Cody Pogue’s essay is a sharp indictment on the church in a manner that congregants can absorb. The onus is on them for the necessary change.
by Cody Pogue
When Hitler was having millions of people massacred, the largely Christian population of Germany mostly either helped him or kept quiet. Most churches remained silent. The same can be said of slavery, of Jim Crow, of all the lynchings, and of segregation. Not only did the churches remain silent, but many of the grossest offenders and murderers went to church and worshipped every time the doors were open. History is filled with witch trials, crusades, inquisitions, torture, and massacres in the name of Christendom.
I say this not to shame the church, but to point out a huge contradiction. The church believes that 2,000 years ago, God left behind all of his power and came to earth armed with nothing but love, in hopes that a powerless God could use the power of love to bring hope and liberation to mankind. He sought to bring good news to poor people, healing to the sick, to end oppression, and to restore a permanent year of jubilee. His message was never one of private piety and striving to overcome personal sins. It was not a message of a powerful king demanding obedience of his weak servants. Instead he sought to use love to empower the weak while boldly questioning the oppressors who used their power to oppress others.
In many ways, the church has sold out the God who chose to become a powerless servant and liberator in order to instead embrace a message that worshipped power, rejected servanthood, and chose to remain silent and make compromises with human dignity in order to gain political power. They asked congregants to reject what belongs to God in order to embrace Caesar without question.
This isnt something new or recent. The church made this choice when it chose the Roman Emperor Constantine to be its protector. It made the choice when it supported the brutality if the Frankish King Clovis in return for the expansion of political power. It made this choice when Pope Urban II declared holy war against the Islamic Emire, and when the church allowed Ferdinand and Isabella to torture people in the name of Christ, and when Christians led colonial movement that forced western ideals on unsuspecting people and called it mission work, and so many other times.
Rarely in the history of the church has it embraced the God who gave up his power and came to earth with nothing but love to give. Nearly everytime it has had the opportunity, the church has chosen oppression over liberation. It has chosen to remain silent when it should speak out against social injustice. They preached about how people could be saved because Christ hung from a tree, but failed to speak up when their own people lynched black people from trees. The majority of church history has been a complete rejection of Christ.
It doesnt have to be that way though. Liberation can start now. The church can speak up now. It’s never too late to start over and return to that first love. It’s never too late to start studying, to take off the blinders of tradition, to reject the idea of a paternalistic king demanding obedience the way the scientist in the Milgram experiment did, and to instead embrace the servant from Galilee who brought love and empowerment to people while only condemning the powerful and the oppressors.