LesterB wrote:With all due respect to Dan (who I personally admire), I think that terms like "speaking prophetically" look good on online forums, but have little practical value in real life unless we are going dive into the world of activism. Our job description as Christians is to "go into all the world and preach the gospel", making disciples of whatever culture we happen to find ourselves involved in.
Wesley did England a LOT more good than Cromwell did.
The admiration goes both ways Lester.
It looks like the majority position on the poll is for option 1 (55%) - and that lines up with CM thinking from my experience. I know I'm arguing the minority perspective - this time.
Don't you think there is space for a Christian response to injustice that lies somewhere between "the quiet in the land" and "activism?"
I think we all agree that love in action is our first response. Adopt a child if you're against abortion. Take in refugees if you think strangers should be welcomed.
But what about solemn public statements against something like abortion? I struggle with the idea that it is best for faith communities to stay aloof and without public witness about the legalized killing of the unborn - if for no other reason than that it is important for people to know (including people in the government) that infanticide is counter to the heart of Jesus.
How about slavery? Were our forebears guilty of "activism" in pointing out the immorality of slavery in Penns woods? Was it inappropriate for the Pennsylvania Germans and the Quakers to influence the government in this regard?
In 1688, our Mennonite forbears in PA made a solemn statement about slavery arguing that "Blacks and Whites were essentially equal, that it was unjust and a contradiction of Christianity to enslave them. They pointed out that Christian slave-owners were no better than the "Turks," or Muslims, who practiced slavery in Asia and Africa. They appealed to the consciences of slave-owners, asking them to realize that the sin of slavery led to many other sins, such as adultery when the master lay with the female slave. The consequence of this sinful union was the birth of a child rejected and enslaved by the master, who denied all that was right and true by denying his own flesh and blood. The Mennonites believed that all social relations should be based on the Golden Rule, to treat others as you would have them treat you."
There is evidence that partially because of the witness (not activism) of the Quakers and Anabaptists, Pennsylvania became one of the first states to pass laws moving toward abolishing slavery (passing it's first law in 1780). Hopefully, our Anabaptist forebears also helped in other practical ways as well, but their willingness to share their convictions in this case may have made a real difference people's lives.
What about religious freedom? Or the right to educate our children as we see fit? It seems that our tradition has spoken up from time to time on these things. Were they wrong? Was this activism?
It seems, in these discussions, that people always argue assuming the extreme position on the other side of the argument (I'm guilty of it too). Arguing for a "prophetic voice" is understood as "activism." Arguing for political distance is the same as "indifference."
Perhaps it is easier to argue against "activism" on the one hand or "passivity" on the other than to argue against moderation in either case.