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The Church and The Radicals: Match Made In Heaven?

Written by Michael Cline : February 27, 2008

Kester Brewin has recently asked the stimulating question, “What Are The Grand Challenges For Theology In The 21st Century?” Giants of the theological blogosphere have weighed in, including Brian McLaren, Peter Rollins, and Beck Garrison. Most of the responses center around the communication and development of theological concepts in a postmodern , post-Christian world. And while I think these are indeed “grand challenges” (specifically Rollins response about forming “concrete faith collectives” free from “foundationalism”), I would like to add my own challenge to the pile, specifically in light of the Jesus Manifesto and the development of the movement known as New Monasticism.

The Grand Challenge: Developing sustainable relationships between fringe movements such as New Monasticism, Christian Anarchy, various Emergent groups, etc… and the institutional Church in a way that is profitable for the Kingdom of God.

Movements on the fringe usually start in response to a negative found inside the mainstream. Just like the original monastics, many New Monastic communities have sprouted due to what is seen as a lack of faithfulness on the part of the institutional church. Once on the outside looking in, it is easy to stay there and form a language and ethos around the concerns for that particular community, forgetting the prophetic “calling out” that needs to take place if reform is ever going to be seen in the local Church. Many monastic movements throughout the ages have had that renewal and reformation in mind all along as they fled to the desert, built monasteries, and performed works of justice and mercy. I am in no way doubting that such renewal is needed in the institutional Church today. Fringe movements such as ChristArchy and New Monasticism perhaps have way more to say to the established Church than ever before.

But can the Church, the very thing many of these movements seek to wake up, offer anything to the fringe? Or is the Church so screwed up that it needs to be left behind in favor of house communities and new monasteries?

Focusing particularly on New Monasticism, the number of people who point out that “New Monasticism isn’t ‘monastic’ at all” grows every day. The critique is often centered around the desert monks who traveled alone and spent most of their lives in solitude, like St. Antony. It is then usually pointed out that the derivative of the word “monk” comes from the same word meaning “solitary.” Aha! There it is! New Monastics aren’t monastic at all—they don’t even live alone. Now we can dismiss this fad of youngsters stirring up trouble! St. Antony is only one example of a monastic, what is known as “anchorite” monasticism. Oddly enough, historians are quick to note that many of these hermits came to believe that it was their power to decide the ordination of bishops and official church teachings. After all, they represented “the pure Church,” a temptation for all fringe movements. In the fifth century, some monks even rioted and sought to use force in imposing their believed orthodoxy on others. Pride and power crept in to the movement that originally sought to reform the church in those very vices. Perhaps their solitary situation only heightened their sense of resentment towards the mainstream?

What many overlook is that there are other examples of the monastic movement throughout history, which are in my opinion more congenial to both the human psyche and the Church at large. A third century monk by the name of Pachomius started what became known as “cenobitic” monasticism—the communal life. The daily life of these monks included work, devotion, service, and prayer. There was a hierarchy of sorts with each community having an administrator, an aide, and a superior over the entire community. The goal of such structuring was not to promote top-down power, but to bring authority when needed and to keep order. But no one saw themselves as a priest. In fact, like the anchorite monks, these men high tailed it away from ecclesiastical office. But this created a problem, for only one ordained by the Church as a priest could serve communion. So Pachomius and his monks would travel to the nearby church on Saturdays and a priest would visit the monastery on Sundays. It was a mutually benefiting relationship. The Church stayed close enough to hear the prophetic words of the monastic community, and the monks stayed close enough to partake of the Church’s rich liturgy and worship.

Carrying this line of thought further, Christian historian Justo L. Gonzalez writes that the wide spread influence of early monasticism was not primarily through the monastery itself, but through a “number of bishops and scholars who saw the value of the monastic witness for the daily life of the church Thus, although in its earliest time Egyptian monasticism had existed apart and even in opposition to the hierarchy, eventually its greatest impact was made through some of the members of that hierarchy.” (The Story of Christianity, Vol. I, p. 147). Some of the greatest leaders of the institutional church, including Athanasius, Jerome, the Cappadocian Fathers, and Gregory the Great were all influenced by monasticism and carried the monastic ideals into their mainstream offices. What was once “fringe” became “mainstream,” and in no way did this dilute it or make monasticism a lesser force. It carried its message beyond its own walls into the sphere it needed to be heard. After all, this was the goal of early monasticism—renewal.

