Tuesday, November 10, 2009
Joyce Meyer's Love Revolution and the Evangelical Conversation
I don't pretend to know a whole lot about evangelical pastor Joyce Meyer but she doesn't usually talk this way. I was excited to see someone like her, usually more entrenched in the "prosperity gospel", talking about poverty and our need to engage suffering. Although there are still so many lies in her message, such as "God wants you to wear nice clothes" and that nice stuff is somehow a sign of blessing among others, the focus on poverty and actually doing something about it is surprising coming from someone like her. This could be a sign that liberation is becoming a part of evangelical soteriology and that God's work within history might be making its way into the proclamation of evangelical churches. Meyer's new book The Love Revolution might actually be worth checking out.
It seems that evangelicals are starting to notice the urgency of poverty and the call of Christ in scriptures to "sell all you have and give it to the poor" along with the overwhelming volume of scriptural passages which talk about poverty and oppression. As our small group at church has been reading Crazy Love by Francis Chan I've noticed this as well. Chan whose background is quite conservative tries to talk about selling all you have and being other than "lukewarm." But Chan's message is still burdened by an ahistorical soteriology (a belief that salvation happens outside of history involving heaven. Such a soteriology renders historical issues such as poverty and environmentalism as secondary at best and as, at best, a means to an end, namely postmortem residence in "heaven"). He keeps bringing it back to "heaven" just as Meyer can't seem to keep from taking the conversation back to "God wants you to have nice things."
The question therefore is, can an historical soteriology and a proper understanding of the gospel's proclamation of our need to engage and to engage in suffering ever truly break through into what we know as "evangelical" theology? Or is the prosperity gospel and the heaven speak too essential to the conservative evangelical conversation for them to ever be exchanged for solidarity and an historical perspective on salvation?
To Meyer I say, "closer, but not quite."