When I returned from sabbatical, this was the first message of resonance that I encountered. Almost immediately, I knew that I was not alone down here. I was undone all over again among the ashes wrought by an unclean people. Engaging with the most fallen people in the most fallen place in the world seemed a most dubious blessing. I asked for that as a young man and thought I was clear of it.
David has long been one of my favorite ethicists. I disagree profoundly with a few of his conclusions, as too in the moment, but his premises are right and his desire is blessed. The story of God’s people has always been about progress, not perfection, not quite yet. Overall, this speech is even more oracular today than it was then. It is worth more than a day’s fast.
American evangelicals were confronted by God and the oppressed for seven years about their support of our corruption among the nations. How long could they be useful to save the nations while also sowing death and destruction in the Lord’s fields? They failed to respond correctly. Therefore, in September of 2008 they lost their beloved empire.
Through continued disobedience, now God and the oppressed confront them about their support for despotism within the rotten walls of their fallen republic of self-rule. How can they take refuge in God as they reject refugees? How can they claim Familial bonds while creating widows and orphans? How can they claim God’s Sacrifice for their salvation while they cannot even be troubled to wear a mask to save their neighbors life? Does God desire a kingdom of hypocrites? Hell no, it will never be. Did they not know, did they not proclaim, was it not written that God is righteous and jealous in his honor to be known among all peoples and his will to be done on all the earth? We know they did.
Their beloved republic is struck down, now. Their response, their choice, toward the oppressed and therefore to the only Living God will determine their inheritance. It is true because “our” lord and savior, Jesus Christ, has always faithfully proclaimed this as his father’s design. We also know that Caleb was delivered from a most wicked generation who preferred to perpetually test the God that had just liberated them with great signs and terrible wonders for decades. Caleb and his heirs did not share in their kinfolk’s death in the desert of disobedience. It was because of his spirit and whole-hearted devotion to God’s way.
Regardless, God is moving with or without American evangelicals and their attachments. Jesus Christ called them and they claimed to be daughters and sons of the Most High, but will they die like the subjects of foreign gods? How they respond this time, now, will determine their inheritance.
As for me, I petitioned the Most High and his council, for my raised lord and savior above, to strike down the empire in 2001 for his honor and to fulfill righteousness and save the peoples of the earth. For that, I fought through hell, both here and there. However, I still took comfort in the constitution. I confess that I was a bit proud of that scrap of paper and all its hopes and sacrifices. I still remember it. Perhaps, that was my sin. In September 2018 I handed over that cherished sin of mine to my God. The weight shifted and here we are.
I have seen what comes next. It is becoming now. It is holy, perfect, and desired by the Creator and Reconciler of all things. God and his servants are bringing it into being from overlooked places with forces the wise councils here cannot understand. They are shaping the events that trouble many. But I rejoice in God’s glory born despite the pains of the birth.
Now, beside the Ancient of Days, amongst and above the ashes, amid and before the Holy Spirit I bind myself to the seven in every dimension of creation: I choose to live in action for my principal, Christ Jesus, in believing loyalty and fidelity, not my vain imagination of him, and his plan, not mine, without contingency… until the end and no matter the cost.
2 Cor 1:23, Gal 1:20, & Phil 1:8
David Gushee’s 2018 address: