Our worship this Sunday is focusing on how Christians are tasked to confront evil in the world around us. Recently a group of distinguished pastors and theologians, including UCC leaders Rev. Otis Moss III and Rev. Dr. Walter Brueggemann, led an effort to articulate what they believe is s faithful Christian confession for the challenges we are facing in our world, nation, and culture right now. As they put it, “The question we face is this: Who is Jesus Christ for us today? What does our loyalty to Christ, as disciples, require at this moment in our history? We believe it is time to renew our theology of public discipleship and witness.”
Below is a summary of their longer statement, “Reclaiming Jesus: A Confession of Faith in a Time of Crisis.” I will be interested to hear what of this you find helpful and empowering:
- WE BELIEVEeach human being is made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). Racial bigotry is a brutal denial of the image of God in some of the children of God.
THEREFORE, WE REJECT the resurgence of white nationalism and racism in our nation on many fronts, including the highest levels of political leadership. We reject white supremacy and commit ourselves to help dismantle the systems and structures that perpetuate white preference and advantage. Any doctrines or political strategies that use racist resentments, fears, or language must be named as public sin.
- WE BELIEVEwe are one body. In Christ, there is to be no oppression based on race, gender, identity, or class.
THEREFORE, WE REJECT misogyny, the mistreatment, violent abuse, sexual harassment, and assault of women that has been further revealed in our culture and politics, including our churches, and the oppression of any other child of God.
III. WE BELIEVE how we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the stranger, the sick, and the prisoner is how we treat Christ himself.
THEREFORE, WE REJECT the language and policies of political leaders who would debase and abandon the most vulnerable children of God. We strongly deplore the growing attacks on immigrants and refugees; we won’t accept the neglect of the well-being of low-income families and children.
- WE BELIEVEthat truth is morally central to our personal and public lives. Jesus promises, “You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32).
THEREFORE, WE REJECT the practice and pattern of lying that is invading our political and civil life. The normalization of lying presents a profound moral danger to the fabric of society.
- WE BELIEVEthat Christ’s way of leadership is servanthood, not domination. We support democracy, not because we believe in human perfection, but because we do not.
THEREFORE, WE REJECT any moves toward autocratic political leadership and authoritarian rule. We believe authoritarian political leadership is a theological danger that threatens democracy and the common good—and we will resist it.
- WE BELIEVEJesus when he tells us to go into all nations making disciples (Matthew 28:18). Our churches and our nations are part of an international community whose interests always surpass national boundaries. We, in turn, should love and serve the world and all its inhabitants, rather than seek first narrow, nationalistic prerogatives.
THEREFORE, WE REJECT “America first” as a theological heresy for followers of Christ. While we share a patriotic love for our country, we reject xenophobic or ethnic nationalism that places one nation over others as a political goal.
What do you think of their focus on racial bigotry, misogyny, debasement of the poor and vulnerable, the rising acceptance of lying in political and civil life, the dangers of authoritarianism, and “America first” nationalism as the sins we most need to confront at this moment in history? Are there other dangers, evils, or concerns you feel are similarly pressing? Do you believe that the teaching and example of Jesus empowers us to confront these evils? What should the church’s role be in that confrontation?
I look forward to the conversations this remarkable confession might spark in us. For the full text of the Confession and for resources to reflect on it, please visit ReclaimingJesus.org.
Your friend and fellow minister,
Rev. Steve Savides