There is an emerging new theological language among mainline churches and it uses words like empire and authentic discipleship. I’ve read good books on the topic by authors like John Dominic Crossan and Ched Myers but to date my favorite is “Colossians Remixed: Subverting the Empire” by Brian J. Walsh and Sylvia C. Keesmaat. The thesis here is fairly straight forward, Paul’s letters and the four Gospels were written at a time when the fledgling Christian community was under assault from the Roman Empire and the religious establishment symbolized by Temple worship. In an attempt to counter this ideology Jesus lived, spoke and acted as a man in conflict with empire.
When I compare this analysis with that I was given in confirmation class at age 13 or as a seeker of wisdom in my 20’s, this is highly engaging. I heard and read mainline theology that was pious, sentimental and largely personal. The mainline churches, “the establishment at prayer”, were not challenged by a Jesus who looked like them, prayed alone, and preached a message easily confused with any issue of the Reader’s Digest.
The earliest Christian creed was the three words “Jesus is Lord;” a direct affront to the empire’s mantra “Caesar is Lord.” Caesar was not only the political leader but a deity as well. Land was the basis of wealth, and a det system where poor peasants worked farms they could never own. Jesus spoke of riches and privilege as idols that stood in the way of fidelity to God, not as proof of being one of the elect. Fidelity to a God who stood with the poor and the citizens of other lands was odd at best and treason at worst.
It is hard for Christians today who...(the whole thing here)
via The Man Himself