Risking for Justice

In a speaking engagement I raised two fairly recent public statements as a case study in contrasts. One was the statement issued by Liverpool pastors speaking out against homophobia in their community in the wake of the beating death of a gay teen and near-fatal assault on another gay man. The other was the Manhattan Declaration – a call to defend the truths of sanctity of life, marriage and religious liberty. The contrast, as I saw it, was the difference in use of power.

It seemed to me that the Liverpool statement used the power of the signers to promote shalom for those in their community – including those who held divergent views. It was a statement that could create some problems for them, where the pastors could potentially lose power in their constituency.

The Manhattan Declaration, on the other hand, seemed to be using power to beget power. It seemed to me an example of a desperate church trying to reestablish the realm of Christendom in an increasingly post-Christendom context. (My personal view is that I don’t think the Kingdom really comes through the establishment of Christian Empire) Regardless of one’s convictions about the positions presented in the Declaration concerning abortion, homosexuality and religious freedom, I think every follower of Jesus needs to consider how God exerts his power.

Consider this Advent reading from Henri Nouwen: