A purple theology and a purple politics spring from the Kingdom vision of Jesus and a theology of the earliest Christian faith. Purple theology transcends both the liberal and conservative impasse; purple politics transcends both the “red” and “blue” partisan approach. A purple theology and politics want to get beyond this to forge its own creative solutions. The challenge when it comes to racism is enormous.
One of the books many of us have read is M.O. Emerson and Christian Smith’s Divided by Faith — the book was one of the best I’ve read on the subject. Of course, for those who read it there was the expectation of “now that we’ve got the problem described in all its putrid and sordid realities, where’s the solution?” This is precisely what Curtiss Paul DeYoung, M.O. Emerson, G. Yancey, adn Karen Chai Kim attempt to do in United by Faith. Their solution is so incredibly Kingdom shaped it boggles why more haven’t been discussing it: the subtitle is The Multiracial Congregation as an Answer to the Problem of Race. Like Jim Wallis who argued in his best book ever, Faith Works, the solution to a massive social issue can best be implemented where the gospel is genuinely performed. In other words, the Church can be the beachhead.
I do not have the expertise or the experience that any of these fine folk have; but I do have faith that the Church can make a difference when it comes to matters of racism and racialization in the USA.
From 1960 to 2000, the per cent of Americans who are non-European has moved from 15% to 31%. Clearly, the future emerging church (in every sense of the terms) will have to become increasingly multiracial. 90% of churches are racially homogenous. Jesus was racially inclusive, and the early Christian Church faced its first big issue on whether or not to include Gentiles (that would be most of us, folks!). The good news was that “practicing Pentecost” meant inclusion of both Jews and Gentiles.
There are some really wonderful multiracial congregations in the USA, but there should be a lot more. Maybe we should look at our church, draw a circle around it for 1-2 miles, and figure out the demographics, and then ask if we are close to that demographic in our church — even close would be good.
We should also look to see if perhaps the gospel we are preaching is not inherently European rather than genuinely inclusive. Now, the place to begin on this is (1) the Kingdom and (2) Acts 15 and (3) Romans 1–3 — Jesus, the apostolic leaders, and Paul articulated a gospel that was genuinely multiracial. I have often said to leaders that the reason a local church is so ethnically homogenous is because the gospel it preaches and performs is ethnically homogenous. This is heavy language, but I believe it in my soul.
We won’t get the gospel right until we get sin right. Sin is more than judicial offense. Sin is hyper-relational — disruption of relationship with God, with others, and with the world. It is chaos — what Genesis 1:2 calls the tohu va-bohu. When we get sin big enough (a purple theology of sin), we’ll get the gospel big enough to include all the children of the world.
God, my friend, is not color blind — he made the colors. And he wants them all at the table of his Son. The Church is not color blind — it did not make the colors but for some reason it doesn’t practice a table where all are at the table. God and the Church’s practice are at odds.
We should look to see if our local church culture is a European culture. If it is, we need to broaden it.
United by Faith calls us to a “theology of oneness.” It begins with me, it begins with you, it begins now, it begins when we leave the door of our homes, it will be with us as long as we live.
May God be merciful to his Church.