Despite popular fringe sentiment, it is not all the Church’s fault. The Church distrusts these “new radicals,” not because they see every Shane Claiborne as a heretic (although, there are the few out there like this), but because they feel left out and looked down upon. Many of these fringe communities are self-contained and feel they are at the point where they don’t “need” the institutional Church. In fact, many of these groups may even relish the fact that they are a self-supported community that flies in the face of mainstream Christianity. In the midst of their prophetic call, they’ve become what they despised. Many of these communities run away from the label “church” as if it was a plague (Missio Dei being an exception). They want to perform the same functions the Church was initially instituted for, but they don’t want the baggage of the term. In other places, the communities fill a completely different void in the community than the institutional church, and yet they trick themselves into thinking they “do it all”—when in reality—they have the office of “prophet” locked down, but are leaving the “priest” and “king” behind. Staying within a day’s journey (metaphorically speaking) of a local church would be one way these other offices can be fulfilled.

So what do you think? What should the partnership between the 21st century local church and fringe movements such as New Monasticism look like?

What can the church offer the fringe?

What can the fringe offer the church?

mike.jpgAuthor Bio:: Michael Cline considers himself a freelance pastor and and over-employed learner who currently attends Bethel Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota. When not snuggling with his wife, he’s blogging here.

* thumbnail from the front page borrowed from Jesus Radicals.

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Comments

20 Responses to “The Church and The Radicals: Match Made In Heaven?”

  1. Mark Van Steenwyk on February 27th, 2008 2:37 pm

    My layover in Boise, Idaho is about 5 hours, so I’ve got more time than usual to ponder your article and respond…

    Christian radicalism has a long tradition…emerging throughout the world throughout history to address the abuses (or apathy) of the larger Christian community.

    In some ways, monasticism could be seen as a subset of Christian radicalism (the attempt to get at the “root” of Christianity). Both radicalism and monasticism assume that the lax or immoral church needs to be confronted with a strongly Christ-like praxis.

    I want to offer a few thoughts before I address your specific questions:

    You say that claiming to be the “pure” church is a temptation for all fringe movements. The word “temptation” seems to imply that this is a bad impulse. I’m not sure that it always is. After all, Jesus claimed to represent “pure” worship of Yahweh. Though usually a misguided impulse, it may sometimes be ok for a fringe group to claim pure(er) convictions in the midst of corruption or apathy. Like Bonhoeffer did in Germany.

    Monasticism (and radicalism) offer a prophetic impulse in a church gone astray. I would argue that, at some point, when such communities get absorbed into the mainstream, they eventually get coopted by the very problems they challenged. This seems to be the standard lifecycle: larger Church goes off track, fringe group embodies the prophetic impulse, the church (sometimes) listens and experiences renewal, meanwhile the fringe gets absorbed.

    Here is where I start to sound like an ass…in your last paragraph you point out the way in which the church feels looked down upon by radicals. There is simply no way around this. And this is usually proof that the prophetic voice is being heard. The Church needs to feel like it sucks before it can embrace repentence. In the fringe/mainstream relationship, it is mostly the mainstream that needs the fringe. The fringe exists to be prophetic. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t also pastoral and apostolic, etc. It means that it is embodying something closer to the ideal.

  2. Mark Van Steenwyk on February 27th, 2008 2:45 pm

    So what do you think? What should the partnership between the 21st century local church and fringe movements such as New Monasticism look like?

    In some very real ways, the relationship/partnership isn’t a meeting of equals. There is a very real sense in which the fringe is the teacher and the mainstream is the student. This is, after all, why prophetic movements exist.

    But it isn’t always so simple. Missio Dei may be the embodiment of a prophetic impulse…and in some sense truer to the teachings of Jesus than many mainstream communities, but that isn’t to say that I, Mark Van Steenwyk, am truer to the teachings of Jesus, or that when I meet with a friend from a mainstream church that I am the teacher and they are the student. The needs of Missio Dei aren’t necessarily the same as my needs. And the relationship between Missio Dei and other churches isn’t always simple. But my hope and dream and prayer is that mainstream churches will listen to our prophetic voice and seek repentance. And I’d like to think that we speak that prophetic voice with tenderness and will explore repentance with them in an embracing way, rather than with a backhand.

    What can the church offer the fringe?

    They can listen. They can seek change. And to the extent that they affirm our mission, they can help facilitate it. They can invite people like Shane Claiborne to speak…but more than that, they can empower their own radically minded to explore new paths. They can even adopt existing radical communities to serve the cause.

