The Politics of Jesus 4: The Radical Thread in the Hebrew Scriptures

The Politics of Jesus 4: The Radical Thread in the Hebrew Scriptures

For most Christians, the Bible has a fundamentally conservative emphasis. A superficial reading of the Bible reveals a God who thinks of himself as a sort of Warrior King, who sanctions state enacted genocide, and who promotes a string of saintly kings, like King David. When Jesus arrives, it is to start a Kingdom of God that, apparently, seems content to co-exist with earthly rulership. In fact, Jesus himself says to “render to Caesar what is Caesar’s” and Paul advocates being good subjects to the governing authorities. Therefore, Christian radicalism is a contradiction in terms, right?  Furthermore, the sorts…

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The Politics of Jesus 3: Lessons Learned from Radical Church History

The Politics of Jesus 3: Lessons Learned from Radical Church History

In my last post, I shared a very brief sketch of the history of those communities that embraced a radical reading of Jesus’ life and teachings. I want to take a little time to reflect on those movements before moving on to engage in a few of the most revolutionary passages in Scripture. So, what can we learn from this stroll through history? How does it inform our own lives in this season? I’d like to raise six insights from my…

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The Politics of Jesus 2: A Brief History of Christian Radicalism

The Politics of Jesus 2: A Brief History of Christian Radicalism

Christian history is filled with radical expressions. For most of these groups, radical tendencies were intertwined with spiritual and theological convictions. Their spirituality and politics were integrated.  Most of these movements–if not all–were heavily mystical. Mysticism is, at it’s core, the assumption that it is possible to have an unmediated experience of God, of each other, and of creation. This quickly gives birth to an idea that any structures (physical or societal) that don’t serve such experiences are, instead, obstacles to be…

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The Politics of Jesus 1: Introduction

The Politics of Jesus 1: Introduction

Traditional kingship (with absolute power, hoards of wealth, and power over the weak) has nothing to do with Jesus; it’s something Jesus rejected.   Traditional kings demand allegiance and servitude, but Jesus offers liberation—from suffering, sickness and death, exclusion, persecution, and sin. Jesus is a “king” who serves the “least of these” and who finally receives torture and execution to bring freedom to others. As we see in the Gospels, Christ’s kingship is inconsistent with traditional structures of power. And for…

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Chris Pratt, Hillsong, and the Violence of “Open but not affirming”

Chris Pratt, Hillsong, and the Violence of “Open but not affirming”

Last week, award-winning actress Ellen Page made the news by calling out her colleague Chris Pratt (not to be confused with Chris Pine, Chris Hemsworth, or Chris Evans). Chris Pratt attends Zoe Church in Los Angeles, one of a number of megachurches associated with Hillsong around the world. A number of celebrities (like Justin Bieber) also attend. According to Ellen Page, Hillsong is “infamously anti-LGBTQ.” She later elaborated: Rejecting this charge, Chris Pratt responded: It has recently been suggested that…

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