Progressive Evangelism

Progressive Christians aren't known for being particularly evangelistic. But over the weekend I had a conversation which made me wonder about the shape of a progressive Christian evangelism.

Jana was trying on some clothing in a small consignment store. I was the only one in the store with the owner while Jana was in the back. And, as always, I had a book with me.

(I always bring a book when shopping with Jana. It's amazing how cheerful and patient you can be if you have a good book. Hours can pass in a clothing store and I'll hardly notice. It's a win/win. I love shopping/reading.)

Anyway, the owner saw me reading.

"What book are you reading?"

"The Executed God."

"Huh? The Executed God? What's that about?"

"It's a Christian book about mass incareration and captital punishment. The argument is that since Jesus was arrested and executed by the state we should look for Jesus among those being jailed and executed by the state."

"That's a huge problem in America, all the people we put in jail."

"I know. The point of the book is that if we want to find Jesus in the world we should look for him among those being oppressed by the state."

And what followed was a very interesting conversation. The owner had never thought about Jesus in quite this way before.

As Jana and I were leaving the store she called to me:

"I'm going to by that book!"

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4 thoughts on “Progressive Evangelism ”

  1. If you believed many within evangelical circles, no one of "the world" wants to hear about Jesus. Maybe the truth is few want to hear about THEIR Jesus. But when the Jesus of the gospels shows up, people perk up. When they see Jesus not wearing a business suite, a uniform or carrying a flag, walking with those being oppressed by those who do, while still giving time and healing to those with a business suit, a uniform and a flag, then they see a revolutionary Jesus; one that makes them whisper to themselves, "Wow".

  2. My theory, well its not really mine, is to love people till they ask you why. Its usually the oppressed that will actually ask why you are showing them love.

  3. Now that's what I call "evangelism"! But 2 further points:

    (1) I suspect that the oppressor -- the "enemy" -- may also ask you why you love him, may even be more intrigued by your crazy behaviour. After all, it's easier to love those who are getting screwed than those who are screwing them.

    (2) In any case, after you've been asked why you love, and after you've begun to sketch an answer, then a dialogue may begin, and that's when things get really interesting. Because when Christ is on the table -- and when, in conversation, you listen twice as much as you speak (remember: God gave us two ears but only one mouth!) -- then your own faith is put at risk -- and then the Holy Spirit may do a new thing for both of you (cf. the "Conversion of Peter", often mistakenly called the Conversion of Cornelius, in Acts 10).

  4. You weren't really supposed to mention loving the oppressors. Which allows me to step up on my soap-box. Jesus loved the pharisees and we/I have become a grace pharisee. Not showing grace to those who hate grace!

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