As James continues, "one of the signs of the eschatological inbreaking of the Spirit into the present is the subversion of the powerful by the weak--who, in the Spirit, function as the very power of God."
The early church was both a charismatic community and a community of the weak.
1 Corinthians 1.25-28It's still this way worldwide. Within Christianity charismatic spirituality is the spirituality of the poor and oppressed.
For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.
Brothers and sisters, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.
In my life, charismatic spirituality is the spirituality out at the prison where I teach on Monday nights and it's the spirituality at Freedom Fellowship where we walk with the poor and homeless.
This, perhaps more than anything, is why I've embraced the spirituality at Freedom. It is Christian spirituality at the margins.
James Smith's reference to "the preferential option for the marginalized" is a generalization of "the preferential option for the poor" associated with liberation theology. And what is important for me about "the preferential option for the poor" is that it functions as a hermeneutical principle, even, I'd argue, as a regulating test of orthodoxy. The gospel is most faithfully interpreted by, with and among the poor.
Stated more forcibly, the gospel is what the poor say it is.
And if that's the case, you don't know what the gospel is until the poor teach it to you. You can't learn about the gospel in the seminary or in the suburban mega-church. You can only hear the gospel faithfully proclaimed by the poor.
True, many will chaff at this hermeneutical privileging. It's illiberal and undemocratic. But that's why they call it a preference. There is no unbiased reading of the gospel. You have to pick a bias. And God's bias is the bias of the poor.
And while the gospel on the lips of the poor may sound like foolishness it is a foolishness that shames the professors and doctors of this age.
That's why I go to Freedom. That's why I worship with and among the poor.
I have to leave my college campus. I have to leave my degrees on the wall. I have to leave the bookshelves behind.
I have to go to a place where the poor will teach me the gospel.
So that I might become a student of the foolishness of God.