    What can the fringe offer the church? A concrete example of things like mercy, justice, love, peace, hospitality, etc. We can offer our voice and our perspective. We can offer them hope for change.

  3. Michael Cline on February 27th, 2008 3:59 pm

    *typo alert*– Beck Garrison is actually Becky Garrison. Whoops.

    By the temptation of “purity,” I am referring to the attitude of certainty and dogmatism that sets up the fringe movement as positively right, with the rest of the Church left on the side as the obvious apostate. I think it is ok to consider your work as a more pure development or example of Christ, but not in a way that distances yourself from others simply for the feel of it. Bonhoeffer remained a Lutheran till the day he was executed. He called out from within Lutheranism to his German brothers and sisters who were failing to carry their cross, but in no way did he set himself up as the perfect example. If this happens, I fail to see how Missio Dei or any other group would be any different than the fundamentalist KJV only preacher with his church of 6 people, who shouts at the world “We may have gone from 100 to 6, but that’s because the other 94 couldn’t handle the truth.” It’s reckless. You don’t do this, most of the Jesus Manifesto crowd doesn’t do this, but its’ something we need to think about.

    I don’t have a 5 hour lay over to address the rest of your comment. Till then…

  4. Mark Van Steenwyk on February 27th, 2008 4:06 pm

    Good point. I completely agree. Being passionate about one’s convictions isn’t license to be an alienating jerkface.

    I’m going to go hand out KJV only tracks to people at the airport now. ;)

  5. Chris Armstrong on February 27th, 2008 8:42 pm

    Mark,

    You say “Monasticism (and radicalism) offer a prophetic impulse in a church gone astray. I would argue that, at some point, when such communities get absorbed into the mainstream, they eventually get coopted by the very problems they challenged. This seems to be the standard lifecycle: larger Church goes off track, fringe group embodies the prophetic impulse, the church (sometimes) listens and experiences renewal, meanwhile the fringe gets absorbed.”

    What I find interesting about the “old” monasticism is that it never really got absorbed–at least institutionally, and I think in most cases it never got absorbed in terms of function, charism, or ethos. The old monasticism operated alongside the churches, fulfilling its own function.

    For one thing, monasticism served as the prayer-engine of medieval society. Medievals recognized “three kinds of people”: those who fought (knights & nobles), those who worked (peasants & craftsmen), and those who prayed (to some extent priests, but mostly monastics). They valued monastics as those who served a crucial function: dedicating their time and energies to praying not only for themselves, but for the larger community.

    Also, monasticism in its non-decadent phases (and there were also decadent phases) “served” in the literal sense: they became social-service providers for the larger community. This service was theologically grounded: as James had insisted (and the Anabaptists and new monastics still insist): to be real, saving faith, faith must be “formed by love” (fide caritate formata), which meant it must issue in real, concrete service to others, in both spiritual and material ways. This service was also doxologically grounded: it overflowed from the praise of the communal liturgy, out into the lives of community members in general, and especially into the lives of visitors. Benedict said the visitor _was_ Christ, in a sense. When a visitor came into a Benedictine monastery, the monks bowed to them, then sought to serve them. They did this not just as “a good idea” or “a prophetic testimony to the *&^@#)(*% church that is always getting things wrong, but simply because they recognized Christ in all people and sought to serve him as personally and directly as possible by serving others. My view is, if Benedict had not laid the groundwork, Francis would never have gone around kissing lepers, giving his cloak to beggars, and (even) rebuilding churches stone by stone.

    Finally, of course, monastics lived prophetic lives of total concentration on Scripture, worship, prayer, and service–holding up to Christendom the ideals of the faith that they all presumptively shared, but that many didn’t live out very consistently.

    All this to say: one of the single most important ways the “fringe” can serve the church is to understand how it can become strong in its own expression of faithfulness, _without_ becoming absorbed into the “mainstream.” In other words (you know me–you had to know this was coming), to read our own history. This “long-lived fringe with its own integrity and theological grounding” worked with the old monasticism for hundreds of years. Why couldn’t it work with the new?

    Peace, brothers. Thanks for talking publicly about these things.

