The subtitle of this book by Paul Metzger is “Beyond Race and Class Divisions in a Consumer Church.”
Hopefully I can adequately describe what an important book this was for me to read. Growing up in the rural midwest, I have lived relatively sheltered from race and class issues. Because of that though, I have also lived a safe and secure distance from the realities of poverty and need.
Since becoming involved in the emerging conversation, my eyes have been opened to the poor and marginalized. In many ways though, I have not known how to cross the chasm between “us” and “them” in ways that didn’t exude condescension. I have been aware of the lack in my understanding and perspective, but ineffective at developing a response beyond charity and guilt for my position of privilege.
In my opinion this is an important book for all evangelicals and for suburban christians in particular. Paul uncovers our blindspots and challenges the idea that it is okay for us to remain segregated in our comfortable ghettoes of sameness. He provides a solid theology of engagement and gives language and doctrine to a way of relating with others based in solidarity and unity.
Paul first exposes the misdirected focus of the evangelical church culture in the areas of power politics and consumerism. He addresses how both of these have contributed to division in the church. He suggests that in spite of the fact that we share communion in the body, in many ways we remain unreconciled to one another. The vision he portrays of the church as an alternative community living in the reality of relationships restructured according to the value of the kingdom is a prophetic call that must be heeded.
I won’t go into great detail in this review. I plan on posting several more specific posts about topics in the book over the next week or two. This is not a feel-good, entertaining book to read, but it is possibly one of the most important books I have read as far as the impact it made on my views about relationships within the body of Christ.