As the headlines have busily decried the Chicago-based preacher, Jeremiah Wright (now retired), little thought has gone into the depth or pervasiveness of the root problem: pulpits without Christ. This is seen in both black and white churches across America, some using the anger and coarse language of Wright, and others being more subtle and slick with their Christless messages.
One excerpt from the middle of his essay reads…
But what is the root? Liberation theology has been with us since the 1960s, in too many incarnations to count, always offering a version of the same message. The liberation theologians see the Gospel of Christ crucified and resurrected, the message of deliverance from the reign of sin and death through repentance and faith, as too “pie in the sky.” In contrast, liberation theology offers economic and political salvation in the here-and-now, sometimes through pulpit rhetoric and sometimes at the point of a gun.
Liberation theology is seeker sensitive. The first waves of this movement, in Latin America, were designed to make Christianity appealing to the people by addressing their felt needs, the desire for armed revolution and Marxist economics. Liberation theology only works if one can connect with real or perceived oppression and then make the Scripture illustrative of how to navigate out of that situation. The Kingdom of God is a means to a social, economic, or political end.
This is not the Gospel as proclaimed by the prophets and apostles, a Gospel that centers on Jesus Christ and Him alone. We should be outraged by the clips of the Wright sermons. But we should be outraged first as Christians, not first as Americans. The most egregious aspect of the Wright sermons is not what he is saying about America, but what he is not saying about the Gospel.
But one does not have to be a political radical to bypass Jesus at church. And it is certainly not true that liberation theology is the exclusive domain of those who have suffered oppression. White, upwardly mobile, pro-American preachers do it all the time, preaching liberation theology with all the fervor of Jeremiah Wright, if not the anger.
Let’s think clearly and biblically about these recent events, and make certain we are being faithfully to the gospel of Jesus Christ in all we say and do.
Yours by divine mercy,
Pastor David Bissett