  6. Michael Cline on February 28th, 2008 8:44 am

    Wow. Thanks Chris! Sometimes I worry that we are so constantly focused on “don’t get absorbed, don’t get absorbed” that we miss valuable connections and relationships that could serve the Kingdom in the long run. Don’t get me wrong, I think fringe movements that get absorbed often do lose their prophetic impulse, that’s just the way the game tends to go. But at the same time, if we are so worried about remaining counter-cultural that we never partner up or reach out to the mainstream in a tangible way (just like we would serve the poor or the visitor), then our movement is going to just become a counter cultural ethos for the sake of itself. If Waite Park Wesleyan Church (where I attend) never come in contact with even the ideas of Missio Dei, what’s the point? I guess I’m being a bit selfish here, but this is what I see myself trying to do, and maybe I want to seek validation, I don’t know. But I want to be formed by Missio Dei and other “fringe” folk and then take that with me throughout the week and on Sundays when I meet up with others who are totally removed from such a prophetic voice. It’s this very movement that I think allowed the larger Church in the early centuries to be developed spiritually–monks at heart like Athanasius and Basil come into ecclesiastical office (unwillingly) and brought their monastic lives with them.

    And of course, the movement maintained itself on the outside. It didn’t cease to exist just because a few people drafted into the mainstream. And, according to Gonzalez, this drafting actually spread the monastic ideal further than it would have had it remained a few lonely communities separated from the mainstream.

  7. Michael Cline on February 28th, 2008 8:46 am

    I’m reading a book right now recalling Ernst Troelstch’s categories of “sect” and “Church” and how it usually plays out over time. Very interesting in light of this discussion.

  8. Mark Van Steenwyk on February 28th, 2008 9:47 am

    Monasticism endures because they have structures acknowledged and supported by the Catholic Church. We know what happened to the unsanctioned Catholic fringe movements.

    It is easy to talk about fringe groups getting absorbed from the abstract level…maybe we should look at it at the personal, concrete level. What does it look like for a fringe movement to get absorbed?

  9. Michael Cline on February 28th, 2008 11:55 am

    Well, granted I’m much better at the abstract stuff [that way I don't have to be affected by it. :) ]

    I think it starts on a personal level, like you allude to. I have to personally absorb the prophetic call of a group like Missio Dei for example and then embody that throughout my week. So I go to ChristArchy, hang out with radicals such as yourself, read the same stuff, worship together, basically do life together and let your more “radical” side rub off on me. I come to a point where I no longer see you as fringe, but as right. But rather than stay there, I continually leave the pack and go back to my Protestant, low church, evangelical community I am apart of as well. It is there where I have to embody the prophetic impulse all the more. Slowly, through worshiping and serving with that community, the ideas of the fringe (which I have embodied) disseminate into the mainstream. You get to stay on the fringe, and the mainstream doesn’t “look” as radical, but change has taken place.

    For me, as someone wanting to be a pastor in more of a “mainstream” setting, Eugene Peterson’s “Contemplative Pastor” has been huge. To him, the work of pastoral ministry is subversive, altering the situation by small degrees rather than direct confrontation. Anglo-Catholic Martin Thornton has a model of this he refers to as the “remnant.” I don’t like the name, but I really want to explore it further. The gist is that the remnant is to the local church what monasticism was to the larger church. He goes even further with it though. “The remnant stands in vicariously for the larger whole.” It would be like Jesus and the chosen 12, but still remaining inside the larger church’s walls.

    This whole thing is called “parochial theology”–it’s new to me, but I’ll admit I’m sort of excited. Just a bit.

  10. Nathan on March 2nd, 2008 3:30 pm

    “Slowly, through worshiping and serving with that community, the ideas of the fringe (which I have embodied) disseminate into the mainstream. You get to stay on the fringe, and the mainstream doesn’t ‘look’ as radical, but change has taken place.”

    Part of me agrees wholeheartedly with this but another part of me sees it as being co-opted. Let’s say the Fringe is at Point A and the Mainstream is at Point B.

    The Fringe really thinks that Point A is where the Mainstream should be - it offers a solid critique of the Mainstreamers and their ways of faith and worship. You gotta get to Point A, or at least in the neighborhood, to be doing things right and to be embodying the Gospel.

    The Mainstream thinks Point B is a pretty good place to be. It may not be perfect, as many Mainstreamers are quick to point out, but things are getting done - people are hearing the Gospel, some people are getting helped, people are getting to use their gifts and worship is taking place. Point B and its vicinity is a good place to be.

