Culture

A Nation Waits: The Great Rebuke for the Church to Ponder

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Editor’s Note: as we all await an answer to the question of who will become our next president, we have asked a number of key voices to offer brief day-after reflections and reactions, which we will release throughout the day. The entry that follows comes from David Fitch, chair of evangelical theology at Northern Seminary and board member of Missio Alliance.


As we all sit here Wednesday, with still is no declared ‘winner’ of this election, some thoughts keep crossing my mind:

1. Let us pray for the preservation of our society.

I’ve been through a lot of elections, and this election seems to be about more than policy differences, economics, or even health insurance. This is about the preservation of society, specifically a democratic society. I have no hopes and dreams that this election can help this nation make leaps and bounds toward justice. But preserving society from authoritarianism, excessive crony capitalism, a demise of civility, excess derogatory racism, and incendiary divisiveness was what I was hoping for in this election. This nation needs a turn. Let’s pray for the preservation of our society.

2. The endemic racism of this country will not be solved via a democratic election.

Despite all the polls, we are seeing massive support still for a president who is decidedly racist and promotes racist policies. Racism is a cultural sin that runs deep. In the case of white persons, racism plays on deep fears that white persons have that they are going to lose their privilege. And before we conceptualize ‘privilege’ too much, for many white people this privilege translates to their money that they worked hard for, their security, their freedom to choose schools and a way of life they are comfortable with, and so on. Donald Trump may not be their favorite character, but he is a tonic that feeds into and eases their fears. This endemic racism has been revealed starkly, but it will not be solved in a democratic election.

Racism is a cultural sin that runs deep. In the case of white persons, racism plays on deep fears that white persons have that they are going to lose their privilege. Click To Tweet

For the past several years, I’ve been interested in reading biographies of German theologians in the 1930’s Germany that led to Hitler. It is stunning how deep the racism of ‘Volk’ supremacy ran in that culture. It played on the resentment of Germans to the perceived injury of their German culture by outside forces (of Versailles treaty, etc.). It was so strong they could overlook a seriously flawed leader who nonetheless fed into their fears. This ugly kind of resentment racism is being replayed in America. It brought a nation to ruins. Will it destroy this nation?

In the end, like Bonhoeffer, we must realize this racism will not be solved in a state election. In the way that Bonhoeffer tried to do at Finklewalde, it will take a little community in every town and city, living in a different way such that God can work to overcome racism. It will take thousands of these little churches of presence and peacemaking, where Jesus is Lord over racism, to make space for lament, repentance, reconciliation, and life in the Spirit. This is the call today to churches everywhere on this day after the election. Be this kind of community.

3. Will there be a great rebuke towards the failure of the church in America?

Of course, all that said, it’s been revealed how big the failure of the church in the United States has been. Regardless of the outcome of this election, we’re already seeing masses of Christians under the age of 40 leave the church, shaking their heads at the evangelical white church alignment with Donald Trump, and other churches, despite their rhetoric, unable to engage the deep-seated racism in this country. How will we Christians and leaders respond to this great rebuke?

Regardless of the outcome of this election, we’re already seeing masses of Christians under the age of 40 leave the church...How will we Christians and leaders respond to this great rebuke? Click To Tweet

Going back to what I said in the second point, I believe the church is the way forward, but its failures have been revealed. Will we seek a new faithfulness to the Lord of the universe, the one who has died to take in the sin and violence of the world, to offer a new relationship with God, a new politics to the world? Will a new church respond to this great rebuke and be faithful to this Lord, living under the power released in the resurrected Christ, and awaken? Will we root in our cities and towns and give witness to the new humanity made possible in Christ? Out of the rubble of a divided, violent, sin-struck country, can a new church emerge for God to use to change the world?

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