A Model for Recovery from Oppressive and Exclusive Theologies and Religions
Radical Inclusivity is and must be radical.
Inclusivity, with love for all of God’s creation, challenges major fundamental, deep-seated Christian beliefs, doctrines and theologies at the center of society which characterize people who do not fit the definition of the acceptable social norm as enemies of God and routinely mistreats, oppresses and excludes people from the community of faith and its institutions.
Radical Inclusivity, recognizes, values, loves and celebrates people on the margin. Jesus was himself from the edge of society with a ministry to those who were considered least. Jesus’ public ministry and associations were primarily with the poor, weak, outcast, foreigners and prostitutes.
Radical Inclusivity recognizes harm done in the name of God. Many people rejected by the Church got their burns from Bible believing Christian flame-throwers. Contempt for the Church and all things religious often stems from exposure to oppressive theology, self-serving biblical literalism and unyielding tradition. It is neither Christ-like nor spiritual to be oppressive. No human being is born with a destiny to be oppressed or to oppress others.
Radical Inclusivity is intentional and creates ministry on the margin. “On Purpose” because of the radically inclusive love of Jesus Christ. The inclusive community deliberately makes a conscious and unapologetic decision to love and celebrate the Creator’s diversity welcoming all persons regardless to race, color, ancestry, age, gender and sexual or affectional orientation. Radical Inclusivity practices and celebrates the Christian community outside of the dominant culture believing that the Kingdom (Kingdom) of God includes the margin of society and is a perfect place for ministry. Marginalized people, now as in the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry, respond to a community of openness and extravagant grace, where other people from the edge gather. Such an atmosphere welcomes people to feel it is safer to be who they are.
The primary goal of Radical Inclusivity is not to imitate or change the mainline church, but rather to be Church. The Church belongs to God and is the Body of Jesus Christ. It is not the sole property of
any denomination, person or group. There are systemic wrongs in organized church due to oppressive theology, bibliolatry and traditional beliefs, which prevent freedom for all people that we can never fully right. Radical inclusivity however, is ministry rooted in restoration believing that God has given the church the work and ministry of reconciliation. It is for freedom that Christ has made us free (Gal. 5:1). Although, radical inclusivity believes and celebrates the kinship and fellowship of all believers of Jesus Christ it is does not seek to change the mainline church but it uses its power of love to model and demonstrate the radically inclusive love of Jesus Christ.
Radical Inclusivity requires a new way of seeing and a new way of being. “…from this day forward, we regard no one from a strictly human point of view, not even Jesus.” (II Cor. 5:16) This scripture passage implies that we can celebrate one another in some new and powerful way in Christian community - some way that both accepts who each of us is in a human sense and transcends our humanity allowing us to see each other as God sees us. Christian community can truly be celebrated when we realize the Church is a spiritual, mystical, faith community and we relate best when we
make the two-foot drop from head to heart.
Radical Inclusivity requires awareness, information and understanding. The creation of Christian community among people marginalized by the Church requires that the community be prepared and maintain a presence of cultural
familiarity through education and training which equips the community to understand, actively fight and overcome oppressive and exclusive theology and practices. Sustaining and eventually celebrating community on the margin requires the Church to re-examine sexual and relational ethics, develop a theology of welcome and de-stigmatize its view of any group
Radical Inclusivity does not hide and works to undo shame and fear. The radically inclusive ministry of Jesus does not encourage people to hide their ‘unacceptable’ realities (based upon the dominant culture’ point of view or faith) in order to be embraced. True community comes when marginalized people take back the right to fully “be.” People must celebrate not in spite of who they are, but because of who their Creator has made them. In order for marginalized people to have community they must
develop community “naked” with their “marginality” in full view while often celebrating the very thing that separates them from the dominant culture.
Radical Inclusivity recognizes diversity on the margin. People live and are located on the various margins of society for many different reasons. Most people live on the margin because the dominant culture and/or faith communities have forced them outside their boundaries to a margin. Not all marginalized people are poor, uneducated or visible. Because many marginalized people are together on the margin does not mean that each affirms the other or that their common marginality will
hold the community together. People on the margins are challenged to find the interconnectedness of their marginalities.
Radical Inclusivity must be linked to preaching and teaching. The creation of Christian community among people marginalized by the Church requires preaching and teaching that defines and strengthens the essence of the community through a theology of radical inclusivity. Preaching and teaching clarifies, reinforces and supports the collective theology of the community and gives voice to its emergence and evolution.
Radical Inclusivity demands hospitality. Marginalized people experience hospitality where they have neither to defend nor to deny their place or their humanness. Henri Nouwen, author of Reaching Out, says, “Hospitality…means primarily the creation of a free space where the stranger can enter and become a friend instead of an enemy. Hospitality is not to change people, but to offer them space where change can take place. It is not bring men and women over to our side, but to offer freedom not disturbed by a dividing line. It is not to lead our neighbor into a corner where there are no alternatives left, but to open a wide spectrum of options for choice and commitment. It is not a method of making our God and our way into the criteria of happiness, but the opening of an opportunity to others to find their God and their way. Hospitality is not a subtle invitation to adopt the life style of the host, but
the gift of chance for the guest to find his/her own.”
Radical Inclusivity is best sustained and celebrated when everyone in the community is responsible and accountable. Sustaining Christian community requires an intentional effort to design a framework that includes everyone in the life of the Church. The dissemination of duties and chores insure that all members share in and contribute to the welfare of the community. It is often difficult for people who have not had continuity in life to understand that freedom without responsibility and accountability is as detrimental as slavery. Freedom cannot be an end unto itself. Freedom from something must flow into freedom to be something else or it is not truly freedom. The object of getting free is being fee: the object of being free is living free.