It is a wholly different thing to tell a person of means, of privilege, who has a measure of economic security and stability to "be patient, God is good" and telling someone who lives with food insecurity, unstable shelter, and a lack of economic opportunity to "be patient, God is good."
Do you see how this works?
“Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was ‘well timed’ in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word ‘Wait!’ It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This ‘Wait’ has almost always meant ‘Never.’ We must come to see, with one of our distinguished jurists, that ‘justice too long delayed is justice denied’” (MLK, Jr., Letter).
“But in general, when ancient Latin writers used the term patientia, they didn’t have heroes in mind; they were thinking of subordinates and victims. Patience seemed an appropriate attitude for people of no account who were on the receiving end of actions or experiences. For these people—powerless, poverty stricken, and often female--patientia was ignominious. Patience was the response of people who didn’t have the freedom to define their own goals or make choices. Notably patience was a response of slaves, for whom it was an inevitability, not a virtue” (Alan Kreider, The Patient Ferment of the Early Church: The Improbable Rise of Christianity in the Roman Empire).
Leveling and horizontalization: Top two things I have been taught in 2016 and the three most important books I read in 2016
Yes, I posted the set of most influential books I read in 2016. Yet, there are three books that have significantly moved me to rethink my gospelology (how come that’s not a word). Granted I’ve been heading this way, but in God’s gracious providence, he allowed or choose these three books to enter publication and find their way to me.
The books underscored the things God has been teaching me this year. Two words can sum up what has been taught: horizontalization and leveling.
The three books are:
These three books, more than anything, taught me about the two words--horizontalization and leveling--and their importance for a better, more proper understanding of the gospel and church.
I am sure I will post something soon on “horizontalization” and “leveling,” but for now, it is enough to say that God has taught me that the uniqueness of the gospel is leveling, that is, there is a leveling among believers unlike anything else upon earth. The table or the partaking of the Lord’s Supper is a leveling event (or should be). Our fellowship, i.e., our church life and worship, is a leveling of our social status’s. Whereas “leveling” is what should occur among believers and through its events of worship, the Table, baptism, and living in the world, “horizontalization” is the effects of the gospel that are displayed to the world; what outsiders, nonChristians, the unchurched, and the powers should see in and through our behavior, our habits, and our systems (i.e., the way we worship, the way we facilitate the Table, the way we do baptisms, and the way we live among people and together as a church). In other words, where such social leveling occurs, the church is displaying the horizontalization of the gospel.
This is what I have been taught this year. Now, let’s see if I have learned anything.
Check out my sermon on John 13, Jesus’s Community of Footwashers: His Public Presence in Caesar’s Arena of Death, that offers some of the insights on what I have been taught about "leveling" and "horizontalization." There is a link on that page for downloading the sermon and for listening to it as well (if you have the time).
*The second set quotes from my presentation on "Church (local), the poor and their neighborhood" focus on the word "patience." The use of the word sheds light on the problem of allowing the status quo regarding the issues of poverty. It is a nice, maybe even comforting thought, that we need to trust that God will sort out all the justice issues--yet, such an attitude keeps the poor right where they are. Today. Tomorrow. For all the posted "Church (local) quotes >>
The ferment of the early church: we are unprepared to live out patience (well, I am unprepared that's for sure)
Chip M. Anderson, advocate for biblical social action; pastor of an urban church plant in the Hill neighborhood of New Haven, CT; husband, father, author, former Greek & NT professor; and, 19 years involved with social action.