The Message of Jesus vs. Political-Bourgeois American Christianity
If the Gospel of Jesus Christ is Good News for all, this means it is Good News for all refugees and for all people in the world, not just for Christian refugees and the Christian poor. The message of the Gospel transcends religion, ethnicity, class, race, and gender. American bourgeois Christianity is a dead and soul-less religion; it is the antithesis of true and biblical Christianity. Lifeless Christianity (American political-bourgeois Christianity) is not sacrificial, loving, empathetic, compassionate, relational, or Jesus-centered.
A Christianity that turns itself from the poor, the immigrant, the homeless, the orphan, the widows, and the refugee is a dead faith.
A Christianity that chooses to close its eyes to the most crucial problems of the modern world — global poverty, immigration crisis, refugees crisis, women’s rights, labor exploitation, political corruption, local and global oppression, local and global racism, hunger, etc. — is a religion that is not worth practicing and saving. If it ignores the message and Gospel of Jesus Christ, it is an anti-Christ faith. A Christianity that evangelizes strategically in order to (neo) colonize, rule, and exploit the weak betrays the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Contemporary (political-bourgeois) American Christianity is unable to transform the human condition and solve its most crucial problems in modern times. It is a religious enterprise that is rooted in collective hypocrisy, ethnocentrism, ego-centrism, and deceitful philanthropy.
We need to de-center political Christianity, not Jesus Christ. The Biblical Jesus is a different figure than the cultural, political, and Western Jesus. He is certainly not the Jesus of the colonizer, slave master, oppressor, and capitalist. He is certainly not the white savior. The real Jesus existed in real history and real time. He is not a fabrication or a myth. In many aspects, Western Christianity has perverted real and biblical Christianity. It has abandoned the message and ethics of Jesus for political gain and cultural influence. Interestingly, American Christianity entrenched in American politics and culture is a joke and mockery of biblical Christianity.
The author of Proverbs gives a fair warning, “Whoever oppresses a poor man insults his Maker, but he who is generous to the needy honors him” (Proverbs 14:1). To humiliate the poor and exploit the labor and resources of those with dire material needs is to scorn God himself. To act in such an ungodly manner toward the poor and oppressed is to ignore the biblical mandate to treat all people with care, dignity, and respect.
When one honors the poor, God is honored; when one mistreats the needy, the immigrant, the orphan, and the widow, God is mistreated. This verse in Proverb prioritizes the material needs of the poor, while not undermining their spiritual needs. To give preference to the poor and the needy is to have a God-entranced worldview, and to celebrate the supremacy of God in all things.
The same author of Proverbs insists, “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor” (Proverbs 22:9). From a biblical perspective, one is counted “blessed” and “happy” because he prioritizes the material needs of the poor and does not withhold his goods from him.
Comparatively, the author of Leviticus draws a parallel between the poor and the stranger/immigrant, “When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong” (Lev. 19:33). The idea here is to treat both the poor and the immigrant with dignity, because it is simply the will of God.
The love for the immigrant and the needy is predicated upon one’s love, and affection for God: “You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself… I am the LORD your God” (Lev. 19:34). One’s spiritual devotion to God is displayed in one’s treatment of the poor, the needy, and the stranger/immigrant among us.
True spirituality is practical spirituality, and Christ-centered discipleship. The concept of caring hospitality and generous relationality, and exceptional love toward the immigrant, the needy, and the poor is rooted in God’s idea of inclusive justice and God’s generous lovingkindness toward all people.
It is more pronounced in Deuteronomy. “For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner, therefore… (Deut. 10:18-19).
To do otherwise is to “follow Jesus at a distance” with a politically and culturally driven worldview. Christ must be the “center” of our politics, and biblical ethics must be the “catalyst” of our life choices, as well as our political decisions and cultural preferences. The Biblical Jesus is above culture, ideology, and politics. He is not subservient to cultural traditions, political ideologies, or national and ethnic identity.
As followers of Christ and Children of light, let us not politicize the message and gospel of Jesus Christ. We need to divorce biblical Christianity from American Political Christianity. We need to treat our neighbor and the stranger among us with love, compassion, and dignity. We need to tell our friends and neighbor about Jesus. Jesus only!
9 thoughts on “The Message of Jesus vs. Political-Bourgeois American Christianity”
Love this article. Please edit your Proverbs quote from 14:1 to the correct chapter and verse number 14:31
It’s hard to share this with patriotic believers when there is such an obvious typo.
Thank you and God bless.
I think you need to get around some of your own biases with all due respect and realize what he is trying to say here. I get it. The point he is trying to make, which I agree, is that American Christianity too often is out of touch with the homeless, the poor, the immigrant, and those outside of our own cultural norms or circles. It is as if Christ “fits” only within our own particular culture, or only to those we know. The gospel is to be preached to all, regardless of color, background, or if a person is a stranger in our midst. So, please, take this in the proper context. Heaven is made up of all kinds of folks. The church should reflect that and I believe the author has stated his points well using scripture for making his case
So much I agree with. A challenge for each of us to ask, “Do our political positions flow from a biblical worldview or a cultural one?” I love the following paragraph:
“To do otherwise is to “follow Jesus at a distance” with a politically and culturally driven worldview. Christ must be the “center” of our politics, and biblical ethics must be the “catalyst” of our life choices, as well as our political decisions and cultural preferences. The Biblical Jesus is above culture, ideology, and politics. He is not subservient to cultural traditions, political ideologies, or national and ethnic identity.”
“As followers of Christ and Children of light, let us not politicize the message and gospel of Jesus Christ…We need to treat our neighbor and the stranger among us with love, compassion, and dignity. We need to tell our friends and neighbor about Jesus. Jesus only!”
I agree with that assessment.
In my mind, it stands to reason that if somebody hates “Western Christianity” and/or “American bourgeois Christianity,” said person would flee from it, not make a living from it.
“We need to divorce biblical Christianity from American Political Christianity.”
I agree with that assessment.
Continuing to build on my previous posts, the author arguably could mean that “Western Christianity” is the calloused, political-religious ideology of segregationists and the worst robber barons. In that sense, he would be right–that’s not biblical Christianity. On the other hand, is it fair to use “Western Christianity” as the label for that? Does the blood of countless martyrs–Catholic, Protestant, and Orthodox–count for nothing? Do the tears of slaves and abolitionists, the tireless efforts of missionaries, the faithful prayers of old and young, the struggles of the Civil Rights movement, the intellectual renewal of the Protestant Reformation, the evangelical efforts to feed the poor and needy–do they all count for nothing? The author really, really should define his terms. Otherwise, it sounds as though he himself is politicizing Christianity.
To illustrate my previous point: The author condemns “Western Christianity,” which he states has “perverted and distorted biblical Christianity.” Yet what is “Western Christianity”? Traditionally black churches in the United States arose in the West, and they draw from Protestantism, which also arose in the West. Have they all “perverted and distorted biblical Christianity”? Or, alternatively, is the author implying that traditionally black churches–which have been such powerful voices against oppression–have contributed nothing to Christian culture in the West? Such a charge would be grievously flawed, especially on this website.
The author of this article has a commendable allegiance to Christ-centered discipleship. And that’s why it’s tragic that so much of the rest of the message here is problematic. Chiefly, the terms aren’t defined. He condemns “American Christianity,” “American bourgeois Christianity,” “Western Christianity,” and “lifeless Christianity.” But to whom is he referring? Republicans? White Christians? Black Christians? American Christians? Obviously, anything other than biblical Christianity is a false religion, but surely there are strands of biblical Christianity that flow through Western culture.