Cultural Encounters: A Journal For The Theology Of Culture Volume 11 Number 1 (Winter 2015) - Page 12

GOSPEL WITNESS - Smith who are highly irritating and annoying and to have these conversations and be in the mix with people, so that you can develop a different kind of movement that could make the world a more just place for people. I notice that in many circles—Evangelical circles, social justice circles—we really internalize this logic of disposability. If you’re an Evangelical, and your theology deviates by 1.2 inches on the theologically correct meter, “You’re going to hell, and we’re not going to talk to you,” right? It’s just bizarre. “Jesus came to save all, but we can’t talk to you, okay.” Then again, I go to these social justice meetings, and it’s like, you are counterrevolutionary because you went to McDonalds. If you’re going to only organize with the people who exactly agree with you, you’ll have three people to end global oppression, right? I think we can see in Jesus’s vision a recognition that to have a changed world, we actually have to be talking to people, staying in relationship and connection and, not just expelling those people who seem like a problem for our faith or a problem for our social justice movement. The issue then is, what can be done here. And this is where we’ll try to be a little more happy and “boppier.” I think a challenge that we often face is that—I think particularly in Evangelical circles—we often individualize this issue. But also I see this a lot in the academic industrial complex, where scholars want to think cool thoughts, but they don’t actually want to join any movements. So the idea becomes very individualized, a matter of, how can I think the correct thoughts? And of course that relates to the individualized way we think about coming to faith: “It’s my individual personal relationship with Jesus,” which is important; but when we look at the Bible, we see that this personal road to faith is also supported by structures that help us to be different in the process. The individual conversion doesn’t happen in a vacuum. I mean, why do we have a church? Because there’s a sense that you really can’t actually do it all on your own: you need a community of people to support you on your journey. As Fred Moten has put it in his class lecture—he’s talking about white supremacy and, you could say, oppression—It’s not just about the structures of domination, but that they structure belief itself, that this pyramid structure doesn’t just lead to the loss of life, the loss of land or resources, but it actually structures the way we even imagine or understand the world. Then you can think about being born again as being about the ability to think outside the world that we’ve been assigned to, the ability to think differently. But how can we think differently when our imaginations have been so colonized by the current system? How can we think outside that kind of imagination? Second Corinthians 5:17 says, “Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (NASB). What is the new world that 11