An interview with Drew Hart, author of ‘Who Will Be a Witness’ (Herald Press)
A CONVERSATION WITH DREW HART, AUTHOR OF WHO WILL BE A WITNESS?
How Has the Church “Mangled” the Witness of Jesus?
During our 2,000 years of church history the church practiced Christian supremacy over western civilization. Western Christendom then birthed colonialism, conquest, slavery and white supremacy. The troubling part is that Jesus himself was colonized and converted into a mascot for the status quo and after this conversion as complete the first-century Afro-Asiatic and Palestinian Jew living who received a state-sanctioned execution on the Roman empire and the Jerusalem establishment was now westernized, whitened and domesticated from his message that brought “good news to the poor,” that “set the oppressed free” and that claimed that the first are last and the last are first in God’s reign.
How can the church recover this “revolutionary, grassroots, Jesus-shaped witness in society”?
The church will need to once again take the Jesus found in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John seriously rather than the projection many dominant culture Christians have of Jesus that seems unconcerned with the suffering and structured oppression of people. Our discipleship will have to slowly recenter Jesus while not skirting the challenging life and teachings he offers us as essential for our lives. But most importantly, we will have to stop diluting the meaning of Jesus’ call to “take up your cross and follow me.” Bearing our cross today is not about getting a funny look for wearing a Christian T-shirt, it is not what happens when you are unable to get a good parking spot at the mall, and it is certainly not the hardship of your electric blanket breaking in the winter. Those are all ways in which we adjust the meaning of crucifixion to meet our comfortable lives rather than adjusting our lives after the example of Jesus. Taking up our cross is a nonviolent, revolutionary, and grassroots invitation to follow Jesus as we clash with evil and injustice in our society, naming the “den of thieves” in our midst, and accepting the consequences that come from faithfully following in the way of Jesus, even to the point of death.
What kind of grassroots mobilizing and organizing would you like to see the church undertake?
Very often in our society most people have trouble imagining how to work for justice beyond only voting. But we actually have a wide range of grassroots strategies that are available to us beyond the formal channel of the ballot box. In Who Will Be A Witness? I emphasize nonviolent resistance, community organizing, and strategic movements, along with some other options, and show how they can be conducive for congregations seeking to do this work. Along with thinking about how to move forward faithfully I also dialogue with social science that helps us understand how the way of Jesus intersects with effective strategies for social change.