    What I take your position to be Michael, and correct me if I’m wrong, is that the mingling of the Fringe with the Mainstream may very well take the Mainstream away from Point B and get them to Point C, which is hopefully nearer to Point A. Others may be worried that its the Fringe that moves, but either way, the Fringe has sold out unless Point C is damn close to Point A! C may be better than B, but if it isn’t A, then why accept it? The underlying reality is that by accepting Point C, the Fringe is equating Points A and C.

    I understand that slow, incremental changes may be the only way some groups will ever move and that Point C may be a moving target (heading towards Point A), but the danger I see is not in the Fringe getting co-opted into the Mainstream but getting co-opted into accepting minimal change in an otherwise static system.

  11. Michael Cline on March 3rd, 2008 8:41 am

    For sake of time this morning, I just want to respond a bit in bullet point format. Not as esthetically pleasing, but it will get the job done (Sorry, my American pragmatism is showing). I really appreciate these push-backs though, and I’d like to think this has been a constructive conversation to more people than just myself.

    (1) I’m not in the “co-op always equals evil” club. Some co-opting results in absolute dissolution and negation of significance–this is to be avoided at all costs. But this isn’t always the case. It’s not nearly so black and white, where co-op = wrong and remaining absolutely distinct = right. That is one main reason I wrote this post. I’m wrestling with the spectrum too, but I think it exists.

    (2) To borrow a popular phrase from a Christian community developer friend, “we can’t let the perfect become the enemy of the good.” I believe your illustration of Points A, B, and C can slide into this attitude. To think that everyone is going to get to A, in my humble opinion, is holding an opinion that Jesus himself demonstrate. There will always be wheat and tares…even in the Church. But if “C” is a better place to be, we should at least strive for that versus staying stuck in “B.” The Spirit blows where it blows… To me, this is “why we should accept” B (your words).

    (3) If this isn’t the point, to move those in B towards A, then what is? I’m sure some would say “to be faithful.” Who could disagree with that? But what are the desired results of our faithfulness? That is what I’m asking.

    The model of “parochial theology” that I proposed is new to me and just one idea. I would love to hear others chime in with how they see this playing out. This is a great conversation, and a very needed one!

  12. Michael Cline on March 3rd, 2008 11:19 am

    In regards to point #2 made above, I meant to say that “to think that everyone is going to get to A, in my humble opinion, is holding an opinion that Jesus himself DID NOT demonstrate.”

    One of these days I’ll proof read before submitting

  13. Joel on March 3rd, 2008 6:56 pm

    I think that a good, solid dose of humility would do us all some good. To think that we are purer than the conventional church and that the only thing the church has to offer the fringe groups is to shut up and listen to our message is a bit too arrogant for me. We need to keep in mind that everyone, whether involved in a fringe group or a conventional church, is flawed. Even our very best is never going to be good enough when we compare it to God. I know that in the past that I had come to a point where I thought that conventional churches had nothing to offer me. I had been there and done that. But each time I felt that way, God humbled me by showing me something in the conventional church that I had never seen before. The fringe groups and the church have to find a way to complement each other.

    It is always easier to see the flaws in somebody else than the flaws in ourselves. We already know that because Jesus warned us about it, but I think it is an easy point to forget.

  14. Mark Van Steenwyk on March 3rd, 2008 11:07 pm

    I don’t exactly disagree with what you are saying, Joel, but I think you are confusing individuals with movements.

    Lots of movements had very humble people at their forefront, but the movements themselves required the mainline church to “shut up and listen.”

    When Wycliff was translating the Bible into the language of the people, was he being arrogant? Was it that he personally had nothing to learn from the mainstream church? Would it be fair to say that the relationship that the movement that Wycliff ignited had as much to learn from the mainstream as the mainstream had to learn from that movement?

    Or what about the Franciscan movement? I’m sure Francis and individual franciscans learned from all sorts, but the relationship between the Franciscan movement and the mainstream church wasn’t exactly one of equal mutual affirmation.

    Or how about Jesus and mainstream Judaism?

    Or Oscar Romero?

    Or Bonhoeffer?

    Or Jan Hus?

    I don’t believe I am being even a little arrogant when I say that the mainstream Western Church needs to shut up an listen to the margins. To the voices of Latin American Christians still trying to climb out from under Colonialism. To the African churches taht want to start training their own leaders, rather than relying upon education from the West. Or even, I dare say, the voice of small faithful groups in the US.

