During my drive through Oregon (wish I could say I was following the trail of Lewis and Clark), I finally had the chance to listen to the Reformed Forum interview with Anthony Bradley about black theology. During one segment Bradley questioned the wisdom of approaching the black church with the solas of the Reformation. A better point of contact would appear to be the neo-Calvinist model of Christ transforming culture since it resonates with black theology’s themes of social justice.
Why Christ is not a better contact I don’t know. Lots of black Protestants I do know love their Lord and are unashamed about talking openly about him. One of the many ironies I observed during my years on the Alumni/ae Council of Harvard Divinity School was the old-time Unitarians’ reactions to the presence of black holiness Protestants as students and graduates. On the one hand, the Unitarians delighted in the presence of minorities. On the other hand, all the talk about Jesus made them uncomfortable.
Whatever the best connection to black Protestants, I am still having trouble distinguishing the worldliness of establishing just social structures from the worldliness of owning a Lexus. This is especially puzzling since Bradley admits that when a Lexus has been denied for so long (because of economic conditions), buying a brand new luxury car may have a dose of justice added to a helping of self-gratification. Either way, whether the social order we prefer is one that costs me wealth so that others may have a larger piece of the pie, or one defined by free markets that allows me to buy as much as my credit card will allow, I’m not sure why either offers a glimpse of the kingdom. In fact, neo-Calvinist transformationalism seems to be as preoccupied with economic and political conditions as Health and Wealth preachers are concerned with experiencing God’s blessings in this life. One may be more modest than the other, though the modesty may be a function more of middle-class abstemiousness than of spiritual insight. But both look for signs of God’s victory in the here and now.
Calling all Vosians!