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A response by Theresa F. Latini

Case by case

Read Carol Howard Merritt's fictional narrative first.

At one level, the conflict is theological. Betsy’s well-developed theology of God’s work in the world and the church’s mission conflicts with the congregation’s embedded theology—its implicit beliefs, assumptions, and faith practices. The Word and Spirit of God present in the preached moment have brought this conflict to the surface so that the congregation might see and participate in Christ’s work anew.

As Betsy sees it, Christ exists in solidarity with—not separate from—this Muslim community. He suffers in and with those who are bullied, reviled, and harmed. And as Betsy sees it, the congregation, Christ’s body, does not exist except in and with those who suffer. The congregation is bound together with this suffering community by virtue of (1) their mutual coexistence with Christ, (2) their common creaturely status, and (3) their religious vocation.

 

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