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October 2011

Against Dualism: Economic Justice and Saving Souls


Last night I watched, via livestreaming video over the web, a debate hosted by the Carl F. H. Henry Center for Theological Understanding at Trinity International University between Jim Wallis and Al Mohler on the topic of whether "social justice" is "integral" to the "mission of the church." If you are at all familiar with these two personas, you will immediately recognized which one represented the affirmative and which one advocated the negative. Jim Wallis is the best-selling author of God's Politics and President/CEO of Sojourners, which this year celebrates 40 years of "articulat[ing] the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world." Al Mohler is the president of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary—the "flagship school of the Southern Baptist Convention"—and one of the largest seminaries in the world. Mohler is also an author of several books.

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On James Cone—"Strange Fruit: The Cross and the Lynching Tree"

James Cone is a prophetic voice to US American Christians, and particularly to black and white church communities. Cone understands his social location as both a constraint on his viewpoint, and as an invaluable opportunity for unique insight. His insight draws upon his identity as both a Christian theologian and a black US American man.

In his lecture: "Strange Fruit: The Cross and the Lynching Tree", Cone utilizes the terrifying and soul-scaring reality of lynching in the US as a powerful symbol of the extreme, unjust victimization that characterized the cross—as well as a powerful symbol of the limitless hope and liberation that the cross provides for those who see God's suffering solidarity with humanity in it. Cone reminds us that we cannot ignore the reality of lynching and yet glamorize the cross; they are both symbols of gruesome violence wrought at the hands of evil empires. He also reminds us through both these symbols, millions of people around the globe have glimpsed the eschatological hope that characterizes the Christian faith, and have been compelled to seek justice in this world for the marginalized, the oppressed, and the stigmatized.

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Theological Graffiti is a blog written by T. C. Moore @tc_moore ...a Jesus-disciple, husband, father, Associate Pastor @NewCityChurch of Los Angeles, sometimes web designer, writer, and theology geek. For more about me, visit my Personal Website or my Online Profile. Otherwise, enjoy the graffiti.

T. C.

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