Here is an excerpt:
In the intro of your new book, Jesus Wants To Save Christians, you describe the specific theology you are trying to articulate as a New Exodus perspective. How is this approach to reading the Bible different from a systematic or biblical theology?
Systematic theology dissects the story, cutting the body of the text into separate pieces for the purposes of study. Biblical theology puts the pieces back together into a living narrative. Both do so from a particular perspective influenced by the reader’s history, culture, politics and economic status. The New Exodus is one perspective, taken from the side of the weak and marginal and the God who cares about them. We’re interested in the big story because that’s what the Bible is—a story that unfolds across history. Who are the major characters, what’s the plot, how do we take part in it? Perhaps this is why Jesus can be hard to understand. It’s hard to understand the later parts if you haven’t been brought up to speed on where the story has been so far.
The literal and metaphorical idea of Exodus is a key part of the story God is telling—why don’t we hear more about the connection of Exodus in our churches today?
The Exodus is about the oppressed-slaves-being rescued. Less than two hundred years ago in our country, people in churches owned slaves. Exodus would have been an awkward story to tell in those settings, because after all, the Pharoah character is the bad guy. Needy people talk about Exodus. Jesus said it. It’s hard to enter the kingdom of heaven when you’re content with the kingdom you already have. If we aren’t talking about Exodus it’s because we aren’t looking for one. That’s when we know we need the needs of others. Their Exodus can become our own.
In your book you say, “To preserve prosperity at the expense of the powerless is to miss the heart of God.” In what ways do you believe the church in America has “preserved prosperity” at others’ expense?
I think it’s wise to avoid generalities such as “the church” because whenever I hear people make sweeping generalizations about “the church” I always think “yes, but I know lots of churches where they are compassionate, where they are intellectually honest, etc…”Perhaps one obvious question a church can ask herself is “What percentage of our budget is spent on us and what is spent on others?
The Church has missed the heart of God by speaking out against abortion while keeping silent about war. Both are forms of violence used to preserve prosperity. Abortion is prenatal war against the powerless child. War is postnatal abortion that destroys innocent life. The kingdom is life for the fetus and life for the civilian. The church embodies this life in a world of expedient and preemptive killing.