Liberal Orthodoxy isn’t the Gospel

Lenny Duncan
Aug 11, 2017 · 4 min read

For what will it profit them if they gain the whole world but forfeit their life? Or what will they give in return for their life?- Matthew 16:26

Let me repeat that for those of you in the back. Liberal Orthodoxy isn’t the Gospel of Jesus Christ. If this is your first time reading me let me do a few disclaimers.


Our LGBTQ+ siblings are a gift from God and to the church. An 1800-year-old gift but I am glad we finally are noticing that fact.

Empire will be the death of the church before resurrection.

However, liberal orthodoxy is just as toxic and dangerous to the gospel and the church as conservative orthodoxy. As a formerly incarcerated, homeless, and black man in this country who is studying for ordination in seminary I’m disheartened by toxic so-called conservative spaces and progressive ones. I’m not being killed by a thousand tiny cuts at United Lutheran Seminary from conservatives. It is my self-proclaimed liberal white peers whom don’t get it. Who are afraid of me. Whom hardly ever invite me into their homes or lives. I honestly have been attacked by liberal white woman more than I have by “conservatives”.

One of the main constructs of liberation theology is that by working for black liberation I am also freeing the oppressor. I’m freeing those trapped in white supremacy by working for freedom of Black peoples. By shattering the chains of the systemic sin of racism grace enters the space I just entered.

This is a hard reality to accept. I don’t feel joy when I think about freeing the Ann Coulters of the world.

My brokenness and my scars and wounds scream for vengeance. The very stones will testify against her as my Muslim siblings would say. That feels right.

But the Jesus I worship, a brown man murdered by law enforcement in a kangroo court run by a colonial ruler points to a different way. He begged God to forgive them, because they knew not what they did.

They murdered God. He begged for their forgiveness because they were lost. Every racist, homophobic, transphobic, sexist, child of God I have ever met was lost. You may say what about people who specifically know what they were doing?

If they only could see the kingdom of God. If they could hear the music playing behind the dance of life. They are lost.

Children of God. All of them.

To defeat white supremacy we need scalpels and surgeons prepped for soul surgery. Broad swords are the weapons of the enemy.

To heal the soul of this nation we need to come to grips with who this nation really is. Democrat or Republican they all serve empire and will feed us all to Baal. They will burn you as an offering to capitalism. They will listen to you via your iPhone and sign a signature strike to your siblings wedding. That’s how systemic sin works. It doesn’t need active evil, or racist, it just needs orthodoxy and systems, and willful ignorance to the cries of those screaming “over there.”

Any system can be used as club to beat someone else. If you are convinced you are totally right all the time I weep for you.

I get it wrong constantly. But call out culture and liberal orthodoxy will destroy any real chance of a revolution of values. How am I too love my enemy? Particularly when they wield power over me? I wish I had a real answer for you.

But I know organizing spaces can become white washed tombs. I know the Pharisees always corrected Jesus on what to say, how to say and when to say it. I know they were concerned with the methods he used and couldn’t see the face of God when it stood right in front of them and smiled. I know the rigidity is what is killing the church. I know that being inflexible will snap a tree in a storm.

We are experiencing a moral crisis in this country that is more than a storm. It’s a hurricane.

It has captured the highest office in the land.

Just remember it does every four Novembers since we started this experiment predicated on white men owning land and people. A land where the welcome gift was small pox blankets. A land that I just got the right to drink from the same fountain as you 60 years ago. Where I just got the right to marry my Jewish wife in my parents’ generation.

But if we become just like those we are battling they have won. It’s internalized oppression that has been possessed by legion.

I know its hard to practice love when you are still bleeding from the wounds inflicted on you. When your cheek is swollen from turning it over and over and over.

I know you are weary, afraid, and hurt by the very systems supposed to protect you in the church and out of it. I’m getting my ass kicked too.

But we have to find a new way forward where we speak truth to power, but model the kingdom of God while we do it.

I love you. I hate writing this, most of y’all reading this are my hero’s. But if we in our battle for freedom walk away from the Gospel to achieve it, what the hell are we?

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