The press reports from Edinburgh 2010 may give the impression of excitement, cutting edge pronouncements, and a gathering of people afire with the Holy Spirit. For many, however, this has been a lukewarm experience, certainly a gathering where one could have sensed something false or unreal floating in the air, and an excursion for friends of the mission and ecumenical enterprise of rhetoric, money and power. Yes, there may have been a greater representation from the majority world, but it was “power” that called the shots and the center of the economic gravity remains fixed.
The nakedness and crassness of power and manipulation was evident from the engineered marginalisation and eventually “dismissing” of the director of the event, a convert from a former mission field. Those behind this move were so Christ-like that they proceeded to ban him from coming near to the place of the gathering (for which he gave three years of his commitment and that of his family to) and even the closing act of worship. The crucifixion of the director was well timed.
This act of crucifixion, with no explanation to those gathered, was carried out by Christians who claim to be witnessing to the name of Jesus. Indeed, the missionary mind-set is here to stay as it is still laregly undeconstructed. No wonder, the world is yet to believe and who can blame people for not believing what comes out of the mouth of forked tongues and hypocritical Christian religious people. This is not even to mention the violation of basic human rights. I dare say, the secular world would have behaved differently!
Moreover, this case of the silencing and removal of a Director who dared to stand up to, talk back and challenge the power base of a certain kind of white male missionary mentality also suggests that racism is alive. Sadly, the last bastion of white supremacy remains the church!
The bottom line is that much of the theology espoused by those with the money and power is still premised on arrogance and has little to do with grace. It seems as if the 1910 plea of Bishop Azariah for “friends” is yet to be realised: and to that we need to add justice and righteousness. Having now received a copy of the common call (from the Conference), I ask myself: would not the words of this document remain rhetoric, nice sounding and appropriate jargons and a contradiction, as a result of the way the director has and is being treated?
“That the world may believe”? Well, I think people can judge for themselves: but if Christian witness cannot be embodied and practiced in justice and righteousness – starting at home – then belief in the Jesus Way will remain a distant dream. Notwithstanding, a sign of resurrection and hope is that one Christian brother dared to stand up and expose the skewed intent of a machinery that claims to represent the way of Jesus.
© copyright June 7, 2010