2014 demonstrated that, whatever the significance of Barack Obama’s two terms as our first African American president, we have hardly moved beyond national struggles over race and class. Failures to indict white policemen accused of the unjust killings of black men precipitated protests and online shouting matches about racial inequality, or just how to talk about race. Christians participated in (hopefully) profitable discussions such as the December 16, 2014 “A Time to Speak” event, hosted by Pastor Bryan Lorritts of Fellowship Memphis, at the Lorraine Motel and National Civil Rights Museum.
December 16 was also the 300th birthday of George Whitefield, the most important evangelist of the Great Awakening of the 18th century.
The paradigms we use to explain reality collapse when we encounter too many anomalies. Then we begin to seek another explanation. Something like that has happened for many people in connection with homosexuality. That number now includes David P. Gushee, a leading evangelical ethicist. In his case, it was discovering that his sister is a lesbian that led him to rethink this issue.
Kelly Gissendaner sits on death row, awaiting execution by the state of Georgia, having been convicted of the murder of her husband. Jennifer McBride met Gissendaner in a theology program for inmates in which McBride was teaching. McBride, who now teaches at Wartburg College, says that Gissendaner confessed her crime, repented, and has become a redeemed person. She’s been reconciled to her children, she ministers to other inmates in prison, and counsels troubled youth. In the theology program, Gissendaner started a correspondence with German theologian Jürgen Moltmann, finding hope in his theology of hope. Gissendaner’s initial date for execution was postponed due to concerns about the chemicals being used (CNN.com, March 6).