  15. Michael Cline on March 4th, 2008 6:57 am

    Mark, I personally don’t believe you are being arrogant–not the in the least. But this is also because I’ve spent time with you and gotten a peek inside your world. But if we honestly think for a second that the “shut up and listen” motif is actually going to incite the mainstream to do just that, we are blind to how entrenched the status quo really is. Perception is reality–and when we carry that attitude into the process of revolution, our message will generally fall on deaf ears (even if it is true).

    Which you know. But that’s why I am here. To give a moderate voice to the cries of revolution. Call me a “sell-out,” but that may be what I end up offering the fringe as much as the mainstream. It’s not as fun and it won’t grab headlines. My articles won’t be published all over the place because they won’t be controversial enough. But I think it’s constructive.

  16. Mark Van Steenwyk on March 4th, 2008 7:16 am

    Oh, I think there are much better ways of speaking the mainstream than “shut up and listen.” But in the end, what the mainstream needs is to listen–at least a little–and repent–at least a little. This isn’t to say that the fringe doesn’t need to repent or that I personally don’t need to repent. I’m simply commenting on the nature of the radical movement in relationship to the mainstream.

    The truth is, the radical movements in the Global North are getting a much better hearing than they ever have before…it is trendy to be radical. It would be better–far better–for the church in the Global North to listen to the radical movements in the Global South. All of us in the North should stop and listen for a long time before we ever open our own mouths to speak.

  17. Joel on March 4th, 2008 7:31 pm

    Mark,
    I agree with you that the mainline church needs to listen to what the groups on the margins are saying, but you suggest in your post that the only thing that the conventional church has to offer the margins is that they shut up.

    All I am trying to say is that both sides need to listen to each other. They need to open up a dialogue. To suggest that one group has all the answers and that the other one needs to be quiet and listen exclusively to them IS arrogant. Whether we are acting as a group or an individual, we need to be humble.

    I’m just trying to say that neither the mainline church nor the fringe movements has all the answers. The mainline church does a lot of good for a lot of people. It is not a perfect institution, but neither are the fringe groups. We both have something to offer the other. If we ever hope to influence the church, we will have to do it gently through love. Both the mainline chruch and the fringe groups are human institutions. As such, both will make mistakes, both will be influenced by Satan, both will fall short of the glory.

  18. Mark Van Steenwyk on March 4th, 2008 8:14 pm

    Joel. I think I’m being misunderstood a bit. Let me agree that groups need to listen to one another. But when the Spirit births a new movement, the goal is for the larger Body of Christ listen to what the new movement is saying. This doesn’t diminish what God is doing in the mainstream; I am simply pointing out the primary function of prophetic movements.

  19. Joel on March 5th, 2008 6:13 pm

    I apologize if I seemed like I was jumping down your throat a bit. Since we haven’t ever met personally, I can only go by what is written in your posts and some of what you had written came off as a tad bit arrogant. My sincerest apologies. I have a fear that this movement will just become another church wagging its finger at other churches claiming that we have it right and everyone else has gotten it wrong. There are already too many groups and churches that do this already. The world doesn’t need another one. What the world needs is a movement that can inspire a new Spirit filled life while uniting churches together. I sincerely hope that my fears never come true.

    “But when the Spirit births a new movement, the goal is for the larger Body of Christ listen to what the new movement is saying.”

    Remember Jesus’ commandment about this. We are not to take the seat of honor at the head of the table. We are to sit quietly in the most humble place. If we are truly representing the Spirit, the Spirit will move the others to invite us to share our message. What good is our message if we are spreading it on our own without the Spirits help. This is something that Christ himself did. He didn’t just holler at the Pharises all the time. His critique of them typically came when they asked Him a question or sought His opinion on something.

  20. Mark Van Steenwyk on March 5th, 2008 8:56 pm

    I think I agree with what you are saying, for the most part. But bear with me as I push back a bit. I am trying to speak from the margins…out of a sense of solidarity with the poor. When movements among the margins, among the poor, among the Global South, among the uneducated get called “arrogant” by the mainstream, it can easily be seen as oppressive.

    I can agree that a small group shouldn’t act as though it is the Remnant or stand in judgment over others. But at the same time, I think it is important that the mainstream doesn’t fall into the old patterns of marginalization as they call the margins to humility. This is, after all, what the mainstream advocated for the civil rights movement. And many other movements that were called “arrogant.” Gandhi, for example, was considered arrogant to the British. And Jesus (along with his own radical movement) was considered a uppity blasphemer.

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