lost sight of our calling to stand in solidarity with the victims of state dominance.

However, it is never too late to repent from our alignment and complicity with the very evil forces of worldly power & state violence that crucified Jesus, and we can now instead participate in the life-giving, mercy-filled, and justice practicing, way of Jesus. And for those that are in the DC area, you are in luck, because my friend Ched Myers pointed me towards an important protest that is happening on Wednesday, 11/12/14 in your area!  Here’s your opportunity to walk humbly with God along with masses of people who are willing to speak truthfully to our society about who we have become, and how we can actually begin to be a just and righteous people. Check it out:

“We can’t all be in Ferguson but we can be in DC!”

“When future generations of Black children ask, ‘where were Black people during state sanctioned murders and why did it take root, what will you say?’ When future generations of White progressive youth ask White progressives, ‘where were you when they moved on Black people… why did you let it take root?’ What will White progressives say? When future generations of Latino children ask, ’where were you when they moved on our community and the Black community?’ What will Latinos say? When future generations of lesbian and gay children ask, ‘where were you when the police murdered members of our community, most of whom were Black?’ What will you say? These are the questions of today. Where are you standing? Did you ignore the issues because the largest numbers of state sanctioned murders are of Black people?”

“As state sanctioned murders reach an unprecedented high and creep up in all communities throughout the nation, where will you say you stood in the face of this militarized state killing machine? Stand is an action verb. As for me and the SpiritHouse Project, history will show a clear and dedicated commitment to breaking the silence on modern day lynching. Our history shows, that even in the face of insurmountable odds as a small organization, we stand on the right side of history when we convene a national memorial service on Nov. 12, 2014 at Freedom Plaza at 12:30pm in Washington, DC for the 1000 Black people murdered by police since 2007.”

“1000 murdered victims by the police make it clear that this is not relegated to sporadic crimes against a few individuals. Rather, when we call the names of the 1000 Black dead, it is clear that state sanctioned murders go beyond sporadic murders of individual Black people. State sanctioned murders target and profile entire communities.”

“We are clearly in the grips of an American epidemic predicated on racism and state violence. Unless we halt the spread of this epidemic, history will write that good people remained silent and failed to act. Nov. 12th is an opportunity to act. We cannot all be in Ferguson, but we can be in DC!”

For more details of the protest please click here. Let’s stand in solidarity with those that have been murdered and collectively say “No more”!

Christian Century Post: The Church and the Kingdom of God

I woke up in the morning to some interesting dialogue on Twitter. Apparently Scott Mcknight has a new book, which I have not read, and it is getting some attention for his polemics around “skinny jeans” and “pleated pants” Christians’ understanding of the kingdom of God. It is not those categories that was controversial, but rather his actual claims about what the kingdom of God is, or isn’t. This is not a review of his book, I do not plan on reading or reviewing the book, so you must go elsewhere for that. However, I did want to problematize the main point I saw in a review David Fitch, a friend and seminary colleague of Mcknight, brought attention to in his book. The claim Mcknight supposedly made was that the kingdom of God is the Church, and that there is no kingdom of God outside of the Church. That is an echo of Cyprian from the 3rd century, but applied in a new way, to the kingdom of God in this contemporary case, which needs brief responding to.

It should be no surprise that I see this read as both irresponsible and problematic as an interpretation. I will argue based on my reading of the Jesus narratives in scripture and with strong support from an early Church teaching, pointing to a different understanding of the kingdom of God than Mcknight does. Furthermore, by attempting to make such a claim, I suggest it diminishes the particularity of Jesus’ own poetic descriptions of the kingdom of God in the parables, the very content I assume Mcknight is mostly drawing from in his book to come to such conclusions.

Before the primary critique, it should be said that Mcknight is not completely wrong on everything. First, my take is that he understands that there are very real spatial realities to be considered when discussing the kingdom of God, though “geopolitical” is problematic because it moves us back to a place of dominating land and space. The kingdom of God is something present in particular spaces. Secondly, a kingdom inevitably does include both a king and a people in particular spaces. It seems that Mcknight does not want people to lose sight of the King and people that make for a kingdom. These points are not insignificant, and to completely lose sight of those things does cause room for other problems. However, we cannot draw a clean line from the realities of earthly kingdoms to that of the kingdom of God. It is precisely the fact that the kingdom of God, as it was revealed and announced by Jesus, surprised and shocked many, helping us understand that it must not be assumed or predicted ahead of time as though we can expect from general common sense what it would be. Rather, only after careful attentiveness to the gospel narratives, read alongside the least of these in community, can we begin to venture to say something meaningful about the kingdom of God.

One of the big stumbling blocks for McKnight seems to come out of him falling into ‘churchology’. That is, McKnight here is operating out of a weak Christology and Pneumatology in relation to his understanding of the kingdom of God, which inevitably slips him away from ecclesiology and into churchology. Ecclesiology is about being called out, to gather around Jesus the crucified One as his people, and to embody the life and teachings of Jesus together. On the other hand churchology takes for granted the presence of Jesus, as a matter of fact (for whatever theological reasons), and the alignment of God’s mission and will, with any particular gathering or institution. Churchology is dangerous. It is a new-Christendom for the 21st century, in which a community assumes that they are part of what God is doing in creation, just because they think so.Ecclesiology realizes how easy it is to lose Jesus along the way (Luke 2:41-52), to have him on the outside of what we’ve got going on (Luke 3:19-20). The kingdom of God is not automatic for a gathered people who call themselves Christian, nor is it confined by the limits of Christian gatherings.

Simply put, the kingdom of God is anywhere King Jesus is present in any particular place.The most important thing to remember about the kingdom of God is not the Church (though there is close association between the two) but it is Jesus himself. For this reason Origen famously described Jesus as “autobasiliea”. Jesus embodied the reign of God all by himself! That means that wherever Jesus is present, the kingdom of God has come near! Now certainly the Church should be a place that Jesus is truly present, a space in which people are reorienting their lives and social arrangements according to the reality of the Messiah. Yet we know that is not always the case.

Read the end of the post here.