Wednesday, 17 January 2018

The social gospel?

"But when I leave, you’ll remember I said, with the last words on my lips, that I am a revolutionary. And you’re going to have to keep on saying that. You’re going to have to say that I am a proletariat, I am the people. I am not the pigs. You’ve got to make a distinction" - Fred Hampton

I am a proletariat, and because I'm conscious of that fact I am necessarily a socialist and I am a revolutionary and so when I pick up my Bible and read it I read it as a conscious member of the proletariat and I'm looking for answers to proletariat questions.

If I continued to pick it up only in the way I'd been trained, in the way that has been handed down to us by the ruling classes, I'd be picking it up looking for the answers to questions I wasn't really asking. Abstract questions that I have very little time for. If I had continued to approach the Bible that way I would have probably given up on it a long time ago.

The ruling class have everything they need but they feel that their souls are troubled and so when they come to the Bible looking for salvation it's to save their souls alone. 

They may find it but they have to tread carefully, lest they fall into the hands of the real Jesus.

"The work of salvation is a reality which occurs in history" - Gustavo Gutierrez

The real Jesus, real salvation. What are these things? We exist in a material reality. We are not divided up into two, the body and the soul/spirit we are one. The real Jesus was one and was one with us and the real salvation is a plan to save the world.

"...creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies." - Romans 8:21 - 23

The ruling class' have done their best to spiritualise away the true message of the Bible, that is to divide it, to divide it away from the everyday experiences of the majority of people on this planet and to confine it to a false prison, the soul. But read the above, isn't it creation that is to be liberated, isn't it our bodies that wait eagerly to be redeemed?

"The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour." - Luke 4: 18-19

In the ruling class' message of salvation it is essential that the prisoners and the blind and the oppressed are only imprisoned, blind and oppressed in a spiritual sense. In the real gospel of salvation we take Jesus at his word.

"What if Jesus meant what he said?" - Shane Claibourne

If Jesus meant what he said then the good news of the gospel is the announcement of the coming Kingdom of God. A revolutionary society in which those who are now first will be last, a society that has literally abolished death, sadness and pain (Revelation 21:4). This is not 'heaven' for after we die, it's the world transformed and turned upside down (Revelation 11:15). The mission of the church is to embody it now and to and fight for it. The gifts of the Holy Spirit are radical incarnations of the future - the future Kingdom of God already among us. The second coming of Jesus is that rupture with the old order where the revolutionary decisive break has been made. Sin is conformity to the old order, obedience to God is preparation for the new world and the new society.

Salvation really means salvation from all the things that you really thought you needed salvation from.

No blog post can stand in for you doing your own investigation. Read one of the gospels in the Bible (I suggest trying Luke first), suspend what you thought you knew about it or what Christians have said about it. Don't try to step outside of yourself, reflect deeply on your life, your needs, your anxieties and your hopes - not just individually consider your class, consider the ways in which people like you are oppressed and then go to it and see if it's got any of the answers.