Monday, April 2, 2012

An Activist Gospel-M. Baker

This speech gives a presentation of the gospel and the actions of God. In this speech at the grand opening of the African American Civil War Museum, the preacher starts by comparing the slavery in nineteenth century America to that of the Israelites in the Old Testament. He uses this comparison to talk about how God has a great disdain for slavery and because of this disdain he “interfered in the affairs” of men in Egypt and did the same here in America. The freedom of slaves is pointed to as being a time when God intervened in our country’s history because of his hatred against this great sin against humanity. The preacher ends with a list of miracles that Christ did to argue that America could experience a miraculous change as well.
To analyze this counterfeit fully, one must first see the almost invisible baseline problem, which is that this is an “Activist Gospel” as defined by Wax. When using critical thinking one can identify that this preacher blatantly uses two of the common methods with which this type of gospel is promoted in our society today. He acts as a “culture warrior” by fighting for Christian values and the revealing the actions of God in our modern society, while forgetting to point to the cross as the path to salvation rather than the proactive actions of mankind.  The “errand runner” method can also be identified because the preacher is pushing for a cause that will make everything better in our society, revealing the subliminal misconception that “politics and policy are where the real change occurs” as Wax states in his book. He seems to be using Christ and the gospel as a “celebrity” endorsement for the cause against slavery and racism.
So why is the Activist Gospel so appealing to both the preacher and his audience? Wax mentions several reasons that directly apply to this speech. First off, it fights for change, which is all that anybody wants in our society today. People are desperate for a fresh start that will remove the problems of our fallen world. Also, especially for the preacher, this counterfeit presentation of who God is brings about immediate and visible results while gaining the acceptance of the audience. People approve of him for his fight for this great cause and take action while at the same time he feels accomplished as a presenter of the gospel.
Nonetheless, attractiveness does not negate this presentations counterfeit “Activist Gospel”. This preacher is using references to God to help push a cause against sin rather than pointing out the wickedness of man’s heart and calling for repentance rather than social change. The fight against slavery and racism is one that desperately needs to be carried out, but the truth every man’s complete and utter wickedness needs to be pointed to as the flaw and the cross pointed to as the only solution rather than a group being displayed as the problem. As Christians, the truth of the gospel needs to be spread for the sole purpose of sharing the good news and saving the lost, because when this happens, permanent change will happen in the hearts and lives of men.

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