Thursday, February 11, 2010

Haiti, Hope and Missional Faithfulness

In the midst of prolific conversations about the historical and spiritual background of Haiti and the influence of that history on recent events (e.g. Pat Robertson comments) a better question was included in my friend Andrew Jones’ blog, Tall Skinny Kiwi.

A better answer was provided by Dr. Dieumeme Noelliste, president of the Caribbean Evangelical Theological Association. His comments can be accurately applied to many other global contexts where faith is separated from the marketplace, where there is an inappropriate divide between spiritual and secular, and where the church’s voice is not penetrating society at large.

QUESTION: How is it that a country which has so much Christianity also has so much poverty? How can the two coexist? Here’s an answer by a leading Haitian theologian, interviewed by Christianity Today.

"In my view: The gospel that has been preached in Haiti has left a vacuum—has left the political landscape untouched. The church doesn’t see its business as being a prophetic witness to those in power. The result has been a political sector left to its own devices; this is why the common people were the first responders to the crisis, not the government. This is the result of the gospel being truncated, emasculated, instead of confronting the powers that be to do what God intends for them to do: protect and enhance life."

I am amazed at the divergent interpretations of the missional movement. Some argue that ‘missional’ thinkers understand the Gospel to be about social justice, others about spiritual salvation. May God help us those of us who are communicating a missional message to be clear about the total implications of the whole Gospel as proclaimed and modeled by Jesus and His church. The Gospel is bigger than our segmentation. It is about both spiritual redemption and social justice…and it is about so much more. In fact, it is about everything that is on the heart of God.

I often say, missional is messy. The missional church will often look liberal in social engagement while it is conservative theologically. As we pursue a missional posture, some will say we have become liberal because we engage in addressing issues perceived as being in the social domain. We would adamantly respond, “No, we are not liberal. We are theological conservatives who have read the Bible and found throughout its pages a call to engage the world with loving compassion: meeting needs, touching lives, and sharing the ultimate Hope that outlasts every physical structure.”

More from Christianity Today

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