There are Christians in the U.S. who suffer chronic deprivation, persecution, & injustice, but because of the nation's overall affluence & long tradition of civic religion, the dominant "Christian" voices aren't theirs but those that have been shaped by comfort & privilege. /1
This is unfortunate because those dominant voices are the least authentic representation of, or witness to, the Christian faith. Plus, despite their dominance, the faith that those voices represent is brittle and fragile. /2
Granted, they've suffered many of the things people on a broken planet suffer, but for the most part, their faith has been formed more by comfort and ease than by deprivation, more by consumerism than by a long obedience in the same direction (see Nietzsche, E. Peterson). /3
Simply b/c they have earthly resources ($$, social capital/privilege, opportunity), such disciples have developed the habit of seeking & obtaining relief when tested. As a result, they've missed opportunities to develop the perseverance that suffering is supposed to produce. /4
And where perseverance is lacking, character will lack; where character is lacking, hope will lack (Romans 5:3,4). Where hope in things of ultimate importance is lacking, there'll be a tendency to protect & hoard all things: votes, status, safety, comfort, power, possessions. /5
Years ago, I recognized the effect of these things on my own spiritual formation. I saw through a fresh reading of the gospels that the only way to resist the corrosive effects of affluence, power, & privilege on my faith was to move toward solidarity w/people on the margins. /6
Solidarity isn't charity; it's reorientation. Only when we undergo such reorientation do we see why faith that exists apart from solidarity with the poor, the sick, the orphaned & the widowed, never develops into religion that God considers pure and undefiled (James 1:27). /7
In this sense, the religion of many of the most visible and powerful churches, denominations, institutions, and ministries is utterly defiled, and we don't need to be shy about saying so. /8
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